Saturday, July 23, 2011

Recently reading

I would normally begin my reading remembrances with that which was read the last time I chatted about books.  However, this time I will make a slight curve and write about my most recent reading... that which drew me in after midnight four nights in a row and helped to welcome sweet sleep.  Books have a way of giving us a vacation from trials and tribulations don't they?  :)

My friend, Kristi, introduced me to D. E. Stevenson soon after we "met" online.  Not too long ago she wrote to ask the titles of the Stevenson books I had found at a thrift shop.  A package was to follow containing three books... two Stevenson books which were the sequels (or prequels?) to two of the books I had found and a much longed for Goudge.  (Kristi is definitely a literary soul sister and special friend!).  How delightful!

So... last week when I was very wound up about circumstances, I pulled those four books off my shelf... thinking I would read them over two weeks.  I read one each night for four nights (blush), often going to sleep at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning (but getting a sound sleep).

They were Katherine Wentworth and The Marriage of Katherine, and then Vittoria Cottage and Music in the Hills.  I loved these books and they were just what I needed to unwind enough to sleep well.  I highly recommend them (you may have to ask for them through interlibrary loan).

I had to smile when I was able to get back online and I saw Lanier had written about them (and two other favorite authors)... here.  She has a description of these four books in her beautiful post. Even Lanier's book reviews are lovely.

In late June, I read two novels which had been on my bookshelves for awhile... just awaiting their turn.  The first was Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.  I had heard so much about this book and I must admit when reading the first few chapters, I didn't like it much.  It was so sad and I didn't understand why it was so famous.  I had bought it for a dollar at a library sale and almost set it aside.

But then as I kept reading and as the story reached its' conclusion, I found I truly liked this book... very much.  Yes, it is depressing at times but the author uses the background of domestic life in the home (as accomplished by the grandmother and various aunts) to help us understand how the lack of proper domesticity is a symptom of serious challenges in the home environment.

I know it sounds odd and it really is difficult to explain but this book is what I would call... haunting.  It is very sad but a remarkable window into how family dysfunction can go from one generation to another.  I kept thinking this would be very interesting to read in a book club.

Looking For the King; An Inklings Novel was written by David Downing, the first work of fiction by the writer of a few nonfiction books about C. S. Lewis.  Although it reads exactly as it was written by a nonfiction writer (very factual rather than descriptive at times), it is still a very interesting story about a young man's quest to find evidence of the Arthur legend and the help he receives from the Inklings.  The author uses actual sentences spoken by the Inklings within the conversations.  I hope he continues to write fiction.

My venture into the nonfiction world began with Sharon Lovejoy's lovely book called Trowel & Error: Over 700 Shortcuts, Tips & Remedies for the Gardener.  I cannot recommend this little book highly enough for anyone who gardens... a newby or a Master Gardner would find a lot of helpful information.

Not to mention Sharon's lovely and colorful illustrations making this a delightful book to take off the shelf in winter to dream about sunshine and gardens.  LOVE this book. It will stay in my basket where I keep books that make me happy all year long. If you want to give a gift to a loved one who gardens... this would be perfect.

I have been skimming two books which have been on my shelves for ages and ages.  Edith Schaeffer's A Way of Seeing is a compilation of many of her Christianity Today articles from the 1970s.  It has been on my coffee table for a couple weeks to be picked up and one chapter (article) re-read when I have time.  These articles may have been written over thirty years ago but they could be taken from today's headlines (remembering we were in a deep recession and the world was reeling from "wars and rumors of wars").

Julie Nixon Eisenhower's book called Special People was also written in the 1970s.  I re-read her chapters (including interviews) about Golda Meir, Ruth Bell Graham, and Anne Morrow Lindberg as I had time in June.  She also writes about Prince Charles (who was young at this time), Mao Tse-Tung, and Mamie Eisenhower (her husband's grandmother) but I did not take the time to re-read them.

My Amazon credit book this time (thank you, thank you, and again... thank you!) is a much longed for cookbook called Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros.  I first read about this book on SouleMama's blog a few years ago (her original post with pictures is... here).  It sounded wonderful from her description and more reviews would pop up now and then throughout the Net.

Sometimes a book I've wanted for awhile will disappoint me when I finally am able to purchase it but this one was even more than I expected.  Tessa shares chatty stories with the recipes and the book is divided by COLOR.  What an interesting way to share recipes and pictures... lots of beautiful pictures.

While the many recipes are about favorite meals of childhood, I'd say they are actually favorite family meals.  This is a huge book... 417 pages... packed full of so many recipes it can keep you trying new things for a long time.

I have had many evenings since it arrived in June just perusing through the stories she tells and the recipes.  Some are very, very easy... simple enough for kids to make.  Others are more complicated but I found none to be difficult so far.

The only complaint I have read online is the light gray shade the actual recipes are written in.  I'd say you can easily get over this if you make certain to read the recipe a couple times before setting it in front of you while cooking. I wear bifocals and had no trouble with them.

If you are American and you decide to purchase this book or find it through interlibrary loan... make certain you get the American version.  The original is European and metric (unless you are really good at conversions).

By the way, did you know when a recipe calls for something like 2 cups + 2 T. flour in it, the recipe has been converted from metric?  I learned that when watching a Canadian cooking show... who knew.

I tend toward much lighter reading in the summer as well as biography.  I'm thinking of re-reading a couple favorite Goudge books as the hot weather continues.  My days are full due to unexpected circumstances but good fiction helps me relax and unwind in the evening (especially since the Sony in the living room was fried).


Rebecca said...

I'm going to look for some D.E. Stevenson books after I finish The Lady and the Poet. I've had a good streak of reading lately and list them in my book tab...

Peter Mayle can't keep up with my thirst for his writing, so I stumbled upon 3 written in a similar vein and enjoyed all three!

I'm glad you're back and finding reading a diversion to some of the recent stresses in your life. Sorry for the news about your eyes.

Debra said...

Oh! Must comment on the book, Housekeeping. Although her descriptions and metaphors are exquisite, this is a rare case of the movie surpassing the book. I *love* the movie and have probably watched it 20 times. But I believe it's still only available on video, though it's been awhile since I checked. Perhaps you can find it through your library inter-loan--I think you'd really love it! Christine Lahti's 'Sylvie' was perfection.

Thanks for all the other book mentions--I'll have to check into them soon! Blessings, Debra

Mrs.Rabe said...

I am going to have to check out those D.E. Stevenson books as well. First up though I have a lot of books to finish first!

Reading is a wonderful diversion and reading good books is like sharing time with friends!

Glad you're back online...missed your thoughtful posts...


Anonymous said...

Very interesting array of books you describe...thanks for the ideas!

I never knew that about recipes first being metric when one has to add a couple of messing about and adapting recipes for those in the family who are gluten sensitive, I have often needed to add a couple Tablespoons...because the different flours absorb liquid differently I have found (in all my trials and errors)! Even the gluten free recipes generally have to be changed for one loved one allergic to rice, soy, corn, etc. as well as the glutens!

Vee said...

I don't need to read a book to calm down. I can just come here and read one of your reviews. How pleasant. How relaxing. ☺

postmodernMom said...

Apples for Jam is one of Elaine's favorite cookbooks. About two years ago she did a Julia-Child-like "experiment" to cook something new every day out of the book. I don't think she got all the way through it, but it sounded like fun! :)