Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What We’ve Been Reading [part 2]

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So many books have slipped through the cracks. I need to write up a “what we’re reading” post weekly!


I completely forgot that Luke has read (recently?) all seven of the Terrestria Chronicles (also available in kindle edition), a Medieval-themed Christian allegory series that was recommended (I think!) by my friend Rebecca from Renaissance. (See, I’m losing my mind!)

And also:

:: Christopher Mouse: The Tale of a Small Traveler

:: Ice Whale by Jean Craighead George (author of my boys’ favorite My Side of the Mountain trilogy). Luke really enjoyed this one.

:: The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case: A Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers by Alexander McCall Smith. The boys previously read Mystery of Meerkat Hill, and Leif will be receiving The Mystery of the Missing Lion for Christmas. These are fantastic easy chapter books that stand out from the usual twaddle of that category. [Also check out the author’s Akimbo series!]

:: Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe (picture book). This story is a delightful and humorous way to explain the process of making books at a monastery during the Middle Ages.

:: The Vermeer Interviews: Conversations with Seven Works of Art by Bob Raczka. I love Vermeer’s paintings, and this book is an entertaining way to learn about them!

:: A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet by Kathryn Lasky (picture book). Phillis Wheatley shows up in Liberty's Kids, the animated series about the Revolutionary War (one of our must-own video series), so the boys were interested in reading her story.

:: Master Cornhill by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Luke just finished this adventure story about a twice-orphaned eleven year old boy set in London in the 1600s during the Black Plague and the Great Fire—perfect complement to our current history studies.

Leif's Book Stack

Leif has also read a few of the books I posted in Luke’s list (Peter Nimble, The Night Gardener, Gulliver’s Travels), but we found two more Treasure Chest books (Alexander Graham Bell and Leonardo da Vinci) at the library.

Levi has been reading random books (and many of the books I’ve already listed). Or, I should say sneak reading, because he uses up all of his free reading time in not focusing on his school work (and reading when he is not supposed to be reading).

And then there is my reading, which slowed way down when September hit.

It took me a while to get into The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge, but then I loved it very much. I realized how much I prefer to have my own books rather than borrowing from the library, because I couldn’t underline my favorite passages and then revisit them later. I did, however, manage to type up a couple:

p 155

Charles lit another cigarette and the spurt of flame illumined cruelly the sly weariness of his face. His father’s grief went through him like a sharp physical pain and he shifted in his chair. Parsons when they preached did not stress sufficiently the weariness of sin. That was its chief punishment, he believed, for sensitive temperaments like that of his son. You could be a cheerful sinner if you were tough, but you had to be tough.

p 164

[I]f you understand people you’re of use to them whether you can do anything tangible for them or not. Understanding is a creative act in a dimension we do not see.

p 260

So this blessing of loneliness was not really loneliness. Real loneliness was something unendurable. What one wanted when exhausted by the noise and impact of physical bodies was not no people but disembodied people; all those denizens of beloved books who could be taken to one’s heart and put away again, in silence, and with no hurt feelings.

Then we must talk about Marilynne Robinson.


Or, rather, mention her, because talking about her will be a post all on its own. A very long post.

I will simply share here that I read and fell in deep love with Gilead some time ago. Robinson just recently came out with Lila, and I set my heart on reading Housekeeping and then Home before Lila. Well, Home split my heart wide open and I just couldn’t move on to Lila without a break. (For those of you who have not read Robinson, you do not read her books for the plot. You read her books to feel what it is to be another person. To think and feel as they do. And to think about the thinks and feel about the feels.)

I made the mistake of reading Gone Girl instead. As if that would help me feel better. Ugh.

So I went on a crash diet of modern romance books, a couple Katie Fforde's and The Rosie Project, and now I think I might be able to handle Lila. We’ll chat about all four books when I’m finished.

I also read Number the Stars and Amos Fortune, Free Man so that I could participate in literary discussion with Levi as he is working on his persuasive essays for Challenge.

Three more picture books to share tomorrow, and then maybe we’ll move on from talking about books for a while. At least a day or two. Grin.


Meghan said...

I am re-reading Gilead right now and really beating up my book this time with notes and highlighting. I have not before heard Home recommended...would you actually recommend it, despite it's being painful?

Sarah M said...

I read Gilead as a highschooler and hated it. Then I had a couple kids after college and read it again--and bawled practically page by page. I went on to read Home, but I didn't know Housekeeping was a part of that series? I had just seen that Lila was out now, too, and it's on my list, but first I'm finishing up Anne Lamott's newest (Small Victories) and then the Mindy Kahling book for some laughs. :)
Sarah M

Danielle said...

I just finished "The Bird in the Tree" by Goudge. I love her writing. Although it can take some time for me to get into them. I'm also reading a good non-fiction book right now called "Destiny of the Republic." Fascinating.

I'm looking forward to "Lila" too, but must be in the right mood for her stuff.

Heidi said...

Meghan~ I loved Home, despite the emotions, and yes I would recommend it particularly if you've read and enjoyed Gilead. It is very different from Gilead (and Housekeeping) because it isn't written in first person. The whole book takes place at the same time as Gilead. It is an intimate look at the relationships between the three people in the Boughton house (the father, the daughter Glory, and Jack). It is as if the narrator is sitting on Glory's shoulder and can see only what she sees, though she is not the narrator and the narrator cannot see inside her head. There is no plot to speak of. It is all relationship (as delicate and tentative as a spider web) and character development, and Robinson's writing just stabs you in the heart.

Sarah M~ I don't think I would have liked (or come close to appreciating) Gilead in high school. As far as I can tell, Housekeeping doesn't have overlapping characters, but I think it sets up a reader for Lila by describing the pull and mystery of a transient lifestyle.

Danielle~ I haven't read The Bird in the Tree. I do love her book The Dean's Watch, though.

KayeRich said...

Hey Heidi, my seven year old and I took turns reading Akimbo and the Baboons on your past recommendations. Thoroughly enjoyed it. We are now eager to enjoy more of Smith's work. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I'll have to check out those books for me.

And I was going to ask for picture books. I love the chapter books and novels for young 'ens, but Little Man still needs the picture based stuff. Since we are reading the Little House series that's all the long story reading he can take right now. Luckily, he is all kinds of into it!

Heidi said...

Mamarachael~ How old is your son? If the picture books I just posted aren't quite right, and if you're looking for something that is more read-aloud friendly, let me recommend Andrew Henry's Meadow or Lentil. Or The Real Thief for a very short chapter book. :)

Meghan said...

Thanks Heidi, I will definitely read Home now. I am just getting to that point in Gilead where you start to realize that something really painful has been going on in the Boughton home but you don't know what.