Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I've been reading a few "Summer Book Lists" online recently. I've been doing that instead of my own reading of books. That's because I love to get other people's ideas, crawl out of my own bibliophile box so to speak. I've found amazing books that way.

So, join me as we ponder together the fun of books recommended in the past. Our tea today must be iced and right now, I don't need extra caffeine so I'm going "straight for the herbal". :)

The Mitford books were out for years before I read one. I'm not as "into" fiction as some people and to be honest, a story about an older Episcopalian priest in a small Southern town? It wasn't until I kept seeing these titles show up over and over (especially in homeschool articles) that my interest was piqued and, well, the rest is history. Now these people are so real to me, I want to put them on my Christmas card list.

In a similar way, I read about the Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mysteries in a magazine (I think it may have been Tea Time). Who knew reading that article would not only lead me to a few of my favorite literary characters but introduce me to an entire genre of books I didn't know existed... the "cozy mystery"... good books to read when one is cranky and needs a little alone time with their nose in the pages of a book to keep them out of trouble.

I tend to read according to mood. When I'm feeling very good and sharp mentally (which happens less after I turned fifty a couple years ago); I love books about theology, or history, or very long biographies, and even the occasional book about science. But never a book about math (with apologies to my son-in-law who has all the math brains this family needs). Two titles awaiting the next evening I feel a challenge coming on; Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago and The Life of Samuel Johnson by Boswell. Both were recommended by "book people" I trust. I also want to read some of the history books by Paul Johnson as they came highly recommended on a lot of homeschool lists, but I haven't been able to find any at book sales!

I was talking to my friend who lives in New Mexico yesterday about the times in which we find ourselves living. She brought up images from Atlas Shrugged and I realized it had been so long since I read the book that I've forgotten much of it. I've mentioned it before because I found it such an amazing book. I didn't agree with Ayn Rand at all regarding the way to solve society's problems but her book is amazing. Definitely one of my favorites and perhaps one of the best books I have read about modern society (even though I believe it was written in the 1950s). As I've written before, that book was read on a dare from an agnostic I knew online. I don't know if I ever thanked him. :)

My husband just started to read the books about the Amish by Wanda Brunstetter and he is enjoying them very much. I knew he had read the Beverly Lewis books but when I saw one of Brunstetter's books at a library sale for $1.00, I thought it worth taking home and seeing if he liked it. (He says he likes Brunstetter's even better because Lewis' are more "touchy feely and getting in touch with our emotions" mixed in with a good story. That sounds like a man.) He has long been interested in Amish life. My interest in Brunstetter's books came when we saw her at a book signing when we were at Das Dutchmen Essenhaus.

My daughter got him started on books by Francine Rivers with her Mark of the Lion trilogy (long ago!). I think he has read all of Rivers books now. A couple who volunteered as "high school leaders" when Stephanie was in a youth group in Iowa recommended the Brock & Bodie Thoene books based on WWII and the founding of Israel. She loved them and they, too, became favorites of her dad. He has read most of the Thoene books as they are easy to come by at the library.

One of the books I use as a reference for finding good reading material is Gladys Hunt's Honey For a Woman's Heart. I loved this book but Stephanie had some issues with some of the books listed in it. Gladys, herself, doesn't list any books one would consider inappropriate but the book also contains a lot of lists by other people. One needs to use discretion.

Still... it has led me to many interesting authors and titles I was not aware of until reading it (like The Heaven Tree Trilogy by Edith Pargeter... aka: Ellis Peters of Cadfael fame). That's another book I have put back for reading during perhaps... a blizzard... when there is a lot of time to read, even if one needs to light a candle.... long book, looks great but... long book).

It was where I also found out about The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander for Christopher to enjoy. They were just long enough to be enjoyable and interesting when he had finally mastered the joy of reading. He went from them to his all time favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo and spent an entire year reading mostly French literature. He kept seeing that book on people's "most influential book ever read" lists.

