Category: book reviews

Reading: April 2018

The angels erupted in song yesterday when I finally put down the book David Copperfield and rejoiced that nearly 900 pages later I was finished. Whew. It was a doozy of a book and the longest one I’ve read in years. I’m so happy to have finished it (and for the most part enjoyed it), but I’m super thrilled to be moving on.

Finished

The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom
Seriously, the best book I’ve read in a while. This one has been on my “to-read” list for years and when it ended up as one of my book club books AND a book that I’m teaching this coming year I was beyond thrilled. It’s an amazing read for the mere story of it, but also for the conviction of it. When I start to look around and become annoyed or dismayed at my life – all I need to do is remember hers. This one is worthy of it’s own review post.

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
This was good; not my absolute favorite but I’m not a personality guru either. I really enjoyed the first few chapters, but when she started in on all the different personality tests etc, it didn’t quite hold my interest. It is a great compilation of all the different personality type discussions going on and I do believe in at least being familiar with all the typings as being a helpful thing when trying to deal with people (especially those in your family).

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
To begin with, this is Dickens so it’s crazy wordy. I will say, compared the other Dickens I’ve read this one was definitely more light-hearted. There were places throughout the book where I actually laughed and I did enjoy many of the characters. Dickens is amazing at his ability to create memorable characters and it’s where his love of descriptions is so helpful. By the time you are done with the book you definitely have a very vivid picture in your mind of who is who. I will say the character of David was somewhat annoying. I absolutely loved him as a child, but then it was like he never grew up. From his child-wife to the blindness he carried throughout the book for Agnes (come on already!) drove my absolutely bonkers…and his infatuation with Steerforth! I will say that Dickens did a fabulous job leading up that whole story with Steerforth. I knew from the beginning that at some point David was totally going to realize what sort of goody-too shoes he was.

Caddie Woodlawn (Caddie Woodlawn #1)
The chick and I read this aloud and overall it was pretty good. I feel like it is so much a copy of Little House that I had a hard time getting through that. I don’t know that either of us is a huge Pioneer literature fan so I don’t think we will be continuing on with the series. But it was a good read aloud.

Currently

The Fledgling (Hall Family Chronicles #4)
This is our current read aloud. I picked this up last year when I knew we were going to study birds and we finally started it. So far we are only like 10 pages in, so the jury is still out on how good it will be.

Before We Were Yours by Windgate
My mom passed this off to me a few days ago and knowing I needed something “easy” after Dickens I figured I would try this.

Across Five Aprils
We are attempting to do a family read aloud of this book. It’s been on the list all year and one that I wanted both kids to read. I’ve never read it and the reviews are always great.

Fanny Crosby
This is a pre-read for me as the chick is reading it for school. It’s a biography of her life. She was blind and ended up being this amazing hymn writer; she wrote Blessed Assurance for one.

Island of the Blue Dolphins
The chick is also reading this for school. It was one of my favorites as a child and I’m still enjoying it; she’s not. 🙁

Orthodoxy by Chesterton
This book is making my brain hurt.

What’s Next?

I’m going to re-read Hannah Coulter, because the Circe Close Reads podcast is getting ready to read it in May and I love Wendell Berry so win-win. A friend recommended PJ Wodehouse to me, so I reserved some of those books. Our next book club book is The Good Earth by Buck (I think) so I will need to get my hands on that. I’m also hoping to start reading Steven King’s memoir on writing.

Reading: March 2018

I know it’s nearly mid-April, but I honestly have been spending so much time on the computer doing other things that I haven’t felt like writing at all. I also haven’t been reading quite as much either because of this…

Currently

David Copperfield – this monstronsity is our June book for my book club and I started it way early because I knew I’d never finish it if I didn’t. I really loved the first third, the second third has been a little bit “ehh”, but it’s sort of ramping up again. I go in spurts and sometimes can sit and read it for a while and other times honestly fall asleep. I really do love Dickens, but sometimes his descriptions are so laborious that it’s just too much. But I do love the character of David and he’s so humorous, which seems strange to me as he is a Dickens character.

Reading People by Anne Bogel – I really loved the first couple chapters of this book and then it started going into all the personality types and I got all confused. I get it, but sometimes it all just bogs down in my head and I just wonder if it’s really worth it for me to understand it? But it is a good book and I thing she does a great job of bringing a whole bunch of information into a concise little volume.

Caddie Woodlawn – the chick and I are reading this one at night. It’s pretty good; rather Little House-ish, but kind of funnier in some ways.

Finished

Know and Tell: The Art of Narration – hands down the best Charlotte Mason-ish book I’ve read yet (besides CM stuff itself). Totally helpful and something that I know I will use and refer to tons. I highly recommend it!

What’s Next

I need to start reading The Hiding Place, as that is our next book club book and I want to start reading Steven King’s memoir on writing. But first I’ve got to finish this darn encyclopedia.

