Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Little Women, Warning: SPOILERS

I have to confess that I cheated. I was reading Little Women and I wanted to be directed so I could look for things to talk about later, so I read a list of reading group questions supplied by the internet and I got all in a huff. I had only read through the first half, so I knew the characters well, and had a good idea of where I wanted the story to go. The questions not only revealed to me that Beth was going to die, but the Jo was not going to marry Laurrie. I was outraged. I almost made up my mind that I wasn’t going to like the book. But after reading it, I really did like it. Here’s some of the questions, and I’ll write what I think about them, and anyone who’s read it can respond.

Do you find it surprising that once Laurie is rejected by Jo, he falls in love with Amy? Do you feel his characterization is complete and he is acting within the "norm" of the personality Alcott has created for him, or does Alcott simply dispose of him once our heroine rejects him?

I don’t find it surprising at all. Like Jo says, she’s like the wind while Amy is like the sun and while a romance between Jo and Laurie would have been more interesting, or more fun, it wouldn’t have been more work to keep it happy. As far as the “norm” of the personality, I think it is out of the norm of his character, and this is what I think the book is about to some degree: that you can choose to learn from life, be it good or bad. Laurie had been a gadabout his whole life and had made an effort to learn from the good (i.e. trying to improve himself to win Jo), but when the Jo refused him, he was resigned to be unhappy. Amy showed him that you move forward no matter what.

As far as the shake-up goes, in general I think Alcott wanted to show that you don’t have to settle for so-so love. You don’t have to be married unless there is the potential for both parties to be ‘Julie-Andrews-spinning-on-a-mountain-top happy’.

The last two chapters find Jo setting aside her budding literary career to run a school with her husband. Why do you think Alcott made her strongest feminine figure sacrifice her own life plans for her husband's?

Boo to this whole question. It makes me irritated that people have forgotten what Alcott was trying to say in the last two chapters. That someone could read that and think only of the worldly glory that Jo was giving up with her writing and not see the joy that she invited into her life by surrounding herself with family and children is truly lamentable. Jo’s writing never really made her supremely happy because she was just ‘talented’ and not a genius, and thus could never create that wonderful masterpiece she dreamed of in her castle in the sky. But with getting married and opening a school, she realized the most wonderfully feminine part of herself and was really happy. And, as a point of order, the idea to open the school was Jo’s in the first place, not Mr. Baer’s.

The other questions were mostly dumb and obvious, but I just wanted to say that I really agree with the lessons taught by Marmee to her daughters. I especially like the ones imparted to Meg about making the home pleasant for her family and not letting her children eclipse her husband. I didn’t mark the page, but it really rang true to me when Marmee says something like, “you are the sunshine of your home.” As women, we have the opportunity to be very literally the glue that holds our home together. I know for me, I get bogged down in the every day minutiae of running a home (and going to school) like making sure that we have milk in the refrigerator and singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for the millionth time in a row. But with the book, Alcott shows us that life is hard and housework is very real (I know I don’t sew one-tenth the amount that the March girls did) but like the last page of the book, when Marmee gathers her family around her, we too will have a reward so delicious that it can make sweet the bitter and everything will be more than worth it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A sipid story of requited love

Mom sent this to me awhile ago, and I was thinking about it today. I thought I'd reproduce it here so anyone who is interested can have a good laugh.

How I Met my Wife by Jack Winter

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate.

I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way. I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I'd have to make bones about it since I was travelling cognito. Beknownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn't be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do.

Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or a sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion. So I decided not to risk it. But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads and tails of.

I was plussed. It was concerting to see that she was communicado, and it nerved me that she was interested in a pareil like me, sight seen. Normally, I had a domitable spirit, but, being corrigible, I felt capacitated -- as if this were something I was great shakes at -- and forgot that I had succeeded in situations like this only a told number of times. So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings.

Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. Wanting to make only called-for remarks, I started talking about the hors d'oeuvres, trying to abuse her of the notion that I was sipid, and perhaps even bunk a few myths about myself. She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savoury character who was up to some good. She told me who she was. "What a perfect nomer," I said, advertently. The conversation became more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party together and have been together ever since. I have given her my love, and she has requited it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

This is the best fantasy adventure book I've read since Harry Potter. It's something like 450 pages but I read it in two days, so it's fast and easy. I grabbed it on a mad dash down the juvenile fiction aisle at random and it proved to be not only an entertaining read but also very clever and well thought-out. I think it's a trilogy because I saw at the bookstore yesterday that the first two are in paperback and the third one is out in hardcover now. It's basically the story of how Peter Pan became Peter Pan. But it's nothing predictable or anything that I would have thought of. I think one of the author's daughter's asked about how Peter Pan and Captain Hook met in the first place and that got the wheels spinning. It seems that a lot of the best fiction is in the juvenile section, but this could just as easily be shelved for adults. (Or maybe I just like juvenile fiction better.)

And I have to say, I'm so excited that I actually have something to post here. Austin and I were talking about the lack of reading we've been doing lately, or rather, the lack of reading silently to ourselves. In the last month or two I have read aloud to Owen and/or Soren Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, several "Jack and Annie" books (that's Magic Tree House series in Soren-speak), as well as countless short stories, but nothing for myself. Well, that's not entirely true, but almost. I love to read but somehow my time is getting all sucked up doing other things (funny how that happens...).

Anyway, this book was really good, I highly recommend it. I can't wait to start the next one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Am A Mother

My grandma loaned me this book and I am so grateful that she did. Chad was gone all of last week and I played single mom for 8 days. Needless to say it was difficult, especially since they were both sick and I wasn't able to take Archer to preschool. This book couldn't have come at a better time. I Am A Mother is written by Jane Clayson Johnson who was a former co-anchor of the "The Early Show." At the peak of her career she was married and she gave up an exciting career and a multi-million contract to stay at home with her children. Suddenly the things I sometimes feel I have given up don't seem as great of a sacrifice when compared to hers. Don't get me wrong, we all give up something when we become mothers, but the opportunity offered to Johnson may never come again in her lifetime. I, on the other hand, can go back to school and graduate whenever I want. Anyway, I like her because she isn't perfect. Johnson's first (temple) marriage ended in divorce and that fact really makes her more accessible and real. She speaks very candidly about her decision and how difficult it was to give up her exciting career. It is still something she struggles with, just as every mother does. Anyway, she really puts some meat on the cliched sayings like "Being a mother is the greatest thing in the world!" and "Motherhood is the highest calling." In this quick read (100-some-odd pages), I felt re-energized and more determined to do my best and give myself credit for the things I have accomplished today instead of focusing on the things that didn't get done. Here is a link to an excerpt of the book as well as a video of her talking about it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Little Women

So this is the first book I have read in a (really, really, really) long time. I read this book when I was younger and really enjoyed it. I have somewhat of a history with Little Women as it was my grandmother's favorite book. She was in grade school during the great depression and grew up extremely poor and without her father around. She won a copy of Little Women in either a spelling bee or an essay contest, I can't recall at this moment. My grandmother loved this book so much she named my mom after the saintly character Beth. Anyway, as I said before, I read this book when I was younger and hadn't thought much of it since. I hosted our ward's book club and this is what I chose to read. I can't believe how much I enjoyed it and I felt as though I was reading it for the first time. Obviously I am in a different place in my life than when I first read it and the story really spoke to the wife, mother, and young woman in me. If you haven't read this book in awhile, or have never read it at all, I encourage you to do so and let me know what you think!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Isaiah for Airheads

I stole this book from Jerri and I decided to study Isaiah like it suggests: slowly, methodically, prayerfully, and with my scriptures open. And just as John Bytheway promises, I changed from thinking "oh great, the words of Isaiah" to "Great are the words of Isaiah."

The book focuses on just the Book of Mormon chapters of quoted Isaiah, and is set up like an institute manual with commentary on a verse-by-verse basis along with practical application and a lot of 'big picture' concepts. There's about 20 chapters of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, so if you did a chapter a day, which is pretty reasonable, you'd be done in 20 days. It took me much longer than that because sometimes I only had time for a few verses.

