Thursday, September 27, 2018

Historical Bibliophilia

Hello! Hi there! It's been a while, as I'm once again lost in the pressures of the semester, endless amounts of reading and writing and lesson planning and grading... while still trying to maintain some semblance of normal happy life on the home front.

But I just had to steal some time tonight to stop by and tell you about this class I'm taking. Actually, both of the classes I'm taking this semester are beyond interesting and this is quite possibly the most enjoyable semester of coursework I've ever had. But one of my classes is 19th Century British Literature (we are in the middle of reading Emma, and any time Austen is homework is a fantastic time) with a theoretical emphasis on the practice and history of reading. In other words, we are studying what it means to be a book reader. What it means to be a book lover.

It's basically my favorite class ever.

While I would love to sit and rehash everything we talk about in that class here with you guys, I don't quite have the time. But talking about all things book-lover related has made me feel itchy to stop by and drop a line in this space, my book-loving space. And so, while I don't have time right now to compose anything original, I just want to share an excerpt from one of our earlier readings, just because I felt like many of you might be able to relate. This comes from an essay written by Leigh Hunt (you may or may not know him as a friend to such Romantic poets as John Keats) in 1823.

"Sitting, last winter, among my books, and walled round with all the comfort and protection which they and my fire-side could afford me; to wit, a table of high-piled books at my back, my writing-desk on one side of me, some shelves on the other, and the feeling of the warm fire at my feet; I began to consider how I loved the authors of those books: how I loved them, too, not only for the imaginative pleasures they afford me, but for their making me love the very books themselves, and delight to be in contact with them. I looked sideways at my Spenser, my Theocritus, and my Arabian Nights; then on my left side at my Chaucer, who lay on a writing-desk; and thought how natural it was in C.L. to give a kiss to an old folio, as I once saw him do to Chapman's Homer." (You can read the rest of the essay here, should you feel so inclined.)

You guys, book loving people have been around for a long time. And they truly are the best people. Feel free to go and kiss a book now.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Books I Read in August

Well, we are two weeks into the back-to-school craziness, and settling in nicely. It was a bit of a rocky start, as that whole day-care drop-off situation was quite the adjustment, and then of course we all managed to get sick (just a minor cold, thankfully, because it meant I could still take the kids to daycare, but how awful is it to be the one dropping off the snot-nosed kid?), and frankly I'm exhausted. But, there are inklings that this is going to be my best semester yet. I have some awesome classes this semester that I'm really excited about, and I have Fridays completely off! Which is amazing!

And can I just say yay for having my commute reading time back in my life? It's a little different this year, as I now have to listen to my audio books through ear phones so I can play kid music over the speakers for the two littles who now accompany me to campus, and I don't particularly love driving with ear phones in, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make to keep up my precious pleasure reading time. For being such a crazy busy month, I managed quite a bit of reading for fun!

Scarlet  by A.C. Gaughen

I stumbled across this one while doing some research for my younger sister (she's a middle school teacher, and was asking for some recommendations to flesh out her classroom library). I'm kind of a sucker for a good Robin Hood retelling, and so when I checked my library app and found it available for immediate download, I jumped right in. And it was really quite fun! It took half a minute to adjust to the rough-and-tumble accent, but it was rather good adaptation in my opinion. I liked turning Will Scarlet into a girl, I liked how well the Robin Hood story worked as a dystopia setting, and the romance was rather satisfactory, despite the unnecessary love-triangle aspect (seriously, it ticked off every single expected dystopia-with-a-strong-female-lead stereotype, so if you like that kind of thing, you should definitely check this one out).

Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen

A worthy second book (despite some plot holes, but let's not be too demanding of this genre). I especially liked that Eleanor of Aquitaine shows up as a great character in this one.







Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen

And a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.









The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie

This one's been getting a lot of buzz lately, and I kind of felt like I didn't really need it. After all, I'm already reading aloud to my kids everyday. I've listened to her podcast. What more could Sarah Mackenzie possibly have to say in this book that I hadn't heard before? But after so much glowing praise, I finally decided I didn't want to be left out, so I read it. And. I'm so glad I did. It really was that good. I would recommend this as mandatory reading for all parents. It's not just the inspiration/motivational stuff I expected, but really fantastic practical advice too about how to talk to your kids about the books they read and make book conversations a part of home life. It was all so good.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

One of my biggest complaints about my current library's app for e-audio books is that it offered a rather pathetic collection of classics. So, imagine my delight when I discovered this month the addition of dozens of new classics on their lists! I was eagerly scrolling through, trying to decide what to listen to first, and this one just called my name (maybe because I watched the lovely new PBS miniseries adaptation a few months ago). I haven't read it since middle school, and I was surprised all over again about how preachy this book can get, and yet it's still so popular! But oh, I love the preachiness! I wish there were more of that simple-hearted purity and goodness in books. It was so lovely and wonderful and heart-warming to read again, and I cried multiple times (Beth!!!!). So much love!

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam

I tend to really like Vanderkam's ideas, but also tend to be really annoyed by her tone and style. Same here. I am very much on board with the benefits of early mornings, but this particular book didn't do much for me. Not much by way of substance, as it's really too short to offer that. It might be helpful for some, but generally not a recommend.





Now, this is not counting the books I read aloud/listened to with my kids this month (we got through four or five fun audio books on various road trips and driving around town), nor some required reading for my school work, or the several I started but am still in the middle of finishing, but all in all it was a busy month for reading! Here's hoping September is just as good!