Sunday, April 23, 2017

Reading and keeping update 4/22/17

Greetings, friends - Easter joy to you all!

After taking a break to observe Holy Week and the Easter Octave, I am happy to share a reading update.

Books recently finished

First, can I say that I delight in the cover of this book? Truly, it is charming. I know we can't judge a book by its cover but this one has a good story and a good cover! Callie Vee is a likeable heroine struggling to find her place in the family, and in the world. She is drawn to science, nature, and exploration, not the things her mother has in mind for her. Callie wants nothing to do with domestic pleasures or debutante balls; she just wants to spend time with her science-loving grandfather and feeding her new interest in nature.

I enjoyed her interactions with her many brothers, both the serene and the typical sibling squabbles. I could sympathize with her wish that her oldest brother (of whom she has always been a favorite) steer clear of girls who threaten to take him away. Her reaction to her brothers' crushes on her best friend seems about right for a sister to have. My only complaint is the author's use of a crass word for a cat's bodily function (such a pet peeve of mine - you'd not find this in a classic work) but it's not a deal-breaker for me. I found great appeal in all of the nature details and got some good ideas for my own nature journal.

Books currently reading

Oh my goodness. I have been hearing about this book for a long time as a must-read. So, I did what any rational book lover would do and bought it for "someday." That "someday" arrived on Friday night and what an immediate pleasure! I am not someone who laughs easily, though I do enjoy many things. I just laughed right out loud at this:

Grandmam had told me exactly what to do if ever anybody [boys] got fresh with me. I was to remove their hand firmly from wherever they had put it, look them directly in the eye, and say, "Are you ready to try that in front of Grandmam?"
p. 15
What a wonderful grandmother!

I also enjoyed this from the opening chapter (not funny, but poignant):

This is the story of my life, that while I lived it weighed upon me and pressed against me and filled all of my senses to overflowing and now is like a dream dreamed. So close to the end now, what do I look forward to? "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."
p. 5

I continue to savor this book like some would savor a good meal...slowly. (Unfortunately, I seldom am able to eat slowly when I like something!) Lots of tabs for later commonplacing, and just reading a few pages at a time. These are two passages I would like to take to heart:

There are good and evil tendencies in body and mind, heart and soul; and the hope set before us is that we can foster the good so as to attenuate the evil; that is, on condition that we put Education in her true place as the handmaid of Religion.
p. 46

However disappointing, even forbidding, the failings of a child, we may be quite sure that in every case the opposite tendency is there and we must bring the wit to give it play.
p. 47

Every page, every paragraph of this book convinces me evermore of its value. One life changing idea he shared was looking at the Biblical story of Creation in light of Jesus Christ, what scholars call typology. Now I understand typology and have seen it at play in many OT books, but have never thought of it in regard to Creation. Cardinal Ratzinger talked about how the Gospel of John begins with: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Yes, I am familiar with this beautiful reading. But to then compare that to the beginning of the Book of Genesis: In the beginning..., I had never made that connection. So much to think on here. Also:

Out of that "Let there be" it was not some haphazard stew that was concocted. The more we know of the universe the more profoundly we are struck by a Reason whose ways we can only contemplate with astonishment. In pursuing them we can see anew that creating Intelligence to whom we owe our own reason. Albert Einstein once said that in the laws of nature "there is revealed such a superior Reason that everything significant which has arisen out of human thought and arrangement is, in comparison with it, the merest empty reflection."
p. 23

The universe is not the product of darkness and unreason. It comes from intelligence, freedom, and from the beauty that is identical with love. Seeing this gives us the courage to keep on living, and it empowers us, comforted thereby, to take upon ourselves the adventure of life.
p. 25

I attempted to read the first essay in this book, and was completely lost about a quarter of the way into it. I was discouraged and put the book aside. However, I try not give up on books easily, and attempted it again another night when I was not quite so tired - I am convinced fatigue was part of my difficulty. The second time around was much better and even enjoyable.

The author discussed patterns in literature, imploring readers to be open to the style employed by a particular author to tell his story even if different from what he might be used to reading. (This 1929 book is a series of essays from the Saturday Review of Literature.) It was fun to read the specific book titles she discussed, including some familiar to me: Willa Cather's books as well as James Joyce's Ulysses, a book I read in high school (but do not remember!). She also includes a list of recommended reading at the end. As an aside, I am reluctant to tab pages in this book as there is no sheen or any protective covering to the paper; I am pretty sure any adhesive would damage the pages. I need to figure out how to mark passages in a different way.