Reading: February 2018

 

February is typically a super slow month, but it seemed to fly by this year. I think it’s because my kids are getting so much older. Time just flies. It was a great reading month and I actually finished a handful of books. I found myself looking for something to read this week because I wasn’t sure where to go next!

Finished

The Book of Three (Chronicles of Prydain #1): this was a great and quick read. This series has been on my to-read list for a while to see if it might interest the fantasy loving kids in the house. There were so many similarities between Lord of the Rings and Narnia in this book and I found myself hearing Gollum for Gilgi almost all the time. I couldn’t even get out of my head that Gilgi wasn’t even anything like Gollum – but still. My daughter found the audio version on Libby so she’s excited to start listening to it and hopefully I can gather up the rest of the series to have for our home library.

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You: This book was good; very practical. I really think I enjoyed The Shallows more – something about reading what literally happens to your brain when all you do is stare at screens seems to have more of an effect on me! But it’s an easy read and was for one of my book clubs and led us into a great discussion. Honestly I think we could have had multiple discussions about it over the course of months!

Alias Grace: This was my March book for my other book club and I figured out about one-third of the way through that this was the same author of Handmaid’s Tale…which is a book that totally ticks me off. (the ending…argh!!) But I pushed through hoping this one would end better and it did. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I do really love Atwood’s writing style. I’ve started watching the Netflix version and it’s so close to the book! It’s really good.

Uncommon Type: This is a book of short stories by Tom Hanks. I’ve just recently started enjoying short stories – and partially because I’ve told myself that if I don’t like the way the story is going, then I just don’t finish that one and move on. This book was about half and half. There were maybe 3-4 really compelling stories and a few that I didn’t even attempt after the first line and a couple that I tried to push through and didn’t. You could totally hear Tom Hanks reading these, which makes me realize how iconic he really is.

Princess and the Goblin by McDonald
Amazing! I’ve wanted to read this book forever after hearing Tim Keller reference it during a sermon. I don’t often write down lines from children’s books, but this one was full of so many good ones. I need to get my hands on the rest of the books too because I’m eager to know more about Princess Irene and Curdie.

A Touch of the Infinite by Hoyt
This was an excellent resource on ideas for how to teach music in a Charlotte Mason style. The amount of research she put into this book was amazing and found myself taking gobs of notes with the hope that next year as I plan for our composer study and more that I’ll be able to approach it in a manner that will encourage my children to enjoy the music – or at least appreciate it, rather than just bear it.

Currently

Know and Tell: The Art of Narration by Karen Glass
This book came out with much fanfare in my Charlotte Mason circles and I went back and forth on whether I needed it or not – but man am I glad I bought it. This is an excellent book and so super helpful. It’s always a win when the book you are reading about an educational “task” actually makes you calmer about it rather than more freaked.

Caddie Woodlawn by Brink
The chick and I are reading this one and so far, so good! My daughter is so much like Caddie that it’s been fun to read and almost every night discover another way that if she were living on the Prairie she would be just like Caddie and getting into all sorts of trouble.

Orthodoxy by Chesterton
I’ve actually set this one aside while I read a different book of essays for Lent, but I started it and it’s challenging for sure. I feel like he’s having a conversation and I’ve missed the first half. But I’ve already found some gems and I do want to keep going.

What’s Next:

I started Station’s Eleven and so far I’m totally hooked. I’m a sucker for a good dystopian book. David Copperfield is our June book and I know I need to start on it soon, so I’m trying to lay out the rest of my reading spring so I can make sure I leave enough time to read that ENORMOUS book! My other book club is going to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so I need to re-read that one and we are all going to attend the movie together! Such fun!

Reading: January 2018

(a picture of my living room side table where I read every morning)

 

A new year and a new year of books. I entered January a little bit stressed about the reading plan ahead of me, but I’m feeling pretty good. There are times when my brain can’t seem to remember where I read something – the hazards of too many books going at a time I suppose. January was a great month and so far I’m excited about all the books ahead of me. Here’s where I’m at with them all.

Currently

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
I have been on the waiting list at the library for this book for at least 4 months. It’s a compilation of short stories and I’m about half way through it. I’ve never been a short story reader, but this is my second book of short stories that I’ve read in the past couple of months. I’ve found them to be a great thing to read right before bed. Just enough to calm me down before sleep, but over quick so I’m not tempted to stay up reading beyond. I’ve skipped a couple in this book so far that I wasn’t really getting into and there are a few so far I’ve really enjoyed. You can totally read this and hear Tom Hanks speaking in your ear.

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You
This is for our mom’s book club with our co-op this quarter. I haven’t loved this one as much as The Shallows, but it has been good and refreshing to have a more biblical perspective and reminder of what our phones and all this constant access to technology is doing to us not just mentally, but also spiritually. I’m sure it’s going to make a great book club discussion.

The Princess and the Goblin by G. McDonald
Seriously love this book. I can’t believe it’s taken me so many years to finally read it. It’s so, so good.

