eclecticdodo's 50 book challenge
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I've decided to join the challenge
1) Why God Won't Go Away by Alister McGrath, started in December
2) Brick Lane by Monica Ali, started in December
3) Jo Frost's Confident Toddler Care by Jo Frost (aka supernanny)
4) Snuff by Terry Pratchet
5) Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph finished 3rd Feb
6) Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson finished 15th Feb
7) Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever finished 29th Feb
8) Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman finished 2nd March
9) Enough by Helen Roseveare finished 4th March
10) Evil Machines by Terry Jones finished 10th March
11) The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay finished 18th March
12) Surprised By Meaning by Alister McGrath finished 19th March
13) Shopping For Time by Carolyn Mahaney and daughters finished 22nd March
14) Listen Up by Christopher Ash finished 23rd March
15) The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham finished 25th March
16) Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson finished 1st April
17) The War Of The Worlds by H G Wells finished 8th April
18) God and Stephen Hawking by John Lennox finished 13th April
19) The Country of the Blind and Other Stories by H G Wells finished 30th April
20) Barking by Tom Holt finished 4th May
21) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman finished 13th May
22) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury finished 23rd May
23) Mere Christianity by C S Lewis finished 31st May
24) Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon finished 7th June
25) Give Me This Mountain by Helen Roseveare finished 11th June
26) Dead Famous by Ben Elton finished 23rd June
27) He Gave Us A Valley by Helen Roseveare finished 28th June
28) Digging Ditches by Helen Roseveare finished 14th July
29) Wonder by R J Palacio finished 23rd July
30) A Place to Talk at Home by Elizabeth Jarman finished 2nd August
31) Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch finished 4th August
32) Tantrums: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Emotions by Eileen Hayes finished 12th August
33) Broken Vessels by Lucie Ulrich finished 15th August
34) Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry finished 9th September
35) Doing a Great Work by Stan Evers finished 12th September
36) Start Crochet by Jan Eaton finished 15th September
37) I Can Do it by Maja Pitamic finished 19th September
38) The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad finished 21st September
39) Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins finished 6th October
40) The Once a Week Gardener by Carolyn Hutchinson finished 15th October
41) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins finished 18th October
42) The Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins finished 28th October
43) Hope for the Weary Mom finished 29th October
44) How to Play the Flute by Howard Harrison finished 9th November
45) Your Child's Spiritual Development by Ted Witham finished 18th November
46) The Hundreth Hero by E J Russell finished 19th November
47) World War One: History in an hour by Rupert Colley finished 20th November
48) Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth finished 24th November
49) Rough Guide to Travel with Babies and Young Children by Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco finished 29th November
50) The man in seat 61 by Mark Smith finished 2nd December
51) The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller finished 17th December
52) The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren finished 17th December
53) Among Others by Jo Walton finished 19th December
54) The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman finished 19th December
54a) Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman finished 28th December
55) Pirates! In an adventure with scientists by Gideon Defoe finished 23rd December
56) Trusting God when bad things happen by Shelley Hitz finished 30th December
I usually major on the non-fiction over fiction, so this year I'm aiming to read equal numbers. Here's how I'm doing:
Books abandoned halfway through:
Parenting from the inside out
What every parent needs to know
When I don't desire God
Why God Won't Go Away
This is a nice short read summarising the New Atheist movement. This is a subject that interests me greatly, but I have no theological traning. Nevertheless I found the book straightforward and approachable. Part one compares the four most well known proponents and their different contributions. Part 2 makes it's arguments against the movement. And part 3 looks at what the future might hold. There is a particular emphasis on the role of the internet forum in the movement which I found fascinating. This is less a book of apologetics, more a critique of the movement itself. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and would recommend it to armchair theologians everywhere.
A fascinating insight into another side of London life. We follow the story of Nazneen, a young Bangladeshi woman, as she is married to Chanu and moves to England. At first she is jealous of her sister, who ran away for a love marriage (we read letters from her sister throughout the book), but as the sister's life falls apart, so Nazneen's life comes together and she discovers a strength she never knew she had. This is an uplifting book, though not as good as the hype suggests.
Jo Frost's Confident Toddler Care
A thoroughly practical parenting book aimed specifically at the toddle years. There are sections on various issues you're likely to encounter including safety, discipline, the importance of play, potty training, healthy eating, getting out and sleep. I'm only just entering toddlerhood with my little one and already there are valuable tips I've picked up. At various points the author claims her methods are foolproof, I only hope that turns out to be the case. My only complaint is that it can be too simplistic, and a little patronising at times.
Vimes is finally persuaded to take a holiday. Ill at ease in the country, he's desperate for a crime to be committed so he can be back on familiar ground. And he's not disappointed. This is a book about privilege, be it the assumed superiority of the upper classes, or the quiet resignation of the down-trodden goblins. Time for Vimes to mix things up. An entertaining book but not up to Pratchett's usual standards of excellence.
Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph
An excellent book detailing how and why boys are different to girls, and what that means for the way they should be raised. Boyhood is divided into three broad sections: 1. birth to six, when their mother is the centre of their world, 2. six to fourteen, when their father takes the limelight, and 3. fourteen to adult, when male role models come to the fore. I found the discussions very balanced, not overemphasising the differences, simply acknowledging that most boys will be more (various characteristics) than most girls. I would recommend this book to parents of boys, but also to anyone working with boys, particularly those men in the position of role model.
You've got a challenge thread :-)
For fiction recommendations - have you read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman? He's a fantasy author with some similarities to Pratchett and I thought this one was really good.
Thanks! Annoyingly our library doesn't have it, but I see you do - maybe I could borrow it some time? We have a few Neil Gaiman that I haven't read actually, I think I'll make one of them my next read (after Grace Williams Says it Loud)
Grace Williams Says It Loud
Grace Williams was born with unspecified developmental disabilities and then had polio aged six. We follow her story from a loving home, into an institution, and beyond. She is assumed to be ineducable, her attempts at speech dismissed as echolalia. But Daniel sees beyond the exterior, and so do we. Grace is eloquent and honest, stoical despite the appalling treatment she is subjected to. This is a tragic, often disturbing novel; all the more heartbreaking because you know the experiences described were a reality for countless institutionalised people. And yet there is hope. A new era has dawned where disabled people are treated with dignity and respect, supported to live full lives.
