Saturday, January 30, 2010

January Reading

My husband is fond of asking, "Where is that truck that hit me?" when he has been ill.  I have found myself looking for that same truck recently.  One of the biggest challenges for me regarding living with a chronic illness is the unexpected, when one has plans made and their body hits with that familiar overwhelming fatigue.  One learns to live with it and be thankful when energy returns.

All that to say... sorry I've been gone a few days.  I'm still feeling miserable but the thought of sharing books read in January is enough to prop up with pillows and type away.  As I was reading through my notebook kept in past years (of books read by month and year), I decided to begin the habit again.  So, here is January 2010...

Of course, this has been my month of reading Elizabeth Goudge books.  I can't remember who inspired my old habit of reading many books by one author at a time but it was somewhere as a young wife and mother and I'm sure the advice came in a book.  Gordon McDonald in his book Ordering Your Private World (which happens to be one of my all time favorite nonfiction books) reinforced the practice.

I am planning to read at least three books by a fiction author (most likely many more according to reading time), followed by nonfiction the next month, followed by fiction, etc.  January was Goudge, February will be Edith Schaeffer, March will be D. E. Stevenson. 

As for Goudge... I have thoroughly enjoyed the reading of these books.  They have been favorites of many for a long time.  My mother-in-law had them on her bookshelves long before my husband and I were married.  I've purchased a few at library sales here and there and now have a couple favorites on my "must buy" list!

There was only one book of those I read (and there are many more unread as she was prolific) that I had issues with and that was only from a theological perspective.  The Middle Window is a hauntingly beautiful book about love lost and found but I wasn't prepared for such a gothic (ghostly) novel after reading her others.  I'd probably have loved it if I'd known it was more mystical than her others.  As I was reading it, I kept wondering where it was going...

The first Goudge book I ever read was Pilgrim's Inn, which remains a favorite.  I love houses and beautiful rooms and how people relate to their homes.  This book is all about how two different houses bring healing to the people who live within (not to mention just a great story) as well as the story of a family.

After Debra said she loved the first book in the trilogy (Pilgrim's Inn being the second can definitely be a "stand alone" story), I went back and read The Bird in the Tree.  I wish I had read it before reading Pilgrim's Inn as it helped me understand what was going on in the beginning of that book.  One can read Pilgrim's Inn alone but your reading will definitely be richer if you read The Bird in the Tree first as it lays the foundation for the relationships in the second book.

The third book in the trilogy is The Heart of the Family and I chose not to read it (given many books to read and limited time).  Stephanie told me it wasn't worth it and I trust her opinion, especially after reading more about it online.  I'm glad I stopped with Pilgrim's Inn.

Note: Whatever a reviewer on Amazon said, The Bird in the Tree is the first book in the trilogy.  Pilgrim's Inn could be read alone but I highly recommend reading The Bird in the Tree first... it will enrich your reading experience.  As I wrote, I didn't bother reading The Heart of the Family (the third in the trilogy).  Stephanie didn't care for it, it doesn't add much to the story, and I read some not-so-great reviews online that said it wasn't as good as most Goudge books.

A City of Bells is a delightful story which (as with many of her books) takes place in an English village. When I read that the story starts with two children, I wasn't too sure I'd like it but it is a magical story of children and adults who find the lives they were meant to live.  Just delightful.

As I was coming near the end of the Goudge month (knowing I'd read more of hers later), I chose The Dean's Watch when in an e-mail, Lanier had mentioned it is her mother's favorite of the Goudge books.  (As I figured anyone who has such a delightful and charming daughter has to have good taste.)  Oh, my... as I read the book I became completely entranced and for two days I lived in that story.  As I mentioned before, the end of it brought tears to my eyes, not only by the ending itself but because it ended for me.  I wanted it to go on forever.  I definitely want my own copy of this book so I'll be on the lookout at library sales.

The Dean's Watch is briefly about a watchmaker and a Dean who become unlikely friends in old age.  I know that doesn't sound all that interesting but the affect of their friendship on each other and the town brings significant changes in each life they touch.  (Which seems to be a theme in Goudge's best stories.)   I think in my youth Pilgrim's Inn would have been my all time favorite Goudge book but as one who is older it is The Dean's Watch... although both are equally wonderful.

I have started Gentian Hill but I haven't read enough of it to give any opinion.  So far it looks like it will be quite good.  It is a historical romance based partly on truth and partly on legend... the stuff of good story.

Her most famous story (as it became an equally famous movie) is Green Dolphin Street.  While I own that book, I decided not to include it in my month of reading only because I had seen the old movie and wanted to read the books on their own at this time.  It will be read later.  Stephanie and I both agree Pilgrim's Inn would make a lovely BBC movie.

