Nightstand (June 2014)

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 at 7:46 am

I’ve been returning books to the library once I’m done reading them (a good habit, you know) – and therefore hadn’t been noticing that I’ve actually done a decent bit of reading this month. However, I’ve got a whole slew of books due (without renewals) the first of July, so I’m still cutting it close with plenty!

Books Read

Books Read this Month (the ones that I hadn’t already returned)

This month, I read:

  • Bottled Up by Suzanne Barston
    A treatise from the “fearless formula feeder” arguing that breastmilk isn’t the best option for every mother and child. A valuable look into the psyche of those who “failed” at breastfeeding – but her arguments against breastfeeding are less than stellar. Read my full review here.
  • The Heart’s Frontier by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith
    Amish romance meets Wild West, set right here in Kansas. This was a rather fun version of the standard Amish romance, since the primary differences between the plain way of life and the cowpoke’s life wasn’t technology but…well…other things. I enjoyed this book far more than I’ve enjoyed most of the Copeland novels I’ve read recently, but I’m not sure exactly why – it was still nominally Christian fiction, a relatively sappy romance with little character development. But, I enjoyed it. So there you have it.
  • King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rader Haggard
    Adventure is not my usual genre, but I’ve read along with all of the Reading to Know Classics Bookclub so far this year and I don’t intend to stop now. I’m awfully glad I did read this one, which was a gripping tale of a 1800s elephant hunter who is hired by two English gentlemen to lead them to the (generally presumed to be mythical) mines of King Solomon, in search of one gentleman’s brother, who set off on an expedition to the same locale and was never heard from again. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel!
  • Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
    When a rich uncle tries to convince his grand-nephews to marry his ward, things don’t exactly turn out how anyone expect. This is an absolutely delightful romp through Regency England – and officially my favorite book by Heyer. Check out my full review here.
  • The Upside-Down Christmas Tree by Delilah Scott and Emma Troy
    A collection of various families’ strange holiday traditions – many of which entail avoiding family functions, thumbing their noses at “Christmas culture”, or celebrating personal obsessions. It kept me moderately entertained during our wait at urgent care when Daniel had pneumonia, but, as a Christmas lover myself, I wasn’t too impressed.
  • The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke
    Eliza (quite unwisely per her investment banker boyfriend) buys an antique writing desk on a whim. She isn’t expecting anything spectacular of it, but finds herself on a grand adventure after she finds a couple letters hidden within – an open one from an F. Darcy, addressing himself to Jane Austen, and a sealed one addressed in Austen’s own handwriting to Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Thus begins a lighthearted and fantastical tale of a modern day man (whose family was not Austen fans, thanks to her strange co-option of their family name and the name of their American state) who fell in love with Austen. This was a fluffy read, but enjoyable – it reminded me a little of “You’ve Got Mail” meets “Kate and Leopold”. There is a bit of potentially objectionable content – premarital sex (in the modern day) is considered the norm and there’s also some language – but it wasn’t racy like I feared it might be. I’m glad this caught my eye during a recent library trip because I enjoyed it rather a lot.
  • Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan
    A very nice basic introduction to economics – without the math. It’s supposed to make economics interesting for people whose eyes glaze over when they start hearing economic talk, but since I’m not one of those, I don’t know how well it succeeds at it’s goal. Nevertheless, it is an engaging overview of economic principles. Read my full review here.
  • Christmas in Colonial and Early America and Christmas in Finland by World Book
    I love Christmas and I love reading about how other cultures celebrate it. These two books from World Book’s extensive Christmas around the world collection were fascinating and managed to transport me back to my childhood, where I took copious notes on worldwide Christmas traditions and tried my hardest to incorporate them into my family’s Christmases.

Books in Progress

Books in Progress

In Progress:

  • Beginning Life by Miriam Boleyn-Firtzgerald
    One of those books that tries to shed light on controversial subjects by excerpting articles from a variety of sources. This one deals with assisted reproductive technologies as well as abortion and emergency contraception.
  • Behold Williamsburg by Samuel Chamberlain
    A photograph-filled tour of Colonial Williamsburg as of the forties, when restoration was still in full swing. Reading in preparation for our Garcia family trip to Williamsburg in October.
  • Gilgamesh: a new English version translated by Stephen Mitchell
    It’s been a long time since I last read the Epic of Gilgamesh – and I’ve forgotten how racy it is. This is, however, shaping up to be an excellent and readable translation (I might have to remember Mitchell’s name and put this translation up with Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf as favorite renderings of ancient mythologies.)
  • The Maidenstone Lighthouse by Sally Smith O’Rourke
    I checked this out when I realized that I could close out O’Rourke with just two books if I jumped on it now. This one is not anywhere as interesting as The Man who Loved Jane Austen. It’s told in first person from the heroine’s point of view and if she mentions making love one more time… She hasn’t been explicit, which is the only reason I’ve kept reading, but I’m considering calling it quits on this one anyway. I only have so much reading time, and this does not seem worthy of my time.
  • When We Were On Fire by Addie Zierman
    A memoir of belonging to the nineties teen evangelical culture, of falling away from the faith, and of returning. My sister-in-law asked me if I’d read it because she wanted someone to discuss it with. And there is definitely discussion to be had here. While I have not had a falling away or returning, I identified strongly with Addie’s experiences as a teen in the nineties. This has been a tough book to read, inducing bits of nostalgia combined with equal parts distaste for the “on fire”, revival-happy, experience-seeking evangelicalism of my youth.