Sexually explicit in places.
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church
The author presents a persuasive argument as to why each of these marks is so important, and how they lead to one another. The first mark, expositional preaching, is central to the right functioning of any church. From this springs a biblical theology. And from this we get a biblical understanding of the gospel, conversion, evangelism, church discipline, discipleship, and church leadership. An excellent book for explaining why we do church the way we do, and challenging even the healthiest of churches to be more bible centred.
Just found your thread, woo! It's starred. :)
Re: parenting...as the mother of two adult children (who were not killed by me before they reached adulthood, hahaha), I would offer a word of advice: don't take the parenting books too seriously.
Ask someone who's raised children/are raising children for their input. When I thought I was going to throttle my son (he was about 11 at the time and knew everything), my older sister was a big help. She had a son a few years older than mine, and told me to take it one day at a time, that it would eventually pass. My son is now almost 29, and is a joy to me. :)
Have you read Lee Strobel's books about Christian apologetics? You might enjoy them: The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith and The Case for a Creator. If your local library doesn't have them, you might be able to pick them up secondhand for cheap. If not, let me know because I usually keep a couple of spares on hand to pass along. :)
Don't worry, I don't take the parenting books too seriously! I was given a few for Christmas/birthday this year and they make interesting reading.
I haven't read any of Lee Strobel's books, but I bought The Case for Christ for my Dad a couple of years ago (he's not a Christian) and had a quick flick through, it seemed good; I hope he read it. Our library shares it's books with 5 counties in the region, but together they only have one of his books - God's outrageous claims - there's a lot of opposition to public libraries spending money on Christian books. I'm trying to keep my wishlist under control, but I've added The Case for a Creator as it's an area I'm really interested in.
A bit of a slog at the start but picked up as it went along and tied up all the characters nicely at the end. Fat Charlie finds out that the animal gods of legend are real and their stories are intertwined with life. Not a great book but entertaining enough.
Enough - touchstone won't link to the right work... http://www.librarything.com/work/11542280/
A nice short book on the sufficiency of God. With chapters on salvation, assurance, emotional support, pleasing God, happiness and contentment and the sufficiency of God. The author is very open about the struggles she has faced in each of these areas. You can't help thinking "if she can trust in God through those circumstances, I can through mine". Benefits from being a quick read, though I would like to find another book that covers the same areas in more detail; this is more of an introduction to the subject.
I went to the Bristol Women's Conference on Saturday - great bible teaching, fellowship, and a discount book stall! I was very good, I only bought Enough and 2 other short books. I was very tempted by her other books give me this mountain and he gave us a valley but I have quite a few books in my to "to be read" pile already so I'm being very strict.
An odd little book. At the start it seems to be a series of unconnected short stories about various evil machines. The truthful phone and the lift that takes you where you don't want to go are particularly good. From about halfway through it is one story, tying together the earlier chapters. While we really get inside the heads of some characters and particularly their failed familial relationships, the evil inventor is a bit one-dimensional; I found his arrogance revealed more of the author's prejudice against clever people than anything else. It's hard to tell who this book is aimed at. In some ways it is very childish, but there are certain adult themes that make me think it's a grown up book.
I just reserved Why God Won't Go Away and I should get it this week. Thanks. I'm reading some theology for Lent, and the books I've chosen are really great reads!
11 The Translation of the Bones
This is a tale of faith and motherhood woven together with beautifully poetic language. The different character-viewpoints are intriguing, though perhaps a little confusing at times. Mary-Margaret is a devoted if simple lady, serving as a cleaner at her church and caring for her mother Fidelma, trapped in their 19th floor flat. Stella, wife of an MP, lives a more charmed life, yet yearns for the return of her youngest son Felix so much that it is almost painful. Mrs Armitage is also longing for the return of her son, this time a soldier in Afghanistan. Father Diamond is struggling to keep the parish going and keep his faith. The story follows how each of these and other characters' lives are changed after Mary-Margaret sees a miracle and the events that unfold. Later in the book, thoughts focus around Luke 23:29: "Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts which never gave suck". Would it be better never to have loved at all? The answer is a resounding no.
Interesting description of your read, ED (do you mind if I call you "ED"?).
12 Surprised by meaning
Another excellent book from McGrath, considering the quest for meaning. Science, he contends, is unable to answer the big questions, however it does point towards the transcendent. Far from being "blind faith", as Dawkins would argue, Christianity demands that we are critical and reasoned in our beliefs. Short chapters make for an accessible read despite the depth of discussion.
#16 I think I forgot to say before that I've started a little pile of books to lend you (next time one of us makes it into the right area of the country) and I can add the two Helen Roseveare's to the pile if you'd like?
#21 I'm really glad you enjoyed The Translation of the Bones - that's one from the Orange longlist that I definitely thought sounded interesting.
I cracked and bought a kindle. (did I say that my e-reader met an untimely end?). It arrived today so I'm having a fun evening setting up and exploring. Now to download Treasure Island and some more out of copyright books...
13 Shopping For Time
A nice short book, the subtitle ("how to do it all and NOT be overwhelmed") appealed to me. The message of this book is that God gives us time to do everything we should be doing. First we need to realise that there is a difference between what God has ordained for us to do and what we might want to do. Second, follow their five tips: get up early, have a quiet time, spend some time thinking about your priorities, evaluate relationships, and depend on God. I found the writing style jarred a little (I'm English, that could be why) but overall a reasonable book. I intend to follow their advice, but the shortcoming of all such books is that it's hard to put into practice.
Hey Jo, I have a book to recommend that I just finished reading: One More Night With the Frogs by Hugh Pyle.
I have a feeling you'd enjoy it!
