Spring Reading Thing in Review

Wow! I can't believe it's been three months since I started my Spring Reading Thing goal. In some ways, March seems a long time ago. And in others, time has absolutely flown by. Summer is upon us!

My original goal for this spring was to read books (about one a week for the twelve weeks of the challenge) with one stipulation: each book had to already be on my bookshelf. No buying books to read! (We're moving at the end of the summer and our books take up about half our household allowance in weight already, I'm pretty sure.) So I combed my shelves and made a list of the ones I've been meaning to get to - some for a really long time - and made my reading goal list.

I read...about half the books on it. And then I departed from the list. A lot. Thanks to a little stash of light reading at the house where we stayed in Portugal and the free library here at the embassy, I found some other reads that distracted me from my original plan. Just a teence.

But here's the thing: I did read a little more than a book a week, AND I didn't buy any new books. So I mostly accomplished my goal, right?

In case you're interested, here's what I read from my original list:

Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry Poetry 180. I heart poetry. There are some gems here, and I thoroughly enjoyed perusing and dog-earing and re-reading some of the beautiful words here. If you don't do it already, I highly recommend checking out a good book of poetry every now and then. It's good for the soul.

Surprised By Joy Surprised By Joy. In true Lewis fashion, he gave me a lot of food for thought in this description of his childhood and adolescence. Made me fall in love with classical education more than I already am, and made me tease out some of my own philosophical and theological convictions. Nothing like reading someone who can masterfully articulate what you would like to say but can't.

The Venetian Mask: A Novel The Venetian Mask. For whatever reason, this book took me a while to get into, but I ended up liking the story a lot. A little far-fetched and a little too coincidental at points, but an intriguing read set in a period of history that I wasn't entirely familiar with - never knew much about Napolean conquering Venice. Kept Venice at the top of my list of places to visit.

The Enchanted Castle The Enchanted Castle. I've heard about this book from several different people as a great book to read aloud with kids. I don't know if my boys would be really into it as this point, but I enjoyed it - it reminded me of books I loved when I was a girl. I like the old-fashioned language, and the element of fantasy in this book was fun because it was written at the turn of the last century, before the era of cinematic special effects, and it charmingly depicts the real and the magical adventures of children.

Here's what I ended up reading instead / in addition to those on my original list:

The Railway Children (Puffin Classics) The Railway Children. I decided to roll with my new interest in E. Nesbit. This is not a fantasy but a great story nonetheless. I was surprised by the Russian/espionage element in it, since it was written before the Soviet Union. I also loved the wholesome family relationships and the friendships of the children with people in a small community. Again reminded me of the idealistic things I loved to read when I was a girl - all hope for decency and patience and kindness.

Hints on Child Training: A Book That's Been Helping Parents Like Your...for More Than 100 Years Hints on Child Training. Good old-fashioned ideals and, true to its title, hints for training children. I get on little kicks in this area sometimes because I so often feel like I'm not doing things quite right with my children. I liked this book because it helped me prioritize and feel a desire to understand children a little better.

Soon She Must Die Soon She Must Die. It makes me laugh that I read this. It was written in like 1985 or something and has some funny quirks because of that time period, but the premise of the murder plot is rather clever, the British element is cool, and the result of the murder gave me the oddest sense of frustration that I've ever had reading a book, I think because it's so based in a kind of futile reality. It was like that foiled, "Doh!" feeling. I really liked that things hinged on a work of literature (even though this is hardly a deep thinking type read), and the approach to the question of "for love or money?" is awesome. Totally great beach read. Which is what it was for me.

One Of Ours One of Ours. I have never heard of this title before, and I love Willa Cather. Three things that I liked about this book: (1) Cather's beautiful prose does not disappoint and she describes many feelings of living in small-town/rural America (even in the present day) nearly perfectly, including why many young people might want to join the military and yearn to do something great; (2) The time of the story is the eve of World War I, and because it was actually written in 1928, the description of the first World War is not colored by the atrocities that the world witnessed just 10 to 15 years later with the advent of World War II. It gave the first real and vivid account I've ever read of how Americans viewed and experienced the first World War,a s well as its scope and tragedy; (3) quite by accident, I realized that this is the book with the character for which my grandmother was named. The whole second section is entitled "Enid" and the dates for the novel's publishing fit with when my great-grandmother would have seen or read it and decided to name a little girl after it.

