Reading Report (April and May)

Thursday, June 1st, 2017 at 8:58 pm

I haven’t been keeping my Nightstand posts up-to-date (or more, haven’t been posting them when it’s time), but I want to end April and May on a clean slate so that maybe I can pick things up again for June (hope springs eternal!)

So here’s [a little of] what I’ve read in April and May:

Gardening Books:

  • Starting from Seed by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    This book focuses on the environmental impact of monocultures and sees starting from seed as a way of maintaining genetic diversity in the garden (and in our world.) As such, it spends a lot of time talking about how to obtain heirloom seeds, how to protect against unwanted hybridization, and how to collect your own seeds.
  • Seeds: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Successfully From Seed by Jekka McVicar
    The subtitle should be “the ultimate guide to successfully starting seeds”. This book has instructions for starting virtually any seed you can imagine for your garden or yard – but it doesn’t have much information on how to go about transplanting those seeds into their final locations, which I think is kinda important.
  • The Backyard Orchardist by Stella Otto
    A readable, if somewhat dated (published in 1993), introduction to growing fruit trees. The general growing and pruning instructions are applicable, but there are TONS more varieties and rootstocks available now than there were then.
  • The Gardener’s Peony by Martin Page
    Until I read this book, I had no idea that peonies were a collector’s item, something people get excited about like they do about roses or orchids. But there are hundreds of different cultivars of peonies and people do indeed go crazy over them. This book gives something of the history of peonies and has what seems like endless pages describing the history of various cultivars and their characteristics. In the last chapters, Page gives some advice on raising peonies and on selecting cultivars (which was really what I was looking for.) I think this is probably more a reference work for the serious gardener and enthusiast, not necessarily for a dabbler like me – but it was fun to go down the rabbit hole for a little while :-)

Relationship Books (Marriage, Parenting, etc):

  • Everyday Creative Play by Lisa R. Church
    Lots of the activities seem either seem “duh” obvious or overly didactic. But sometimes a reminder of those “duh” activities is worthwhile, so it wasn’t time completely wasted.
  • 150+ Screen-Free Activities For Kids by Asia Citro
    Lots of sensory activities – doughs and clays and oobleks and the like. Tirzah Mae had fun with whipped shampoo (colored baby shampoo whipped just like whipped cream or egg whites.) I’ll be checking this book out again sometime when I’m not in my first trimester of pregnancy and therefore have a little more energy for making sensory activities (for now, the kids are making do with playdough, baths, the sandbox, and the garden :-P)
  • Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower
    A fantastic book about sharing the gospel with children. Klumpenhower writes as a Bible teacher, but gives plenty of suggestions for parents and others who work with children. I reviewed this book here.
  • Success as a Foster Parent by the National Foster Parent Association with Rachel Greene Baldino
    I’ve finished this at last and consider it to be a great introduction to the process for someone who’s interested in fostering but who wants to learn a little about it before they start juggling schedules to actually get certified.
  • Your Time-Starved Marriage by Les and Leslie Parrott
    A short, quick read about making time to invest in your marriage. I think if I’d read this six months ago, it would have been helpful; but we’d already started implementing many of the suggestions they made by the time I got around to reading this. I would recommend this, though, for couples who are feeling the crunch of busyness and who don’t really know what to do about it. Like I said, it’s a quick read and has some helpful suggestions.
  • The RoMANtic’s Guide by Michael Webb
    The “World’s Most Romantic Man” gives lots of romantic ideas. I thought it would be fun to get some ideas for how I can show Daniel love. Unfortunately, pretty much all the ideas involve ridiculous public displays of affection or spending money on trinkets and food. We are NOT trinket people. And heaven knows we don’t need more food. Basically, we’re just not the romantic types.