I saw your review. It looks interesting, thanks. I've never really thought about it before but it is odd that Pharaoh didn't say "go today". I've had a look on Amazon and it only seems to be available second-hand from USA so not cheap, I'll keep an eye out though!
14 Listen Up http://www.librarything.com/work/8442451
A booklet on what makes a good sermon and how to get the most out of actively listening. Each topic is followed by practical steps to take. There's also a section on how to listen to bad sermons, be they dull, biblically inadequate, or plain heretical.
I found a used paperback copy of One More Night With the Frogs and have ordered it.
How much would it cost to ship to the UK?
I have no idea how it works posting parcels in the US. I wouldn't even know where to start. I just use the post office over here. Will send you my address so you can look it up if that's alright.
Fine with me, I'll look into it.
Last year I sent a small box stuffed full of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to a friend in London, and I think it was about $10.00, whatever that is in pounds I do not know.
15 The Midwich Cuckoos, made into the film Village of the Damned
I loved The Day Of The Triffids so thought I should read some more of his works, and I wasn't disappointed. This is a well written tale of alien invasion. It is also very original: rather than alien attack, we see a subtle infiltration. As pointed out in the book, it is in stark contrast to the Martians of H G Wells' War of the Worlds, and indeed most other science fiction works. I found the writing style enjoyable, as if recording events for posterity after the fact. Some may find Zellaby's ruminations too long-winded, but I found them engaging. And the ending is brilliant too.
#38 I've been meaning to read more by John Wyndham since enjoying The Day of the Triffids so much a couple of years ago.
16 Treasure Island
I know this is a classic and a must read for all children, but I'd never read it until now. The book stars Jim Hawkins, son of an inn keeper, who acquires a treasure map and sets out to find his fortune. Along the way he teams up with various characters, including Dr Livesey, Long John Silver and Ben Gunn. There are lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen next. Of course the ending is predictable (they get the treasure) but it's what happens along the way that makes this a great children's adventure. In my book the level of violence makes it unsuitable for reading to younger children, best wait until they are old enough to read it themselves.
I must confess I'm not normally one for poetry.
But Kidnapped looks good so I've downloaded it from Project Gutenberg - I'm loving the free books available for e-readers.
17 The War of the Worlds
This is the Daddy (Granddaddy?) of all alien invasion stories. I had to remind myself that while it seemed unoriginal in places, it is in fact the original that more recent books have copied. Martians land on earth just outside London and begin a program of domination. Eventually they succumb to bacterial infection so humanity is saved through no action of their own. Some of the alien technology is truly prophetic, e.g. the heat-ray (laser). And the examination of human reaction under such dire circumstances was fascinating. The language is rather dated, but for me that added to the charm.
Re: A Child's Garden of Verses:
eclecticdodo, it's not long poetry, but short bits intended for children. For example:
In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
I still take joy in reading those.
(45?) HG Wells was very good at predicting some of the technology that came into existence.
Or maybe we just developed technology from reading his ideas...the flip cell phone was based upon the Star Trek communicator...
I loved Why God Won't Go Away and I've recommended it to a few people. Thanks!
So glad you enjoyed it. I like McGrath's books, it seems they're just the right depth for me - theologically challenging in places but still suitable for a lay person.
I've just realised we've been talking about different books. I read Why God Won't Go Away: Engaging with the New Atheism by Alister McGrath. But the Andrew Newberg one looks interesting too.
I love the story about the 1938 Orson Welles' radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds that apparently resulted in some people thinking a real alien invasion was underway.
The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau and The Invisible Man are other Wells' novels that are worth checking out. I was really into his books as a teenager but I haven't read any for ages for some reason.
18 God and Stephen Hawking
An interesting response to Stephen Hawking's The Grand Design. Lennox begins by pointing out the obvious contradiction of Hawking's statement "philosophy is dead" immediately followed by a book that goes beyond the realms of physics and into metaphysics, a.k.a. philosophy. Hawking argues that "natures laws" are inviolable and account for the creation of all things. Lennox challenges this on various grounds, finally concluding that the theory of the multiverse, far from disproving God, leads logically to His existence. This is a short and easily understood book, nevertheless it succeeds in picking significant holes in Hawking's work.
19 The Country of the Blind and Other Stories
A collection of 33 short stories, some excellent, some ok, and some plain pointless. It is presented as a book of science-fiction but some of the stories are simply observations on life and not sci-fi at all. Of the remaining, I'd particularly recommend "the flowering of the strange orchid", "the man who could work miracles", "the empire of the ants", and "the country of the blind".
it's really hit and miss. some are great, but a lot aren't worth reading in my opinion. I think they should have been a lot more discerning on which to include. You could make a good collection of 15-20 stories out of it.
Yes. Previously published in various periodicals around the turn of the century. Personally I prefer the sci-fi ones, but none of them are badly written. It does show he was a more rounded writer than he is remembered for. I enjoy the way he examines people's motives.
Duncan is a lonely lawyer in a dead end job until his luck changes. He's reunited with his school mates and gets himself a partnership, but things are never simple. There are werewolves, vampires, zombies and a shape-shifting unicorn. It's hard to work out which side he's on. As well as being laugh-out-loud funny there are deeper themes of individuality, friendship and love which make this a well rounded tale. Definitely worth the read.
Good to see you, Jo! :)
I'll make a mental note to check out Barking, since it doesn't appear to be a 'serious' book about werewolves etc.
it's definitely not serious! friendly monsters with a happy ending.
A wonderfully dark fantasy tale. Richard Mayhew stumbles across an injured girl but by rescuing her he unwittingly enters the dangerous world of London-Below, where the people live who've fallen through the cracks. Will Door avenge her parents, and will Richard ever get his life back? It's a well told tale with a nice moral about what's important in life. However I did feel it left the question unanswered of why Richard stopped to help in the first place, when the London-Below folk are all but invisible to the rest of the world - he shouldn't have noticed her.
#64 "he shouldn't have noticed her" I thought there was a reason why he noticed her but I can't remember what it was! Not very helpful and I might be misremembering anyway...