I found it very helpful because sometimes, you just need someone to tell you what the heck a crisping pin is. I would heartily recommend it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

American Jezebel

Reading this book is awesome. I disagree with the author on some very key points, but reading about a Puritan woman non-conformist is interesting to me in many ways. I've especially found some parallels with all the talk regarding President Beck's talk from conference.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hattie Big Sky

Just a quick note, I finished Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larson last week and loved it. It was very cute. It's Young Adult fiction. Check it out. Why am I so retarded that I can't put a picture of the book on here?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

If You Decide to go to the Moon

by Faith Mcnulty, illustrated by Steven Kellogg
(he also did Is Your Mama a Llama?)
Owen brought this book home from the library on Media Wednesday and I like it so much I want to buy it. The prose is fun, imaginative, and informative and the pictures are amazing. I recommend you scoot on over to the library and check it out.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Tipping Point

I saw Malcolm Gladwell on Oprah publicizing his new book Blink. He was saying some pretty interesting things, especially about the Implicit Association Test developed by researchers at Harvard and a few other universities. I took the test, and turns out, I'm prejudiced. But Mr. Gladwell's point is that most people are. Anyway, I tried to borrow this book from the library, but they were booked up for weeks, so I decided to borrow his other book, The Tipping Point which book mom had brought to read the week she stayed with me right after Lillian was born. It's a definite conversation piece, as I'm sure my husband is tired of hearing about things like transactive memory and why Sesame Street is successful at teaching children how to read.

If you liked Freakonomics, you would like this book.

As a completely unrelated side note: Tyler is reading the Percy Jackson books. He's on the second one and we were both reading quietly before bed when he says, "I'm not sure I can read this book anymore... Look, (he reads) 'We were traveling at 25 knots per hour'! Knots per hour?! That's as bad as saying 'We have been traveling for 10 lightyears.'"

Just in case there was any confusion, my husband is a nerd.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Is Jack going on a trip? I'm glad he has his lightsaber!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Who's reading it? We bought our copy on Amazon, so it came to our house on Saturday. I suggested that we could read it together, separately... It's how we've read a number of other books. You sit side by side on the couch, and both hold the book open to the page you're on, with the intervening pages straight up. The only downside is that you get a crick in your neck. Anyway, Tyler didn't want to do that with this one because he knew I'd read the whole thing while he was at work, so he insisted we read it out loud to each other. It's a little slow going, although I just looked and we're on page 235. Not bad for only two days.

Oh, when it came in the mail, Tyler looked at Lillian and said, "Ok baby, you can't cry for at least a week."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

My sister-in-law recommended this book. It's about a man who grew up in Afghanistan and immigrated to California but is asked to return to Afghanistan years later to help a friend. I'm only about half-way through, but really like it. Not only is it written well, but it gives the reader an insight into the way Afghanistan used to be: before Russia, before the terrorists.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

This book won the Pulitzer a few years ago and is Oprah's current book club selection, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's about a person named Calliope/Cal who was born a hermaphrodite and his time growing up trying to figure out why he's a girl on the outside but a man on the inside. The premise was OK, but the book was a little... juicy... if you know what I mean. Nothing gratuitous really, just a little much for my taste. I stopped reading maybe 60 pages in.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

3 for Tea

I've been invited to join a "smart" book club. Hmmmm. Our first book is "3 for Tea." Not sure how to underline yet. It's a fascinating, true story of a regular guy who gets lost while climbing K2, and the next thing you know, he's promised this village he will help build a school. He has no idea how to even begin. It's sometimes humorous how he blunders along. But in the last 10 years he's built 55 schools in the most remote locations, mostly for girls. He's fighting the Talaban with education. An excellent book!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Anne of Green Gables

When I was younger, I wanted so badly to be Anne Shirley and live in Green Gables in Avonlea. I wanted to have a 'kindred spirit' for a friend and live by an orchard. Like most phases, especially for a Calder girl, it only lasted a little while, but for that week, I think, I wore a dress every day, and insisted that mom braid my hair.

I had never read any of the other books in the series. I've just now finished Anne of the Island the third book. I think I may read one more, just to see Anne and Gilbert be married, but I think I'll stop there. Who has the stamina to read all eight?

As a humorous side note, for those of you who've read the books, you know Anne is all caught up on being romantic, so this morning, when I woke up, Tyler asks, "Who is Ms. Bennett?" I replied, "The only Ms. Bennett I know is Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice." He then says, "Oh, because last night in your sleep you said, "Ms. Bennett can't marry him, it wouldn't be romantic."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

To A Mouse, by Robert Burns

I love this poem, even if it is a little depressing. I found a place online where you can listen to a woman reading it. I found it makes a lot more sense if you have a proper Scottish accent.

