1) Looking Back: A Book of Memories by Lois Lowry ~ half of this book is photographs, so it was an “easy” read in that regard. Emotionally, however, it was much deeper. Lowry has had heartbreak in her life and many parts made me pause and snuggle my family more. She writes very well (which is a duh) and this book was just moving… moving in its joy and sadness.
I didn’t know she was also a military brat and there were several parts where I could feel my third culture kid soul connecting to that special brand of loneliness and wonder that is part of being so closely intimate with another country that you don’t really feel at home where everybody expects you to, if that makes sense.
Now I want to re-read Number the Stars and finally get around to reading The Giver. <– I KNOW. I haven’t read that one yet. I don’t know why.
2) Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery ~ a re-read. Finally Anne & Gilbert together! This book is considerably more episodic than I remembered and has an eye-rolling number of marriage proposals. Also, after re-reading the first three books: Gilbert is Anne’s ultimate hero, but we actually don’t actually get to hear much of *his* voice. We know who he is, of course, but I feel like Montgomery really struggled at portraying him on his own.
I love her nature descriptions and how intimately aware she was of the world around her.
3) Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen ~ a re-read. … because a year without Austen is inconceivable. This was the first Austen I read and I adore it so much… Elinor’s self-control, Marianne’s passionate heart and sweet humility, Colonel Brandon’s courage, Edward’s growth, the wit that was Austen’s second nature. So much to love.
This time around Mrs. Jennings seemed more compassionate and less tacky. Maybe I’m valuing her compassion more the older I get? Or getting tackier myself? hmm. 😉
4) Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man by Donald Sobol ~ re-read while holding a sick toddler. I loved these books when I was 10-12ish… Sobol writes with humor, and the mysteries were fun to try and solve. There were a couple parts that were a bit more mean-spirited than I recalled, but I am definitely looking forward to sharing these with my children when they’re a bit older.
5) In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson ~ another re-read of an old childhood favorite. Down-to-earth humor and celebrations of quiet, peaceable family life. Richardson’s grandmother told her stories about growing up in a farm in the late 1800s; these are written from a distinctly Christian viewpoint, with the difference being that they’re written WELL from a Christian viewpoint, instead of being preachy drivel.
6) That Went Well: Adventures in Caring For My Sister by Terrell Dougan. Ostensibly about caring for the author’s special needs sister ~ born w/ oxygen deprivation in the 1940s, with almost no special education available, and now living at about the mental/emotional level of a three-year-old.
This is not a bad book, but its title is very misleading. This is more the life of Terrell Dougan ~ which happens to include quite a bit about her sister. Terrell has an interesting life and I really enjoyed her stories… both of multi-generational living (one grandmother lived with her family when she was a child), of growing up in the 1950s, of helping develop special-needs programs in Utah in the 1960s-1980s, etc. But I wanted to hear a bit more about caring for her sister and it seems more like she doesn’t actually quite understand her still, after all these years, and that she has some co-dependent struggles she still hasn’t overcome (she acknowledges that, at least).
7) Shop Class As Soul Craft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew Crawford ~ I read his “The World Beyond Your Head: Becoming An Individual In An Age of Distraction” last year and couldn’t rave about it enough. I knew I wanted to read this book, which is actually his first. I’m glad I read it, but I actually think his second book is better at developing some of his main points: the importance of interacting with the *real* things in life; the false way we use the idea of autonomy and self; the way some authority structures do matter; and the way true community can help us go deeper as individuals.
8) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis ~ a re-read. I read this one again in November, so this is awfully soon to be reading it again… but we had it on audio CD for the kids and we listened to it in the car. It’s been so much fun to watch them learn the story.
9) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien ~ a re-read, listened to on CD in the car. A lot of the story went over our kids’ heads, but they connected more strongly with other parts than I expected them to. The boy really loved Bard killing the dragon, for instance.
The main thing I noticed after not reading the book in 15 years: how badly the movies lost the truth of the fact that wisdom does not exclude mirth. The elves are so funny in the book and in the movie they’re all Grim & Mysterious. We’ve lost something when we lose the idea that joy and seriousness can be all together.