The Reading Report, Vol. 15: So Many Books, So Little Time

Ah, yes, the title says it all, doesn’t it? So many books, so very little time! I find my desire to read many books far outweighs the actual time I have, or perhaps the time I take, to read them. My TBR list is ever-growing, and I truly need to start writing down all the books I have in mind to read sometime soon. My head is a poor place to store such information, but at the same time, perhaps in this case it is better that I forget a few titles since I surely will never get to all of them anyway.

The month of September has been particularly bad for tackling my TBR list for a few reasons. For one thing, our family’s schedule has been exceptionally full this month. It seems like everything has been happening at once around here, and by the time I have a moment to sit down and read something, I’m often too tired to do even that! Also, after finishing one particularly difficult read, I tried to start another book only to find that I couldn’t get into it at all. (More about that later.) Finally, I didn’t have a good audio book going until this week, so I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts instead. Good, but not helpful for my reading life (unless you count adding more ideas about other books I want to read!)

So, let’s see…what have I actually finished since last month’s report?

Finished Books:

I’m afraid to say that the only personal book I finished this month was Crossing to Safety. (I did finish a couple of read-alouds with the kids, but I’m not counting those just now.) Yes, I did decide to press on and finish this book even though I had a hard time with it for the first several chapters. Thankfully, I was rewarded for my stubbornness, because the second half of the book connected with me so much more deeply. I actually was in tears at the end. I still don’t know how to talk about Crossing to Safety or what Stegner was doing in this book that made it both so hard for me to read and so moving in the end. But I am glad I stuck it out, and I even would read it again someday and see what more I can glean from it.

Currently Reading:

King Lear has been pushed to the back burner a bit, although I have been keeping up with The Play’s the Thing podcast discussions. I just need to dive back in again, because I’m nearly to the end anyway.

I picked up Jan Karon’s At Home in Mitford because I needed something light in between all the difficulty of CTS. I haven’t read but a few chapters, but I am enjoying it. I like that it is light but still literary in quality and not pedantic or trite. Sometimes I have trouble with modern fiction because my tastes have become so accustomed to classic lit that a lot of popular current novels just don’t satisfy me.

My new audio book is Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers, the first in her Lord Peter Whimsy mystery series. I have read one other Lord Peter mystery and enjoyed it thoroughly. I’m listening to this one on Librivox, and it is going to replace Age of Innocence in my Back to the Classics Challenge list in the female author category.

Try as I might, I just could not get engaged in the New York socialite scene of the opening chapters of Age of Innocence. I will come back to it some other time, but after struggling so with CTS, I just don’t have it in me to force myself to read yet another book that isn’t interesting me. A good mystery story is just the thing to get a girl out of a reading slump, and Whose Body fits the bill perfectly in this case!

I’m reading a few pages of The Spiritual Life every few days, purposefully reading slowly with pencil in hand. It is more of a devotional and educational book, obviously, so I want to let the points made by Mr. Murray and the Scriptures he references really sink in. So far, I find it very approachable for a book that is actually a collection of transcribed sermons from over 100 years ago!

More Time:

Since we are now over halfway through September, I am challenging myself to finish at least 3 of these 4 current reads by the next edition of the Reading Report. I think life should settle down some once we get through this month, and I am also trying to pare back on my social media time. I really need to spend more time with an actual book in hand and less time staring at my phone, unless that phone is playing an audio book, that is! 😉

How about you? How is your TBR list looking this month? Do you have more time to read now that fall is approaching, or is the school year busier for you like it has been for me? I’d love to hear more about your reading life, so leave me a comment below and we’ll chat!

The Reading Report, Vol. 14: When You’re Not in Love with a Book

Ever start reading a book that comes highly recommended only to have it fall sort of flat for you? It happens to all of us once in a while, doesn’t it? I am currently reading a book that is well-liked by many people, but I just can’t decide how I feel about it. I am nearly halfway through, so it is not that I haven’t given this book enough time. The confusing thing is that I love the overall style of the writing, especially the descriptive passages that have an almost poetic feel. But I don’t care much for the characters so far, and I am having trouble resonating with the story for some reason. At the same time, I do want to know what is going to happen to these characters. It is a complicated feeling!