On turning her up in her nest, with the plough,

November, 1785

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie,
O what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae (so) hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith (loath) to rin an' chase thee
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun (must) live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave (an occasional ear of corn out of 24 sheaves)
'Sa sma' request:
I'll get a blessin' wi' the lave (remainder),
And never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin:
And naething, now, to big (build) a new ane,
O' foggage (moss) green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin'
Baith (both) snell (severe) and keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste
An' weary winter comin' fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell
Till, crash! the cruel coulter (iron piece in front of plough) past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble
Has cost the mony (many) a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole (endure) the winter's sleety dribble
An' cranreuch (hoarfrost) cold!

But, Mouse, thou art no thy lane (not alone)
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley, (often go awry)
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.

Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Percy Jackson

The new Percy Jackson book is out. It was exciting and I read it in about a day and a half. But, I was disappointed, and a little excited, that it wasn't over over. The plot had some conclusion, but I get the feeling there's going to be at least 2 or 3 more books in the series. Something to look forward to, I guess.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

How Green Was My Valley

Yes, it's beautiful. Beautifully written. Beautiful scenery. Beautiful people. But, I had no idea what was going on most of the time. You can't do much about the Welsh names: Huw, Angharad, and Mr. Gruffydd. However, from what I understand, it's written like how Welsh people talk. One man says to another man, "now, my little one, ah y fi, don't cry, is it?" What?

But, that's not that big of a deal. You get the point. My major, big, huge, gigantic complaint with the book is that he finds out he fathers an child out of wedlock and does nothing. The whole book is about honor, right? His father is always belting his brothers and him for even looking at other girls or the like. His brothers beat up another man because he talked to their sister without asking their father's permission. And yet, Huw fathers a child, which everyone knows about, and one sentence, "I felt shamed" then nothing. Poor Ceridwen, simply brushed aside. I couldn't enjoy the rest of the book because I kept waiting for his father to call him in and tell him what's what. Or for him to try and go find her and marry her. I fell right out of love with him and considered him a jerk for the remainder of the book, which I read only on the off chance he was going to turn around and do the honorable thing. I have to admit, every time I turned a page, (of which there are 500, so I did it a few times) I would scan for Ceridwen's name, not find it, and be irritated all over again.

Maybe the movie is different. I hear it won all sorts of awards.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Slice of Life Piece

I have a friend who is frustrated with all the magazines out there. She decided she was going to publish something that wasn't about pleasing her man or losing weight. She asked me to write a one page 'slice of life' piece. This is what I came up with:

I have the distinct feeling that I’m getting less and less interesting as I grow up, ‘grow up’ used loosely, of course, as I’m only 23. Or 24. No, 23; I can never remember. I may be romanticizing a bit, but I have memories of holding my audiences in rapt attention, laughing, crying, eating out of the palm of my hand. I could make even the most mundane subjects dazzle. Now, I’ve got nothing.

‘What happened?’ you may ask. The most wonderful and awful thing in the world: I had a baby. ‘How can you call that awful?’ you may ask. It’s more wonderful than awful, if that’s any consolation. Mostly, the awful had to do with the actual having of the child, which I won’t discuss here, because no one wants to hear about it. I don’t even want to hear about it. But, the thing is, no one wants to hear about any of it. Sure, everyone wants to look at the baby. They coo and tickle and say things like, “wow, she’s got a mohawk” (which is not something a mother needs pointed out). But all subjects which have bearing on the actual raising process are, lets face it, either extremely unpleasant or downright boring. Like the ‘having process’ I won’t discuss the ‘extremely unpleasant’. You can imagine. ‘How can it be boring?’ you may ask. Well, somehow, I can’t make the fact that my daughter loves watching the turntable spin in the microwave funny. You can say it. Someone says, “So, how are you?” And you say, “My daughter loves watching the turntable spin in the microwave.” But then what? You get a cursory, “that’s cute” and then your audience moves on to the conversation next to you where they’re discussing backpacking in Peru. I can’t compete with that.