Books that are coming up

Books I plan to read next month

On the docket for next month:

  • New Mercies by Sandra Dallas
    For my in-real-life book club.
  • The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
    Because my sister-in-law (a different one than above) recommended it.
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
    For Carrie’s Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge.
  • 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
    For the Reading to Know Classics Bookclub.

Don’t forget to drop by 5 Minutes 4 Books to see what others are reading this month!

What's on Your Nightstand?


Reader Comments (11):

  1. I’ve finally done a good job of tracking my reads on GoodReads (mostly), so I can remember what I’ve read. I’m especially bad about forgetting audiobooks that I sort of blow through from one to the next.

  2. Susan says:

    Oh my, I just had to say that I loved your comment about how during childhood you took notes on the colonial Christmas and tried incorporating them — SO something I would have done! The econ book sounds interesting!

  3. Man Who Loved…. is going straight on my to-read list and I’m going to dig out King Solomon’s Mine–I’d bought it for 9th grade homeschool years ago, but my son went back to school instead. GREAT list!

  4. Barbara H. says:

    You’re making me rethink King Solomon’s Mines. I read several descriptions of it at the beginning of the month and just wasn’t impressed, especially when I had so many other things I wanted to read. I did get a free Kindle version – maybe I’ll take a peek. :-)

  5. Lisa notes says:

    Aren’t those reading challenges good for us? ha. They encourage me to read books out of my normal genre too. Glad you enjoyed King Solomon’s Mine. That’s not one I would normally pick up either, but maybe I should….
    I definitely want to read Naked Economics.

  6. When We Were On Fire sounds like one I might relate too a little too well (though I was a child of the 80s, not the 90s). ;-)

  7. Tonia says:

    Nice list. Man who Loved and econ. book just made it on my to-read list. Happy reading!

  8. Wow. That’s five books in progress. I have been trying to limit myself in that, but it’s hard!

    I feel guilty occasionally about not being able to nurse my children. When the second was hospitalized due to dehydration on the same day he was brought home from the hospital…well, we knew we wouldn’t be trying again. Some of us just don’t have the right equipment -despite God’s design- to do it.

    The book sounds interesting.

    My nightstand books are finally up. :)

    • bekahcubed says:

      I’m sure that was a very difficult experience for you (having baby #2 hospitalized for dehydration). I think the hardest part about breastfeeding conversations (and maybe just parenting in general) is that all parents feel the pressure to do everything perfectly – and feel guilty when everything doesn’t turn out exactly as they planned. In addition to the “in progress” books listed above, I’ve been reading Grace-based Parenting with one of my sisters-in-law (who likes to hear my thoughts on parenting even though I’m not one myself – she is pretty special!). That book is focused on extending grace to your children – which I think is very important, but I keep thinking how important it is for parents to receive grace themselves. The simple truth is that, even with the best intentions, parents are not perfectly able to do “the best” – we need to receive the grace of God not only for our intentional and unintentional sins, but for all the ways in which we simply fall short because we’re not God. We’re fallible, limited by time and space and physical and emotional strength. For me, I think Grace-based parenting means more than extending grace to our children – it also means receiving the grace of God and recognizing His sovereign mercy in working in our and our children’s lives despite our weaknesses.

  9. I’ve heard about The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. The only thing that keeps me from those reads is the fear that they aren’t “clean.”

    I haven’t started King Solomon’s Mines yet! Today! (Or tomorrow!)

    I didn’t breastfeed but then I didn’t produce milk. I find people who champion the breastfeeding cause to the point of putting others down and degrading them to be utterly pointless and generally thoughtlessly rude. So just be careful with your opinions. :) You are very welcome to them and I don’t think anyone can truly argue the cause against breast milk being the best as being superior IF you have a choice. But since some people really don’t, it’s probably best not to assume and word your arguments kindly and well, allowing for exceptions to the rule. The mom rules are ridiculous.

    • bekahcubed says:

      Emotions always fly high – on both sides – in discussions of breastfeeding, which means that I think we all have the potential of sounding thoughtlessly rude, regardless of how sensitive we try to be. I don’t know if you had a chance to read my full review, Carrie, but I certainly do agree that there are some cases where breastfeeding is not possible – and I definitely want to support those women as they formula feed their children (and sometimes as they struggle with the pain of not being able to breastfeed.) I generally put “failed” at breastfeeding in quotes because I really don’t believe that breastfeeding “failure” is possible. If you breastfed your baby for any length of time, if you tried and weren’t able to produce, if you tried and gave up because life got in the way – you breastfed, you didn’t fail. I wish more women felt the accomplishment of what they have done rather than feeling guilty or judged because of what they were not able to do.

      One of the hardest things about Barston’s book (for me) was hearing how the breastfeeding culture let Barston down – by giving pat answers to her concerns, by failing to properly diagnose her breastfeeding difficulties, by letting the ideal be the enemy of the good.

      So, yes, mommy wars. It seems impossible to avoid getting caught up in them when everyone has opinions and experiences and hurts. I hope to be sensitive – but I’m also aware that some topics are going to be difficult no matter how hard I try to be sensitive.

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