As for my nonfiction reading in January...

Dancing With My Father by Sally Clarkson - a re-read of my friend's wonderful new book.  It is just what many Christians need to read today as life wears us all down at times.  Sally brings us along on her journey to find joy in the journey.  

Honey For a Woman's Heart by Gladys Hunt - One of my all time favorite "books about books" which I re-read quite often.  It is like sitting down to tea with a woman who knows books and loves to talk about them.  Her recommendations are all great but be more discerning with the "guest recommendations".  This book came out just at the time I began to read more fiction and I've found many of my favorite authors through it.

Lidia's Family Table - A cookbook I purchased at a library sale a couple years ago (I'm always surprised at the good cookbooks available).  It was missing the dust jacket so I bought it for $1.00.  Lidia's Italy is one of my favorite PBS cooking shows and this cookbook is about the food she makes for family and friends, a very personal book and a great one for anyone wanting to learn Italian cooking.  It has a lot of inexpensive used copies available on Amazon.

Like Jacques Pepin, Lidia lived through the shortages brought about by WWII and while both are today famous chefs, their cooking styles reflect the lessons learned when food was either scarce or expensive.  Their recipes reflect that frugality in many ways which is good for us during these economic times.  The lessons in the book about making your own pasta and the vegetable recipes are amazing.  Not to mention the recipes have corresponding photos, which always helps this visual learner.

Jacques Pepin wrote in his autobiography, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen (which I loved), that the home cooking of European homes is mostly very frugal because of the many war years the people lived through. 

Traditional Home - A decorating book by the publishers of Traditional Home magazine (1990's I believe).  I bought it at Goodwill a few weeks ago and have had enjoyed looking at all the pictures and stories very much.  I truly believe one needs a good library of favorite decorating and cooking books (and fortunately both can be inexpensive when purchased used).  Although those rare times I have paid full price was for a cookbook or decorating book.  :)

Since February is such a cold and dark month, I'm expecting plenty of reading time as I re-read many of my favorite Edith Schaeffer books.


matty said...

Glad you are feeling better! I'd share my snow with you if you want another reason to cuddle books! :)

Jan said...

Ah the "truck". I know that truck although I am not as gracious as you are about dealing with chronic illness. I don't read as much as you either because the eyes are not great. I do listen to a lot of audio books and love to do that.
Hang in there. Energy will return.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Missed you & glad you are back!

Kimberly said...

I really missed your blog posts. Glad you're feeling better. I have a question--and I'm sure you explained this before--but, when you get a chance, could you explain how the Amazon widget works? I understand that I can enter the Amazon site through it. What I want to know is do you only get credit if I buy one of the books you recommend? Also, do they have to be new books? I'm a book lover myself, but unfortunately new books are generally priced beyond my means. I'd love for you to benefit from my purchases. If you don't want to mention this in your blog, maybe you could email me--at your convenience, of course. My address is Thanks so much and keep up the great blogging--Kim

Mrs.Rabe said...

Thank you for the recommendation of Gladys Hunts book for adults! That will be very helpful for my daughters and I to find new authors.

Bonnie said...

Dear Brenda,
I am following your list and ordering the books as soon as I can find them. I am reading various comments on the books and wonder how to find the correct order to read them in? An amazon reader comments that "The Bird in the Tree" is the "3rd book in the Elliot series". What then, would be the first two? I was planning to read it as the first of three, followed by "Piligrims Inn" and "The Heart of the Family" as you suggested. Does it matter? I was just wondering. I am very much looking forward to reading them all if I can find them! Thanks, Bonnie

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Bonnie, The Bird in the Tree is the first of the trilogy. That person on Amazon was wrong.

I found it does help if you read The Bird in the Tree first and then Pilgrims Inn.

My daughter said the third in the series (The Heart of the Family) didn't really follow the storyline and she didn't care for it as much so I didn't bother reading it.

Lanier said...

Oh, I *knew* you'd love Pilgrim's Inn, Brenda!! :) (And I should have warned you about The Middle Window, hehe...yes, tis quite different. I gobbled it up, but I was in a very Gothic novel mood this summer!)
I can't wait to tell my mother how you've befriended 'her' Dean's Watch. :)
your friend in book love,

Heather L. said...

Thanks for the helpful books reviews! Glad to know I don't need to worry about reading the sequel to Pilgrim's Inn.

Jacques Pepin is our favorite -- loved his book.

Am enjoying a book by alexandra Stoddard just now -- along with others.

Gumbo Lily said...

An all time favorite book and by Eliz Goudge is Scent of Water.