First the one book I finished in March. It was a crazy busy month, and I really need to say “NO!” to more things. But that’s a different blog post.
So what one book did I manage to finish in March? Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, & My Journey Towards Sanctification by Cindy Rollins — a true treasure and one that is sure to top my favorite book lists and most-recommended books:
Cindy homeschooled her nine children – eight of whom are boys. That fact alone makes her worth listening to. She has been through the trenches and emerged alive. But she didn’t just survive; she gained incalculable wisdom, and she shares it with vulnerability and openness her trials, her failings, her hopes, her fears, and her heart.
There are many parenting and homeschooling books that offer good, sound advice. None of them have made me laugh out loud and cry before I got to the first chapter. There was also a lot of underlining and “YES!!!”, “THIS!”, and “EXACTLY!” in the margins. For example, on the birth of her first son: “The biggest surprise was the hospital allowing us to take him home. How do babies survive this? I do not know, but they do, and so much more.” Every time we drove away from the hospital, MTG and I marveled that they just let us leave with this fragile, tiny person. It’s amazing.
As the subtitle says, this book is about how morning time fit into her schooling. But it’s really about so much more. (And I’m a HUGE proponent of morning time. It has revolutionized our homeschooling.) I don’t think you have to do morning time or even homeschool to love this book.
Cindy shares openly and honestly about their triumphs and failures and struggles and victories. And I had a really hard time narrowing down the quotes. And then I had a hard time cutting that quote down to something less than page length. I picked this one for the post, but there are so many more. Seriously, just get the book.
“Motherhood is a high calling. Civilization depends upon motherhood. I do not believe you should lose yourself so thoroughly in your motherhood that that is all you are. That is not healthy for you or your family. But I do think women need to know that motherhood is a high-value commodity in the market of civilization.
“Mama, you are the first pillar of education. You are a vital part of the infrastructure of culture, family, and even the body of Christ.
“This is not about having the perfect family or the perfect school. Your success or failure doesn’t rest on your perfection, just your faithfulness. Your family is going to be a mess sometimes. You could cure this, of course, by not having a family at all, which is the modern choice. Western Civilization does not rest on perfect families but on imperfect ones. Your family and mine.”
So yes, I only finished one book in March, but it was a great one.
In April, I finally finished two audiobooks I’ve been listening to forever, and I binged on a handful of e-books while camping.
It took me more than two months listen to Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. If you get this free Kindle version, you can get an Audible version for less than a buck. I chose this version by Wanda McCaddon, but that’s not the one that’s linked to on Amazon page. I also have Mansfield Park narrated by her, and she does an excellent job on both.
Vanity Fair is one of those books that is part of the background noise of our culture. Many people know about Vanity Fair, but I don’t think it’s read by many. What most people think (or at least what I thought) is that it’s about Becky Sharpe. However, the full title of the book is Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero, and Becky is no hero. She is mesmerizing, sometimes enchanting, sometimes sympathetic, sometimes repulsive. One of the quotes I hear a lot around Mother’s Day is from Vanity Fair: “Mother is the name of God for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” However, that quote isn’t complete. Thackeray finishes, “…and here was one who was worshipping a stone!” (That would be Becky.) None of the other characters rise to hero either.
But don’t let the lack of a hero turn you off. Like Jane Austen, Thackeray was very good at smart, funny, not-quite-flattering portrayals of his society and its inhabitants. Recall that the book takes its name from a really unpleasant town in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. It’s brilliant and hilarious and insightful and sometimes painfully applicable to our own culture. Some choice quotes:
“They asked about him once or twice at his clubs, but did not miss him much: in those booths of Vanity Fair people seldom do miss each other.”
“One of the great conditions of anger and hatred is, that you must tell and believe lies against the hated object, in order, as we said, to be consistent.”
