February Reads

March 5, 2015 at 6:32 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

One of my literary counterparts, Neon Gods, posted a “February Reads” article.  In general, she’s more organized, I think, in her reading ventures.  We’ve kept track of each other’s reading habits for years, having met on Shelfari about 5 or 6 years ago.  Despite my aversion to meeting people on the internet, she has been a pretty stellar internet friend.  I’ve never met her in person, and yet she has influenced me – my reading life, atlas – greatly.

My reviews these last few months have felt less consistent than usual, so  I thought I’d take a page from her book and do a monthly summary.  At least for this last month anyway.

UnknownWe wrapped up January with One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. 5962aa9fa44e441668ea01c6c249b2b1 The original, not these new media tie ins you’ll find with the Glenn Close movie cover on them.  For once I can actually say, No, it’s not the same book!  Typically you can tell book buyers that it was just a marketing tactic.  They put a movie cover on an old manuscript and sold the same book again.  That is not the case with One Hundred and One Dalmatians.  Pay attention when you purchase.   Also… now that we’ve read the original, I’ve discovered that there was a sequel.  Of course, now me must find it and read it too.  (Until then, we are tackling The Wind in the Willows as our evening family chapter book.)

As previously mentioned, I read Guide to Wild Foods & Useful Plants by Nyerges.  But I also read through A Game of Thrones last month. (And caught up on the tv show.)  There’s a reason the masses are in love with George R.R. Martin’s world.  It’s impressive.  It’s grossly human.  It’s epic fantasy.  The prude in me would like a little less nudity and sex out of the show – the books are far less detailed in that regard – but from a cinematic point of view, I’m blown away.  The sets, the actors, the crew, everyone just seems to have nailed the feel for the world.  Clearly, I’m very late to this party – as usual – but I love it.  Obviously, it brought a whole new appreciation to this moment from Comicpalooza in 2013:

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Yes, that would be me, braiding the hair of the Father of Dragons. I knew what I was doing, knew what we were emulating, but I didn’t really have a full appreciation for it all until now.

Then, I kind of went all self improvement in my reading.  I read through The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace and The Homeschool Life by Andrea Schwartz.  I don’t particularly care for self-help books, but I do manage to keep them in my life via my “read for every discipline” mentality.  No section of a bookstore is left untouched by the end of the year, if it’s a good year.

I also read through Garden Crafts for Kidsby Diane Rhodes.  Unfortunately, this was a library book and I had to turn it back in, but we’ll be purchasing it as soon as possible, because it’s such a great homesteading resource for a homeschooled kid.  I love it and can’t wait to dive into all the projects with my kiddo.

Finally, I finished The Gardener’s Bed Book by Richard Wright.  I’m not going to touch too heavily on the book here, because honestly, I have far more than an online book review in mind for my experiences while reading it.  My favorite thing about a reader’s life are the books written in response to other books.  They are like love letters through time and space to people you’ll never meet or know, but feel more akin to than any other humans on the planet.  I feel like Melanie Kerr’s Follies Past was her love letter to Jane Austen.  I have projects in mind that will be odes to Madeleine L’Engle and Richard Wright.  They have moved me so completely and become a part of who I am, it’s only right they are responded to with ink and paper.

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Loveliness

November 4, 2014 at 5:12 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Crosswicks 2Title: The Summer of the Great-Grandmother (Crosswicks Journal Book Two)

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Genre: Memoir

I’ve been reading The Summer of the Great-Grandmother for nearly a month now.  I read pieces and snippets in particular moods – moods when I need it: L’Engle’s wisdom and a bit of the outdoors.

But finally, last night, I turned the last page.

I finished and sat there a moment.  My journal open, the book closed, my pen ready and not ready at the same time.  Ready because I had a vision to capture in the ink.  Not ready because it didn’t seem to me like a book review at all, but it’s what I have – my thoughts regarding this book.

