Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Books of 2008 - March

Just as a reminder, I don't list my Bible reading, books read to the girls, books on tape (unless specially noted), or magazines. Here's my list for March:

1. Rhett Butler's People. Fiction by Donald McCaig. Well...it was better than Scarlett. It actually pretends like that sequel never happened. Unfortunately this book is not compelling. He gets Scarlett and Melanie all wrong. Melanie is my favorite GWTW character so I found this unforgivable.

2. Sew Subversive. Non-fiction by Melissa Alvarado, Melissa Rannels, & Hope Meng. Craft book. Some cute ideas here.

3. Home by Choice. Non-fiction by Brenda Hunter. I first saw this mentioned over at Amy's blog. This book is one that I should have truly enjoyed and appreciated. After all, I stay home with my kiddos, I homeschool and I encourage others to do so. And I do all this because I believe it is best. Unfortunately this book was, in my oh so humble opinion, poorly argued and far too dependent on modern psychological assumptions. I don't know about you but I get a little worried when Christians start quoting Freud as gospel. I'm not saying psychology has no redeeming value (Hey, I have a counseling degree!) but I believe the Bible should be our foundation, not psychology. I told Prince Charming that this book actually made me want to dump our kids in Christian school and go out and get a job. Yeah, I'm rebellious like that. No fear, I'm not actually going to but it's no thanks to Ms. Hunter!

4. 501 Movie Stars. Non-fiction by Steven Jay Schneider. This one I'm not proud of. I have a weakness for popular culture and trivia games, is all I can say in my defense.

5. The Battle of Britain. Non-fiction by Richard Overy. First saw this recommended over at The Common Room. This is an excellent, quick read. Informative but not academic.

6. The Scarlet Pimpernel. Fiction by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. Oh my stars and garters, WHY have I never read this book before?! This is one of the classics that I somehow missed back when I was a teenager (too busy reading way too much "Christian Fiction", I suppose). This book is so, so good, funny, exciting, and romantic. I think I have a teensy crush on Percy Blakeney now (Prince Charming isn't worried). Why has no one made a decent movie of this yet? Prince Charming and I watched the old Leslie Howard version just last night. It was good but surely someone today could give this book the treatment it deserves!

7. More Charlotte Mason Education. Non-fiction by Catherine Levison. A helpful and encouraging book.

8. Warm Fuzzies. Non-fiction by Betz White. Another craft book. So, so cute.

9. The Darcy's Give a Ball. Fiction by Elizabeth Newark. I first saw this mentioned over at Austen Blog. This book is all right but it has several typos, far too many characters and it reads like fan-fiction. Honestly, I've read better fan-fiction. Skip.

10. Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster. Non-fiction by Dana Thomas. Interesting. I kind of expected a rich folk whining screed, "Oh, everyone has nice things now, what ever will we do?" It had a touch of that but it was mostly enjoyable and included some history I'd never considered.

11. The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Fiction by Mary Street. What can I say, I'm on a Jane Austen spin-off kick! This book was also mentioned over at Austen Blog. This one is waaay better than #9 above. It's Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's POV. Ms. Street does not add characters or implausible situations. The book is enjoyable, funny, and, most importantly, faithful to Jane Austen. My only complaint is that I wish it had been longer.

12. Cranford. Fiction by Elizabeth Gaskell. Sweet. I read this because I intend to watch the PBS Masterpiece Theatre version in a few weeks. Now that I've read the book I have no idea how they'll make a movie out of it. This book is a bit more accessible than North and South but then, it doesn't have John Thornton or Margaret Hale, or any central story line, so it isn't as riveting.

13. The Case for Classical Christian Education. Non-fiction by Douglas Wilson. Well, I agree with many of this author's points about our modern education system. He is strongly for Christians starting classical schools. All of his points lead, in my mind, much more to homeschooling than starting up some alternative school. This is not a very practical book and it is unfortunate that he does not see where his own logic breaks down.

14. Howards End. Fiction by E.M. Forster. Not quite as funny as A Room with a View, this book is still fascinating and full of memorable characters.

15. Homeschooling for Excellence. Non-fiction by David and Micki Colfax. Written in 1988, these parents are famous homeschoolers because their sons were accepted into Harvard and Yale (they chose Harvard). At the time of this book homeschooling was still illegal (or at least highly difficult) in several states. This is encouraging reading, although dated. We fortunately have many more options in homeschooling today than the Colfax family did then. Although I'm not sure I appreciate all the options as I plow through the Rainbow Resource catalog in preparation for a new school year!

There you have it, another month's worth of reading. I'm currently reading Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism (when I can get it away from Prince Charming) and another P&P sequel.

