Saturday, January 31, 2009

January reading

I made a New Years resolution of sorts to read more this year. I was thinking my reading had really dropped off in the past couple of years, and while browsing over my books lists it didn't seem too shabby of a count, it did lack heart. Meaning there were too many books on that list that I hadn't really enjoyed. So, I wanted to recapture the constant delight of reading and anticpating reading because I was having a very good time with it- some would rightly conclude I was looking for a place to escape to on a regular basis. I don't think this is a bad thing. I read for a variety of reasons- to learn, to grow, to understand, to experience things I never will any other way and to escape. It's affordable and doesn't cause my family too much neglect.

My reading for January has been enjoyable. Here it is with the briefest of comments because I have a very busy weekend at hand. No, not the Super Bowl, homeschool reports and planning for the next quarter etc.

Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg. This was for our book club and I liked the book quite a bit and was surprised because I thought maybe all the political and current events would be confusing and depressing. Not so, it was pretty easy to read and informative.

A Walk With Jane Austen by Lori Smith. I came across this book one day while browsing in B&N determined not to buy anything. Leafing through the book I found it compelling. So, I came home, looked it up at the library and was astonished that I could get it through there! I'm glad I did, because though I did enjoy the book, after a bit, I don't feel the need to own it. My favorite quote from the book is actually- not a surprise -a quote from Jane Austen in Persuasion:

"Mr. Elliot was rational, discreet, polished, but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was a decided imperfection. Her early impressions were incurable. She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped."

I am in much sympathy with Anne.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society By Mary Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrows.
This was book I took notice of on the library web page and requested it. It was fun, light, post WWII Britain. Reminiscent of 84 Charing Cross Road, but while 84 is memoir, Guernsey is fiction. With the typical fiction pitfalls- predictable romance. It was a fun read, howeve, and got me thinking about 84, so I borrowed the movie of that from the library(yes, they made a movie of a book of letters) and requested other Helene Hanff books, as you will see.

Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith. This book was recommended by Dallas Willard and again I found it available through the library! Love that library! It is written to be a comforting story, told as a dream, about the marvels that await us in Heaven. It was an ok book, and I know it was reflective of the author's painful losses, but it didn't hold me- because in trying to paint a picture of Heaven it fell kind of flat, as you would expect it to...too lofty for words.

Between Heaven & Hell by Peter Kreeft. As the tiltle suggests this dialogue takes place between Heaven & Hell. The date is November 22, 1963 and within a few hours of each other three men pass into eternity: President John Kennedy, C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley. Kreeft imagines a dialogue they might share with each other about eternal life, the divinty of Christ, and more. Kennedy takes the role of humanist, Huxley pantheist, with Lewis representing Christianity. Entertaining and informative. Before I began the book I was looking for information on a new book by Peter Kreeft and was reminded of his admiration of C.S.Lewis, and I remember musing to myself whether Lewis' Christianity would be closer to Kreeft's than to mine. Peter Kreeft is Catholic and I am Protestant. Well, early in this book Lewis answers that question rather directly- well, actually Peter Kreeft answers what he thinks/hopes Lewis might say. I was amused to see my question addressed. Lewis and Kennedy are talking about authority and Lewis says:

"...My business was to defend "mere Christianty," not any one particular church. Second, because we two are not representative samples: I'm more Catholic than most Protestants, especially concerning church, tradition and authority; and you're more Protestant than most Catholics, de-emphasizing just those things- if I'm not mistaken."

Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff. More memoir, more about her correspondance with Frank Doel at Marks & Co Booksellers and more about the subsequent fame that came to her through the book 84 Charing Cross Road, and the movies and plays etc. that spun off from that. But basically this is a book giving credit to a man she calls "Q"- Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. A man she credits with teaching her about writing through a book of lectures and also exposing her to so much great literature, his influence starts her on her life long quest to read and acquire great books. Her book can ignite the same hunger in readers....going to the library web page and look for books by "Q"

The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is our next book club book. I have read it several times over the years with my kids and somehow have come NOT to own a single copy! So, to the library again. But this time I listened to it on audio book. Read by Ron Rifkin. Enjoyable. This book, I'll finish tonight while making supper.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Anoint my ears with wisdom

Shout my name to the angels
Sing my song to the skies
Anoint my ears with wisdom
Let beauty fill my eyes.

I love that prayer/poem. Today my mind is a bit scattered. No, that is not true, it is not scattered at all, it is stuck -on one thing...I'm praying to get past that one thing and maybe this prayer can help.

I first encountered Walter Dean Myers in a children's book by Sharon Creech Love That Dog. It's the story, presented in short journal entries(so fun to read!), of a boy who is learning to write, and write poetry in particular. He starts out convinced that writing poetry is for girls and he can't do it. It is so charming. At the end he writes a poem, called Love That Dog, inspired by Walter Dean Myers, Love That Boy:

Love that boy,
like a rabbit loves to run
I said I love that boy
like a rabbit loves to run
Love to call him in the morning
love to call him
"Hey, there, son!"