I cannot help but think of Sandy Smith while I am reading it.  L’Engle tells tales of her home life and mentally, for some reason or another, I picture Smith’s face rather than L’Engle’s.  Perhaps it is because I’ve met Sandy, but L’Engle is a series of disjointed pictures from different decades that I have plucked from the internet.  Sandy is flesh and blood to me, and L’Engle deserves to seem like flesh and blood in my mind.  Flat internet images glowing with the unnatural light of an LED background do not do her justice.  I hope Sandy doesn’t mind me stealing her image and loaning it to another in my mind.

It’s just that – in my mind, they belong together.  They are joined by associations I may never be able to clearly express, but might be able to feebly make a fraction of sense of them here.

They are each writers and humans in their own right, but L’Engle’s writing seems to have the same aura of loveliness that I find in Sandy when talking to her in person.  When I think of her, this soft spoken writer who traveled all the way from Oregon to Texas for a book signing tour, you’d think I’d remember the hours I spent with her in bookstores hanging out around tables of her young adult series Seed Savers.  But I don’t.

P1010598Instead, I specifically recall looking back at her while walking on a trail – her face lit up by the sun and a full smile as she looked back her husband entertaining my daughter with flora and fauna and a delightful hat.  (The picture on the left is not long after that moment that is ingrained in my mind forever.)

As in every moment with her, she had a twinkle in her eye.  I’d call it a spark, even.  She’s someone you meet and instantly want to be her friend, or little sister, or niece, or daughter.  It doesn’t matter, you just long to matter to her because she is wonderful and wise and everything about being around her feels enriching.

I do not know Madeleine L’Engle other than by her books, and I would not presume to say that I really know Sandy Smith either – I’ve just had the pleasure of her company, the joy of promoting her books, we’ve chattered back and forth in emails to plan signings and blog tours, and I adore her.  But in my mind, I imagine L’Engle and Smith as kindred spirits that belong to the same whisper of a thought.

Perhaps this is one of those things I’m meant to keep to myself.  I’m not sure.  I have forgotten, until recently when back in the store full time, how awkward I can be.  I say things at odd times, like tonight when I commented on a girl’s freckles.  I really love freckles.  But I’ve read The Summer of the Great-Grandmother and I’m grasping to “review” it.  I can’t.  I can only tell you about a feeling, and that feeling was a memory of sunshine and a respect for life and nature on an Easter Weekend in the woods near my old home.  Ultimately, I can only choose one word that describes it all… this book, the ladies in question, the woods, that moment…

loveliness.

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Circle of Quiet, Trails of Solace

June 17, 2014 at 6:37 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

circle of quietTitle:A Circle of Quiet
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Memoir/ Spirituality
Length: 229 pages

A Circle of Quiet is powerful.  So powerful it inspired me to write nearly 10,000 useable words, to writers you may note the awe I have when I say useable.

Some were used for the sequel to my novella, a novel that is supposed to come out in the fall of this year – fingers crossed.  But most of the words were for a new book, stories about my trails in the woods that are itching to be told but I’ve not known how to tell them because it’s all still happening, my trails are still real.

What is most impressive to me about A Circle of Quiet is not how many beautifully quotable quotes there are, but how completely relevant L’Engle’s story is to me.  So relevant, I didn’t noticed until 3/4 of the way through the book that it was published in 1972 and the things she writes about occurred in the early seventies if not the late sixties.

I was baffled to discover this.  A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of her children’s books are as fresh to me as the Harry Potter series.  I read them as I child without the impression that they were old.  In my mind, L’Engle has been an author of the 80’s who would be around as long as C.S. Lewis once the years had passed.  I did not realize that the books were much older than that and that the years had already passed.  A Wrinkle in Time was first published in 1962.

How is this possible that every moment, every ache, every joy (aside from winning the Newberry of course, as I’ve won nothing) is one I feel in every fiber of my being as a thirty year old in 2014? When she was born in 1918.  What struck me most is that A Circle of Quiet is timeless.

Madeleine L’Engle is timeless.

This is a must read for any mother, any writer or creative, any soul searching for God, any person trying to balance their introversion with their extroversion, and ultimately any person.

She published these from her journals, which she admits were written for publication, but still I am honored to have been allowed a peek into the window of her thoughts.

 

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