Books. Oh the books.

When I sat down to start this post, it was going to be a sum up of my reading for the year, but as I look at the list, I realize I’m a bit behind on my reviews. OK, behind to the point of bordering on ridiculous. How is it I have 18 books I haven’t written about? There’s a gross negligence occurring, and I wish I could blame it on someone other than myself. Can I blame society as a whole? I think I shall.

Blaming society aside, here’s the last 18 books I read.

The Promise of Enough by Emily Freeman: This was really good; about how to accept the abundance we’ve been promised in all facets of our lives, using the miracle the loaves and fishes as a jumping off point. One thought that has stuck with me is that the Lord expands what we already have to fill our needs, rather than giving us something completely new.

Help! My apartment has a Kitchen Cookbook by Kevin Mills and Nancy Mills : This is a cute cookbook, written in an engaging style. I’ll admit I haven’t actually gotten around to cooking anything from it, but don’t hold that against it.

Amish Peace by Suzanne Woods Fisher :One of the best books I read all year. Fisher, who is not Amish, details the Amish way of life in a way that is accessible and enjoyable, and leaves you wanting to incorporate some of their practices into daily life.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I hadn’t read this since high school, and was happy to have the opportunity to read it for book club. I’d been meaning to reread it, so it was good to have the push. What can I say? It’s brilliant. And I totally cried towards the end (I’d forgotten the whole last 1/4th of the book), and remembered crying at that same point when I’d read it before.

100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy: This book is utterly fantastic. Even if you’re not planning on homeschooling, the first section is all about solidifying what your ideas of what teaching and education are, and determining what kind of a learner your child is. That’s important information for anybody. But then it goes on to cross reference all of those factors through Duffy’s top 100 Curriculum picks, making it easy to see what will match your philosophy and your child’s learning style. And she has in depth reviews of all of those curriculum. Seriously, so good.

The White Garden by Stephanie Barron: I wrote about this before, so I’ll be lazy and just paste it here: I hit the point where I had to zoom through and finish it to find out what happened, totally sacrificing the boring (but I suppose important, I just didn’t care about the characters in question; ok, that’s not fair, I did, I just cared about a different element more) subplot to get through it. It’s working on the premise that Virginia Woolf didn’t commit suicide when everyone thought she did- that she ran to Vita Sackville-West instead. (This works because her body wasn’t found until weeks after she left her “suicide” notes.) I adore Virginia Woolf, and this was an interesting look at her, although I tend to see Virginia and her husband’s relationship in a different light, but I’m hardly a Woolf scholar, and prefer to imagine her having gotten some kind of solace from him. But anyway, it was really good. I recommend it.

Confessions of Arsene Lupin and The Blonde Lady by Maruice LeBlanc: Arsene Lupin is a character tailor made for me; witty, brilliant, devious, a master thief who also solves crimes… ah, I love it. The first of these titles is a collection of short stories, all very solid. The second appears to be short stories, but is really a novel in vignettes, as they all mix and intertwine and come together at the end. Very enjoyable.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: This was also a book club read, and surprisingly, it’s the first time I’ve ever read it. Well, perhaps not so surprising, seeing as Dickens and I had that falling out. But I highly enjoyed it, and it did much to reconcile Dickens and I. Not a complete reconciliation, mind you, but we’re back to being more than nodding acquaintances now.

Sum: 40 Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman: Oh my goodness this book was brilliant. Written by a neuroscientist (neurobiologist? I can’t remember), it contains 40 different visions of what happens after we die (fictional, not sciency). Some are beautiful, some are tragic, some are funny, all are very thought provoking. The writing is incredible, the content very stirring.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa: Lovely is the word that comes to mind when I think of this book. Just … lovely. It’s the story of a woman hired to keep house for a mathematics professor who, due to a car accident in 1975, has a memory of only 80 minutes. He can remember anything that happened before the accident, (so his knowledge of math is in tact), but anything after that is erased after 80 minutes. He copes with this by covering his suit with notes – the saddest, perhaps, being the note he sees first thing in the morning, reminding him about the condition of his memory. As the housekeeper gets to know him (he meets her anew every day), he teaches her about math. When he discovers that she has a son, he demands that the son be with his mother after school, and the professor and the son develop a profound bond. Throughout, math concepts are used to mirror, symbolize, and explain the relationship between the three of them, and while I’m no math person, I thought it was done very well. There’s no grand miracle, the professor isn’t cured, it’s just a lovely story of people reaching out to connect.

Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile by Gyles Brandreth: This is the third in a series of murder mysteries based within the life of Oscar Wilde. Excellently written, and highly enjoyable.

Before Midnight, and Death of a Doxy by Rex Stout: I’ve been meaning to read some Nero Wolfe for a while now, and I’m glad I jumped in. These are solid, highly enjoyable mysteries with difficult, but guessable solutions. The characters are wonderful, and I’m going to need to read more.

The Club of Queer Trades by GK Chesterton: I actually thought this was a Nero Wolfe book when I started reading it (long story involving formatting on the haunted Kindle), but was delighted to find a completely unexpected series of short stories. They all revolve around strange employments people have created for themselves – like the Office of Distraction, where you can hire an expert to keep someone busy and out of your hair. I don’t want to say much more, because so much of the enjoyment comes from the revelation of what is actually happening in the stories. It has an off kilter feel that reminded me of  The Manual of Detection, and I hugely enjoyed it.

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde: I admit that I read this because I was getting close to the end of the year deadline and it was short, but I’d not read it before, so I don’t feel bad about it. What can I say, Wilde was a genius, and every word of this is perfect. I’d love to be in a production of this, but it would be hard to deliver some of the lines without laughing.

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta: This was a good, if slight book. Written in a very casual style, it puts forth Babauta’s version of time and task management, which boils down to simplification. He has some useful ideas, and some pretty standard time management ideas, but overall it was worth the read.

Death on A Midsummer Night by Kerry Greenwood: I totally binged on this book yesterday, reading it in one fell swoop and staying up way too late.  It’s part of Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series, which I love, and was everything I expected.

There you have it. Expect a roundup later tonight or tomorrow, who knows.

One thought on “Books. Oh the books.

  1. I think the truly amazing feat of the Ogawa book is how she makes the math stuff make sense for the story even if you don’t really get the actual mechanics of the equations (which I didn’t). Glad you liked it.

    I’m a little over 1/4 into my birthday present from you, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Amazon receipts make perfect bookmarks, as they remind you where the book came from), and I am loving it. I think it’s up your alley.

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