To get me back in the conversational saddle, I tried making a list of talking points which would aid me in making friends and impressing audiences through my unparalleled humor and mental prowess. This was when I knew my life had really taken a turn for the worst as ‘crossword puzzles’ was near the top. It was awful. If the turntable in the microwave was difficult to make interesting, try out the fact that on March 15th, there were no ‘i’s in the puzzle (as in, beware the Ides of March). I thought it was pretty funny, but perhaps the man who created the puzzle and I were the only ones. Also high on my list of talking points was my recent discovery of sweet potatoes. The man on the television in the produce section of the supermarket told me they were to most nutritious vegetable. The sad realization hit me like a ton of bricks. It was no longer a matter of suspecting that I was boring. I was boring.

At this point, the baby woke up and I went in to get her out of her crib. As soon as she saw me with her gorgeous big blue eyes, a gigantic grin spread across her little cherubic face and she let out a little squeal of joy. I thought, with an exclamation point, “She likes me!” Waves of happiness coursed through my body as she snuggled up close and I read the caterpillar book for the millionth time.

It doesn’t matter that I’m no longer good at conversing; my baby likes me, and will like me forever. Or, at least until she turns 13.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A good book

I am reading Gravitation, by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler. It's a pretty good read, but it's very heavy at 1200 pages. I'll let you know how it goes. By the way Wheeler was one of the principal scientists involved in building the atomic bomb during WWII. His other book: Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics, was partly about his experience in WWII building the bomb. It was especially intersting as he had a brother in Europe who died before they finished building the bomb. It is written to be read by a general audience.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer

I really loved this book. I chose it as I walked past and the binding looked interesting. It's the story of a man who leaves the Old Order Amish community. It follows his whole life. I know, it sounds boring, but it's not. It treats the Amish faith and community really respectfully. I read it in a day and a half. It's not my usual fare, but I feel changed a bit from it. It's really about love and forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Oprah's new book club book

It's called The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier. The whole book is about measuring yourself to a higher standard. I only read half of it because it would be rated R, for language. Most of the language is when he is talking about the racism he faced when he first immigrated to the US from the Bahamas. It's a tough subject, but he treated it with the language to match. Not for me.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

I had this book for a class that I ended up dropping; I'm not sure why I kept it, but it's been sitting on my shelf for a few years, so I finally pulled it out. It's a novel and a pretty quick read. I can't say that I loved it or that it changed my life, though. It was rather strange. Kind of eery and haunting in an undisturbing kind of way. That probably doesn't make any sense at all. On the positive side, there was nothing R-rated whatsoever, and the writing was really beautiful. Every word intentional. It's kind of a silent book. There's hardly any dialogue in it. It's about two sisters who grow up with various relatives after their mother drives her car off a cliff. Read at your own risk.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I've never read Hamlet

I read this book called Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig. In the review that I read, it gave it 4 stars and said it was a cross-over juvenile fiction book based loosely on Hamlet. When I got the book at the library, the reviews on it said that it was humorous and witty. I've never read Hamlet, but I wasn't sure how one could make the story humorous or witty, so I thought I'd read it. My number-one problem was the seriously PG-13 language. I thought it was supposed to be juvenile fiction. My number-two problem was the extreme lack of wittiness and humor. The Hamlet character is an 11-year-old boy, and the story is told from his point of view, so some parts are at best awkward, like life is when you're 11.

I did like it, however. Aside from the language, it was a very compelling story, and it was just different enough from the play that I wasn't quite sure what was going to happen.

In short, it was OK.

(Lillian's been taking two two-hour naps every day, and that's why I have so much time on my hands to read what my husband characterizes as "a million books a week." I'm waiting on Book 2 in the Percy Jackson series, so I think I'll read something serious, maybe On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. I had to buy it for a class, but we only read the beginning bit. Hooray for naptime!)

