Friday, December 2, 2011

The Reading Report: October 2011

Oh reading reviews! I've gotten woefully behind. This little gem was started 3 weeks ago and it was behind then. So rather than bombard you, I'll divide and conquer. Here are the books I read in October (mostly):Link

Heaven by Randy Alcorn
This non-fiction book is like a reference book for all your questions about heaven. I don't agree with Alcorn's theology; we come from very different backgrounds. However, I appreciated his emphasis on the physicality of Heaven, on the centrality of Christ, and on how much Heaven won't be about me. It provided much to think about.

Entwined by Heather Dixon
An FYA recommendation. When the king institutes a ban against dancing to honor the mourning of their mother (who taught them all a love of dancing), the 12 sisters find a secret passage to an enchanted gazebo. The dance master promises them that they can dance there whenever they want, if they find a way to release him from his enchanted prison. But should they? This retelling of the fairytale, the 12 dancing sisters, was funny and enchanting yet dark. This was my first exposure to the fairytale so more than anything, I want to find more versions to read.

Read purely so I could go see the movie, which I haven't seen yet. It's an interesting story, at turns funny and sad and mildly inspiring. However, I read articles about a claim from the real life Abileen, so the story ultimately left me conflicted. It became more about a white woman escaping the segregated South than about African-American women making a bid for equal rights. Worth reading to be culturally literate. PS: I read this on my nook! Super fun!

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Love! Percy Jackson was great, but some many of my friends who love YA are Romanists. (Why yes, that is a really weird sentence to 99% of the world.) So I am so happy to be able to recommend this new series to them. It's a little disorienting since it's Percy Jackson's world without Percy Jackson, but I love the new characters and he's just as engaging of a writer as ever. If you like the Classics, please check out this series.

I found a couple books on my Madeleine L'Engle permalist on the public library website that are about L'Engle, but not written by her (thus not part of my summer reading). So I caught up. This was a festschrift written for L'Engle's 80th birthday celebrating themes in her writing. My favorite part was reading how the authors first encountered L'Engle's writings. Many were introduced by their children (daughters).

Yes, this is one of my textbooks, but I read it all so it counts. You would not believe how prevalent libraries are in western history. They're all over. And they're affected by all major events in history (poor, poor libraries bombed in WWI and WWII). It was interesting and bland, but as far as class reading goes, not bad.

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
Yay! Percy Jackson's back, but no he's at the wrong camp. Again great for the Romanist in your life. And if you don't use terms like Romanist in every day conversation, still read this book. You'll still like it.

Why Read Moby Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
In my American Literature class, we read Moby Dick. My professor, in pedagogical brilliance, offered 3 pts extra credit for every week we read 3 chapters and wrote up a brief summary. So I actually read Moby Dick. I answer the question posed in 10 Things I Hate about You: "I know you can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?" The answer is NOT "I think you can in Europe", not the answer is "You can when you're on the high seas!" Vocabulary! That's why you read Moby Dick. Actually Philbrick talks about several themes in the novel that really make it worthwhile to read right after or alongside if you can't discuss the novel with an expert. It's also little so it's not as intimidating as Moby Dick is.

Dahl's History of the Book
Yay! Another class book. This one was devoted to the book in general so we talk about script and illustration, changes in binding over the years, and libraries to a small extent. This was a nerdy book. I would have totally read on my own. And there were some really great Luther quotes. Also these books were written in the '90s so they had some awesome things to say about the Internet. The amazing thing is that they were pretty much on the mark. Much closer than this guy.

The Hangman's Daughter
I thought this would make a good October read because it has to do with a witch hunt. Turns out that it was a Spring book. Oh well. It was still a really engaging mystery that raced against the clock to save the local midwife. It does have The Time Traveler's Wife problem wherein the story is not really about the woman as much as it is about the men in her life. But it's 17th century Germany so one can't complain much. :-)

Suncatcher by Carole Chase
And here's my last last Madeleine L'Engle book. Chase wrote a thematic biography of L'Engle's life that really highlights the loveliness she put in the world. While it's not David McCullough or anything. It's a good summary of her life.

October you passed so quickly. I finished class reading. I read for fun. I read for catch up. I didn't read as much as I'd hoped, but all in all a worthwhile journey. Stay tuned for my review of November reading later this month. Maybe if we're lucky I'll catch up and be ready to start fresh in 2012.

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