The Reading Report, Vol. 17: Back to the Classics 2018 Wrap-up

How on earth is it already the second week in December? Life here in the Lemon house has been so full (of mostly good things) that I just can’t seem to keep up with the passage of time. But at long last, here I am with my final report and wrap-up on the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge. I will be posting some other bookish news and reviews on non-B2tCC reads later on this month, I hope. For today, though, I will just be listing all the finished titles under their categories and linking each title back to the post in which I gave a brief review of the finished book.

Back to the Classics Challenge 2018 Wrap-up

1. A 19th Century Classic: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

2. A 20th Century Classic: Howards End by E. M. Forster

3. A Classic by a Woman Author: Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers (read in place of Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton)

4. A Classic in Translation: The Wreath (book 1 of Kristin Lavransdatter) by Sigrid Undset

5. A Children’s Classic: Heidi by Johanna Spyri (This is the most recently finished book on my list, so I didn’t get a chance to post a finished review after last month’s “in progress” report. We both loved the book, although I did end up feeling like Heidi’s character was a little too perfect throughout. The lessons taught still ring true, regardless.)

6. A Classic Crime Story: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

7. Classic Travel or Journey Narrative: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

8. Classics with a Single-Word Title: Utopia by Thomas More

9. Classic with a Color in the Title: White Fang by Jack London

10. Classic by a New-to-You Author: The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (in place of The Spiritual Life by Andrew Murray)

11. A Classic that Scares You: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

12. Re-read a Favorite Classic: Persuasion by Jane Austen

I am so proud of myself for pushing through some of the less enjoyable choices I made for the challenge. And I must say that I am glad I participated this year! Also, according to my records on Goodreads, I have finished 54 books in 2018, which is a big deal for me! I honestly think this challenge pushed me to up my reading game across the board. Now I need to decide whether I want to tackle the 2019 challenge. We shall see!

Until next time, happy reading!

Tuninghearts (at) gmail (dot) com

Day 23: Common #write31days2018

In the interest of honesty, I am not setting a timer for this post, and it will likely take me more than five minutes to write. But the word “common” prompted me to think of my somewhat neglected commonplace notebook…so I’m going to talk a little bit about “commonplacing” because I don’t think I have written about it here before. It fits within the themes of contemplation and creativity, too!

This week’s prompt brought to my mind my all too oft neglected commonplace book. I keep meaning to dig it out of the drawer next to my favorite reading spot and make a better habit of jotting things down in it. But I may be getting ahead of myself because I realize that some of you may have never heard of a commonplace book and don’t know what I’m talking about! Well, don’t feel too out of the loop. Until I started reading Charlotte Mason homeschool mom blogs a few years ago, I’d never heard the term before, either. 

A commonplace book is, in its simplest form, a place in which you write down favorite quotes and passages as you read so that you can come back to them again later. You can google “commonplace book” and find all sorts of examples, but each person keeps their commonplace a little differently. I don’t use mine as much as I perhaps should, but when I do take the time to write quotes, poems, sayings or meaningful passages from books (or articles, or even blog posts), I find I remember them better later on. And I do enjoy flipping through the notebook and seeing them again, sort of like looking at snapshots of good times with old friends. (Because I do think of really excellent books as my friends, don’t you?)

The first examples of commonplace books I’ve read about are from medieval and renaissance scholars. They used them as a way to keep and organize ideas and facts as they studied, and looking at some of these artifacts is truly a peek into the mind of the great thinkers of that time period! I don’t have any such grand visions of my own commonplace as being anything so intriguing to generations to come, but perhaps some day my children might find them and enjoy reading what I found a comfort or an inspiration. 

One little fact I found enlightening is the etymology of the word “commonplace” in reference to these keeping books. It made little sense to me that a word that now means ordinary or trite would be used to denote a place in which we record that which we find extraordinary and worth noting. But I discovered that the term originally was two words, “common place” and was translated from the Latin, locus communis, which was in itself a translation from the Greek words that meant “general theme.”

mid 16th century (originally common place ): translation of Latin locus communis, rendering Greek koinos topos ‘general theme.

Now that made sense to me, since many people did and still do organize their commonplaces according to theme or subjects. But I think a good many more of us are less structured than that and just write down whatever strikes our fancy. I like the idea of my commonplace being a spot where all the books I read come out and play together! As I read through the many quotes I have gathered over the years, I am sometimes surpised at how much the science of relations is at work as I find connections between the various books and quotes I might not have seen otherwise.

Writing all this has certainly inspired me to start writing in my own commonplace book more often, and I hope that it might inspire you, as well! If you want to read (or hear) more about commonplacing from some of my favorite people online, here are a few links you can chase:

  • The Scholé Sisters Podcast, Ep. 42: Carpe Librum–the whole podcast is actually about book recommendations, but they open with a short discussion about commonplacing that I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Sarah Mackenzie’s “What I Keep in My Commonplace Book
  • Celeste at Joyous Lessons has started a whole online community around the theme of Keeping Company, sharing our commonplace entries with others! She and her children add a lot of illustrations and such to their notebooks, and they are simple beautiful. (GOALS!)

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 6: Belong #write31days2018

Ever since I was a little girl, I have struggled with finding where I belong. It’s not that I didn’t have a loving family or good friends. But I have always felt like I was a little different and didn’t quite belong to my peer group. Even as an adult l struggle to find a place where I feel like I am really more than just a curious outsider that the “in crowd” tolerates having around. 

The difference is that now I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. Especially in this age of online comparison in which people see carefully curated images of others’ lives, I know that many moms like myself feel like they are missing in-person community to which they can really belong and be truly themselves.

So this month I finally decided to do something that is way out of my comfort zone. I am starting a little book study group of homeschooling mom to study through some of Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles together.

I am hoping that this group will become more than just a book club, that it will become a little tribe of likeminded women who belong together, who support each other and lift each other up when we fall. I want this to be a welcome place for other moms to be honest with each other and to encourage one another, because we all need to belong somewhere.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

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!