A Touch of the Infinite: Studies in Music Appreciation with Charlotte Mason by. M.E.Hoyt
This has been amazingly helpful as I figure out how to incorporate music/composer studies into our Morning Times together. I’ve been a super failure when it comes to how to do this well and make it worth anything.

A Wind in the Door by L’Engle
This is the second in the Wrinkle in Time quintet and the chick and I have been reading it aloud at night. It’s beyond bizarre.

Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark
Still a great read – we are enjoying this as our biography for this term.

Finished

Pride and Prejudice by Austen
I hadn’t read this for a million years and it was our February selection for my other book club. Goodness it’s so good. Emma is my all time favorite, but I totally saw similarities between Elizabeth and Emma that made me smile. While Mr. Darcy is totally awesome, Mr. Knightly is still by guy.

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by T. Warren
If there was one book I could already highly recommend this year, it would be this one. I think it will almost end up being a yearly re-read, sort of like Humble Roots. It was beyond great and such a super book. I’m almost leaning towards doing a summer book discussion of it this year because I want to discuss it other so much.

Beauty and the Word by S. Caldecott
I’m glad I persevered through this book, there was a lot to glean from it, but there was also a lot that was over my head. It’s probably one that I honestly need to go back and do it’s own post for in order to really process through the things I jotted down as I was reading. This book made me feel smart and dumb all at the same time 🙂

Murder on the Orient Express by Christie
This was for my January book club and a reread for me; although I had totally forgotten the ending so it was a surprise again who did it.

What’s Next

My next book club read is Alias Grace by M. Atwood (which I just realized is a show, so I’m excited to start watching that after I’m done reading) and I’m getting ready to start that one. I’m also going to start Orthodoxy by Chesterton in the morning. I recently purchased Steven King’s book on writing and I was hoping to start that soon, but it might have to wait till this summer when my school pre-reading slows down a bit.

Reading: December 2017

I did this a little bit backwards – introducing my new book list for 2018, before compiling my last post of 2017. I honestly didn’t finish that many books this past month and I was just to excited to plan for the next year! Here’s a brief look at December and a quick highlight of my favorite books of 2017.

Currently

A Touch of the Infinite: Studies in Music Appreciation with Charlotte Mason – I’m honestly sort of pre-reading this to see if I want to buy it. It’s on loan from a friend and so far I’m thinking it would be a super helpful addition to my growing library.

A Wind in the Door – my daughter and I started this last night. It’s the second in the quartet of L’Engle’s time books. I’m quickly becoming a huge fan of her writing and I’m excited to read this one and hopefully work through the whole set this year.

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life – This was a Christmas gift and one that had been on my list for a while. I’m attempting to read it super slowly and really sit with each chapter and journal through it. It’s so good though that I want to just keep reading.

Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis & Clark – this is one I’m reading along with my daughter this term

The Princess & the Goblin – another book I’m reading along with my daughter for school this term. It’s been on my to-read list for years, so I’m excited to finally be working through it.

The Mill and the Floss – this is a carry over from last year’s list and it’s a doozy so hopefully I can mange to get through it on top of all the other reading I need to do.

Pride & Prejudice – this is February’s book club book so I need to get started on it. It will be a re-read for me, but it’s been a million years since I read it

Finished

Ready, Player One – this one had been on my to-read list forever and since the movie is coming out, my son is interested in reading and seeing it. I liked it and enjoyed all the 80s references. I’m not a huge gamer, nor have I ever, so I wasn’t totally into all the video game stuff. It was a little bit scary to read after reading The Shallows and what the internet is doing to us for sure. I was frustrated by all the sexual parts they threw in there, because it really almost felt like the author was just trying to be edgy – even with the language too. I’m mostly fine with language in a book if it fits with the character and I just didn’t feel like it fit with the main character all that much. Overall it was pretty good.

The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories about Facing the Unknown – I’m not one to read short stories, but I do appreciate The Moth Podcast so this was interesting. I’m not sure there are any of the stories that were life changing or I’ll remember. But it was a good before bed read.

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry – I’m a longtime fan of Anne Perry and the last book of hers I read I really didn’t like. This one was much improved. Still not as good as she was years ago, but I guess when you’ve written like a million mystery books at some point you become pretty predictable.

Favorites of 2017

For Non-Fiction: I really loved The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains just for all the things it prompted me to consider in my life as I use the internet and as I live with a family of people who love it too. I also really enjoyed The Seamstress by Sarah Bernstein. It was a hard story to read, as it is a World War II story of concentration camps, but it was a portion of that history that was new to me.

For Fiction: I really enjoyed Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers for all the things I learned about Van Gogh and just how crazy he was. I also enjoyed
The Ocean at the End of the Lane as my first forray into Neil Gaiman. I’m excited to try and read more of his work this year if I can. I also really loved Swallows and Amazons – it reminded me a lot of all the running around my neighborhood I did as a child and really wished my kids had the same memories, but the world has just changed so much.