The Savage Garden The Savage Garden. This was a satisfying read while I was reading it, but I wasn't entirely pleased with how it ended, and I didn't really like the "all-knowing manipulator of events" element in resolving the mystery. The garden itself is really awesome and there are some great scenes and discoveries that make it a fun read, though, if you can suspend disbelief a little bit and just roll with it.

Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood Steady Days. I mentioned this book in another post. Really, really like it. Will refer to it often.

Sarum: The Novel of England Sarum. Um, I'm really on an English history kick and have pretty much read something from every era, so I was excited to pick this one up because I want to know all about Salisbury. But I didn't get to the actual cathedral part because I was frustrated by the historical fragments. It's decent writing and I might read it sometime in the future, but I quit about halfway through, which I hardly ever do, but some of the stylistic things just irritated me. It might have been just a timing thing, but I think I might also have been spoiled by Pillars of the Earth, which I read earlier this year. Now that is a good cathedral building story.

The Crediton Killings (Knights Templar, #4) The Crediton Killings. This crossed my English history and my recent murder mystery interests nicely. It was cleverly told and interesting. There are a few more of these in this series, but this was just enough.

Northanger Abbey Northanger Abbey. I have now read every Jane Austen novel. I really, really enjoyed this one because I think it reflects a younger Jane Austen, and it's a little more saucy and sarcastic, if not as deep, as her others. I will probably read this one again soon, because it made me laugh out loud several times. Not so much has changed socially since this novel was written.

And just for fun, here's what I didn't read from my original list:

Son of a Witch Son of a Witch. I think I reached my Maguire fill. I just couldn't get into this one. Maybe later, when I need a dark, quirky read.

Grace-Based Parenting - This was a plan to re-read, so I don't feel too bad about not getting to it.

The Cello Suites - Definitely still on my list. As soon as I'm finished reading a different book that I just gave David, for Father's Day.

ResurrectionCrime and Punishment Resurrection and Crime and Punishment - Can I really live in a Slavic country without reading some Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky? I thought not. But I think I just can't take any more fatalism and oppression and corruption than I'm already aware of on a daily basis. Maybe sometime when I'm a little removed from it and safe in America again.

Zorro Zorro. Not entirely interested in reading this anymore. I might just contribute it to the free library as a token of my appreciation for my spring reading.

The Pursuit of Happyness The Pursuit of Happyness. Loved the movie, wanted to read the real story. Still might.

Paradise LostParadise Lost - This has been on my list about three times. I think I'm addicted to having the goal to read this no matter what.

Special thanks once again to Katrina at Callapidder Days for hosting the Reading Thing! It's been great.


Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

The fact that you didn't buy any new books is highly impressive! I, on the other hand, probably bought far too many. That I haven't read yet, of course!

So between no buying books, and all the reading you got in, I say you did a great job!

Susanne said...

LOL. "Addicted to the goal of reading this no matter what". That is funny and I totally get it. LOL.

I loved your goal of not buying any books. I think I'll do that next round!

Sir Nottaguy-Imadad said...

Interesting. A reading list of books you already own. I may have to do that someday.

Although I have never read a Jane Austen novel, I have seen many in movie form with my wife (Hey,as a guy, shouldn't that count for something?)
I have, however, read everything Louis L'amour has written.

Nise' said...

Fantastic job on the challenge. My son had to read Crime and Punishment for Senior English, I sorta read it along with him.

Amber said...

I read your comment on inspiredtoaction and was encouraged to come read your blog. It's really cool that you made it through a book a week. I have been reading "Too Busy Not To Pray" for three months now. It's a great book, but I am trying to let it sink in.

I agree with you on Lewis!! I haven't read Suprised by Joy, but think that I will after reading your thoughts.
How strongly would you recommend "Hints on Child Training"?

Jaime Leigh said...

Thanks for sharing all these...I can't wait to pick a couple of them up at the bookstore...I get so overwhelmed when I go to a bookstore...now I have a goal LOL =)