Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reading Round-Up - Feb and March 2010

Ahh, my reading round-ups. We have such a love-hate relationship. I love talking about the books I've read. I do. But it is so hard to keep up on it. I hate falling behind. :(
And I have been working this post for an entire week. It's labor intensive!

Anyway, here's the list of books I read in Feb and March with some commentary and/or quotes added in when I feel like it:

1. The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal - Renee Trudeau
Some really nice ideas on things to contemplate and think through as far as balancing self and family. Some good stuff. Some not so new ideas. Here are some quotes:

"Being is as important as doing." - Renee Trudeau

"The purpose of our lives is to give birth to the best which is within us."
- Marianne Williamson
2. Yours Ever: People and Their Letters - Thomas Mallon

I heard of this book on NPR, I believe, and knew I had to read it. It was a great read and made me appreciate the letters I've saved even more. I love letters. I think that some of the most important people in my life are bonded to me through letters, most notably the 3 yrs of weekly letters that Zac and I wrote each other. And there are other people, too.

It is funny to me how much I cherish people's handwriting. I am as much attached to it as I am to their face. It is part of who they are. Part of what I associate with them. Part of what I love. I still ask Zac to hand write me notes now and then because it is an important part of our relationship, to me. And if you want to be my friend forever, just write me letters and I am yours. Especially nowadays when we are slaves to the convenience of electronic correspondence, I would treasure a handwritten letter over just about anything you could ever give me. So now you know. :)
And, anyway, this book referenced this next one which I sought out and wanted to read and also loved:
3. 84, Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff
This was one of my favorites that I've read recently. It is the non-fiction account, or a collection really, of letters written between Hanff in NY and a bookseller in London for about 20 yrs. First, I was just so touched by the relationship they formed and maintained strictly through letters over those many years. They were funny and poignant and real. It was a really great story.

4. The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin

If you read my Goodreads reviews, you already know that initially this book put me in a bad mood. All this pressure to be happy was just too much for me. hahaha. As I continued to read though, I was able to view it more in the light it was intended. That is, do whatever you want with it and make yourself happy. I actually have a lot of thoughts on some of the ideas she presented and I have toyed with the idea of posting some more along these lines.

One of the great quotes I wrote down was this:

"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing." - Yeats

I think that explains why some things that are really hard nevertheless bring us happiness. And why our relationships make us happy. So many things fall under that, actually. It's pretty all-encompassing. And it has helped me to reconsider the things I think bring me happiness by asking if it is helping me grow in some way. If I can say that it is, then I consider it a keeper.

So, perhaps I'll bring you more "happy thoughts" in the future. Perhaps (I have learned not to make promises when it comes to my blog content). :)

5. The Last Olympian - Rick Riordan
6. The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan
7. The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan
8. The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan
I think I've gotten these all out of order as I've arranged and rearranged this list. But these are #2-5 of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (The Lightning Thief being #1). It was a really great series. I liked it a lot and would highly recommend them. Abigail has read them all now and loved it. Isaac is on book 3 and Zac is somewhere in Book 2. I love reading a series together as a family.

9. Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson
I loved this book for many reasons.
A quote that resonated with me:
"That is one reason for living here. Another reason is being close to the forest. It was a part of my life many years ago in a way that nothing later has been, and then it was absent for a long, long time, and when everything around me suddenly turned silent, I realized how much I had missed it. Soon I thought of nothing else, and if I too were not to die, at precisely this point in time, I had to go to the forest. That's how it felt, and that simple. It still is."

10. Evidence: Poems - Mary Oliver
So. I read a poem of hers on a blog somewhere and wanted to read more. Checked this out from the library and loved it. Some of the poems I loved I have used for this post and this post and this post.

11. The Tale of Beatrix Potter - Margaret Lane

A lovely biography of one of my favorite authors.
A quote:
"Conveying truth by means of fantasy, enlarging our perception of life by poetic means, is one of the highest functions of art, and it is not extravagant to say that in her small and special sphere Beatrix Potter performed it."

12. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
13. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Another terrific young adult series. Captivating and engaging. And those 2 words probably mean about the same thing, I just needed to have 2. ;) I started these without realizing the final book of the trio hasn't been released yet. I usually try to read a series when it's all done so I don't have to wait around and the hype has died down a bit. But ah well. Now I'm anxiously awaiting this final book.

14. For One More Day - Mitch Albom

A quick good read.
One quote:
"But there's a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begins."

15. My Life in France - Julia Child
16. Julie and Julia - Julie Powell
We watched the movie Julie and Julia which made me first want to read My Life in France and then I read the book Julie and Julia, too. I enjoyed Julia Child's book quite a bit. She is just so quirky. And being so totally obsessed with food is so foreign to me, it was sort of fascinating. So many different kinds of people in this world! And aren't we glad?!
Julie Powell's book, on the other hand, I could have done without. The movie was quite sufficient. In her book, she uses a lot of strong language primarily for shock effect, it seemed, and I think that's obnoxious. And she seemed intent on comparing all good food to good sex, which, ehhhh . . ., got old real fast. I just wasn't impressed.

17. Aspects of Love - David Garnett
I was curious to read the book that inspired the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical by the same name. Turns out the music pretty much tells the whole story. Not much more to be gained by reading this novella. But that's ok.

18. The Small Rain - Madeleine L'Engle
And you already know I love L'Engle. This was another I hadn't heard of before and thoroughly enjoyed. I'm on a lifelong quest to read all her books. It's quite fun. :)
And there you have it!!
Tell me all about the books on your mind, or any thoughts you have on any of these. Any you might want to read?!
Happy Reading to you all!


Jennifer said...

I now want to read My Life in France. I loved the Julia part of Julie and Julia and pretty much hated the Julie part, so irritating.

Molly said...

Oooh. Now I have to get my hands on that "Yours Ever" book by Tom Mallon. What people write in letters has always fascinated me. It's like a little glimpse into their minds, their souls and their view of the world.

I book I really enjoyed perusing along these lines is Dear Bob, Dear Betty by Elizabeth Catherine Wright. It contains a collection of courtship letters between Robert Llewellyn Wright (Frank Lloyd Wright's son) and Elizabeth Kehler in the time of the Great Depression. It's top on my list in this genre because it includes sharp, readable copies of the original correspondences. It's lovely, passionate and really brings to the forefront the tone, feelings and hardships of the era.

Hey, thanks again for the notation on the Mallon book! Happy reading!

The Mel B said...

I have been wanting to read My Life in France! Julia Child is such a strange, funny lady. Right now I have to finish up The Secret Garden and figure out what I'm taking on vacation with me. Hmmm

bonitinha said...

I think letters are great, too! Email is fine for quick stuff, but there's something so meaningful and satisfying and lasting about a letter. I hate that we have given up on the delayed gratification of writing real letters. It's sad. And I agree about the book Julie & Julia. Not good. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I really want to in hopes that it will wash the bad taste out of my mouth.

Amy said...

Renee Trudeau's book A Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal is actually intended as a tool for personal renewal groups that are being led around the world. My understanding is that Renee led PRGs for five years prior to writing the book. I'm in a PRG and have gained so much from the group in conjunction with the book. Definitely worth looking into!

Alyssa said...

I want to hear more about the Happiness Project book. I like the idea you shared about growth. What a great way to measure the importance of things we include in our days. Thanks for sahring...I have NO idea how you find time to read like you do!?!?! You must be speedy! and dedicated! I'm impressed

Colleen said...

I didn't read the book, Emily, but I didn't love the movie. Julie was SUCH a whiney brat. Ugh. Meryl Streep was SO cute as Julia Child though, and I want to read her book too!

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