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...