Tag Archives: literature

Or . . .

30 Apr

I know we usually reserve bookish blog posts for Friday, but sticking to a schedule hasn’t been our strong point lately.

Shoot, posting hasn’t been our strong point lately.

But here I am.  On a Monday.  Posting.  About a book.

I have a good reason, though.  Here it is:

We first encountered the Modern Mrs. Darcy when reading Pride and Prejudice over at A Classic Case of Madness.  Then I found out she was hosting this nice carnival, and since I prefer my carnivals free of overpriced fried foods and death-defying buckets of bolts, participating seemed like a lovely idea.

My first impulse was to write this post for our book blog, but I couldn’t pick one of the books.  So instead, you should go read Adriana’s post about The Well-Educated Mind.  She gets it.  And, she has clever, beautiful pictures to accompany her clever, beautiful words.

I, on the other hand, am floundering to pick a book, forget photos and carefully crafted prose.

I could write on something spiritual, like, say, Spirituality of the Cross.  Gene Veith wrote this simple book on life in Christ that made me say, “Oh!  Of course that’s what I believe!  Now I get it.”

For that matter, Music Matters by David. J. Elliot shaped my entire philosophy of music education and drove my college career, I suppose that’s pretty life changing.

Speaking of careers, the Lutheran Service Book is at the core of my career and my prayer life, so it probably deserve a little coverage.

But maybe I should tell you a romantic story.  For instance,  I fell in love with my husband while we were reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy aloud to one another in the first weeks of our relationship.

Or how about when I fell in love with him all over again as he read aloud Charlotte’s Web to our infant son?  Maybe e.b. white wins the honor.

I suppose even Mary Pope Osborne deserves some credit, because the day that same first-born child really “got” reading was when he picked up her Christmas in Camelot.  His independence and enjoyment in the book filled my heart with joy that we were rearing a reader.

Or, I could tell you how completing Don Quixote with my two dear friends gave me a high I can only imagine equals that of completing a marathon, minus the achy limbs and chafing, of course.  With pages coming in at nearly a grand, I knew finishing that book made me a Reader, and possibly a little crazy.  Together with those friends, we have made our way through at least 3886 pages of the classics, using The Well-Educated Mind as our road map.

And Susan Wise Bauer didn’t just change my life by opening the classics.  Through The Well-Trained Mind she and her mother are instrumental in teaching me how and what to teach my children.

Maybe The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society deserves the credit though.  Not only did it bring me immense enjoyment, it is the book that turned my non-reading, sixty-year-old mother into a Book Addict.  I’d call that life-changing.

And I don’t want to leave out The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and These Is My Words: They Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine.  Mma Ramotswe and Sarah are two of my very best friends.  I introduced Sarah to my sister, and my sister introduced Precious to me.  We’re all bosom buddies.  They should be on the list.

Anybody have any good recommendations for a book on decision making?


Not the Eddie Murphy version

9 Mar

We have a new obsession at our house. It’s The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting.

Oh, what joy the digital pages of that free download are bringing my boys. I’m telling you – public domain books are where it’s at.

Not only is it a charming little read with fanciful ideas and interesting characters – reading it via Kindle for iPad (if you want to get specific) is super super fun. Yep. You read that right. Super. Super. Fun.

See, the book is packed full of all sorts of geographical and zoological references. Some real. Some less than so. For instance, when the Purple Bird of Paradise flew over the Azores we could immediately Google both. Azores: real. Purple Bird of Paradise: less than so. Photographs of the beautiful localle now flood our mind while images of a swooping feathery wonder flood our mind’s eye.

Another tidbit learned whilst researching: The Fidgit Fish is a creation of Hugh Lofting, whereas the little guy’s most frightful nemesis, the Dogfish, is a creation of God (read: REAL). Imagine how hungry the Dogfish has been all these years searching for his make-believe snack!

My suggestion is this: Get yourself a Kindle (advertisement endorsment, please), or an iPhone (pretty please), or an iPad (Apple, do you hear me?), or a really relevant set of Encyclopedias that follow you around as you read, and sit down with this classic. Its fusion of fact and fantasy is fascinating. Find the stuff at your fingertips and Flash! – fiction fun.


I’ll take your advice

13 Jan

Do you know what I love? Book recommendations. Love them. Do you know why? Because if someone is passionate enough about something to actually recommend it then it must be worth at least a glance. Don’t you agree?

