Reading Life {Quarantine Spring 2020}

I haven’t updated this space for a while, although I’ve been busy with lots of things. I’ve been sewing a lot (garments and quilts – not embroidery) and I’ve been reading a lot and keeping up with my kids homeschooling (which we do normally anyway – we aren’t “crisis-homeschooling”) Instead of my reading life and writing life being a refuge, I feel like it just becomes something I am flitting to. These days seem so off and weird and my ability to focus just moves from one thing to another, but never really stays strong in place. Nevertheless, here’s an update on my reading life. Maybe one day this week I’ll get around to an update on my making life too.

Currently

  • To Kill a Mockingbird – for at least the third time in my life. I’m reading it as part of a writing class I’m taking.
  • Bread and Wine: Easter Readings for Lent – I’ve read portions of this before and I actually forgot I had this book until about half-way through Lent. It carries on into Eastertide also, so I’m hoping to continue reading through it
  • 1493 for Young People: From Columbus’s Voyage to Globalization – I’m reading this along with my son and it’s really interesting. It’s long been on my “to-read” list when planning curriculum and I’m so glad I finally broke down and bought it and added it. We are both really enjoying it
  • The Deadliest Monster: A Christian Introduction to Worldviews – This book takes the stories of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde and looks at them from a worldview sort of standpoint. I’m sort of on the fence with how I feel about this. I’m reading this with my son for school and we are only 3 chapters in so the jury is still out.
  • One Race One Blood – another I’m reading along with my son for school and I actually really do like this book. It’s a really interesting explanation on evolution and racism from a Christian/creationist perspective. I wish I would have read it last year when I was teaching a class about evolution v. creationism.
  • Out of the Silent Planet – we are very slowly reading this aloud as a family. It’s filled with huge vocabulary words (thanks to the philologist Lewis) and it’s about as radically different from Narnia as you could possibly get. I’m not sure if I like it or not. I have heard that the other books in the trilogy are much better.
  • Joan of Arc – (Twain’s version) I’m reading this along with my daughter and I really like it, she not so much. I honestly don’t read a lot of biographies and this one has always come highly recommended. Twain is such an interesting writer and he doesn’t disappoint.
  • Les Miserables – I’m still slowly, slowly reading this. It’s such a massive book and it goes in spurts of being really interesting, “fast paced?” and then getting sort of bogged down

Finished

  • Stardust by Gaimon – Amazing. Loved it. I’d totally read it again.
  • The River by Heller – eh. The story had such great potential but the writing was bad, bad, bad. And then ending was kind of ridiculous also.
  • The Tatooist of Auschwitz – another eh. I feel really badly saying I really didn’t like a book about the Holocaust, and a true story also, but there was so much about this book that seemed so just weird. I really didn’t like the narrator. He just seemed like a woman-infatuated guy. Which to have survived what he survived he would have to be a really strong person so it just didn’t it in my mind.
  • Brideshead Revisited by Waugh – man. This book was not at all what I expected. The first chapter or so I was really confused what I was reading, but by the end of it I absolutely loved it. It is totally one of those books that the longer you sit with it, the more you realize that you really loved it. The writing was amazing. Just amazing. I’m also listening to the Close Reads discussion on the book, which has also been super awesome too.
  • The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) – I’m persisting in reading through this series, although I feel like her writing is really starting to fall apart. I found so many mistakes in this book – places where she said something had happened and then it didn’t. People showing up that shouldn’t have. Just crazy stuff. What she has done is created two characters in Claire and Jamie that you honestly just cannot get enough of. That is brilliant and makes up for all the other sloppy writing that’s happening.
  • The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction – I really need to actually get a copy of this book. I really enjoyed it, but I read a library copy and had to read it almost too fast (no pleasure there!).
  • The Only Plane in the Sky (audio) – this was AMAZING. Like amazing. Highly recommend. But it is hard to listen to at parts. Just fyi.

Next Up

I got a copy of Little Women for my birthday so I’m hoping to start that soon. Then I’m not sure. I really want to read Ann Patchet’s new book The Dutch House, but the library is closed indefinitely (not to mention I was like 70 in the queue on hold for it) so I’d have to buy a copy and it’s hard to spend money right now. I also got The Weight of Glory by CS Lewis for my birthday too that I’m hoping to start reading. And I splurged on a book for us to read aloud called Where the World Ends, because it’s about birds and nature…my favorite things.

reading life {january 2020}

I feel like my reading life so far in 2020 has been pretty scattered. I’ve picked up more books than I’ve finished and I found myself this week overwhelmed. I want reading to be a release and a joy and this week it started to feel more like a burden. I challenged myself to finish two of the books that were sort of hanging out there – one was a pre-read for my son and the other was for my book club. I’m happy to report I finished both with much joy. I’ve got one more on the horizon I’m hoping to finish this week and then I think I’ll feel a little less buried by books.

