Tuesday, September 10, 2013

July/August Book List

Favorite Picture Books

John Muir: America's First Environmentalist by Kathryn Lasky
I bought this book earlier this summer at the gift shop at Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania.  The illustrations are full page and always portray John Muir in the great outdoors, even from a young boy.  I knew very little about John Muir so this was a good introduction into his life, his work and his legacy.

Chapter Books

Frightful's Mountain by Jean Craighead George
The last of the My Side of the Mountain trilogy (see previous titles discussed here) and equally enjoyable as it recounts Frightful's attempts to mate and hatch young peregrine falcons.  I found the migratory patterns and atmospheric calculations used by birds to be informative and interesting.  I had no idea that they use the position of the sun's rays to tell them when to migrate and which direction to fly in. A wonderful final book in a great series.  Highly recommend.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan
Caleb's Story by Patricia MacLachlan
These three books make up a short trilogy of books about a family from the Prairie who have lost their mother and their father writes to Sarah from Maine about coming to join their family as a wife and mother. They decide to have her come for one month as a trial to see how she fits. I give a spoiler here and say that she stays and marries the dad.  The rest of the series details various life events that this new family must go through together and remain united.  While the books are very simple to read, the themes of the book portray more complex life situations. Enjoyable, although very brief reads.

A Promise Kept by Robertson McQuilkin

Back in late spring, our pastor quoted a passage from this short book which demonstrated the love of a husband for his ailing wife in a certain episode of their life together.  The quote intrigued me so when we came home, I looked up the book and found myself a used copy with this beautiful cover. I read the book in one sitting and was so moved by his recounting of helping care for his wife after her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. If I was providing any type of marriage counseling, I would make this book required reading I think. The quote below is not the same passage our pastor read to us, but this one is exceptional.
And Muriel loved me too. By then she couldn't speak in sentences, only words--and often words that didn't make sense. No when she meant yes, for example. But she could still say one sentence. And she said it often: I love you."
She not only said it, she acted it. During the latter years of my presidency at Columbia, it became increasingly difficult to keep her at home. As soon as I left for the office, she would take out after me. With me, she was content; without me she was distressed, sometimes terror-stricken.
The walk to school is a mile round trip. She would make that trip as many as ten times a day--ten miles, speed walking. Sometimes at night when I helped her undress, I found bloody feet. When I told our family doctor, he choked up. "Such love,"  he said simply. Then, after a moment, "I have a theory that the characteristics developed across the years come out at times like these."
A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
Although Lanier had written about this book before, I only casually noted that I should read it. It wasn't until her more recent post entitled Mercies that I got serious about finding a used copy.  It took me a while to get through, but its not the kind of book that I wanted to rush through to the end, especially as I already had tracked down a copy of the sequel Under the Mercy. There were parts that I really enjoyed and stayed up late to read through and other parts that I felt I was struggling to get through. Their time spent in Oxford was so special, I remember feeling envious of having such an opportunity like that. The letters from C.S. Lewis are full of thoughtfulness and care and their friendship with him is surely a special part of the story. Some of Vanauken's thoughts on time and eternity while could be considered speculative have been places where my mind has wandered as well, so I felt in good company. The scenes recounted from the hospital are so detailed and full of heart-breaking moments that I felt myself reading so intensely it almost seemed like I was forgetting to relax and breathe.  I finished the book and have begun to read the sequel which is so far enjoyable and compelling. These books may not be for everyone, but it is a true love story which is recounted and that makes it worth while.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer
I read most of this book several years ago, wasn't really impressed and shelved it with other books destined to be given away.  When Cindy at Ordo Amoris announced she was hosting an online book club to read through the book and would designate a board on her Pinterest for readers to share their homemaking images, I was intrigued with both the book and perhaps getting my Pinterest account back.  (Yes, I started one a couple of years ago and ditched it because of the privacy settings.)  I even granted that perhaps I missed something about the book that everyone else had so enjoyed.  As I worked my way through the chapters week after week, I did find myself interested in the homemaking areas she was addressing.  While you may not find the book to be full of new and novel ideas, it does provide quiet reassurances that spending time making your home and its atmosphere, lovely, is a God-honoring art.

Classics and Other Such Books
Work by Louisa May Alcott
Since I have already acknowledged that I love Louisa May Alcott's books, it should come as no surprise that this novel while not destined to be a favorite was still enjoyed.  The story centers on a young woman who leaves the care of her guardians determined to find suitable work for herself and provide herself with a living. Several chapters are devoted to almost vignette-like stories of each of the positions that become available for this single young woman. Her friendships and troubles are given equal time but it is the love story that captures the imagination and ties up the all elements of a good story.

I'm sorry that this list appears to be lacking in better descriptions(and better formatting) of the books I read, but since we have begun our lessons again, I'm afraid most of my brain cells are otherwise occupied. I hope that my mind can recover from the current stupor I find myself in and can offer up more interesting comments on the books I'm reading through this month and next. One can always hope.


  1. I am so thrilled that our library has A Promise Kept! Hooray.

    And-- as I was reading, I was thinking about how well-written and descriptive your book reviews always are! I thoroughly enjoy them.

    Blessings to you and yours,
    ps- I felt the same way about A Severe Mercy when I read it long ago. And I was a bit disappointed when I first read the highly and oft-recommended The Hidden Art of Homemaking, too.
    I just picked up a new-to-me Louisa Mae Alcott book at Goodwill the other night. I can't for the life of me recall the title right now, but I'm excited to delve into it!

  2. Stacy, you are so kind to me. I have struggled to finish this list and felt like I was saying the same thing about each book. So thank you for your encouraging words.

    I'm glad to know that you share similar book experiences, reading with certain expectations is dangerous . :)

    I'm sure you will enjoy A Promise Kept and Mark too if he has a free evening.

  3. Beautiful quote. I've been wanting to read Severe Mercy for years and found a second-hand copy a couple of weeks ago so will plan to read it soon. I don't know why you're apologising about your book descriptions;they are just enough to get interested & not too much that you give everything away.

  4. Thank you Carol, how thoughtful of you. I guess I knew how tired I was when I was working on this post so I felt I wasn't giving it my best. I'm so glad that the books are of interest to others as well.

  5. I have heard the story of A Promise Kept as a sermon illustration, but I did not know there was a book. Sounds amazing and I'm putting it on my TBR list. Blessings, Hope


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