If there was I missed it. I suppose there's the implication that he truly belonged in London Below all along.
22) Fahrenheit 451
Another classic I hadn't read and well worth it.
Inspired by the book burnings of the Nazi's and the paranoia of the Cold War. Books are dangerous, they make you think, they make you ask questions; it is the fireman's job to burn them. But what is it about books that makes some people risk everything to save them? Could they hold the answers to a life without meaning? One fireman starts to wonder and that sets him on a dangerous path. This book has a lot to say about censorship and suppression, but also about the rise of multimedia entertainment and the decline of reading: "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture, just get people to stop reading them"
Okay, that does it. I will put this on my short TBR list.
Thanks for the review, Jo. :)
HAHAHAHA!!! Good one.
I can't read any faster than I am already...no fair!
Okay, you did it to me again: I borrowed Fahrenheit 451 from the library. I may start it this weekend, if I have time. I'm driving about four hours from home to visit my terminally ill uncle. I don't expect he'll feel up to chatting the whole time I'm there, so I expect a little 'down' time.
Thanks for your prayers, thoughts and 'thumbs'. :)
Hope you have a nice time with your uncle, despite the circumstances.
Thank you, Jo. I did, as I believe you read elsewhere. :)
I'm still tired from my visit, and travel. I was wondering if driving 4 hours there on Saturday and 4 hours back on Monday would have made me feel this drained...and then it hit me: it's not the physical that drained me, it was the emotional drain from the visit that probably wore me out!
I'll try to catch up on LT this weekend...
23) Mere Christianity
A Christian classic based on speeches given during WW2. This is a defence of the core Christian beliefs, those common to most denominations, argued more through logic than theology. His astute observations have hardly dated at all in the 60 years since publication. While I disagreed with some of his ideas, the book is full of nuggets of wisdom. Which is why I found it all the more surprising that it was such a hard slog to read. Perhaps for me it just didn't have enough depth on many of the issues raised. It felt that just as we got to the interesting bits, that would be the end of the chapter, on to another subject. I would recommend it as a good introduction to the debate rather than a thorough investigation.
(75) I found this book very interesting when I read it as a new Christian. Lewis makes some good points and makes one think.
I started a reread a month go, and found some things I did not believe, but then put it down. Hopefully I'll get back to it soon.
I think he has a talent for using non-theological approaches to weighty theological issues that would be very valuable to someone who knows the basics of the Christian gospel but not much more. Personally I would have preferred more depth. And yes, definitely bits I disagreed with. I can't remember exactly but I'm sure he implied some form of religious pluralism or universal salvation at one point.
Changing the subject completely, I'm off on holiday so won't be around for the rest of this week. Talk again on Friday.
I've not read The Screwtape Letters, although it's been on my shelf for about 10 years.
Too many books, too little time...
Jo, have a wonderful vacation/holiday!
Thanks. Got back at lunchtime and slept all afternoon - feeling a bit more human now. We had a really fantastic time with 70 odd people from church in a big old house in Shropshire. We played games, did crafts, went to a farm, had a bonfire, shared worship/prayer/teaching times, and generally relaxed. Weather was better than forecast so that was a real blessing. And Reuben had a great time too with plenty of space to run around and lots of other kids to play with.
Never read The Screwtape Letters. I thought The Problem of Pain was quite good, although I found I had to be the right mood to read it. People tend to recommend it when you're going through a hard time, but I really don't think that's a time you can cope with it. Better to read before the bad times strike, or to read when supporting friends through difficult times. Perhaps that's just me though.
24) Speed of Dark
I'm struggling to formulate my thoughts on this book. Essentially it follows the story of Lou, a high functioning autistic, who is offered a "cure". On the one hand the story shows what can be achieved through appropriate adaptations (e.g. changing the work environment to suit those on the autistic spectrum). We see that Lou is an exceptionally gifted man and we wonder what he could have managed had society been just a little more accommodating - it's a great argument for the social model of disability. On the other side we examine what it means to be "normal". Is there such a thing? Is it desirable? Although the coercion by his employer to take the treatment was stopped, his decision was clearly forced by the lack of acceptance and opportunity he experienced. I find this deeply saddening. Difference should be celebrated. Disability is a part of identity. But then, if I was offered a cure, would I take it? (I'm disabled but not autistic)
#80 Glad you had a good holiday :-)
Again, I've not read The Problem of Pain but agree that I don't think it's the sort of thing to read during suffering. I think Lewis' A Grief Observed would be a helpful book to read during times of suffering, particularly grief, loss or depression. It's a very personal (even raw) account of the grief and devastation Lewis experienced after the death of his wife and his struggles to understand where God was in the midst of that. I've found it very helpful.
25) Give Me This Mountain
This is the first part of Dr Helen Rosaveare's autobiography. It tells the story of her conversion, medical training and other preparations, and then her first two terms of missionary service in the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC). Her earnest seeking after God and self sacrificing service is inspiring. Yet she manages at the same time to be honest about the physical and spiritual battles faced. The metaphor of climbing a mountain, coming to small peaks and dips along the way, is very apt. It's so good I'm going straight on to part two of the trilogy, He Gave Us A Valley.
Both of your last two books sound very interesting to me. Sounds like you're doing some excellent reading!
I'd really recommend both of these.
The problem I have is people keep making excellent recommendations and I just can't keep up!
ooh...just realised I'm halfway through and less than halfway through the year...I might just do it!
26) Dead Famous
The characters are clearly stolen from the first couple of series of Big Brother and not in a particularly sophisticated way. The author shoe-horns his pet rants and comedy routines into the plot. I found the lampooning of a TV series desperate to get some sex in, by writing a book with gratuitous sex scenes, rather hypocritical, but then "sex sells". The who-dunnit is predictable, with one character after another set up as an obvious suspect; I worked out the solution long before it was revealed. Having said that, I did like the trick of not naming the victim until half way through - it really got you to focus on the characters. So, totally trashy and unoriginal, but I did rather like it, and it made me laugh.
