Wednesday, August 4, 2010

reading recap: july.

See previous recaps herehere, here, here, and here.

Book: The Book of Bright Ideas
Finished: Mid-July

Our book club choice for the month of July was Sandra King's The Book of Bright Ideas. This probably isn't a book I would have picked out on my own, and looking back, I can't say it's one of my favorites. But King does a pretty nice job of writing from a child's perspective (albeit a very perceptive child), and the characters do sort of come alive and win you over. The plot follows the adventures of Button and her new spunky friend Winnalee in their small Wisconsin town. As with most books in this genre, strong and complex women are at the forefront of the plotline, and ultimately, I did care about the trials they faced and the issues they struggled through. The girls in our book club seemed to agree on two points: The book struggled to find a steady plotline (I kept waiting for the climax), but the "bright ideas" the young characters collected from chapter to chapter were well worth reading.


Book: The Hidden Art of Homemaking
Finished: Late July

Some books have this unique ability to change your perspective, to open your eyes to new possibilities. Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking is one of those books for me. I'll be honest: I was skeptical. As a newlywed (am I still considered a newlywed?), homemaking is still a difficult concept for me to grasp. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy cleaning and decorating my home; I'm a decent cook (though enjoying it is still a bit of a stretch), and I love to throw a good party. But it's all still kind of new and challenging, especially when there's also this part of me that is fiercely independent and yes, rather feminist (though probably in a different way than the modern term implies). Anyway, I could write an entire post about this book, which chooses to focus on living a creative life inspired by an all-knowing Creator. Each chapter is devoted to a "hidden art" we each have inside us. The topics range from music to painting to writing to cooking. I gleaned ideas from each chapter (like reading outloud together each night, getting outside more often, regularly setting a pretty table, playing music in our home). I was able to see what areas I am already good at (or at least enjoy), and which need a little bit of work. I treated this book like one of my beloved Great Books; I marked it up and took notes. It's a book I'll be going back to again and again. Schaeffer wrote a variety of inspiring truths, but one idea really stuck with me. Too often we wait for our lives to be "just right" before we embark on something creative. I can't tell you how many single friends I've had tell me: "I can't do that until I get married." Or how many married friends I have who say: "Oh, we'll do that when we have a family of our own" or "We need to have a house first." Schaeffer is absolutely right. We're not supposed to wait to eat dinner together (not in front of the TV) until we have kids. We're not supposed to wait to make our homes beautiful until we own our own. We're not supposed to pack away the china or get rid of beautiful things just because "we're not there yet." The point is to be content and creative NOW. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay this book is that it's already made a difference. The TV's not coming on as much. I bought a canvas and paints at Michael's yesterday (yikes!), and I've read two books in two days. I could get used to living a more simple, creative life. In fact, I'd really, really like that. A lot.


Finished: Late July

This is our book club's pick for the month of August, and even though some members groaned a little when the choice was announced, I like that each month our hostess brings a little something different to the table. It's a completely different choice from The Book of Bright Ideas and The Help, but that's what makes a book club a book club. I'd never read anything of Connolly's before, so I had no idea what to expect. He's a talented writer, and The Book of Lost Things managed to hold my attention really well, despite not being a book I might typically read. The story takes some twists and turns, and there are some rather creepy parts, but all in all, I think August's book club meeting will have some interesting discussion.

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