On the other hand, we recommended the Hank the Cowdog books to a dear friend's son and he now has ALL of them. He became a true Hank fan. (We actually listened to them on audio books because we loved the West Texas accent of the author.) The first time I heard about "Hank" was in Diane Waring's wonderful book about homeschooling called Beyond Survival but I later found them in a lot of homeschool lists. Okay, so Hank is not classic literature but we all need some fun once in awhile. I don't know anything about the later Hank books but if Amy still gets them for her kids, that's all the recommendation I need.

I'd love to find more books like The Christian Imagination, which Stephanie gave me when they visited this past Christmas. How bad can a book be when it contains "reflections" by Tolkien, Annie Dillard, George MacDonald, Francis Schaeffer, Wendell Barry, and many (many) other interesting people about literature and their love of writing.

Sigh... it is true what "they" say, so many books and so little time. Now, I think I will mosey over to see what was on Semicolon's list from Saturday's Review of Books...


Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

You made me remember that I smuggled a copy of Gulag Archipelago into communist Hungary when it was first published in the 70s. It was banned there, of course. I felt like an international spy bringing this book to my husband's cousin.(Paul was working at a university in Stuttgart and we were living in Germany then.) I think we should all be aware of and count our blessings because of books are so freely available here and now.How wonderful free public libraries are. (An American invention....Thank you, Ben Franklin!) Someone I know lives in a county in one of the Dakotas where a levy failed and they closed all the libraries. It made me so sad.

Manuela said...

My husband is reading Atlas Shrugged right now and loving it (and he not really what I would call a "reader"). A former reader of my blog sent me an email just today saying she thought I would like the Mitford books (like you I've seen them mentioned time and again) but haven't gotten around to reading them. I'll have a look next time I'm at the library. I'm reading Green Mountain Farm which Rhonda Jean mentioned she was reading and I thought it sounded interesting.


Kimberly said...

I saw your comments awhile back on Randy Alcorn's site. I know that I heartily recommend his books. My hubby is not a fiction reader, except for Alcorn and Ted Dekker. I also enjoy T Davis Bunn's books as well.

As far as current fiction and Christian fiction, I seem to enjoy male authors more myself as they aren't usually as "touchy-feely", but move the story along with action. For the classics I love those ladies! LM Montgomery, FH Burnett, LM Alcott, LI Wilder, etc.

Carrot Top said...

Aaahhh! Books! They are wonderful friends, aren't they?! You made some super suggestions!

Anonymous said...

Another great author of historical Christian fiction is Lynn Austin. She has a couple of really good ones about the Civil War! I have read all of her books and highly recomend them.

midge said...

We are also big readers here, I enjoy all the books by Lousia May Alcott, this summer I am going to try to find time to read the Anne in Green Gables series. My 16 yo son is into science fiction, 11 and 10y sons enjoys the Redwall Series of books. My 14 y dd is into the Nancy Drew books ( the old ones) and the 7y dd haven't found the book to get here really reading. The libaray around here loves us as we boost there books numbers so they get more funding.

nanatrish said...

Thanks for all the book recommendatiions. I trust your judgement and can't wait to check them out. I have just finished, "The Shack" and I enjoyed it. It is a perspective on the trinity that really opened my eyes. The writer was from a missionary family and he has given me much to ponder. It just came out, but worth the read. Brenda, thanks for your blog. I love it!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

I am only familiar with the "Mitford" series so your suggestions are welcome ones...I'll look into some.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

I just finished reading "The Shack" and cannot recommend it highly enough. It hit so many buttons that I can't even describe the effect that it has had on me.

Anonymous said...

I love anything about the Amish and the old days. I read them as fast as they hit the stand. I found this book at a sale and it looked interesting. I started it and love it.It comes from a group of books"Daughters of Courage"This one I am reading is Kathryn Days Of Struggle And Triumph.
The author is Donna Fletcher Crow.

Lallee said...

Ah, the Mitford series--old, dear friends for a life time. I completed the series this past year and must now relive it once again. I just finished Same Kind of Different as Me, a beautiful true story of two men with nothing in common who are brought together by God. A lovely picture of God's fingertips on changed lives--I recommend it!