You give up the promise that your levitra 20mg australia is calibrated correctly or even is truly levitra at all. Take ashwagandha herb which is levitra online excellent in improving from sexual exhaustion due to excessive masturbation. Gently rub the formula on the penis immediately canadian viagra professional after taking a shower to deliver the vitamins and nutrients in sufficient quantity. Natural sildenafil online without prescription Herbs – There are also erection pills made from natural herbs that can help sufferers get hard erections. I also finished Jane Eyre, which I had begun listening to with my daughter when I was hauling her all over creation for softball. Then she quit softball, but we were still trying to listen to it together. We finally gave up and finished separately. I don’t know why it took me so long to read this masterpiece. It’s beautiful and haunting and creepy, but I wonder if reading it as a cynical 40-something didn’t spoil it somewhat. When all is said and done, I think I prefer Jane Austen’s everyday heroines to Charlotte Brontë’s romantic Jane. (The narrator I listened wasn’t the best, so that may have affected my perception of the book.) I didn’t note any particular quotes while listening, but here is a collection of great lines that show why Jane Eyre is a classic.
We went camping in April, and I was able to read for huge chunks of the extended weekend. I re-re-re-read Busman’s Honeymoon and Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers. At this point, none of her books are actually mysteries to me, but I read them anyway. Even though I always know whodunit, I still get something out of her books. Lord Peter’s mother, the Dowager Duchess, is one of the most delightful characters ever to appear in print.
Busman’s Honeymoon takes place during the honeymoon of Lord Peter and Harriet Vane (Spoilers!) after a five year … courtship? It’s an interesting exploration of two mature, independent, brutally honest people figuring out what marriage is. I picked a couple of quotes that may not be fully felt without the context. Still, they’re pretty powerful.
“Whatever marriage is, it isn’t that.”
“Isn’t what, Harriet?”
“Letting your affection corrupt your judgment. What kind of life could we have if I knew that you had become less than yourself by marrying me?”
Peter: “But listen, dear — for God’s sake let’s take that word ‘possess’ and put a brick around its neck and drown it. I will not use it or hear it used — not even in the crudest physical sense. It’s meaningless. We can’t possess one another. We can only give and hazard all we have.”
The lovers actually meet in Strong Poison when Peter is trying to save Harriet from the gallows. I love this quote from the book because I think it explains why I love mysteries so much, “…in detective stories, virtue is always triumphant. They’re the purest literature we have.”
I’m actually missing the second and fifth books in their storyline on my Kindle, or I probably would have gone through all of them. Instead, I delved into my “To Be Read” category and chose The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I picked it up when it was on sale as a recommendation from Modern Mrs. Darcy. It’s not the kind of book I normally read, but I liked. It tackles a really hard topic — aging out of the foster-care system — with a light (???) touch. Light isn’t right. With a gentle touch. And it’s a romance, so it has a happy ending. While it wasn’t always an easy read, it wasn’t overwhelmingly disturbing. It was hopeful.
The last book I finished on that camping trip and in April was The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. It’s about life among the young and beautiful in 1930s New York City. No. It’s about people finding their place among the young and beautiful in 1930s New York City. No. It’s being authentic among the young and beautiful in 1930s New York City. It’s about a lot of things, and the characters are young, beautiful, and in New York. And it’s very good. Parts of the ending surprised me, but upon reflection, there were clear clues for anyone paying attention. Somebody read it like a mystery that plays by the rules and tell me what you think!* (This is the problem with binging books. I miss the details!)
A couple of quotes:
“Be careful when choosing what you’re proud of–because the world has every intention of using it against you.”
And this quote ties to my Strong Poison quote.
“But I think there is another reason they please–a reason that is at least as important, if not more so–and that is that in Agatha Christie’s universe everyone eventually gets what they deserve.
“Inheritance or penury, love or loss, a blow to the head or the hangman’s noose, in the pages of Agatha Christie’s books men and women, whatever their ages, whatever their caste, are ultimately brought face-to-face with a destiny that suits them. Poirot and Marple are not really central characters in the traditional sense. They are simply the agencies of an intricate moral equilibrium that was established by the Primary Mover at the dawn of Time.”
*Sayers and Christie were part of the Detection Club, a group of mystery writers who took this oath:
Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?
Among other things, they pledged that the mystery should be able to be solved by the reader who is paying careful attention and applying his mind to the problem. Although not a mystery in the detective story sense, Towles does give his readers the clues to discover more than is explicitly stated.
So that’s what I read in March and mostly April. What have you been reading?