I've read some books that weren't very good but that I enjoyed anyway...I call those "guilty pleasures".
27) He Gave Us A Valley
The second part of Roseveare's autobiography. It begins by giving more detail on the appalling treatment she and other missionaries suffered during the civil war. After much agonising she returns to Congo for another term of service. Most of the book is dedicated to her time setting up a medical school from scratch, attached to a missionary hospital. Like part 1, this is a truly inspiring book and I've gone straight on to part 3.
28) Digging Ditches
The third part of Roseveare's autobiography. This one covers time spent on smaller projects, mainly speaking tours, after her return from Congo. It is not as gripping as the first two volumes, I think because there is no overarching narrative, no single story threading through the book. That said, it is still a thoroughly enjoyable read: a real testament to God's sustaining grace and an inspiration to continue digging my own "ditches" for God (unglamorous but ultimately significant tasks).
Whatever we do for God, we should do it as well as we can.
If that's digging ditches, then so be it. Colossians 3:23 :)
Auggie Pullman is an ordinary 10 year old boy, with an extraordinary face. He has a combination of genetic mutations which caused him to be born with severe facial abnormalities. Until now he has been educated at home; we follow his ups and downs during the first year at middle school. The story is told in eight sections, switching between his viewpoint and that of his friends and family. The author does a great job of helping young readers to empathise and showing the importance of kindness. It would make a great starter for introducing topics of difference and disability. This is absolutely a book I want my son to read when he's old enough.
Glad you enjoyed the Helen Roseveare books - I think I also found the third volume didn't engage me as much as the first two.
Wonder sounds interesting - I might look for it in the library.
It's a great book. I'm not used to young adult, but found it surprisingly deep.
30) A Place To Talk At Home by Elizabeth Jarman http://www.librarything.com/work/12875766/
A handy booklet encouraging parents to set up small spaces for young children, where they can feel safe and secure, and thus more able to communicate. There are 12 different ideas given, but the key is to develop a space that suits your child.
31) Rivers of London
A detective story set in a parallel London where magic is real but invisible to most. Peter Grant is a police constable and apprentice wizard; he and his boss, with the help of various magical creatures protect the city from chaos. The level of detail really adds to the reading, from police procedures to accurate geography, the author has clearly done his homework. Described as "Harry Potter joins the Fuzz" (police), it's definitely a book for adults not children, it's violent and dark, and there is swearing throughout. I found the ending a little weak, but I'll still definitely go on to read the next one.
#99 I liked that one too - hoping to read the latest instalment next month.
32) Tantrums: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Emotions
The author starts by saying her children didn't have tantrums, but it's okay because she has spoken to other parents and is basically an expert. She goes on to tell you that, while tantrums are a natural part of growing up, it should be possible to avoid them altogether. Simply avoid all possible confrontation - leave your child with someone else while you do the shopping, pack their favourite toys away before having friends to visit, don't do anything when they're hungry. Seriously??? There's a brief section on the dangers of overly permissive parenting, that children need to learn to deal with not getting their own way, but the rest of the book seems to say it's desirable to avoid any conflicts arising. On the positive side there are some helpful parents' viewpoints (which often seem to contradict the text of the book), and there was a useful point about the different types of tantrum - anger and distress - and dealing with them appropriately. I definitely wouldn't recommend this book. I may not have read many parenting books, but I'm sure there are better ones out there.
From raising two children to adulthood without killing them, I would have to disagree with the author of the tantrum book. Every child is different, and has to be handled with what works best for the individual.
If you prevent all confrontation, how does the child learn how to handle it?
Absolutely. She's completely right about children needing to learn to deal with confrontation. But that's just one page, while most of the rest of the book is all about avoiding it. It's totally contradictory!
33) Broken Vessels
A Christian romance set against a background of personal loss and fractured relationships, looking at how God takes broken people and makes them whole again. This isn't my usual type of book at all. I found the constant angst wearing and it led me to care less about the characters, not more. I longed for the lighter moments but they were few and far between. To my mind it also fails to get across the Christian message. There is such an emphasis on the wrongs of abortion that God's love and forgiveness hardly got a look in. The Christian God is a God of new beginnings, "forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead" (Philippians 3:13). Not that our sins have no consequence, but as believers we should endeavour to show the same forgiveness to others that our Father shows to us. While one character is clearly the "bad guy" for their unforgiving attitude, that same fault goes unchallenged in the hero.
*This was a free early reviewers copy
thanks for the recommendation. I have a vague feeling I tried reading screwtape letters as a teenager and didn't get more than a few pages in, but I really struggled with reading back then. It's funny to think how much my literacy has improved since being an adult.
And as we mature, we often appreciate books that we disliked as teenagers. Oh, and vice versa, too....
34) Secret Scripture
The life story of Roseanne Clear, a centenarian in an old style long-stay institution, told from her own perspective and that of the doctor carrying out an assessment for her possible release. Set in Ireland, the author cleverly weaves the troubled political and social history into a very personal account of life. Though their differing accounts are at first confusing, eventually the reader is guided to conclude that all histories are in fact subjective, with each version having a value of it's own. The end is rather predictable, but pleasing nonetheless.
Books I've been trying for a while but giving up on for now:
1) Parenting from the inside out by Daniel Siegel - too difficult at the moment
2) What every parent needs to know by Margot Sunderland - tidbits of fascinating research, but not enough depth or supporting evidence for my liking
3) When I don't desire God by John Piper - an important subject, but just didn't speak to me
I put down books, too, when they don't 'grab' me within the first few chapters. There are so many favorites just waiting to be discovered, why waste precious time on something you don't like?
35) Doing a Great Work
A commentary of Ezra and Nehemiah that really helped me to understand these fascinating books of the Bible. Throughout the book the author highlights how the story points to Jesus. I haven't read any other commentaries of them though, so don't feel able to say how thorough it is.
I imagine writing a commentary is like writing a history...no one author can cover everything, nor should it necessarily. And it certainly doesn't hurt to check out a different author's work on the same book in the Bible.