I’m curious to know what you do when you come across this situation in your reading life. When do you decide to give up on a book that you just aren’t loving? What makes you finish a book even when it isn’t your cup of tea? I would love to hear how you deal with books you don’t just love? In other news, here are the books I have finished since last month and what I am currently reading:

Finished Books:

I finished reading, or I should say listening to, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. It was not the most riveting detective story ever, but considering that it is known as the original detective novel, I suppose that makes sense. It was longer than I anticipated, and the epistolary format seemed a bit cumbersome at times. However, I did enjoy the story and character development. And the solution to the mystery did have some unexpected twists!

I also finished Richard Adams’ Watership Down and absolutely fell in love with it! Who knew a book about rabbits could be so captivating?! I don’t know quite how to write about it, honestly. Adams succeeded in addressing so many deep themes in this fantastic adventure that I still find myself mulling over the ideas presented. I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t yet!

Currently Reading:

Crossing to Safety: This is the book I’m struggling with right now. I am going to finish it, though, and I will let you all know how I feel about it when I’m all done!

Age of Innocence: I haven’t really spent much time with this book yet, but it is not my first Edith Wharton. I expect to be fully engaged in this story once I have time to read past the first couple of chapters.

King Lear: The CiRCE Close Reads Podcast Network just started a new podcast called The Play’s the Thing. It is dedicated to slowly reading and discussing all of Shakespeare’s plays! The first one on the docket is King Lear. I knew virtually nothing about this play until I started, but I am enjoying it so far, although it sounds odd to say I am “enjoying” reading a tragedy!

Up Next:

I only have one more book (after Age of Innocence) to complete on my Back to the Classics Challenge list, and that is The Spiritual Life. When that is all done, my plan to is to compile a list of books that I already own to read. I am looking forward to finishing my B2tC list so I can give myself more permission to read whatever I want whenever I want to read it!

P. S.–Later this week I am going to a local library book sale, so I will probably be posting on Instagram about my finds, and maybe share about them in next month’s Reading Report. Be sure to follow me so you don’t miss seeing what I bring home!

The Reading Report, Vol. 13: Summer Reading Edition

summer reading

Wow, I can hardly believe it has been over a year since I started “The Reading Report” as a regular installment each month. I have so enjoyed keeping track of my reading and discussing books here on the blog. I hope you have found a few new titles to interest you, as well! For this July edition, I am going to share a quick recap of my summer reading so far, plus, what is up next on my list.

My summer reading time has been pretty high due to long drives to family and my new habit of walking in the driveway and reading at the same time. Since I have collected a rather long list of finished books from the past month and a half, I’m not going to try your patience with long descriptions of what I thought of each book. Instead, I will just tell you how much I liked or disliked it, and a few words that sum up the book or my feelings about it. All the Kids’ Read Alouds are books we loved and highly recommend, so I won’t bother with further comments on those. Here we go…

Finished books:

Persuasion by Jane Austen: Loved it (of course), Jane Austen (enough said!)
The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse: Liked it, British humor
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Shaffer and Barrows: Loved it, Post WWII but light and fun
Utopia by Thomas More: Disliked it, Important book but heavy on the socialism
The Wreath by Sigrid Undset: Liked it, Excellent writing but sad story
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams: Liked it, Another sad story but excellent play
One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler: Loved it, Truly funny with an important message

Kids’ Read Alouds:
The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis
Poppy by Avi

Currently Reading:

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins: This is one of my Back to the Classics reads. It is kind of long, and so far the story is a bit slow moving, but there are several interesting characters and a mystery being set up. I think I will enjoy it more and more as I go.

What Should I Read Next?

Since I just finished the two main books I was focussing on reading last night, I haven’t really had time to choose what to really dig into next. I have several unfinished non-fiction books that I really would like to work on, but I don’t know which one most piques my interest right now. For fiction, I am trying to decide between Watership Down and All the Pretty Horses since I acquired both at recent library sales.

Now, how about you? Are you doing a lot of summer reading, either for enjoyment or pre-reading for homeschool? Tell me all about it in the comments!

The Reading Report, Vol. 12: Book Sale Edition

Hi, there, fellow book lovers! My how time flies in the spring! We have been so busy enjoying the beautiful weather and getting things done to wrap up the school year that I have had very little time to write. But it is nearly the end of May already, so it is high time I get to work on this month’s edition of The Reading Report! I know in many parts of the country, this is “book sale season” in local libraries or homeschool groups. In honor of that, I thought I’d share a bit about my recent finds at our library book sale a couple of weeks ago!