FINISHED

  • Sense and Sensibility – I liked this one. It did feel a little different for an Austen book. I can’t totally put my finger on it – perhaps because none of the men seemed likable? They all seemed like doofs. Maybe that was her point?
  • Frankenstein – this is a pre-read for my 10th grader and it took me a little bit to get into it, but when I did I kind of liked it. He’s still on the fence whether he’s enjoying it or not, but honestly I’m not sure I enjoyed it the first time I read it in high school. There are a handful of great literary discussion points and I think this book would probably be more enjoyed reading with a group rather than just your mom.
  • Tidelands – this is probably the worst book I’ve read in a long, long time. I kept reading it because I kind of wanted to know where she was going to go with this silly story. I’ve read many of Gregory’s book previously and loved them. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more familiar with the history of this time period or if her writing has just gone down hill, but this had the most ridiculous character development I’ve ever read.

CURRENTLY

  • The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) – I took a break from this series for a while and I finally let myself start on the next book as a reward for finishing S&S. I’m happy to be back in the world of Claire and Jamie.
  • Out of the Silent Planet – we are reading this slowly aloud as a family. Our 10th grader read it a few years ago and it was his vote to start to read together. So far so good.
  • The Only Plane in the sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001 – I’m listening to this on audio and it’s AMAZING! I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to buy this to have. It’s super, super good. Hard, but so many things I didn’t even know about.
  • The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction – this one is my goal to finish asap. It’s a small book and super interesting. His take on recommending books to people has been really interesting.
  • The Mind of the Maker – I’m reading this with a writing forum that I’m in and this book is hard, hard, hard. It was on my list to read this year at some point and when my writing forum chose it as a book club I figured this would be the best way to get it done. Was I ever right. I would totally have given up by this point if I wasn’t able to read/discuss with other people.
  • Joan of Arc by Mark Twain – this is a pre-read with my 7th grader. It’s been really good – which I had heard from many people. We’ve read many things about Joan of Arc over the years, but this has probably been the most interesting version we’ve read so far.
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary – this is a re-read for me. I’m not sure why I felt a pull to read it again, but I did and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m sort of prayer journaling through the chapters this time around and it’s been a great way to really let sink in what she’s going for in each chapter.
  • I’ve got a handful of other books I’m sort of reading, but not really. It’s either I’m reading them for school and I’m behind or I started them and then picked up something else. You can keep up with all those on Goodreads if you are so inclined.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Honestly I just want to finish some of these books hanging over me. I’ve got a few pre-reads for school I really just need to finish and a few other’s I started one day that I just need to close up too. I’ve been super awful about using my tea time to just sit and peruse my phone versus reading which is so bad! I’m not starting 2020 with good habits by any means.

{reading life} 2019 in review

According to Goodreads, I read 18,009 pages and 60 books in 2019. I’m not totally sure if that’s accurate. I know that there are a handful that I started and abandoned and I’m not sure how they factor that in.

My Top Picks:

I’m not a huge non-fiction lover, but I’ve realized this year that if I’m going to read non-fiction the memoir is hands down my favorite thing to read. Or essays. My top picks from this year are from those categories. Basically , these are books that I would highly recommend, I have recommended and/or I would totally read again.

The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. Basically, I just love Ann Patchett. I like her fiction, but I love her non-fiction voice even more. She writes like she is sitting next to you and I love that. Even more I love that one day I could actually walk into Parnassus in Nashville and run into her. One day.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. This book satisfies my wander-lust. I’m realizing that I love the idea of traveling so, so much and the idea of living somewhere totally different and wild. But I don’t know that I’d ever actually do it.

The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet. This book just makes me want to be a better mother. One that is less full of fear and more wild and willing to take risks.

Fidelity by Wendell Berry. I do love Berry, but of the couple of his novels I’ve read, it was this collection of short stories that made me really love him. They are all really, really good, but the title story is amazing.

The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck. I just finished this one and I’m still processing. I had not read Steinbeck since high school and I really loved him then and this book reminded me why. This book was really eye opening to a facet of history that I really know nothing about (the time of the depression and Dust Bowl) and the characters were so, so rich and good.

Folklore of the Scottish Highlands by Anne Ross. I’m super, super, super slowly writing a book and I read this book as research for the novel I’m working on. It was super interesting – it does help that I’m partially Scottish too.

Abandoned Books of 2019:

I abandoned only 5 books this year. I think that’s a record. It’s funny how I’ve finally reached that point in my reading life where I feel like I can actually abandon a book. Sometimes it was because they were for homeschooling and we decided they weren’t working (or were lousy or weird or whatever) and sometimes it was because I just couldn’t take it (such as Flannery O’Conner…yes, yes I know. That’s another post though). I started Phantastes by MacDonald because it was Lewis’ favorite book, but it was totally odd and I couldn’t get into it so I gave up. The last book was about Hadrian’s Wall, which was actually interesting, but I had to return it to the library and just decided it wasn’t worth getting again.

If you want to see the list of all the books I read this year, you can check out my Goodreads Year in Review.