Saturday, January 1, 2011

First, What are You Reading? Volume 5, January 2011

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Here are my answers to the four questions I ask on the first of each month:
first, what are you reading?
what do you like best about it?
what do you like least?
what's next on your list/pile to read?

I hope you'll consider sharing yours on your blog and/or sharing yours here in the comments or on Facebook.  Happy reading!

First, what are you reading?

I am reading and re-reading some great classic books on the Kindle App on my iPhone.  Fantastic was Rilla of Ingleside, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, one of the "Anne of Green Gables" books, a coming-of-age story about Anne's youngest daughter. 

I'm also reading Dear Enemy by Jean Webster, sequel to the absolutely perfect Daddy Long-Legs.  Jean Webster wrote only these two novels (in the early 1900s) before her death at a young age.

What do you like best about them?

Rilla of Ingleside is a coming-of-age story of Anne's youngest daughter.  Rilla is a passionate, beautiful teenager ready to take on the world--one of my favorite lines is, "Taste life?  I want to eat it up!"  When World War I intrudes, Rilla and all those around her are changed forever.  

Dear Enemy, like it precursor Daddy Long-Legs, is a novel in letters (officially called an epistolary novel, but I'm trying not to be too "English major here!").  These are all letters from the spoiled and headstrong Sallie McBride as she takes on the challenge of running an orphanage and remaking it in love and .

I love, love, love novels in the form of letters.  I read once that Jane Austen once considered writing my favorite novel of all time, Pride & Prejudice, as a series of letters only.   That I would love to read.

What do you like least about them?

The only thing I don't like about Lucy Maud Montgomery novels is when they end, so I'm glad she was fairly prolific.  I've still got lots of other novels I haven't read in years and can rely on those when I need relaxation

A bit shocking about Dear Enemy is several positive mentions of (not named as such but described) eugenics--trying to prevent "feeble-minded" orphans from joining full society.  At the time Dear Enemy was written (1915), eugenics was fairly progressive and not so understood as terrible as it is now.  This was of course before the Nazis used the theory of eugenics to kill millions. 

This is a small problem, in my mind, and actually allows for a discussion with young people who have read Dear Enemy about the progression of thoughts, and how ideas do matter, whether they are good or bad.

What are you reading next?

I ordered from the library, 168 Hours:  You Have More Time than You Think by Laura Vanderkam.  I've seen it referenced in a few blog posts and elsewhere, and it looks interesting. 

My 7-year-old son and I are reading together the popular series, "Guardians of Ga'hoole" about owls.  Not usually my thing, but we are alternating pages in the first in the series The Capture, and enjoying it so far.  We wanted to read the series and see if we were interested in seeing the recent movie when it comes out on DVD.

I'm also previewing a lot of books for February and March columns.  Lots of books about marriage and love (for February) and  Lent and Lenten themes.  Any suggestions from you?  What are you reading?


  1. Every year around this time I re-read Kristen Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. Of course I always hope for snow while I'm reading, a slow, deep snow that will bring the beautiful descriptions of the Norwegian winter landscape closer to Central Illinois! What I like best about this trilogy is that, even though it is set in the 14th century, the characters' struggles, their joys and sorrows, are universal and timeless. It is one woman's story of how families love one another, men and women pledge their lives to each other, and children want to please parents, but in each case there is failure and hurt as well as triumph and success. Ultimately is a story of forgiveness and compassion conquering a woman's pride over a lifetime. My chief difficulty in reading the series is my own lack of knowledge about the history of Norway; I always have to review everytime I read the series! Not so much fun.

    I love reading novels situated in wintery places this time of year so I'll probably move on to Dr. Zhivago when I finish Kristen. There is a new translation of this novel that received rave reviews; hope I can get to it before spring!

    A happy and blessed New Year to you all! And thanks, Nancy, for a great blog!!

  2. I love Kristin Lavransdatter, and winter's such a good time of year to read it! Have you read the newer, Tina Nunnally translation? It's a great translation, much fresher than the older one.

    I finished Dear Enemy last night and I have to say I have even more reservations about it now, as enjoyable as it was to read. I would recommend it for young teenagers on up, with lots of discussions about eugenics and divorce. We had a good discussion at lunch about eugenics and the Nazis before anyone else reads it here.

  3. I'm a big Kristin Lavransdatter fan, too, and I've read both the original translation (from the 1920's) and Tiina Nunnally's. TN's is much better!

    I'm reading The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage by Paul Elie. It's a fascinating account of the lives of 4 American Catholic writers from the mid-twentieth century: Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, and Dorothy Day. I've only read a little more than one third of the book, but I'm loving how Elie shows these four profound thinkers' commonalities and differences and looks at them in view of the times they lived in as well as the historical writers who influenced them.

  4. RE:TLYSMBYO; This is a great read and prompted me to go back to some O'Connor and Percy books...enjoy!

  5. I have started several times "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" but could never finish. Thanks for the reminder about it, prompting me to I why to finish it this year. Consider it a New Year's Resolution!