Fun Book Sale Finds:

The first table I stopped by at the library book sale was the section with books about animals. Last fall I found a few pocket field guides there, which we have loved pouring over. This time I was pleased to find a book on Song Birds and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Butterflies and Moths. Both of these will be great resources for nature study, and the kids have already flipped through them several times just for fun!

Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates: I read this a couple of year ago on Kindle, and I’m glad to have a print copy now for my kids to read when they are a little older. It’s actually on the free read list for AmblesideOnline Year 5, so we’ll get there soon! (How can this be? My son will be doing Year 5 in 3 years. Eek! I’m going to try and not think about that…)

Gulliver’s Travels: This book is scheduled in Year 9 of AmblesideOnline, so, in theory, we will be using it for school eventually. But regardless, it is a classic worth owning and reading myself!

Watership Down: This is another AO book for the future, Year 7, I believe. I have heard mixed reviews from moms reading it, so I’m looking forward to digging in and reading it for myself!

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: I doubt any of us will be reading this cover-to-cover, but I thought it would be good to have as a reference when we start getting into edited versions of Chaucer in the upper years.

My Ántonia: This is now one of my favorite books ever since reading the ebook via my Libby app last fall, and I was so glad to find a print copy to call my very own!

The Hiding Place: Besides being a book that everyone should read, Corrie Ten Boom’s WWII concentration camp memoire is also scheduled in AmblesideOnline Year 11.

Night: A different Elie Wiesel book is scheduled in AO Year 11, but this is another important book that I think everyone should read and needs to be part of our family library.

Jane Eyre: For some reason, I forgot that I already owned one copy of Jane Eyre. I know it is many people’s favorite, and while I like it, it’s not a book I care to re-read often. So I forgot it was even on my shelf. I passed up a hardback copy of Emma, and regretted that when I got home an realized my mistake. Oh well!

That ends the fun book finds portion of this post. If you care to hear what I’ve finished reading recently and what I’m reading now…keep on going! 🙂 If not, I’d love to hear what good used book deals you’ve scored lately! Scroll on down to the bottom of this post and leave me a comment! 

The Books I’ve Finished Recently:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Wow. This book was heart wrenching and thought-provoking, even so many years after it was written. I am so glad I took the time to read it. Stowe writes with the typical somewhat “preachy” style of the Victorian period, but I think it worked well in this book, especially considering how much the message was needing to be preached at that time. May we never forget that all human beings are valued as equal in God’s sight and should be equally valued by us… We must keep history ever before our eyes, or we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. (Fulfilled the #1 spot of my Back to the Classics Challenge list.)

Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: This books was much longer and more detailed than I was expecting. My first and only exposure to Jules Verne before now was Around the World in 80 Days, and that was a quick, fun read. I foolishly assumed 20000 Leagues would be similar. Nope! I did find the story fascinating, even suspenseful at times, but there were also long sections of detailed descriptions of nautical navigation and marine life that could really bog a person down. Since I listened to this on audio, I just let the narrator keep talking through those passages and didn’t let them bother me much. The open ending of the book was, perhaps, a little disappointing, but I guess it was in character with the mysterious nature of Captain Nemo and his amazing underwater vessel! (Fulfilled the #7 spot on my Back to the Classics Challenge list.)

What I’m Reading Now:

My current main read is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It is actually a re-read (to fulfill the #12 spot on my B2tCC list), but it’s been so long since I read it the first time, I barely remember anything. What I do remember is all from the movie adaptation, and even that is pretty foggy in my mind. I’m enjoying it, even though to me it seems to be one of Austen’s least humorous and most melancholy novels. But it don’t mind that one single bit. I feel for Anne Elliot immensely and can identify with her more than I do many of Austen’s other leading ladies. I am both reading and listening to this one, depending on what I have time for, so I am sure it will be finished in no time. I am not sure what I will pick up next, but it’s likely to be another title from my B2tCC list. What can I say? I’m determined to get all these books read this year, and I unwittingly picked some looooong ones!

The Reading Report, Vol. 11: April Edition

I’m baaaack! I really hated to take over a week-long hiatus from the blog, but we just had a lot of real life going on that interrupted my writing life. I finally feel like I’m getting some ideas on what to write again, so hopefully, I will be back with more regular posts in the coming weeks.

