Though our life has been super busy in the past few weeks, we have one constant - reading. When nothing else is going as planned or desired in life, school, work, or farm we tend to retreat to books for encouragement, direction, motivation, relaxation, information, and entertainment. Even when life is grand, books pepper our lives. Maybe this explains why I have so many books. Anyway, this is what the children and I have been reading. I'll let you guess into which category each book falls.
Books for Me
Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson -- I listened to Our Lady of the Forest on my car adventure and have read it again since I have been home. I really like this book, though I am sure it controversial. Any book that deals with Marian visions is forced to deal with the possible miracle, the church's ruling and reaction, and the hordes of fanatics. Guterson, who doesn't flinch from the dangerous ground, does a fantastic job meticulously characterizing the types and the individuals. The language in Our Lady is rich, questioning, and honest in its search for truth. Even if the truth seems elusive, the power of possibility certainly is not.
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weinberger is not the same sort of book as Our Lady of the Forest, but is a fun read - a diversion into a life not my own. Though the book focuses on the fashion industry, of which I know nothing, the new job, envied by all yet not as good as it seems, is certainly within the realm of my experience. After having read most of the book, I called my sister who is a F.I.T. graduate and fashion aficionado to find out if the book is believable. Do people really take fashion that seriously? Her response was, "Yes, the book is very believable - probably truth with name changes." Wow. I was interested in the way Andie was dragged into the importance of the job. In her struggle to satisfy Miranda and not get fired, she sacrificed her personal life and relationships. Finding a balance while nurturing career and nurturing self and relationships is a universal plight.
The Field Guide to Weeds, a useful book with both color images and line drawings, is exactly what the name implies. The images are so nice that you forget why you wanted to dig that weed in the first place, yet the short narratives give you important information like which plants can become pests and which are harmful to livestock.
Keeping Livestock Healthy by Bruce Haynes, DVM is a fantastic livestock medical guide for the worrying sort. I find that I never finish the book, but continue to use it as a reference reading only the pertinent sections for the emergency at hand.
Gardening Southern Style by Felder Rushing is a gardening book just for the Southern states. Many times I am stymied by advice and planting schedules from well known gardening publications. What is harvested in Maine in May has little to do with what is happening in my Mississippi garden. Felder Rushing is a Mississippi native and is familiar with the routines of the Southern garden including his love of Round-up and Sevin dust. The herbicides and pesticides aside, the Almanac at the end of the book helps to keep me on track with gardening chores and possibilities.
For the Children
Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild is a feel good book. You just have to love when Hilary and Rachel grow into themselves in spite of all their adversity. Rachel, who is castigated for not fitting into the dancing school home of her aunt, stays true to herself and is rewarded.
The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit is another older book with enduring appeal. Children, in this case Bobbie, Phyllis, and Peter, are faced with the adversity of having their father away and becoming poor. They maintain their standards and their mother writes her way through the struggle. I love those strong female characters in children's books.
Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary -- What is a house with a seven and ten year old without a bit of Beverly Cleary humor. We love the books with Ribsy because he is so like our Yellow Dog.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren is a book I chose for Princess. I remembered it from my childhood. Once we purchased it I picked it up and realized that what I thought was funny when I was 8 or 9 is not as funny now. Princess is loving the book, but I just keep shaking my head thinking, "This is ridiculous." To my credit, I keep my mouth closed.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl is Pink Panther's latest diversion. I must admit that I have had a difficult time keeping my hands off this one. What a wonderful lark and in one of my favorite fruits.
Gilgamesh -- After our shocking encounter with Stephen Mitchell's edition in the audio book format, I retreated to the David Ferry rendering. I believe the Ferry edition is a scholarly rendering and the verse seems more fitting for children than the narrative of Mitchell. As an adult, I appreciate Mitchell's stronger language and imagery.