Miscellaneous Nonfiction:

  • The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth
    Part-journalism, part-memoir, this book tells the story of the Nordic (or Scandinavian, depending on how you decide to tell it) countries that so often lead those “quality of life” measures. Booth travels through each country one by one, telling personal stories, bits of history, and describing interviews with economists and politicians and the like. I found this an interesting read and fairly informative (according to Booth, the hygge everyone is talking about this year? it’s actually a stifling set of social conventions that forces one to avoid talking about anything controversial or unpleasant.) For the most part, I found each nation intriguing and different – until I got to Sweden, the most perfect of all the places. There the house of cards crashed. Booth describes a society where all one needs is to declare something modern for it to be accepted, a nation where government care frees one from dependence on anyone else (dependence upon a spouse, a parent, a child). He acts as though this is a utopia,
    but it sounds to me like the worst dystopia I can dream of. Some of the highest divorce rates in the world. The most senior adults (actually, most people altogether) living alone in the world. Eighty-two percent of children in full-time daycare by 6 months of age. Eugenics practiced unquestioningly until the 1970s. If this is happiness,
    I’ll opt for the less-happy (by whoever determines that) but more relational world I inhabit.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are Black by Tanner Colby
    The story of the origins and continued existence of segregation in four spheres of American life: schools, neighborhoods, the advertising/marketing industry, and churches.
    This has been on my TBR list forever based on Lisa’s recommendation and I’m SO glad I read it.
  • The Gluten Lie by Alan Levinovitz
    A look at the sociology of how diet fads, following a variety of fads through time. This was enlightening, interesting, and so good.
  • The Prairie Girl’s Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick
    Instructions for fifty “Little House”-inspired activities, most of which turned out to be… beauty potions (okay, lavender spritzer for your ironing, soap, face cream,
    etc) or terribly ordinary recipes (cherries canned in syrup, rhubarb pie, dandelion greens.) I would have rather learned to make my own sausage and cheese like ma did,
    or to braid a hat out of straw, or… well, any of those things Ma and Pa (or Mother and Father or Laura herself) did in the books. So I was a bit disappointed with this.
    Of the projects listed, I’d either already done them (pretty much all the cooking stuff, embroidery, crochet, quilting, etc.) or have little desire to do them since they aren’t really prairie skills anyway.

Miscellaneous Fiction:

  • The Lost Stories by John Flanagan
    A series of short stories (3-5 short chapters each) detailing some of the things that happened concurrent to or in between the previous books in the “Rangers Apprentice”
    series. I wish there were more of these because I found the short story aspect helpful in allowing me to enjoy fiction without neglecting my home and family.
  • The Royal Ranger by John Flanagan
    I truly thought I was done with this series – but then the girls who babysat our kids during our foster care class told me that no, there really was a twelfth book. And,
    yes, there is indeed. This was a nice cap to the series, taking place a good fifteen or so years after the books before. I’m debating whether I want to read some of the related series’ (in order to close out this author before he writes too much more!) or if I want to take a break and focus on something else fiction-wise (it’s been a long time since I read any elementary or middle-grade fiction…)
  • Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer
    I always enjoy Heyer’s lighthearted Regency romances. And the “spinster takes on a runaway” plotline is rather a favorite of mine, so this was perfect for an escape when things got overwhelming (right after I wrote about how I’d found my rhythm – hah!)
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck
    I read this 6-chapter-long novella after Amy wrote about it at Hope is the Word. She wrote that “it deals with the big questions of life in a way that is thought-provoking and sophisticated.” And, boy, does it ever. She forgot to mention that it’s also gut-wrenching. I should NOT have read the last chapter right before bed :-)

Reader Comments (3):

  1. Monica says:

    We were licensed foster parents… It’s a grueling job! The certification process took about 8 weeks. Then since reunification is the goal you have to take the children to meet with the “parent” regularly. Some times they didn’t even bother to show up. Kept the kids in constant turmoil. anyway… NOT something I would do again.

    Wonderful variety of books here! I’m going to add a few of them to my TBR list! Thanks again Bekah! :)

  2. Barbara H. says:

    That’s quite a lot, especially with two little ones and expecting another! My husband would think most things in a book or article about romance would be silly. I think the most romantic gestures are often just little things that show, “Hey, I was thinking about you” or “I thought you might like this.”

    I read The Pearl way back in high school (or maybe college) but I have forgotten most of what’s in it. I should look at it again some time.

    Sweden doesn’t sound like my ideal place, either.

    I didn’t know that about peonies. I’ve been wanting to plant some but so far haven’t found them here – I’ll have to check to see if they are recommended for this area.

  3. Lisa notes says:

    I still have never read The Pearl, but maybe I should add it to my list. I’m glad you liked Some of My Best Friends Are Black. I’m currently reading a novel that touches on race issues–Small Great Things–and it is so good.

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