The good news is that my plan for “spring cleaning” my reading life last month worked out really well, and I have several finished titles to discuss today. I also have started (or re-started) a few books that are giving me a lot to think about! So, let’s talk books, shall we?

What I Finished Reading:

True Grit: This was my first time reading a western novel, and I LOVED it! It was the most recent pick for the Circe Close Reads podcast, so I knew it would be good. I just didn’t know what to expect. I was most surprised by how much I laughed while reading this book. The adventure part of the story was fast-paced and made for a quick read. Be warned…there are snakes, gunshot wounds, spiders, bats and skeletons! But the story is so well-crafted, that I think it is totally worth the any discomfort caused by those little details!

Hello Mornings: If you are needing a fresh start or just a little “kick in the pants” to get into a good morning routine that will set your day off in the right direction, I can recommend Kat Lee’s book, Hello Mornings! Her personal stories and encouraging and touching, and her writing style is candid and uplifting. The practical suggestions and questions for reflection throughout will help you take action to make your mornings count. Even though I have a pretty workable morning routine already, it was good to think about how I can up my game and add more healthy habits to certain areas of my morning and the rest of my day!

Dr. Dolittle: This was a free-read that my son and I read together last month. I was a big fan of the Dr. Dolittle musical with Rex Harrison when I was young, so I really was looking forward to reading the book. It was a delightful tale, as I expected. My son loves stories about animals, as well as adventures and fantasy, so this book fit the bill quite nicely.

Full: Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction: I amazed myself by actually completed two non-fiction (self-help, no less) books in one month! Granted, I had been working my way through them both for longer than that, but I am proud that I am improving in my ability to stick to this genre of book and finish! Asheritah Ciuciu did such an amazing job writing a book on such a challenging topic as food fixation, and her personal story makes everything she says so relatable. I think this book would be great for a small group or for accountability partners to go through together. It contains so many practical, Biblical ideas for changing the way we think about food and for pointing our attention back to Jesus.

White Fang: Yes, I actually finished the RIGHT book this time! And in the end, I am glad I read Call of the Wild first, and then this one so soon after. It gave me a chance to compare the stories of the two dogs who are the main characters. Jack London is such a great writer, and I found the way he crafted the two plots to work in opposite directions of each other truly fascinating. Again, I must warn more sensitive souls that these books contain some pretty hard to read descriptions of cruelty to dogs, both by men and other dogs. However, no matter how bad things look, there is redemption in the end.

Bark of the Bog Owl: The first book of the “Wilderking Trilogy”, Bark of the Bog Owl is a middle-grade fantasy novel that I think the whole family will enjoy. The story is a retelling of the life of the young King David, but set in a mythical world that resembles a medieval twist on the American southern landscape. (Sounds intriguing, no?!) My husband happens to work with the author of these books, Dr. Jonathon Rogers, and he was so kind to gift us with the whole set! I decided to pre-read this one to see if it would be a good family read aloud now or if we should wait a while. I am glad to report that we will definitely be adding it to our schedule sooner rather that later!

What I’m Reading Now:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: I picked this one back up, this time in hard copy format, rather than the e-book I started out with. While I know this is an important book for me to read and understand, I can’t really say I’m enjoying reading about the buying and selling of humans.

Parenting Scripts: I’ve mentioned this new book by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake before, and I am looking forward to digging into it again (and finishing it this time)! The great thing is that I’ll be reading this in community this time because Amber and Wendy are hosting a book club on their private facebook page. I can hardly wait to create some better strategies and habits for dealing with parenting challenges!

Switch on Your Brain: I recently heard about the author of this book, Dr. Caroline Leaf, and listened to a couple of podcasts she did on the affects of social media on our brains. I was so excited and curious about her work, that I got my hands on the first book of hers I found. And I’m loving it so far! This one has so much Scripture and science woven in together, and she also includes a 21-Day Brain Detox at the end of the book, which sounds fascinating! I’ll definitely let you know what I learn.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: I just started this today as my new audio book. It’s a little slow here at the beginning, but judging from my past experience with Jules Verne books, I think the action will pick up later on.

That’s a Wrap!

Kudos to you if you actually read this whole post! I realize I had a lot to say about all my books this month. I guess I’m making up for lost writing time, ha! But now it’s your turn to tell me what you are reading. Have you finished any new books lately?