Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Reading Round-Up: End of Summer Edition

I can't remember the last time I posted a list of what I've recently read/am currently reading...and of course what I'm hoping to read!

Here's at least a partial listing from the past few months, based on hasty scribblings from my journal.

I recently read:
Austenland and Princess Academy, both by Shannon Hale. I started with Austenland, which is Hale's most recent novel, and her first written for adults. I enjoyed it, but from the notes about the author discovered she was best known for her young adult work. So I went and found Princess Academy, which won a Newbery Honor in 2006, I think. And I loved it. I mean, LOVED it. This is a beautiful book that deserves to be read, savored, and then read again. I plan to review it for epinions soon.

This was also, of course, the summer of Harry Potter. I finished my re-read of the first six books with a couple of weeks to spare, and then laughed and cried my way through Deathly Hallows, which I've already re-read once in total (and parts of it several times). A marvelous and fitting end to a series that deserves to be around (and will be, I think) for generations. Thank you, J.K. Rowling. In the lead-up to book 7 this summer, I also read John Granger's excellent Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader.

I read a good bit of juvenile and young adult literature this summer. A couple of "oldies" -- Richard Atwater's Mr. Popper's Penguins (did that as a read-aloud with my penguin loving daughter) and Lois Lenski's Strawberry Girl, different than I expected but satisfying, and with those familiar Lenski illustrations. Nikki Grime's Road to Paris, much more recent, and as always, a treat. (I love Grimes' work.) It's occuring to me as I write all of these down that I've reviwed almost none of them. Must remedy that sometime... it's been a busy few months.

On the non-fiction front, I've been reading at several things:
N.T. Wright's Evil and the Justice of God. A good book, and a helpful book, I think -- there are a couple of sections in particular that I really want to go back to. I'm in the final chapter, savoring it, and plan to review this soon too. Susan Wise Bauer's History of the Ancient World. Excellent read thus far. I got going for a while and couldn't put it down, then needed to take a break. It's quite a tome. I am planning on it getting me through some chilly autumn and possibly even a few cold winter nights. In addition to being wonderful reading just for my own enrichment, the preparation is oh so helpful as I contemplate tackling ancient history with the sweet girl during her first grade year. Bauer has written a "younger" version of these for children, which I checked out of the library and skimmed. It's a "must have" book for us during the elementary years, I can tell.

And while I'm on the subject of schooling, I've been reading Ruth Beechick's The Three Rs, a fine little book on simple but life-giving approaches to teaching young children the basics of reading, writing and math.

I haven't enjoyed a good book ABOUT writing in a long time, so was delighted to discover William K. Zinsser's On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Non-Fiction. Hey, it's been around for a quarter century or more, but it's new to me! I only managed to read a few chapters before I had to return it to the library (it was on loan from another branch and someone had put it on hold) but I'm going to get this one again. It's the first sort of "how-to" book I've ever read that I found myself nodding in agreement over...because he's describing writing and revising processes that I've actually put into practice. And more and more, I find myself drawn to writing non-fiction.

I read most of a book called LifeShapes, a book on Christian discipleship by Mike Breen and Walt Kallestad. D's at all all-day conference with Breen today, and I'll be interested to hear insights from that.

My fascination with the Snape/Lily backstory (so tantalizing and so brief) from Deathly Hallows has led me to think more about the courtly love tradition. I've been re-reading Petrarch's Sonnets & Songs from Laura's Lifetime; bits of C.S. Lewis' The Allegory of Love; and some bits of Petrarch's My Secret Book (this last a challenge -- it's a Ciceronian dialogue between Petrach and an imagined St. Augustine). I've only dipped my toes in on the whole courtly love tradition, but the fascination persists, so I'll keep trying to dip as I can find the time.

Fiction: I've barely started Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, my attempt at a classic during the last half of this year. I've not gotten far enough into it for it to grab me yet; I'll let you know when it does!

With the youth fellowship group, we've taken a break from Plantinga and Wright and are studying 2 Peter from the New Testament.

Family Reading/Read-Alouds: The sweet girl and I just finished Little House in the Big Woods, and now are mid-way through The Boxcar Children. We're having read-aloud time of longer books every day.

Some of the other books she's loved this summer (and I've enjoyed reading to her, often over and over!): Shirley Hughes' Evening at Alife's; Alfie Gets in First; Alfie's Feet; Abel's Moon. Bob Hartman's The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book. The Big Picture Bible. The Bob Books (phonetic readers). The Caterpillar That Roared. Ladybugs. Where's the Green Sheep? Bunny Day. I don't have authors handy for all of these latter books, but they've all been favorites.

No time now to write about what I hope to read this fall...I'd like to find an autumn reading challenge to join again, but if not, I'll just make up my own!


Erin said...

As it happens, I have a copy of Austenland within a few feet of me... I picked it up from the library last week, having first seen it at my aunt's bookstore and then on your library list. It's an audiobook so I'm thinking another puzzle is in order. Audiobooks and puzzles seem to go together quite nicely...

Also got five picture books you recommended - I especially love Thimbleberry Stories - and The Stand, which Dad tells me I can stomach. I'm a hundred pages in and haven't gotten too queasy yet; we'll see... Now that I'm back at the mall, I'll probably be hitting up that library quite a bit...

Beth said...

Austenland is really nice...light and fun. It wasn't quite what I expected, but I'm not sure what I was expecting. :-) You'll enjoy it for sure. I wanted to review it, but when I got in on library loan they only let me have it for a week, since it's in popular demand. I didn't realize that and by the time I finished reading it and was getting ready to review it, it was due. I think I might check it back out again just so I can review it. Would that be obsessive? Hee.

So glad you enjoyed Thimbleberry. I thought it was just lovely. I've read two new Rylants (new to me) this week, and am in the midst of a third. She's becoming a favorite author!

I've never read any King, but I know some folks who just think he's amazing. Looking forward to hearing what you think when you're through!