Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Love My Library Card; Or, April's Reading List

For previous book lists and posts labelled 'reading,' click here.

I remember my friend B.J. asking what I thought I'd miss the most when I went to Sofarawayistan. "My library card!" I said. This month I used Mom's, too, as well as paying for my own copies in a few cases. I was on semi-vacation a good chunk of this month and got to hang out in the Pacific Northwest, God's country. Well, it was cold and rainy a lot, as might be expected. (That's how God keeps it so green.) Just the weather for reading. Here's a summary. Reactions, recommendations, always welcome!

1. Books to make you think:

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini – OK, I’m not done with this book that everybody has probably already read by now. But it’s the selection for my book club meeting this weekend, and I will finish it by then. I’m glad we’re reading it. I tend to be suspicious about many of the books coming out about the Middle East and Afghanistan these days, wondering if they are written to reinforce the anti-Islamic orientation so many Westerners have. You know what I mean: “Here’s the true story about how awful it is, from someone who should know!” That kind of thing is just so unhelpful. But so far that hasn't been an issue with this one. Our friend “Celticpole” blogged about it here.

The Shack, by William Young – Very good. I started it in a bookstore, went back later and bought a paperback version. Everyone’s reading this one too. It’s a Christian book, man-meets-God. And wait until you see how God is portrayed… I liked it. Oh, it dragged in places; mostly just one theological conversation after another, but all dealing with key issues, real questions we all have at some point, if not always. I’d like to read this aloud with someone and analyze it a bit more.

Not Less than Everything, by Valerie Griffiths – Well, I think I’ve said enough about this one in my previous posts. Wonderful. Oh, if you aren’t interested in missions, probably not; it’s not one of those things that is going to have a break-out audience, though it has plenty to say about women in ministry, and ministry in general, not just ministry in China.

Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus, by Thomas Cahill – I didn’t read this one straight through, but it’s a good reference and I’ll pick it up and read bits. I think it might be weaker than some of his other works.

Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky – Well, I wondered, but maybe you don’t. I like overarching historic analysis, what can I say? This covered some similar ground as When Asia Was the World.

Listening Is an Act of Love, ed. Dave Isay – Wonderful. Inspiring. Do take a look.

2. On the lighter side:

At Home in Mitford - dramatization – Focus on the Family did this; didn’t realize when I downloaded the audio book that it wasn’t the real thing. It was OK, but book was better.

The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, by Alexander McCall Smith and Portuguese Irregular Verbs, by Alexander McCall Smith – Having tasted them all now I’d say with confidence that the “Sunday Philosophy Club” series is most congenial, followed by “The #1 Ladies Detective Agency.” This series is well-written, and funny but I didn't like it as well. I felt like his goal was to get you to laugh with him at how ridiculous his characters are.

To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis – Time travel, Englishness, fancy dress clothes, and some romance - fun. Willis does weave in the most hilarious little details… in this one, the origin of church jumble sales and the extinction of the common house cat. You’ll have to read it.

Miracle, by Connie Willis – Christmas stories! Therefore easy to get from the library this time of year. Which is fine, since we’re still getting snow in Colorado

3. Young-adult-ish books:

Old Peter's Russian Tales, by Arthur Ransome – I love Arthur Ransome; he wrote the "Swallows and Amazons" series I enjoyed as a kid (and ever since). This set of linked folk tales are available for free download, so I read them as bedtime stories from my laptop. Cosy.

The Dark Is Rising, by Susan Cooper - Picked this one up after my sister blogged comparing the book and movie. Will skip the movie (as she suggests) but didn’t enjoy the book as much as she did, and as much as I remembered, though I’d still recommend it to anyone who likes good vs. evil epics (with plot trumping character development). Probably a decent read-aloud for parents with older kids, too.

Mortal Engines, by Philip Reeve – Another recommendation from my sister. Shelved with YA/J books but definitely has a dark side; not a feel-good book, which is part of what I was looking for in requested recommendations for things that were more wholesome. But it was really good; I’ve checked out the sequel.

Emlyn's Moon, by Jenny Nimmo – Couldn’t get into this one. Bored, I flipped to the end after a while, than back and forth to figure out what happened; only gave the whole thing about an hour I think.

Ender's Shadow, by Orson Scott Card – Brilliant, as Card generally is; a full-length SF tale that parallel’s Ender’s Game (from the perspective of a different character).

Space Boy, by Orson Scott Card – This one, a novella, didn’t have the SF elements I expected. Wasn’t one of his best, either, I thought, but I finished it!

A War of Gifts, by Orson Scott Card – Another novella, this one in the ‘Ender’ universe; I listened to the audio version. It was intense, quite grim in places. But very good.

D.A., by Connie Willis – I LOVED this book, a novella about a somewhat obstreperous teenager with whom it was quite easy to relate. (Suppose that says something about me.) Took only 30 minutes to read. So I flipped back to the beginning and read it twice. Great fun. I’ll read more Connie Willis. ‘Celticpole’ blogged about this one here.

What’s next:

I am planning to cut way back on my reading in order to join this event called the Bible Marathon – a plan to read the Bible through in 90 days. Why not? Reading the Bible through over the course of a year is practically a sacrament in some circles. I’ve heard lots of stories about new believers who gobble it up a lot faster than that. It takes about 80 hours to read the Bible, apparently. Not sure if I’m going to follow the appointed plan or just dive in on my own. Maybe load it all up on my MP3 player as well.


Megan Noel said...

how could you flip ahead in a book? that's crazy.
ok, if the mortal engines book was too dark, you can still try larklight and the sequel starcross by the same author. much much lighter. whimsical.

i recently read connie willis' lincoln's dreams. it was sort of sad but it was also gripping and rather amazing. lots of real history of the civil war worked in with the philosophy / science of dreams.

and i told you, time stops for no mouse by michael hoeye. quite wholesome and charming! plus the star is a mouse who is a watch maker.

Marti said...

Aw, come on, you always read everything cover to cover, left to right, page by page? Not me!

Meg - No, I wouldn't say Mortal Engines was too dark; and too light can be disappointing too.

Speaking of kid books: I loved Louis Sachar's "Holes." Had a great tall-tale quality. Have you read any of his others?

Yes, I think I read your Michael Hoeye book a while back - will look for it again and make sure.

Which of the Susan Cooper books was /is your favorite?

I Was Just Thinking.... said...

I love your list. I'm going to use it for my future reading. I just started the last (or latest) in the isabel Dalhousie series. Really enjoying it.