Book, books, books!!

  • One more reason why it takes me 18 months to two years to get through one year’s worth of Sonlight Core material:  DK’s Children’s Book of Art.  I spied this book at the library a few weeks back, flipped through it, and fell in love.  We checked it out, and I gave it a trial run as part of my 9yo Wesley’s school, reading two pages daily to him, on top of everything else we do.  It quickly became his favorite, and after a week or so, I purchased our own copy.  Every day, I let Wesley pick the order of the day’s subjects.  He typically puts a favorite at the beginning, and a favorite at the end, with all the so-so stuff in the middle.  Art has begun our school day for the last several weeks.  The book is full of history and technique, with loads of pictures, and interesting bites of text, as well as illustrated projects for children to do, to approximate a subject of the day’s learning.  Excellent!!
  • NO, it was not picked because it's an Oprah's Book Club selection. Ugh.

    I’m part of a semi-secret book club.  There are… nine of us, I think.  We meet every-other-month, and each selects a book in rotation.  It’s semi-secret, because we don’t really want the group to grow.  We fit, just right, around a table, and there is a perfect mix of similarity and differences amongst us:  similarity to enjoy the book at hand and each other’s company, and differences to pepper the discussion with varying points of view.  The goal of each book — which has varied WIDELY in genre in the three years of the club’s existence — is Good Art + Good Message.  Both are vitally important.  This month, the choice was Cry, the Beloved Country.  A)  I cannot believe this book has never been on my radar, previously.  B)  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  The book made me weep on a number of occasions, and I placed a Post-It at the top of just about every other page, describing something significant therein.  A friend asked me to describe the book.  I wrote to her:  Inspiring, convicting, beautiful, gripping, personal, glorious, powerful story of the intertwining — through tragedy — of a black family and a white family in 1948 South Africa.  “Convicting” regarding my relationship with the Father, and my willingness to serve others… not in a “race relations” sort of way.  My mom purposed to raise my siblings and I with an understanding of the sinfulness and tragedy of racism/oppression, and I think she did a great job.  But, there were a handful of times when I just wept — and I don’t cry all that easily! — and said, “You’re killing me, God!!”  The book is such a testament, in many ways, to the Body of Christ — good relationship with other believers in Christ, and how necessary and beautiful that can be, especially when we are broken.

  • On a homeschool forum I infrequent, I requested suggestions for a series set in the post-WWI era of Britain.  Someone immediately recommended The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, by Laurie R. King.  I am about halfway through, and am enjoying it immensely.  It’s quite a literate mystery, and I am keeping my well-thumbed dictionary close at hand.  Since I’ve never read any Conan Doyle, and because there are a number of stories-within-stories, and references which I am surely missing, I had thought, “I don’t think I’m smart enough to really get this book.”  Then, about a third of the way through the book, which is set in 1918, the protagonist puts a “plaster” (Band-Aid) on another character.  Because of another book I’d recently read, I thought, “I don’t think Band-Aids were invented in 1918!” I hopped up to Google it.  Sure enough.  They were invented in 1920, but not in widespread use until much later in the 1920s.  That doesn’t help me catch any subtle Holmes case-references or anything like that, but it did make me feel a tad smug, like I DID have what it takes to appreciate such a book.  So there.  😛
  • I love this cover.

    Speaking of post-WWI series, I recently finished the latest book in Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge series, A Lonely Death.  ~sigh~  As someone who relishes character development and a carefully considered plot, Todd’s books — with one exception — are an absolute treat for me.  This latest book did not disappoint.  Charles Todd is actually the pseudonym for a mother-and-son writing team, and they’re American.  This is a point of wonder to me — not only because they seem to have really nailed the British culture so exactly, but because the tone of the books — the sensibility of them — is SO NOT AMERICAN.  There is a patience there not found in many books today.  There is a lack of sensationalism.  There is a respect for the story — both the individual novel itself, and for the arcing story that has slowly developed through all 13 of the Inspector Rutledge books.  Not quite literary perfection, but really close.  I don’t usually read reviews of books before I read the books themselves, but I accidentally happened upon one a few weeks ago.  It said something about there being too many coincidences in the book, and the reader having to suspend belief in order to enjoy the book, calling it “implausible”.  To that, I say, “Wha??”  Well, except for, perhaps, the Inspector Cummins subplot.  Perhaps.  But, that’s a minor quibble, in my opinion.  All in all, both the Rutledge series, and the fledgling Bess Crawford series come highly recommended, especially if you like books that unpack with rich detail and are more about people than they are page-turners.

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on February 3, 2011, in Books I'm Reading, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Just thought I’d let you know that I really, really like reading your posts about books! I so want to get my hands Cry, the Beloved Country. I recently read another book placed in SA called A Beautiful Place to Die. It was pretty good… and I would love to read another book about SA. And I’m not usually a big fan of detective stories, but you make the Charles Todd books sound like I want to try reading them.

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