school time reads

i’ve mentioned before that it is easy to put off things i enjoy doing until kids are asleep/occupied/away so i can concentrate. this includes reading, but i’ve been trying more and more to read my own books while they’re running around me. i want them to see that i love books and reading and that this thing we’re doing called “learning to read” really does get less painful and will open up a whole world to them. so i’ve been reading a page here and there during their school time. or as in the case of the first book i mention, i get so engrossed that i read many pages, forget about the kids, and then 45 minutes or so later realize they’ve moved on to bigger and better things. on the recent school time stack:

The Island of the World by Michael O’Brien. if i have run into you in person over the past month, i will have found a way to mention this novel. i hesitate to use language like “my favorite book ever” but i can’t quite think of one that tops this at the moment. topping out at over 800+ pages, it’s a beast of a book, but this story of a boy who becomes a man in war torn yugoslavia is just heart-breakingly beautiful. it left me quiet and teary-eyed (let’s be honest, i sobbed at one point). never has a novel made me look at/evaluate my own life and my relationships with others so clearly. i can’t recommend it highly enough.

Still: Notes on a MId-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner. oh my. i’m still not quite sure how to write about this one, and for some reason can’t bring myself to do a full book review. this is a book that i would love to talk about in person with other people who have enjoyed her other writings. here the reader has found a woman who has journeyed form judaism to christianity to marriage to divorce (which seems to have occurred because of a profound unhappiness on her part. she is never critical of her former husband or admits that there was a biblical reason for divorce.) to a spiritual middle of questions and despair. and here she is, in that middle and writing about that middle. she says that the book is not a memoir or a book about her divorce, but I’m not sure how you can make such definite statements. the book is about her, her dealings with life crises, and her faith. in the Q&A section at the end (which i would recommend reading first) she states that she affirms scripture’s authority, yet realizes she did something that contradicts scripture. running through my mind the entire time i read the book was, “what would it have looked like to submit to that scriptural authority she says she affirms?  what would the journey out of the dark night of the soul looked like if she would have stayed married?” i’m still curious about the timing of the book and the wisdom of writing it at this point.

Reading Magic by Mem Fox. on a bit of a lighter note, the book is a quick read on the importance of reading aloud to our kids. i know most people are aware of this fact but fox writes with a light and encouraging style. her explanation of “whole language”/”balanced literacy” and using stories children know and love as an entry way to reading was especially helpful to my mind which tends to focus solely on phonics. she is able to clearly explain the need for a blended/balanced way of teaching children to read and above all, waiting until they are able to do so. and on a side note, she has a hilarious comic/illustration of the three wise men bowing down with gifts before baby jesus, and jesus is turning towards mary saying, “i was hoping for books.” ha!


11 thoughts on “school time reads

  1. wow I loved Lauren Winner’s ‘Girl Meets God’ (did you read that one?) so I’m intrigued -going to my library website now (oh but I’m sure they won’t have it…never do…)
    Definitely checking out Island of the World as well. always love a good book recommendation -thanks!

    1. yes, i read and loved winner’s first book. and “mudhouse sabbath” and “real sex.” this one just felt unfortunate. aren’t you able to lend books through the kindle?? if you’ve got one i can see if i can lend it to you. let me know! we could have a skype book club with everyone who reads it 😉

  2. So glad you’re enjoying Island of the World. I’m thinking I need to re-read it one of these days. I was so carried along by the story that I didn’t take enough time to savor O’Brien’s beautiful writing.

    I’ve been curious about Still. I’ve read Mudhouse Sabbath, When Girl Meets God, and Real Sex, and have heard the “buzz” about Still. Yours is a perspective I haven’t heard about it, so now I’m even *more* curious. 😉

    1. i’m not much of a re-reader but this is one i definitely want to reread and mark up. i’m hesitant to read another of o’brien’s books for awhile because this one was so good.

  3. You’ve got me really intrigued with your words about Island of the World. I skimmed some of the amazon reviews–wow. Can’t wait to read it!

    Good to hear from you when you were in ATL. Hope you had a wonderful & relaxing time!

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