Clearly January is long over, but here is January’s Book List! I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to read more yourself and with your family.
Amanda’s Book List
Becoming Jane: The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen edited by Anne Newgarden I absolutely adored this book! Becoming Jane is a book of short biographical information and Austen quotes. Many of the quotes are from her books, but a lot of them are from her personal letters. As a big Jane Austen fan, I loved seeing a glimpse into her real personality–dedicated to family, witty, and a little bit cheeky! My new favorite Austen quote is from a letter she wrote to her sister, Cassandra: “What dreadful Hot weather we have!–It keeps one in a continual state of Inelegance.” I can’t help thinking what she would say about our weather in Alabama!
Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay This was a novel within a novel: the story of a divorced author who begins to date again, and a fictionalized account of the relationship between Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. The two stories intertwined very interestingly. That Brahms and Clara Schumann had an unusual and complicated relationship is historical fact, clearly seen in their letters and in the writings of those who knew them. But what really happened between them, what their relationship truly was, we do not know. In Good Things I Wish You the life experiences of the fictional characters cause their perception of the life and relationships of the historical characters to vary. I found myself fascinated by the idea that what we learn of history is clearly colored by the perception of the author as well as our own beliefs and experiences. I will say that this was not a feel-good book. I believe that the author’s purpose was to make the reader feel as unsatisfied as the characters in her book. This book also contained a smattering a bad language which I did not appreciate.
Tenderheaded: A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories edited by Juliette Harris and Pamela Johnson I truly love stories, but non-fiction can be difficult for me. This book was a struggle for me to finish, but I am glad I persevered. Throughout our foster classes we regularly heard comments about how important hair is to people and families. In fact we were told that if a child wants to make a large change to their hair, the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home tries to ask the birth parents for permission first. Hair matters, and somehow it can separate or bring people together. Tenderheaded dealt with the history of African-American hairstyles, hair care products, and the views that some people hold about various hairstyles. Before reading this book, I had no idea that in the past the Afro was considered a political statement! What I took away from this book is that hair is extremely personal, and respect and care for a person’s hair is a great way to show acceptance and love. Sections of this book contained quite a bit of foul language.
Heroes for My Son by Brad Meltzer This book brought me so much joy! I passed it on to Jeremy as soon as I finished it, and I couldn’t wait to share stories from it with my dad. An easy read, the book has 2-page blurbs about 65 admirable men and women. Some of these people are well-known–I shared the section about Martin Luther King, Jr. with my kids on MLK day. Others you will never have heard of but are still amazing heroes. Reading Heroes for My Son inspired me to think about my heroes, both the famous and the personal, and challenged me to share these heroic stories with my kids.
Persuasion by Jane Austen Reading about Jane Austen earlier in the month led me to thinking that I was not as familiar with some of her works as I would like to be. I have read them all at least once long ago, and I have read Pride and Prejudice more times that I can remember. (I am an obsessive re-reader!) But I realized that I could not remember the details of Persuasion whatsoever. After picking it up, I am so glad I re-read it. Persuasion has become my favorite Jane Austen book!
Jeremy’s Book List
Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer Jeremy’s take: Distasteful language and not a Spirit-filled book. Yet a call for men to stand and die for what they believe in. Sadly I’m not sure this dear soldier died believing in the salvation of Jesus.
The Kids: Both older boys have been obsessively reading The Diary of the Wimpy Kid series. I won’t take the time to tell you the titles, just know that if the book is by Jeff Kinney they have read it or are hoping to read it very soon.
For Christmas we gave J a copy of The Calvin and Hobbes Treasury by Bill Watterson. He really seemed to like it. I read along with him a little, and I was surprised at the complexity of some of the comedy. In my mind Calvin and Hobbes was for young kids, but I think older kids really might enjoy it more.
For Christmas S received the first three books in the A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy. There are 26 books in the original series, and each book begins with the next letter in the alphabet. S found these to be easy and enjoyable reads, and he has already requested the rest of the series!
Family Read Alouds: Along with picture books the kids and I are always reading through at least one chapter book. Sometimes we read one book during homeschool and another at bedtime. If a homeschool book is very well loved, sometimes that book will take both reading time slots! Here are our read alouds for the month of January.
The Mysterious Howling from The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood This was one of my personal, favorite books from last year, and I couldn’t wait to share it with the kids. Unfortunately I was disappointed because they couldn’t seem to get into it! As time went on they seemed to enjoy the story more, and the mystery intrigued them enough that they asked to move onto the next book in the series. But after some thought I decided to put the series aside. The book is so awesome and witty, but much of the wit and irony seemed to go over their heads. I am planning to pick this book series up again in a few years when the kids can truly appreciate it!
The Blackstar of Kingston by S.D. Smith A prequel to The Green Ember series, my children loved this book as much as all of S.D. Smith’s others. Filled with excitement, honor, and (of course) rabbits with swords, this book did not disappoint. To those of you who don’t read children’s books, this may sound weird; but if you haven’t read The Green Ember you are missing out. I recommend The Green Ember to everyone I know: boys, girls, men, women. You will love it! Read it! And then read the rest of the series! Seriously. You will be glad you did.
And that is all! I apologize for the length of this blog, but I can promise you that we read a lot less in February! 🙂