Books We’re Reading

We’ve read a few good books lately, so I thought I’d share.

The first happy surprise was  Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt.


I mentioned that this book was on my “to read” list after my sisters and I saw Mary Sharratt speak at  the Savannah Book Festival, but I was surprised that this novel about a woman who entombed in a cell as an Anchorite nun for about thirty years was as readable and interesting as it turned out to be. If you like historical fiction and girl power, you’ll love Hildegard.

I heard about Me Before You by Jojo Moyes on WAMC’s The Roundtable, and then later I think someone on WAMC was talking about it again, so I requested it from the library and had it for our spring break trip to Savannah. This was one of those books that I just didn’t want to stop reading. It’s a love story. In fact, this reminds me of when you read a review and someone says that they picked up a book and sat down to read it and they didn’t stop reading until they were done. What the hell? Don’t these people have lives? There are so many times that I wish I could do that, but these damn kids want meals and rides to places, or I have appointments. Every time I hear someone say that they spent the entire day and/or night reading a book, I’m fiendishly jealous, both because I love having books that I don’t want to put down and because, even when I have one, I always have to put the book down and do something useful once in a while.

For our spring break trip we tried something new and I looked around for some audiobooks that we could all enjoy together, then I organized a secret ballot to vote on what we’d like to hear. On the way down to Georgia, we listened to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.



Oh my gosh, we loved this one. The main character, Flavia de Luce, is an 11-year-old English girl who loves chemistry and finds herself solving a murder mystery. I found out later  that it’s officially a grown-up book and that it’s the first of a whole series starring our heroine Flavia. We are overjoyed, because she is one of the most kick-butt girls ever! But I’d highly recommend listening to the book, because the narrator, Jayne Entwistle, is spectacular.  As for its not-for-kids status, if you are okay with your child listening to a murder mystery and hearing about dangerous situations, there wasn’t any gore or sex or bad language. Between the sophisticated vocabulary and the British accents I was sometimes concerned that 8-year-old J not be understanding it all (although she seemed to be), so I think younger than 8 would be tough.

On the way home, we listened to The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens, which everyone liked as well.

Right now I’m reading The Pickup: A Novel, by Nadine Gordimer, and I’m actually liking it. I say “actually” because it’s for my book club, and it’s become sort of a joke around the house that I hardly ever like the book club books that I’m reading.

Here’s an  interview with Anna Quindlen talking about some of her favorite books. I love her so! I, too, am a huge fan of Middlemarch, and I’m thinking that this means that I’ll have to try again with Bleak House. Plus I’ve acquired a whole new list of new authors to try. I especially like what she said about putting down a book because she didn’t like it.

I’ve had a link waiting around for me to post it that’s a list of early chapter books for kids/series about girls from What We Do All Day. She’s actually got a bunch of fun book lists.

I’d originally thought that the early chapter book list would be good for J, but she has her own ideas. Cute W had read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien with the girls back at the end of last year so that the family could all go see the movie (you know we have a strict read-the-book-before-you-see-the-movie rule) and since then, J has been a little Fellowship of the Ring-obsessed. She just finished the third of four books (or the second of three, if you don’t count The Hobbit as a prologue, jeez, even trying to describe the damn books is confusing, no wonder I can’t follow the damn things). This morning M was still at a sleepover, so Cute W and J enjoyed an early showing of The Two Towers. I sat down for a few minutes, just in time to see some of the few females sobbing and clutching babies while a fortress was being attacked. I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at Cute W, and when J heard me harrumphing, J pointed out, “You don’t need to stay in the room, you know.” Sigh. She had a point. I’m going to try to sort through some of our warm-weather clothes. Yes, it’s boring, but I have an audiobook for the occasion.



  1. Sarah

    The trick to reading Bleak House is to read just enough of the horribly boring beginning legalese to convince yourself that the Victorian justice system was horrible corrupt and inefficient. Then skip to the story.

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