One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more books for personal enjoyment. I do a decent amount of reading for our homeschool, but just to kick back and read something for my own pleasure…I hadn’t been making much time for that. Since there are still large blocks of my life that resemble a cross between The Exorcist and Supernanny, and since this reality puts my sanity at almost daily risk, committing to doing something for myself seemed like a good thing.
So…here’s the report. Since January 1, aside from books for the kids’ school, I’ve read…
Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. This was such a winner that I actually bought a copy. At the age of fifty, Jean Fleming started pondering what kind of old woman she wanted to be and how she wanted to spend the rest of her earthly life. She started collecting articles, quotes, and her own journaling into an “Old Lady File.” Twenty years later, she decided to publish it. And, turns out, her information is for women of all ages. After all, no one’s too young to start living more intentionally.
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Wikipedia sums up the plot this way: “This is the story of Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl who became Harimad- sol, King’s Rider, and heir to the Blue Sword, Gonturan, that no woman had wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle.” Technically, this is a young adult novel, but it’s a good one. Hayden and I liked it so much that we chose McKinley’s “Outlaws of Sherwood” for our next family read-aloud.
No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene. Greene sums the book up beautifully herself: “We so loved raising our four children by birth, we didn’t want to stop. When the clock started to run down on the home team, we brought in ringers.” They went on to adopt five children (one from Bulgaria and four from Ethiopia). Their story is funny and heart-breaking and very, very real. The only downfall to this book was that it got Hayden started pestering us to adopt a baby from Africa. Oy.
Free Range Learning (How Homeschooling Changes Everything) by Laura Grace Weldon. This book was part of my annual (usually in February) angst about our homeschooling. For a couple of weeks, I let my imagination run wild with visions of self-directed children who are learning just for the pure joy of it. Then I look at my very real children, and my daydreams collapse in on themselves. My self-directed children are doing just fine with what we’re doing, thank you very much. My not-so-self-directed children would barely be able to write their own names if left to their own devices. I love the idea of unschooling, and I know families that do it beautifully and successfully, but it’s not for us. The book is good, though, and (taken with a grain of salt), it’s inspirational.
The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills. I love To Kill a Mockingbird. Absolutely love it. I have read it countless times myself and have read it aloud to the children several times (in that way, it’s right up there with the Chronicles of Narnia and Across Five Aprils). However, after reading this book, I’m not sure I like Harper Lee that much. Although I think I grasp (as much as I can with something so outside my own experience) her desire to flee from fame, over the course of her life, I think she drew more attention to herself than she would have if she had just filled the role society wanted to give her.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. This novel ties together two stories: one of a teenage foster child who is trying to find her way, and one of an elderly woman who was sent West on an orphan train as a child. Obviously, this book grabbed me from the start, since fostering and adopting are two of my favorite topics in the whole wide world. The book ended a little predictably, but nicely…a good read.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. This book blew me away. I do enough reading that many books are…well…a little predictable. Not so with this one. The kids asked me a couple times what it was about, and even that was hard to answer. It’s a mystery and a story about a young man finding his passion, but the characters are young and hip and on the cutting-edge. Several times, I found myself wondering if the descriptions were about things that are real or about things that are futuristic. The theme ties together new technology and old books…awesome. Josiah read this book in a day, loved it, and spent some time googling things from the book to see whether they are real or not. Read it. I dare you.
So…I’m looking for material. What have you read lately?