For instance, the book I’m reading now, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, was a Facebook status recommendation. One of my friends just threw it out there. So I picked it up. Why not? The only thing I knew was that this particular friend liked it. What didn’t I know? I didn’t know whether she and I had similar literary taste. She’s an intelligent gal and she doesn’t give a book recommendation every other day, so I felt like this book deserved my time. And let me tell you, a charming read it is. Wonderful. Clever. Interesting. Makes me chuckle. Great recommendation.

Now, I suppose that not every paperback plug is going to be as wildly successful as the one I just mentioned. But what I love about taking a literary suggestion is that I’m bound (get it?) to stumble upon at least SOMETHING interesting because SOMEONE found it just that. Hey, I may even glom onto a new genre obsession. How great is that? Expanding my horizons and that whole bit? Good stuff.

So that’s it. Tell people what you love to read. Make a suggestion on your status. Tweet about it. Recommend something to your pew-mate. Carve your favorite book in a bathroom stall. Buy a billboard and use that. Pass out “I ❤ Atticus Finch” buttons.  We can all benefit from a little reading recommendation.


2 Winners.

6 Jan

Hey there. It’s been awhile. I’d like to ensure you that my brain hasn’t been entirely on sabbatical. How am I to do this? Well, I don’t have tangible proof. There’s been no observable gray matter growth. Alas, my hair hasn’t even gotten any bigger. I do, however, have a book (or 3…) on which I can report. Also, at the end of this post I will be announcing our First Ever Giveaway Winner! Tune in, all ye who entered (and even those who didn’t), so we can crown the FEGW in our wildly scientific and professional way.

On to my book report.

The Hunger Games Trilogy. Suzanne Collins. Read them. It is my belief that this series can be universally enjoyed. Seriously. No matter your taste in literature – these are for you. I’m not even kidding.

How have I settled upon this bold opinion? Well, there’s this: my beloved and I both adore them and we have very different literature leanings. Example? He’s Neverwhere. I’m Guernsey Literature and Potato Peel Pie Society. He’s Lord of the Rings. I’m No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. He’s Dune. I’m Pride and Prejudice. Get it? So the mere fact that we both are doting on this trilogy is huge. It’s happened before, sure, but you must be prepared that when we light upon corresponding keenness for a book I will recommend said book to THE WORLD. Yes, the world.

Also, there’s this: Collins has taken a familiar dark plot (think Jackson’s “The Lottery”) and spun it in a way accessible and relatable to many levels of readers. She combines angst, action, citizenship, social standing, death, murder, singing, politics, starvation, tragedy, fashion, likable characters, despicable characters, in-between characters, and high drama in a never-stop-reading stew.

Oh, and there’s love, too. A triangle. A unique, tragic, heart-tugging love triangle.

There. Universal appeal.


In a completely random, names-on-slips-of-paper and drawn from a generic coffee can method, we have determined our FEGW to be…….

That says "Carissa".

Congratulations. We’ll be in touch and you, Carissa, will shortly be receiving The Very First Christmas by Paul Maier.

Christmas Bibliomaniac

9 Dec

We have Christmas books. Many many Christmas books. Whooptie-doo, so do you. (That was a cute little rhyme, huh?) I didn’t used to have this book collection. It’s one of the things my husband brought to the Christmas prep table. He and his brother got a new Christmas book every year and over the years their collection reached beyond the widest branches of their tree. I love this tradition, so we have adopted it into our family. We don’t necessarily buy a new book each year. AJ’s mom is adept at keeping us stocked. Sometimes she gifts the boys with new books. Lately she’s given them books of their Dad’s from the past. Some of the books are gifts from others. Regardless of their origin, we love the books. We love hauling them out of storage each year. We love picking a new one to read each night. Here, I’ll show you some of our collection.

This was our first purchase as a married couple. Funny.

The one on the left was the first Christmas book we bought for Owen. The one on the right was AJ’s when he was little. Mr. Grinch is so mean we needed two of him.

Some of our books tell a Classic Christmas Story.

Some of them tell the Actual Christmas Story.

We even have a touch and feel. Don’t you?

Oh, and a Christmas Humor Book. That’s really important in any book collection. You know, keepin’ it light.

And hey! Look at this! SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR. How cool is that? This is thanks to my sister who is willing to stand in line to get such things. Chris Van Allsburg is from Grand Rapids, so he and Christina are practically bff’s.

And board books. There must ALWAYS be board books, because we always have at least one child who consumes books. See? He’s getting ready to chomp.

