Saturday, June 30, 2012

June reading

June was a much better reading month for me. Must be because we practically abandoned homeschooling. I started and finished three books, and read parts of several others (some by design).
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  Another highly-satisfying book by Kate Morton.  The story is complex, the narrative jumps through time with abandon but it is so well-done it is never hard to follow.   Watch for the mention of Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden.
  • A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.  I was attracted to this book by its setting: The Adirondack Mountain region of New York.  Long ago, before I was 10 years old, my family camped in those mountains many times, and though I don't really remember those trips, I have always been fascinated by the region.  A Northern Light is a coming-of-age story about a poor young farm girl who longs to go to the city and become a writer.  I enjoyed it, though at times I had an uneasy feeling that it was going to turn into something like The Awakening which is on my list of worst novels ever.  It didn't get quite that far, I'm happy to say.  This is considered a Young Adult book.  "Young Adult" is a broad term.  My 13-year-old browses the YA section now, and this book (among many others) is not for her.  Some of the incidents and language are just a bit too adult.  Maybe for a 17-year-old. And up!  It could easily fit in the adult section of the library.
  • The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf.   I'll be looking for more books by this author.  I never knew that the English Garden full of colorful flowers was mainly the product of plant imports.  John Bartram of Philadelphia figures heavily in this book, which annoys me only because I've lived here for five years and have never made it to visit Bartram's Garden, a park on his old estate.  It's a fascinating look at plant importation and the people who dedicated their lives to botany.  Lots of fun information: did you know that at the time of the famous mutiny, the Bounty was carrying a load of plants from the south seas to England?

  •  I kept up with my daily Bible reading and am actually a bit ahead. I find that even when I don't have time to read all 4 chapters I want to read at least one every day.  My habits are changing, slowly.
I read parts of a few books which I'm looking at for homeschool history:
  • The Middle Ages by Morris Bishop.  I saw a brief mention of this on the Well-Trained Mind forums, and picked it up from the library.  It is a narrative history of the period, not too detailed, with a nice flow and interesting anecdotes.  I think my kids will love it. I'm reading it for myself now and will get them copies for their own reading once we get into schooling mode again.  (Which is suppose to be Monday but won't be.)

  • The Civilization of the Middle Ages by Norman F. Cantor.  Previewing this one for school as well.  I think I may use this one as a read-aloud.  I'm trying to get away from reading aloud so much, but this seems better suited to reading together.  We'll see.  This is the recommended "spine" for medieval history in The Well-Trained Mind.  I'm not doing history exactly "the WTM way" (as they say) but want to use this book as part of our study.

And I read about 100 pages of The Street of a  Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama which I had to abandon.  I love this author's books (Women of the Silk was the first one I read, and it's just wonderful), but for some reason this one didn't work for me.  But 100 pages takes some time, and I'm accounting for my time here, so there it is.  I'm going to start another book by Ms Tsukiyama as soon as my library request is fulfilled. 
My Goodreads account is filling up with books to read, and more appear every day.  What are you reading?

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