What we’re reading.


The big blogging thing this year seems to be reading a book a week and then reporting on it. I can’t really commit to that because I usually read more than that, and I’m not always that great about reporting back on what I’ve read. I also re-read a lot, and who wants to come here and listen to me repeat myself? Also, I’m always behind on my blog, and if I set up some sort of weekly deadline, I’d keep missing it, and then I’d have BLOG GUILT, and really — who needs that? If I find myself in need of a little extra guilt, I can always call my mother-in-law.

Having said all that, I will now say that I plan on, from time to time, posting about what we’re reading. Because a lot of what we’re reading is fabulous. And you may want to read the books we’re reading, too.

So, here’s a little sampling of what we’ve been reading lately. From the bottom of the stack to the top:

Vikingtown. A basic public library text I picked up because it has a “If you were a time traveler going to a Viking town, here’s what you’d need to bring” section, and my 8-year-old loves time travel stories. In spite of the time travel section, this book was a bit of a flop here. Not a lot of interest.

Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, a children’s edition by Bruce Coville. If Vikingtown was a flop, Shakespeare certainly has not been a flop at all. Especially the Coville series. The first Shakespeare I read to them was Coville’s Twelfth Night. If you’re hoping to hook little kids on Shakespeare for life, that’s the book to start with. I read them Twelfth Night every day for weeks, they loved it so much, and I had to keep renewing the book until the library finally told me to bring it back already, and consider buying my own copy. We checked out other Coville editions but the tragedies weren’t nearly as popular as the comedies. Midsummer Night’s Dream was a cool second favorite. I’m not sure how they’ll take A Winter’s Tale. But it’s up next on our list. I’ll let you know. The important thing is: my daughters LOVE SHAKESPEARE. Mission accomplished.

The 101 Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith. This text came up in our writing program, and I decided to get a copy of the book and take a break from Shakespeare to read this aloud to them. My 8-year-old couldn’t suffer the waiting through a chapter a day and stole the book to read at bedtime. She finished it in about 2 days and I made her promise not to give away the ending. The book was a success, not just because they loved it, but because my 8-year-old finally understood what I meant when I say: The book is always better than the movie. Always.

Your Mother Was A Neanderthal, a Time Warp Trio book, by Scieszka and Smith. As I mentioned, my 8-year-old loves time travel books. This series is her favorite. She reads through these like candy.

Dewey, the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron. This was a Christmas gift from the girls. It’s a quick read, and a touching cat story. Worth reading if you’ve ever had a strong bond with a pet.

The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham. I’ve been curious about Maugham long enough that I’ve finally picked up a copy of one of his books to give it a whirl. I’m just starting this one now. I’ll let you know.

Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I never read this. Somehow I always missed it in classes. And then I picked up a copy of it a year or so ago and then never managed to get around to it. Until this New Year. Here’s how I finally managed to read it:

On New Year’s Eve, my 40th birthday, we had a very small celebration at home and then everyone went to bed early due to various colds and levels of exhaustion. I ended up staying up late to watch the movie of P&P that I never did get to see, that I always wanted to see, that I didn’t have the heart to pester RegularDad into watching because this kind of movie just isn’t his thing. So, I’m finally watching this movie and it’s like this unexpected birthday treat, you know? Like a little gift I got to give myself. And the phone rings. It’s RegularSis calling to say Happy Birthday.

She goes: “So what are you doing for your birthday? Anything special?”
And I say: “I’m watching Pride & Prejudice.”
And she goes: “Oh my God! It’s such a great movie!!!! I’ll let you go! Happy Birthday!”
And she hangs right up. Because… she GETS IT.

A few minutes later, my mother calls to say Happy Birthday.

“So, what are you doing?” she asks me.
“Watching Pride & Prejudice,” I say.
“Oh,” she says, and then prattles on for like 20 freekin minutes about God knows what…

…and I end up COMPLETELY MISSING what Darcy wrote in that letter, and even though I was able to basically piece it together and the movie was still good, I really wanted to know exactly WHAT HE WROTE. So I picked up my copy of P&P the next day and didn’t put it down until I was done.

You should read Pride & Prejudice too. In fact, if you don’t, I’m gonna make my mom call you every day until you do. So, you might as well just read it. Trust me. It’s a great book.

Reading Like A Writer, by Francine Prose. This was an afterthought of a book I grabbed one evening while wandering around the bookstore, and I’m so glad I got it. I learned a lot about reading and about writing from this book. And the most important thing I learned was that it’s okay to read the classics just for the enjoyment of it.

Too often, I pick up one of the classics and I start reading from a point of anxiety. Even before I’ve gotten beyond the Table of Contents, I worry that I won’t GET what all the brilliant people out there GET about the book. What are the eco-socio-political undertones? What does it all MEAN? And what if I were to mention to someone that I’m reading Don Quixote, and they said to me: Really? I loved that one. I was really impressed by the author’s ability to BLAH-DE-BLAH-BLAH-BLABBERY-BLOO-BLA-BLEEE…. How could I possibly respond without sounding like a moronic ass who doesn’t deserve to read the classics, let alone todays Dilbert?

And people wonder why no one reads the classics anymore.

Anyway. So, this book by Prose (um, aren’t you just dying to know if that’s a pen name? I am.) basically gave us all permission to just open up a copy of — oh, I don’t know — Pride & Prejudice maybe? — and just ENJOY the book.

How could you not love that?

Well, I’d quote several passages from any one of these books, but I think I’ve gone on long enough. And it’s time for PJ’s around here. And my tea’s gone cold.

And did I mention that I’ve got a cold right now? Ah…. CHOOOOO…..

Until next time…. Happy reading.


4 Responses to “What we’re reading.”

  1. 1 RegularSis February 4, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Glad you read Pride and Prejudice – as you say, the book’s always better than the movie anyway.

    And thanks for sharing your reading list – got some great ideas.



  2. 2 Mom #1 February 4, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Y’all have been reading some good stuff! Feel better.

  3. 3 Sara February 5, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Love the pile of books! And I always give myself permission to skim or skip through the “classics” if I feel like it – some of them are just not that great and I don’t know why people are so big on them!

  4. 4 SabrinaT February 5, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I love to call a mental health day and just hang out reading! The boys enjoy it as well..

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