Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Recently read

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico - I really liked this British-based story and am looking forward to reading the other Mrs. 'Arris titles.

Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther - Very well-known WW2 era British book and movie but wasn't particularly engaging to me, but many others have found it a wonderful read, in particular Susan, from High Desert Home.

Magic and the Magician: E. Nesbit and Her Children's Books by Noel Streatfeild - I found this biography (or detailed bibliography perhaps)of Edith Nesbit while doing some research on Noel Streatfeild. Both women are popular British authors who wrote many titles for children including Nesbit's The Railway Children and Streatfeild's "Shoe books". The book for the most part proved to be an interesting look at E. Nesbit's upbringing and how she incorporated it into her various children's books. If you have read Nesbit's children's books, then you may enjoy this in-depth look at her writings and characters.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell - I am halfway through this book but thought I would comment on it now. This story is written about a small British village and it's inhabitants as they interact with each other. It remotely reminds me of the Miss Read books, but does not have the nearly as funny or engaging characters. I probably will finish it but not with much enthusiasm.

Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth - I came across this book while looking at other nature books being used by the popular homeschooling site Handbook of Nature Study. The book is very nicely illustrated and inspiring, but the website has more than enough information and tutorials for a beginner naturalist such as myself. But someday I wouldn't mind having this book.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White - A concise book on writing and grammar rules that I found quoted at Worthwhile Books. Still working my way through it.

Seed Sowing and Saving by Carole B. Turner - Love this book! Covers a wide variety of topics but my favorite part is the attention given to garden vegetables and fruits and how to harvest the seed for sowing. The illustrations are large and very detailed. A great resource for a seed-saving gardener!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver - I heard a lot of buzz about this book but after seeing the request queue on our local library's website, I figured I should just break-down and buy it. So I did. In hardcover, for $4 at a church booksale this past February! Very excited, I began to read it at once. I faltered a bit in the first chapter as I initially mentioned. I went and read the negative reviews posted on Amazon and thought, Hmmm, I'll have to see if those few reviews have merit. As I buried myself in the book at any available time, I found her experiences to be extremely helpful and well-written. I didn't want to put the book down, frankly. The essays by her husband and recipes by her daughter were mostly a distraction to me as I was eager to see what happened next on her farm. The book is a valuable resource if you are looking for what species to plant or grow: animal or vegetable. Her continuing story about raising the turkeys kept me glued to the very last word and her youngest daughter's dedication to her laying hens was amazing and amusing. While I don't agree with her humanist views on evolution, for me it really did not take anything away from her book. You just choose to get over it.
As for the negative reviews on Amazon, in the end, I found little substance to most of the complaints. Not that I agree with everything she or her husband expounded but I think her main premises are accurate. For me, the book provided a gardener's year-on-the-farm experience. And I enjoyed it simply for that reason.

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