We moved and had (by choice) no internet for six weeks and I got a Kindle; these two things combined made for some fabulous reading over the last few weeks.
Jane Eyre ~ a free kindle download (loooove that thing!). Still a beautiful story and I’m quite sure I appreciated it more at almost 30 than I did at 12. The book was more Christian and more domestic than I recalled… and by domestic I mean that Jane had an infectious excitement for things like Christmas baking and cleaning and refurnishing a house… an excitement that hasn’t made it into any of the film versions I’ve seen.
Pride and Prejudice ~ a ratty paperback I got at a thrift shop. As delightful as ever… fresh, funny, and sweet. That’s a ridiculously trite statement; we’ll blame my messy sleep schedule (a teething seven month old, a toddler who isn’t used to his new bed yet, and a night shift husband) on that. I just know reading Austen is like going out for a walk and lunch with a dear friend on a spring day… invigorating and enjoyable.
Letters From Alabama ~ also a free kindle download (free downloads=yay!). Published in 1859, it records Gosse’s time teaching school in Alabama of the 1830s. Most of the book is about the bug and critter life of the area. I am not a bug person in general; I read this for the recollections he had in it about slavery in the area at the time. I’m not a slavery person, either, but I am a history person and it was interesting to see what Gosse had to say.
If you live in the south, I can see many portions of this book being a lot of fun for any kids who *are* interested in the creepy-crawly species.
A Gift of Joy by Helen Hayes ~ Strider had a week of jury duty in a messy case, and the night the jury stayed to make their decision at the courthouse was also the night I had the car. So the children and I hung out at the library for well over an hour waiting to pick Strider up; I found this book there on the free-for-the-taking rack. I ended up loving it, too. This is a good read for people who love books and theatre… Hayes writes graciously about some of her favorite plays, her family memories, what she liked to read, and her thoughts on a whole gamut of other topics (raising children, marriage, gardens, privacy, etc). If reading Austen is like taking a walk on a sunny spring day, this book is like joining someone for coffee. Elegant.
A Short History of England by G. K. Chesterton ~ Free Kindle Download.
In this book, I felt like his bias toward the Catholic church (unsurprising) weakened some of his arguments and that he was less interested in a history of England and more in a defense of the medieval world. The medievals do get more of a hard knock than they deserve, but I’m not so certain everything was as rosy as he described it either. He also wrote this book for an audience who knew British history ever so much better than I do, so sometimes the timeline felt very fuzzy to me, as he used very few dates.
Even with these things, though, I always feel like I’m getting smarter while reading Chesterton, even if I don’t always agree with him… and when I *do* agree with him I feel like he’s taken muddled feelings out of my brain and spelled them out with stark, clear, beautiful logic.
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs ~ This book deserves a post of its own and I hope to give it one… after I get it out from the library again or buy my own copy. This is like a long, lovely letter about reading to fellow readers. I felt like I was in a conversation with Alan about all sorts of bookish topics (“you hate it when people underline in library books too?! I knoooow…. isn’t it annoying?!” or “yeah, I was at the same point when I purchased my kindle“). He encouraged me to improve my reading life; not in the sense that he told me I should go out and read all the classics… quite the contrary, in fact (although I now want to read the Decline and Fall of Rome thanks to him), but in the sense that he believes reading should feed life.
Of all the books in this list so far (apart from Austen and Bronte, which are always in their own category of splendidness), I really think this is the one that readers of TCR will love the most. Hunt it out and read it; it will be time enjoyably well spent.
Brave New World ~ Thoroughly depressing and eerily prophetic. Why ban the books when you can keep people too busy and entertained to read them? Definitely for more mature readers, but also definitely worth reading.
The last two books have been the ones churning most in my mind recently. Now that we’ve got internet again, I can feel the powerful pull of time wasting again (snarky Facebook pictures, news stories I don’t need to read, Wikipedia articles about topics I could find more out about by reading, etc). The last six weeks reminded me how very interesting and lovely life is when I spend more time with thoughtful words instead of the flashy, quickly heaped together ones of many (though not all… I am blogging, of course ) internet spaces.