That's one of the great things about the Bible, there's always more to discover! We spent a long time studying Nehemiah but I still get more insights each re-reading. We're moving on to Esther next, one of my favourite books.
36) Start Crochet
An introduction to crochet, covering the basic stitches and techniques and how to read patterns so you can move onto more complex items. I found the instructions clear and concise, and the progression through the book is good. I would have preferred smaller projects to test each technique. As it is, I got some patterns from Ravelry.com and made others up myself.
37) I Can Do it: Play-and-learn Activities to Help Your Child Discover the World the Montessori Way - http://www.librarything.com/work/7850830
A book of activities to try with your child, following the Montessori method. Only the simpler activities are appropriate to my child's age, although the book also covers literacy, numeracy and science. I found the idea of creating a dedicated workspace was totally impractical, and would recommend a lot more flexibility than the book seems to suggest. I can't imagine that anyone would actually work through the book, but the general principal of learning practical skills through experience is good.
Knitting and reading, the two things that keep me sane(ish). I'm working on a cardigan for myself and a crochet dragon for Reuben at the moment. And planning Christmas presents for a few people.
38) The Bookseller of Kabul
The story of a family from Kabul, as told to a journalist, and written in the style of a novel. The book principally covers a period after the "liberation" of Afghanistan by international forces, although there are frequent sorties into the past. I found the history and social observations fascinating. For me, though, the writing style wasn't right. I related to the individuals as fictional characters, not real people, facing real situations. I have to remind myself to be outraged by the injustices. That said, it has prompted me to find out more about the country and its people.
Green with red spines. To match the dragon/dinosaur cardigan I made for him.
Do you use Ravelry? There are so many good quality free patterns on there.
#123 What fuzzi said :-) The dragon/dinosaur cardigan looks awesome from the picture I've seen. I still haven't got round to teaching myself to crochet.
I can see why it's said to be easier than knitting, although I'm not there yet. The big advantage is you only ever have one stitch on the needle so there's less issue putting it down mid-row. So far I've made myself a spider bookmark, Reuben a man-bag (he always wants to carry my handbag), and my friend's daughter a pretty handbag.
39) Hunger Games
Set in a dystopian future where 2 children from each of 12 districts are chosen to fight to the death for public entertainment. Trashy but entertaining. What more can I say?
I was suprised that I enjoyed The Hunger Games as I really hate the premise of kids having to kill kids.
When I posted a comment pretty similar to yours, I was also surprised at the number of people who felt it was good political commentary against authoritarian regimes. The author says was inspired by the book 1984.
I think the sequels must get further into the political ramifications. Eventually, I'll probably read them, but they aren't very high on my list right now.
Dragon is still a work in progress, currently no wings or spines and only 3 legs (4 if you count that I had to do 3 back legs before I got a pair that match!). Should get it finished soon though.
Can't say book 1 of Hunger games had much political commentary, just a weird mix of teenage romance angst and life threatening situations - entertaining so long as you don't take it seriously. So far Catching Fire (book 2) looks to be a little more political. Watch this space...
Dragon is finished! Have a look: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/eclecticdodo/fierce-little-dragon
not much reading recently though...
Andy has named him Craig Y Ddraig (Craig the Dragon, in Welsh). He was flying circles around my head this morning as I tried to put Rueben's shoes on. I think that means he likes it!
I think it's pretty cute, too. But more importantly it sounds like Craig Y Ddraig (wonderful name!) has passed the Andy test.
We name all of Reuben's toys. Andy comes up with some great names, though sometimes a little odd.
Ah...... so it's Reuben's dragon? And Andy is perhaps your DH?
In that case, it's passed the Reuben test. :-)
that's right. Although passing the Andy test is still a good thing. If he says it's good then I learn to ignore the little errors only I can see
40) The once a week gardener
A handy reference guide to the essential gardening jobs, sorted by season, with a priority rating for each task. It's a great idea. However, the author's priorities are a little different to mine - edging a lawn is hardly high priority for me. I suspect the intention is to spend a whole day a week gardening, where I tend to get an hour or two at most. That said, it's still a very useful guide to dip in and out of.
41) Catching Fire
Part 2 of the Hunger Games trilogy. Another trashy but entertaining read. This one gets a little more political than the first, but I really can't understand the comparisons to 1984. It's more teenage angst with a little anti-authoritarianism rebellion thrown in. In fact, even that rebellion seems rather childish, akin to a teenager trying to stand up to Mum and Dad. I suppose that's why it appeals so much to the young adult audience.
#143 I can't comment on the comparisons to 1984 but I thought the books in the Hunger Games trilogy made some good points about consumerism and reality TV (thinking of The Capitol's attitude to the hunger games themselves). Looking at my ratings I suspect I rated them higher two years ago than I would now but I found them engrossing at the time.
Yes, the way the people of the Capitol are so absorbed in the latest trends and their own pleasures speaks to us. And although our reality TV competitors aren't out to kill each other there's a complete disregard for their psychological wellbeing in favour of our entertainment which is disturbing.
(133) try this one: http://ravel.me/eclecticdodo/5ap9>
Part 3 of the Hunger Games, covering the spreading rebellion and eventual victory over the Capitol. This really is a great book, so much so I'm starting to wonder if I was too harsh on book 2. The damage caused by war comes across very clearly; there are no winners. The depiction of mental distress and PTSD (though not named as such) are excellent. Images of fragmented personality and reality help the reader to see such conditions from the inside. I would have liked a little more information on the political solution at the end of the story especially after hints earlier that one form of authoritarianism might be replaced with another.
43) Hope for the Weary Mom
I came across this book while browsing free kindle books and the title immediately appealed to me. What a fantastic book. As a very weary Mum I really needed the encouragement, firstly to know there are a lot of other women like me, and more importantly to be reminded where to turn. It's easy to despair at my constant failings, I will never be the perfect mother. But God calls us to accept our weaknesses and turn instead to Him. When I am weak, God is strong. I particularly found it helpful in challenging my anger and bitterness towards God that he doesn't just make my life easier or me more able to cope. I've had a tough time since becoming a Mum, but I know God is with me through it all. I can't recommend this book enough. It's no longer free, but well worth the price tag.