He walk like his grandpa
grins like his uncle Ben
I said he walk like his grandpa
and grins like his uncle Ben
Grins when he happy
when he sad he grins again

His mama like to hold him
like to feed him cherry pie
I said his mama like to hold him
feed him that cherry pie
She can have him now
I'll get him by and by

He got long roads to walk down,
before the setting sun
I said he got a long, long road
to walk down,
before the setting sun
He'll be a long stride walker
and a good man before he done

Sunday, January 18, 2009

she's the bees knees

This little girl is about the easiest person on the planet to please. If I make her something she coos and gushes- "Oh, it is so beautiful!" and "You are so nice." and "I really really love you!" If I tell her about something I'm going to make her "Ooohh, will you make that for me?" "You are so nice." I mean really, who could resist such joy? I find myself thinking about things I could make her because she will be so tickled when I show her- even if it's just an apron.

The dress is Simplicity 5695. Very fun and simple. The fabric? Bees Knees from Maywood Studio. She dressed up as a bumblebee for halloween and talked about it for months, so when I saw this fabric I knew she needed something from it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Book Meme

This is a book meme that I borrowed from the Common Room Blog.

I'm putting a caveat here- if you do this, too, you can't use The Bible in any of your answers.

1. One book that changed your life:
Children of a Greater God by Terry Glaspey. I think this is the book about books that got my interested in more.

2. One book that you've read more than once:
For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer MacCaulay. Excellent introduction to the Charlotte Mason method of education. I have re-read this book many times and although I am firmly committed to CM now I will probably re-read again because I find it inspiring.

3. One book you'd want on a deserted island:
This is a difficult one as I can't imagine landing on a deserted island with only one book in hand. I barely drive as far as WalMart with only one book in my possession. So, if I were packing a book bag for a deserted island tonight here are a few of the books I'd include: Jane Eyre; Margin; Before I Go; How the Heather Looks; The Great Divorce. I listed these because I do plan to read these in the coming months- how long is the average deserted island stay?

4. One book that made you laugh:
girl meets God by Lauren Winner. The book is light in tone but deep in many ways. There were a couple of things she says that just made me laugh out loud. I really enjoyed this one.

5. One book that made you cry:
Dicey's Song or it may have been Homecoming both by Cynthia Voigt and both about the same family. I remember just laying my head down on the kitchen table and sobbing. Not just some nice sniffles and moist eyes but sobbing. They are not sad books, just had a heartbreaking spot and you get so invested in their life. Highly recommended.

6. One book that you wish had been written:
A few years back I was wishing Laura Bush would write a book about her recommendations in children's/ young adult literature.

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Some books I read back in the 70's. Can't remember the titles or the authors(thankfully) but unfortunately some of the images and ideas remain in my brain.

8. One book that you are currently reading:
Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg. For a bookclub. A very timely read.

9. One book that you've been meaning to read:
There are so many, but I'll choose The Stargazing Year by Charles Laird Calia. I've owned this book for a couple of years now, I think this should be the year to read it. It's one of those month by month books. I like to read like that sometimes.

10. One book you've been meaning to finish:
The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto. Not sure why I haven't ever finished this book, it's thought provoking and interesting, sometimes surprising definitely not dull, but I think I am often put off by it's size. It's not a huge book, it's just an oversize book that I prefer to read at a table. Only I don't often sit at a table to read, being more of an armchair or standing in the kitchen cooking supper type reader. It's on my list to finish soon.

1. One book on your desk right now?
Peace Like A River by Leif Enger

2. One book with a bookmark in it that you haven't picked up for a few days?
Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water. It's a re-read, but I just started it a week or so ago and have gotten distracted with other things.

3. One book marked with a pencil (or other irregular marker) stuffed between the pages instead of a proper bookmark?
Well, I looked around the house and didn't find any irregularly marked book. That is probably because I am somewhat of a legalist on that topic- ask my kids. The most irregular boomark I found was an old church bulletin in a book borrowed from my sister. The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert.

4. One book with the cover falling off, or other grievous injuries?
Patches of Godlight by Jan Karon. It is not in grievous condition from being abused or even over read but because it came with a bad binding and pages began falling out of it almost right away. I keep the pages in by keeping it in a bookcover.

5. One book you "ought" to be reading, but don't feel like it?
The Unfinished Soul by Calvin Miller. I'm just not loving it. Perhaps I will later.

6. One book sitting on the shelf and enticing you to read it instead of anything else?
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. A re-read that I am anxious to get to.

7. Your most recently acquired book?
Doodle-Stitching by Aimee Ray. It's a book on embroidery Has some fun ideas.

8. One book on your "wish list?"
God in the Dock by C.S. Lewis. On my wishlist because I thought I had it, and I think I have read it but now I'm not sure. Maybe I borrowed it from one of my boys and I need my own copy now.

9. One book you literally threw in the trash?
Jane Austen Book Club. Promising story line but too much trash.