 Please, feel free to come over and read. I’ll make hot cocoa and put on some James Taylor. Or Harry Connick Jr. Maybe Barenaked Ladies? Mormon Tabernacle Choir? The Osmonds? We could always hit ‘shuffle’. Tell you what, you can choose the Christmas tunes. No, YOU choose the book, I’ll choose the tunes. Wait, no, you’re the guest – you choose. I’LL make recommendations. No, no. I’ll just make hot cocoa.

Big Pumpkin….

28 Oct

Today’s book recommendation comes thanks to my husband, the Halloween-y season, and a great deal on produce at Walmart. I love them all. Wait. Really, I love my husband and I LOVE a great deal on produce. I’m pretty cool with Halloween. It’s fine. Reformation’s a bit cooler, I like to think. Christmas? Birth of the Savior. Hard to beat that. You know, though, Easter is pretty heavy on the amazing stuff, too….

Stop. This is not a holiday competition post. It’s a book review post. I’m so sorry. My mind is a delta of tangents. Today’s book?

We’ve got a whole load of Halloween literature (thanks mostly to one very generous Halloween loving Grandma) and this is undoubtedly our favorite. Wait. Really it’s AJ’s favorite. (Mine is Boris and Bella by Carolyn Crimi and Gris Grimly. You should read that one. And this one, of course.) This is so much AJ’s favorite that 3 years ago after our paperback copy ripped, we got him a hard back copy for his birthday (in mid-November) and he was elated. And it wasn’t false elation, either. Real, genuine elation, that’s what it was. I’m not sure what about this book he finds so completely charming. Maybe it’s the outward aggression by the book’s protagonist towards a pumpkin? Maybe it’s the obvious arrogance of not only a mummy, but a vampire and ghost, as well? Perhaps it’s that ever driving desire for underdog success? It could be the story’s promise of a sweet treat. Heck, it’s probably the cliff-hanger ending that really sells it. There is SO MUCH packed into one bitty book and one prodigious pumpkin.

Do you want to know what else you can squoosh in a squash?


Wait for it……



I’m conditioned to read pretty books.

14 Oct

Let me introduce to you a book that I chose to read based solely on its cover. See, in my husband’s office sat a box of discarded high school literature (a gold mine!). I had recently finished my book. (The Star Garden by Nancy Turner. Christina or I will write to you of her whole Sara Agnes Prine series someday. They’re divine.) So, I needed something to read. The bold, uncomplicated cover caught my eye. It was elegant in its simplicity (much like Penn State’s football uniforms), so that’s where it started.

I’m not going to pretend that I hadn’t heard of Brave New World before. I had. Well, at least I’d heard allusions to it and I was excited to be “in on it”. Boy, having absolutely NO inkling of this classic’s story line was a bit unsettling. I should have been prepared. It kind of whapped me on my head with social satire. Heavy stuff for a Thursday afternoon. I guess I don’t know what I expected. A story about a planet of warrior mimes perhaps? Anyway, if you’ve read it, you can imagine my, well, surprise, I guess. I won’t review it for you or even give you a summary. (Google it, please.) That’s not to say that I don’t have opinions about the story. I’ve got loads of ’em. Oodles. That Huxley was some thinker, he was. But, as I am not one to incite controversy on the pages of this blog, I won’t get into it. I really wish I was part of a book club that automatically followed my literary whims, finished all reading on my schedule, and was willing to hang out in my toy and laundry-riddled living room while I served water and generic gold fish crackers. In that setting I would get all SORTS of controversial on your mugs.

Let’s get back to it, shall we? Okay, so the book refers to the conditioning of humans on a rather large, startling, and well-thought-out scale. So, I’ve really been honed in to conditioning ever since. Exciting, huh? I know. I’ve been thinking about all the ways that AJ and are conditioning our wee tribe. What beliefs and activities will they see as “natural”? I’ll give you the list:

  1. Pop A capella is important. Really important. This art form must be studied, enjoyed, used, studied some more, and shared with the general public. One must listen to every tune on the air waves for its relevance and possible use in the Pop A capella genre.
  2. Hip Hop dancing is amazing. Watching hip hop on YouTube is essential. The LXD is a household name for everyone.

And that’s about it.

Now that you’ve learned absolutely nothing about Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (and a tish too much about our household) you should go out and read it. Then you should put on some sweatpants, come over and we’ll talk. (But not about the book. I’m totally over the book. Let’s talk about The Sing Off.)