(147) My son just finished book one. I'm getting him books two and three for Christmas.
44) How To Play The Flute
I didn't finish this one, but I'm going to count it anyway as I spent a significant amount of time on it.
This book sets out to go further than other "teach yourself flute" type books, and include all the bits a good flute teacher would cover. Having never had a flute teacher, I can't say for sure if it accomplishes that aim, but it certainly is more thorough than the book I'd previously learnt from, Learn as you play flute. Just need to get myself a copy so I can spend more time on it (was a library book).
#152 You're learning the flute again? Good for you! I haven't played a musical instrument for years... In fact, my parents still have my guitar at their house.
having a go anyway. I get Fridays off now (did I say? have council funding for him to be in nursery an extra day so I can have a break) so I'm doing some things for me. I've bought myself some art materials too.
Nifty, re: the flute and art stuff. What kind of art materials?
I'd love some time to just play with my piano (old, beat up, out of tune, but it's MINE). There is rarely time for me to fiddle with it (I play by ear) as there's always something going on that needs my attention or input.
My sister played the flute.
got some pastels. Haven't had a chance to play yet today. There's 20 mins until I pick up the little man...not really long enough to get in the zone. Still, I have a nice new haircut for the first time in 2 years!
A haircut! Oh, how wonderful!
There's something about getting a haircut that makes me feel...new!
45) your child's spiritual development
An odd little book, more a collection of thoughts around the subject than a fully constructed piece. The formatting is very basic (in the kindle version at least). It is divided broadly by age, from minus 9 months to 1 year, and from 4 to 8 years (not sure what happens between 1 and 4). From 0 to 1 the focus is on developing trust relationships and a sense of self, to enable a healthy relationship with God in later life, a very useful insight I thought. From age 4 to 8 caregivers should encourage a sense of wonder at the world, engage with children through storytelling and model good disciplines. Overall a very quick read with some useful points. It would be interesting to see the ideas expanded and developed, with some of the more random parts removed.
Have you ever read Gesell's books on child development? They're actually very interesting.
46) Hundreth Hero
A bizarre little book. The name comes from the theory that once a certain number of people or animals learn a skill or characteristic, it is magically passed to the rest of the population. Thus, for example, it the hundredth person who changes their ways could be the one who makes the difference to the whole world - what nonsense! Asides from that, it is a short book of suggestions for how to make a difference to your life and the world around you. I could see this as one of those little books you get near the tills at the bookshop, 50 ways to improve the world, a book you could flip through and pick items at random. Unfortunately I'm not into that kind of book. There's nothing wrong with the advice, it's just kind of obvious.
47) World War One: history in an hour
A concise introduction to World War One. Covering the major events and a little of the history and politics behind them. I found it very interesting, it made sense of a lot of the history and war poetry we studied in school. It took me a good couple of hours to read, but I'm a slow reader.
Oh dear, I was aiming to read equal numbers of fiction and non-fiction, but I'm three up on the non-fiction so far. Will I manage to catch up?
E-books lined up ready to read:
Princess of Mars
I don't want to buy any this close to Christmas/birthday. Anyone got any suggestions for free fiction e-books or books I could get from the library?
looks interesting. I must confess I've never read any Sherlock Holmes, do you think that matters?
48) Shadows of the Workhouse
Second instalment of memoirs of Jennifer Worth. 3 sections follow the lives of older people she met in 1950's East End. The first and last show the enduring effect of the workhouses following their supposed abolition in the 1930's. The second is an account of the later years of one of the nuns she worked with. I have to wonder how much artistic licence was used as some details the author can't have known. Fascinating all the same. It really helps to put a human angle on the events of history.
I'd never read any Sherlock Holmes, either, when a friend highly recommended The Beekeeper's Apprentice.
And I love the series.
49) Rough Guide to travel with babies and young children
aka "the rough guide to maintaining extremely high standards of hygiene while travelling". The author does seem rather preoccupied with keeping clean. I realise that's important but it is serious overkill for the trip we're planning to Europe. I also thought the section on train travel was limited and tends to assume you're flying to your destination and then getting a train for a day trip rather than travelling entirely by train. There are some useful tips but I'd say it's one to get from the library as it doesn't merit re-reading.
#163 Hmm, I'll have a think about free ebooks. The original Sherlock Holmes books are free (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a good place to start) but I know you're less keen on crime fiction.
Ok, some thoughts:
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome - (very) humourous tale of three men (in a boat) on holiday travelling up the Thames. Light-hearted and good fun.
Some early P. G. Wodehouse books are available from Project Gutenberg and they're usually fun. Technically they're not out of copyright in the UK though.
Five Children and It by E. Nesbit - classic, old-fashioned children's story about five children who discover a Psammead (a sand fairy) and get it to grant their wishes. The wishes never turn out quite as they expect.
The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle - I haven't read this yet but it has dinosaurs!
Do you like Jules Verne? I think all his books are out of copyright.
#169 Keeping clean when travelling with young children and babies? Is that even possible? You probably know this but www.seat61.com has lots of good information about train travel and it even has a section on travelling with children (http://www.seat61.com/train-travel-with-children.htm). I really want to do the Paris-Barcelona train hotel....
Re crime fiction - I wouldn't say I'm not keen, more that I haven't read ANY since coming out of an Agatha Christie phase as a teenager. I might well like it. In fact, I like crime dramas on TV and film, so I should give it a go (loved the Sherlock adaptation)
Three men in a boat sounds good.
Time to show my ignorance again, never read any PG Wodehouse, and all I know about five children and it is from a TV series. Never read any Elizabeth Gaskell either. I'm rather put off by the LT recommendations linking her to Jane Austen, I tried Emma and Pride and Prejudice but really couldn't get on with them. If Gaskell is anything like that she's not for me.