This is a very old history book that has been reprinted. I first heard about it when I was looking into using RC History for our history studies. I found an original copy and we read a bit from it, but decided to go in another direction. As I picked the book up again a couple weeks ago, the first chapter was a bit tough to read, simply because it holds onto beliefs about the origin of man commonly held at the beginning of the 20th century. They only knew what they knew, and I don't fault Ms. O'Neill for reporting what was true at the time she wrote the book. However, reading through Cardinal Ratzinger's book (discussed above) means I don't need to spend time on this part of the book. I am planning to resume reading this week, but moving past her introductory chapter.

I was a bit daunted by the length of this audiobook, nearly 40 hours long! How would I ever finish it? Most of my listening has been on the treadmill, but the story is so compelling that I find myself fitting in other time to listen. As mentioned before, Richard Armitage is an excellent narrator and the story is one to get lost in. Charles Dickens is quickly become a favorite author. I have less than 8 hours to go to finish - perhaps this week!

Books on the horizon

I'm excited to add this category to my reading and keeping updates. Here I'll share new books I've purchased, whether for my boys or for me, that are on the horizon of our reading lives.

For links to the following three books, click here for the best price I could find (April 2017). I am planning to use Sabbath Mood Homeschool's Science Guides for Form III next year (for more information on the science guides and the unlinked books below click here).  :

Matter and Energy: Principles of Matter and Thermodynamics - Paul Fleisher
Liquid and Gases: Principles of Fluid Mechanics - Paul Fleisher
Objects in Motion: Principles of Classical Mechanics - Paul Fleisher
The Planets - Dava Sobel

The Way: The Essential Classic of Opus Dei's Founder - Josemaria Escriva
Christ is Passing By - homilies by Josemaria Escriva de Belaguer
This has become a favorite devotional during Lent and the Easter season. It draws heavily from St. Josemaria's writings so it made sense to me to go to the source!

The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise - Robert Cardinal Sarah
This book keeps coming up in homilies and articles by people I respect and I am eager to read it. The topic is so critical for the Church and for the future of humanity itself.

The Story of the Bible Vol I: The Old Testament
We listened to the audio version and it was good (though we thought some of the sound effects a bit silly). Though I wanted this book to read again as it gives such a good overview of the narrative of the Old Testament, I really did buy it for the whole family!

Other books

I do want to read this book, but put it aside for now after reading through the first several pages. I am not a fan of reading parts of books; if I am going to read a book, I want to read through the whole thing. This book is divided into three parts: history, profiles of Rosary "champions", and practical advice on praying the Rosary. I just was not in the mood to read the history section, so opted to put it aside until I am. I do love the Rosary, though, and look forward to reading it down the road.

Books with my boys

Pinnochio - Carlo Collodi, illus. by Roberta MacDonald (I can't link to the exact book we have, and I like the illustrations so well that I don't wish to link to another version!)

We all liked this book very much. It was painful to watch Pinnochio continue to make such poor choices throughout the book, and then to make excuses for them. Oh, how we are all like this! I think that is where the pain comes in - this book is a mirror. But rejoicing comes when he is able to become a real boy at the end because he has chosen the right path.

(I cannot get the image to work here, sorry!)
The Chestry Oak is the book that, rather officially, made me fall in love with children's literature and has become a bit of a standard by which I compare other children's books. Written in the late 1940s by Kate Seredy, it is a historical novel of WWII taking place in Hungary during a time of change and peril. Promoting all that is truly good, true, and beautiful, it does not shy away from pain and difficulty but rightly allows good to triumph in the end. Ever since I read this book myself, I have waited for the day to read it to my boys. Both are enjoying it, and it is stretching the imagination of my 9yo to see that there is a figurative way of using language as well as literal ("But mom, the Professor didn't really bring the war!") So highly recommended.


  1. Some weighty reading you have here! 'The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise' - I haven't ever heard of this title but it sounds very interesting. A narrator has to be pretty special to do justice to Dickens. Love his voice!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Carol! Yes, Richard Armitage is an excellent narrator - highly recommended! I am eager to read The Power of Silence - just need to stop going to bed so late and cutting in to my reading time! :)

      Blessings to you!

  2. What Richard Armitage?? Wow. I'll have to check that out! I love his accent/voice. :)I've been listening to this via Librivox and the narrator is good, but I'll look for the Armitage! I enjoyed reading through your list. I also enjoyed your first two on this list and the essays sound intriguing. I've also read Pinocchio twice with two different children and it is such a good one. I've been waiting on The Chestry Oak for when we are in the general time frame for history. Can't wait! :D Amy @Hearth Ridge Reflections

    1. Thank you, Amy! You can listen to a clip of his narration and see what you think. If you like Richard Armitage already, you will likely enjoy the way he narrates the book. I thought he made the story come alive. Oh, The Chestry Oak - it is such a treasure.

      Thank you for stopping by! Blessings to you. :)

  3. Such an interesting discussion of typology -- I have to put that one on my list! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Celeste! It is a wonderful book - you won't regret it!

      God bless you,