Oh, a special note to Lulu: you would really enjoy #6 and #11. Let me know if you read them!


lulu said...

I'll try and get them but I doubt our library even has #11. Our library is so sad......

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

(Long comment-- why do I feel compelled to say that? anyone looking can see that without my saying so...)

About the Pimpernel:
I've never read the book (the recording at our library-- the way I've always found my favorite "classics" before-- was not very interesting, so I never got past the first tape), but I like the 1982 movie with Jane Seymour and (Get this!) the dude who played Gandalf.

I *just* figured that out today when I went to check for the actress's name. I always wondered why he looked familiar... ;o)

I agree #3 wasn't the most solidly argued support I've ever read, but I enjoy seeing Christian writers venturing into the arena with the weapons chosen by their opponents.

It definitely is a harder way to argue, but that willingness is seen by some outside the church as more intellectually honest.

Not that I really think one ought to lay the scriptures aside, but I think this book is useful to those who do not give scripture the weight it deserves.

I can't get my kids to eat green salad for lunch, but I can (and do!) chunk ham and broccoli into their Mac and cheese.

And, man. Austen? You are the third (+) woman I know who is really into that, and I could never get there.

Funny, really. I got Jane Eyre, White Fang, Sea Wolf (a Favorite) and others on-tape and fell in love. Just never happened with Austen.

I never liked Laura Ingles Wilder books either, and I hear nothing but praise about them. Do you see any connections?

Karen said...

Didn't mean to cast aspersions on your book choices, Amy! ;)

I don't mean to knock psychology either. I guess I just didn't find the book very compelling as a spiritual or practical guide. I also resent the "get your children grown so you can start your real ministry" mentality which I sensed. Could just be me.

And don't get me started on Jane Eyre. My personal opinion is that all the Bronte's are so over-rated. Again, could just be me. ;)

Our parents read the Little House books over and over and over to us while we were growing up. I can't imagine not loving them. So there could be some connection to my choices now but I haven't explored it. Definitely worth thinking about!

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

No offense taken.

I appreciate just being able to exchange ideas/views without the expectation that we have to think the same.

I never "got" Whuthering Heights. Never tried anything by the other Bronte (Anne). *Totally* clicked with Jane. She was me the first time I "read" the book at 18: very careful, mentally-disciplined person with a passionate nature.

And that "passionate" nature could explain my attraction to that section you describe as the "get your children grown so you can start your real ministry" mentality.

I see my children as real (and my most important) ministry, but I've *never* been able to just one-thing.

Writing, teaching (non-traditional; I *so* don't want a classroom every day), storytelling, and sewing are all things that are deeply rooted desires.

That these are, frankly, more-easily accomplished after children are non longer little does not mean I want to rush this stage.

But it does mean I draw encouragement from stories of women who have plenty of time to develop their non-child talents once their first duties are fulfilled.

I am very content where I am right now (I don't know if I'd as easily/truthfully say that if I didn't have my writing), and I am looking forward to teaching my children, but it is part of my nature (the nature I'm convinced God gave me) to pursue/develop things outside my "home" skill-set.

They've all been things that are also useful at home (like the teaching), but have an application not completely doable right now

I have to look ahead and think in "seasons" so I don't feel like I'm losing something very important to me.

Karen said...

Amy, I think we agree more than we disagree concerning the raising children/ministry/seasons concept.

I certainly don't want anyone to get the idea that my children are my only interest (wouldn't this blog testify to the fact that they are not)!

I suppose I only mean that there is no more valuable or eternally significant ministry than what I am now doing every day. And I eagerly look forward to having more children (eventually) and for this season to be long and well savoured.

As for Jane Eyre, I really ought to try it again. I read it for the first time at 11 or 12 and then again at 16. I would most likely appreciate it more now. Wuthering Heights is a lost cause: completely over-rated, incomprehensible, and unlikeable, and I have better things to do with my time. :)

Anonymous said...

What a coincidence! I was watching scenes from Lord of the Rings and The Scarlet Pimpernel just yesterday! :) I've read the Scarlet Pimpernel book, too, but I like the film much better, because it makes Marguerite much more sympathetic and likable. Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour, and Ian McKellen are all superb in their roles, the lines are hilarious, the costumes are GORGEOUS (I think they won an award), and the swordfight at the end is a scream! However, there are some things that I don't quite appreciate or approve of and that I tend to fast-forward through, so I would recommend parental preview and approval before the kiddies are allowed to watch it.

Oh, and I don't like Bronte, either. Just not my style.

ButI love the Little House books. Used to be my favorite books--until I stumbled upon Jane Austen, that is. :)

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