I have read The Lost World though. Picked up a free copy a couple of years ago, I think linked to a Darwin celebration. It's very good, highly recommended.
I'm reading Among Others at the moment and loving it. Wondering how many of the references go over my head though.
We've borrowed the man in seat 61 from the library and finding it very useful. I'll have to look at the website. We're thinking Eurostar to Paris, one night and a day exploring Paris, then train hotel to Barcelona, and a week there, close to the beach and the old city, then train hotel and Eurostar back in one go.
Just had a thought. I think Katherine would like the rough guide to travel with babies and young children, in fact, I think the author mentioned she works in some form of public health advisory overseas.
#172 Well, if you loved the Sherlock adaptation then my first recommendation really is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - download it now!
The others were just ideas really.
P. G. Wodehouse wrote light, comic books in the early-mid 20th century. His Jeeves and Wooster books are quite well know and I think there was a TV series with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie some years ago. I find them fun and comforting although they do tend to blur together in my mind.
I'd struggle to say whether I think Elizabeth Gaskell is like Jane Austen or not. Yes in some ways, no in others. There's no need to try her if you don't want to. Cranford is quite humourous and focuses on life in a small town/village and like P&P could be described as social observation/satire which might be where the comparisons with Austen come from. North and South is different though and focuses on the struggle between the factory masters and workers in Manchester during the Industrial Revolution.
Glad you enjoyed The Lost World. I'm finishing up my reread of the Sherlock Holmes stories (about 100 pages left) and then next year I'm hoping to read some non-Sherlock Arthur Conan Doyle. I think The Lost World was the first in a series so you might be able to download the sequel if you wanted to.
Also glad you're enjoying Among Others. I'm sure most of the references went over my head - there are an awful lot of science fiction/fantasy books from the 60s/70s/80s that I haven't read.
#173 Heh - well the cleanliness part maybe. She's not very keen on babies at the moment.
50) The Man in Seat 61
A guide to train travel through Europe and beyond. Contains a lot of insider information on the different routes and on long distance train travel in general. Invaluable for planning our trip from the UK to Spain next summer.
thanks! I can't believe I managed it, what with having a toddler and working, and all. I reckon I should get a few more in before the end of the year too.
I was running the bookstall at church today and mentioned to someone I'd just read my 50th book of the year - apparently that makes me uber-intelligent. So you two (fuzzi and souldoftherose) must be off the scale with both your reading for the year.
Jo, I don't have a social life most nights, and I don't watch TV. What else is there to do but read? :)
Besides, I like reading!
51) The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness
A very quick read. The basic premise being that our society sees sin as being rooted in low self-esteem, while other cultures generally see too high an opinion of oneself as the problem. In actual fact, both of these are wrong. We should instead be self-forgetful. Focussing on God and others over ourselves. He offers a thorough argument from 1 Corinthians as well as suggestions how to work towards such an attitude. An excellent book
52) The Purpose Driven Life
A 40 day devotional guide to getting your life on track for God through 5 key purposes. The content is good and biblically sound, but there's a temptation to think that if you follow these steps your life will be sorted. God doesn't promise Christians an easy life, and often we need to face hardships to fulfil those purposes. I thought a little more emphasis on the hard times would be helpful. That said, it's still a great book, filled with quotes from scripture.
This is definitely a book for Christians, If you're not a Christian, or not sure, why not start with his booklet "What on earth am I here for?".
I seem to read in batches. Several on the go at once and finish them all about the same time, then start a fresh lot.
I've stalled a bit on Living Dolls. I steamed through the first half, but the second half on determinism seems a bit harder going so I put it down for a few weeks. Time to pick it up again before I start anything new.
53) Among Others
Technically a fantasy, but more of a tribute to fantasy and science fiction. Mor is a voracious reader who sees fairies and does magic. I loved the constant references to other works, it left me wishing I had read more, and I could have added dozens to my wishlist. Even so, I'm sure there were many more references that went over my head. Little details about life as a young person using a walking stick were very insightful. It's the little details that make it great.
Among Others is already on my wish list--- course I didn't remember that. LT told me. :)
Thumbs up for your great review!
54) The Yellow Wallpaper
A short story chronicling one woman's descent into madness, poorly understood by those around her, and tormented by the ghastly yellow wallpaper in her bedroom. Very well told. I only wish it were longer.
I feel rather guilty counting such a short book. I might look out the other short stories published with it.
55) Pirates! In an adventure with scientists
A very silly little book. I imagine it could have come from pub conversation - "so, what would happen if the Beagle got attacked by pirates?". Darwin and a band of pirates team up to defeat an evil bishop. Along the way it takes the mickey out of Victorian society, scientists and pseudo-science. There's just enough fact mixed in with the fiction to leave you wondering "is that bit true?".
sometimes sold as a combined volume with The Yellow Wallpaper so I'm counting these together as one.
Explorers discover a lost civilisation in the Amazon consisting only of women. Although the narrator has his criticisms, the author is clearly suggesting that such a land would be a utopia, devoid of all the problems caused by men. There are some odd ideas here presented as ideals, particularly with regard to religion (a version of pantheism) and sex (being undesirable for women except for procreation). It's basically a soap-box for the author to outline her feminist views which would have been quite extreme at the time of writing. Interesting but not great. Oh, and there's an undercurrent of racism regards the civilised white races vs. the savage natives.
56) Trusting God When Bad Things Happen
A short piece on where to turn in the Christian faith when things seem to be going wrong. I'm not sure I would find this helpful in the midst of a hard time, but it had some useful points for building up reserves before difficulty strikes and on making sense of our past experiences.
Congratulations on reading 56 books this year! :-) I haven't read anything by Charlotte Perkins Gilman before and will investigate her books at some point.
So, the year has ended and I managed 56 books. It's my first year of keeping a count, and I'm pretty impressed with myself.
I was aiming for equal numbers of fiction and non-fiction but didn't manage that. Still, 25 fiction books is pretty good going for me and gives me something to beat next year.
My 2013 thread is here http://www.librarything.com/topic/147294
Please come and join me!
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