Monday, February 26, 2007


I just finished the first book of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Thanks Allison for recommending it, it was fun. I kept telling Tyler it was like Harry Potter, but with Greek mythology instead of witches.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

This book stole three days of my life

My sister-in-law sent me this book: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. She called to tell me it was her new favorite. The back reads: "About three things I was absolutely positive. First Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him - and I don't know how dominant that part might be - that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him." My eyes rolled. I started reading. Bella moved to Forks, Washington to let her mom breathe and to be close to her dad. Oh yeah, she's a junior in high school. While living in this podunk town, she notices a family of outsiders; two girls and three boys. They sit by themselves, are extremely graceful, very pale, and amazingly beautiful. Oh yeah, they're vampires. While trying to find her place, Bella falls in love with one, Edward, and she's so "unconditionally and irrevocably in love" that she doesn't care that he's a vampire. Oh yeah, they've only spoken maybe four times. There was much eye rolling and head shaking, and I was rapidly losing respect for my sister-in-law's literary tastes.

Then it sucked me right in. I won't tell you what happened, but suddenly, all I wanted to do was read. I read before bed, right when I woke up, while cooking, during Lillian's naps, while she was awake. I had to know.

It's written for teenagers, I think, so don't expect too much. But, after all the eye rolling, it wasn't half bad.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

John Adams by David McCullough

By odd coincidence, Mom and I ended up reading John Adams at the same time. I've been nibbling at it since Thanksgiving, mostly reading it in between other books. After just finishing it, I am astonished at how much he gave for our country, all to be repaid in scandal and rumor. He said that if he had to do it all over again, he would have been a shoemaker. I didn't know that he and Jefferson were so close, and that after Jefferson used ever device possible to undercut Adams, they could still be the closest of friends; they even died on the same day, July 4th, on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He tried always to improve the world, never once writing, or encouraging to be written, a disparaging remark about any of his opponents, and was, well, loquacious, which makes for a good biography. People just don't write letters like they used to.

All in all, it put a face on all of these scraps of history that I had floating around in my brain, left over from Mr. Sink's AP American History my junior year of high school. For example, I remembered there was such a thing called the XYZ Affair, but who can remember exactly what it was all about? (Tyler's recollection limited it to 'what you say when someone's fly is down.)

It is long, however, and for most of it, it isn't exactly riveting. It is more of a ponderous thing than any sort of quick read. But it can be used rather successfully as a conversation piece, which device I have seen and you have probably heard Mom employ, and you sound very smart and well read. Not that that's why I read books.

John Adams makes me feel not only like I should be doing more, but that I can do more. Said he, "Admire and adore the Author of the telescopic universe, and and esteem the work, do all in your power to lessen ill, and increase good, but never assume to comprehend."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I really liked this book. I found it in the Juvenile section of the library. It's a little Harry Potter-esque. It was a fun, quick read. I liked it so much that I went out and got book two, The Sea Monster. I can't wait for book three to come out this summer.

Chantel, you guys should read the Magic Tree House books to Owen. There are a million of them and we read through them in one or two nights. Tristan never seems to tire of them. I, myself, can only take a couple before I have to have a change. They are high interest, lower-level reading. High interest, i.e. sabertooth tigers, knights, dinosaurs, ninjas, etc. I'll have to try reading Harry Potter to Tristan. We tried Junie B. Jones, and although I thought they were funny, Tristan didn't get the jokes.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I didn't notice the little words on the bottom of the back cover of An Assembly Such as This which read "Book 1 in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy." Blast it all. The book ends in the middle. To quote Meg Ryan's character in Dad's favorite movie, "I'm always in agony over whether Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are really going to get together." The next book is called Duty and Desire. Ahhh!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Assembly Such as This

The book is the story of Pride and Prejudice as told from Mr. Darcy's point of view. The prose isn't quite as rich or flowery as the original, but it's a quick fun read.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Looking for more books on Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you know of anyone, please ask them if they have any recommended reading. I read one book which was fasinating, but her boy was not autistic, he had food allergy. Not the same.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Harry Potter

We recently finished the first Harry Potter book with Owen. He loved it. I thought he was a little young, but Austin convinced me and he was right. Now we're into the second one. Over the last year we have also read six of the seven Chronicles of Narnia books to him, all of which he was totally into, and Alice in Wonderland, which I don't recommend. I can see why it might make a cute, slightly crazy Disney movie, but the book itself is full of jibberish. Lots of play on words, which he isn't old enough to grasp yet, and nonsense. Some of the nonsense was fun. Still not a great book. But we do love Harry Potter.