Monday, May 01, 2006

Books read in April

84 Charing Cross Road, by Helen Hanff--I know this is considered a sort of modern classic, but I have never read it before. I read it in one afternoon, and my heart was both fed and wounded. It's definitely a book-lover's book, and it wouldn't hurt to be an Anglophile as well.

Saving Fish From Drowning, by Amy Tan--I started this book in March, but let it lay so long that I went back and read the whole thing again from the beginning in April. I have read all of Amy Tan's other books, and I think The Joy-Luck Club is still my favorite, but this was interesting, too. I love the glimpses into Chinese culture in her books, and she give you something to think about. This title is so strange, but it makes sense if you read the book and think about it. (If you are very particular about references to immorality, you might want to skip her books, but she is not graphic.)

Education in Antiquity, by H.I. Marrou--Actually, I only read a few chapters at the beginning of this one. It's a very long book, and it was too much to continue along with Climbing Parnassus and Teacher in America. So, this will be an on-going project.

Climbing Parnassus, by Tracy Lee Simmons--I'm only 2/3 of the way through this one, so I'll reserve my comments until I finish the book. So far, most of what I've read agrees with my conception of classical education.

The Last Juror, by John Grisham (a reread)--Yes, I am a Grisham reader. I have read them all. He tells a good story.

My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok--This is the first book by Potok I have ever read. It is a real pleasure to discover an author like this, and to know that there are many more books by him that I can enjoy. I bought four Potok titles (all at the Half-Price Bookstore in Dallas, which might spark a memory for a couple of you), but I will not read them all at once. No, I will save them and savour them. And put a couple more by this author on my Amazon wish-list.

Teacher in America, by Jacques Barzun--I'm thoroughly intrigued by Jacques Barzun, and this book has been enlightening to read in many ways. As I blogged earlier, my list of "books to read" has been swelled by reading this one book.

The Gillyvors, by Catherine Cookson--a complete waste of time, but it was there on a day when I didn't feel well and didn't want to think. And now it's in the "discard pile."

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens--I'm only about 8 chapters into this book. It takes me a while to get into Dickens, and then I usually rush through to the end. I didn't have time to do that yet, but this will be the next book that I finish.

Anielka, by Boleslaw Prus--This is my Polish book. I have given up underlining words and looking them up later. It takes too long. Now I only mark and use a dictionary as I go along for words that I absolutely have to know. Otherwise, I take the meaning as best I can without worrying about what I'm missing. So, I only got through one chapter, and here is my narration (in English): Anielka has spent a long (summer!) day with her governess, and is enduring an excruciating geography lesson, in which she is reciting mundane facts about the population of various Italian cities. Her teacher won't release her even one minute before five o'clock, but finally five o'clock arrives, and she is free. She calls to her dog through the window (he has been waiting for her outside), and he jumps in through the window, causing the governess to call Anielka a "dzika dziewczynka," or "wild girl," and remind her that she is behind other girls her age--Anielka is thirteen. There is also some information about the governess in this chapter, in which we get the idea that she doesn't much like her job, but figures that there are worse things she could be doing during the summer than tutoring in the country. (And I only looked up 4 or 5 words as I went along!) I will read more than one chapter in May, really I will.

"The Blue Cross," by G.K. Chesterton--Just one short story from my new "Complete Father Brown," which has 51 stories. This is the first Father Brown story I've ever read.

I also read bits and pieces from the Charlotte Mason series, Norms & Nobility by David Hicks, and Ruth Beechick's A Biblical Psychology of Learning

There might have been the odd bit of other reading here and there, but that is most of it. I see that I'm not necessarily going to have all my books neatly finished up by the end of the month, but then...I never promised that I would. I do think I'll get the Tracy Lee Simmons and Jacques Barzun books finished in May, and I will allow myself to read just one more of the new fiction books I brought from the states. I've actually started four other books, but didn't include them in this list, because I didn't get far enough to feel that they counted.


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