Sunday, February 13, 2011

More Kindle and Paper Trails

A quick list of books I finished reading since my last list.  Honest, after this I won't have quite so many books to list, because I am going to Change My Ways, but I wanted to write them all down before I forget what I read.

 The Teachable Moment:  Seizing the Instants When Children Learn
About classroom teachers, but interesting for parents or homeschoolers, too.    Basically, a group of stories shared by different teachers, in different classrooms, about "teachable moments".  So a lot of the stories are about the teacher/child relationship or about what children taught the teacher.  Quite inspiring and an interesting look into the classroom situation.

This is a novel that is still free for Kindle on Amazon at this writing.  It is about the power of words on relationships and on community life.   An anonymous website called "" is posting transcripts of conversations overheard in a small town.   The results affect several lives and bring several forms of ugliness to the surface, including highschool girl-bullying, and some adulterous relationships.  The main focal point in the story is a journalist, his wife and 2 teenage children and their relationships.  It's not bad for a freebie and a quick read and reflects on how gossip and secrets can affect relationships.

See Me After Class
What you wish you had known in your first year of classroom teaching.  The focus is on practical advice and strategies and encouragement, not theories or perfection.   Stories are shared by different teachers, encouraging and sometimes very amusing along the lines of "you thought YOUR first day of school was a disaster" and there are bullet-lists of helpful, realistic tips that you can sort through and adopt if they suit you.  Geared to the classroom situation of course, so of limited usefulness to a homeschooler, but fun to read and reminds you of your own classroom days and why you are homeschooling ;-) and what the teachers of today have to cope with. 


Medicus:  A Novel of the Roman Empire
Surprisingly good -- a sort of historical mystery/romance.   It was a Kindle freebie when I downloaded it but apparently is back to normal price (sorry).   The style reminded me a bit of Martha Grimes.There was a romance between the medicus (doctor in Roman Britannia) and a British slave girl -- clean and understated.   The medicus is a sort of reluctant hero, always trying to do the right thing and stay out of trouble, but always getting blamed and getting administrative heat.   Very British.  The plot involved a sort of pub/brothel and slave-trafficking but the emphasis was not salacious, but rather on the injustice of coerced-prostitution-trafficking, a problem that is still with us today and apparently enabled and pandered to by Planned Parenthood abortion clinics. 

Diet and Health with Key to the Calories

Nutrition Diva's 5 Secrets for Aging Well

I'm putting these together because they were both very short and both to do with dieting so maybe they can add up to one total book.   The first one is a public domain book apparently written during one of the World Wars (because it talks about rationing and doing one's bit for one's country).   It is written in a light, comic tone -- funny because it's the humor of a different decade, so it's like watching one of those less-classic light films of the 40s or 50s.    Most of it is a calorie key, so I didn't read all that.  Generally the advice is still sound.  Apparently we've always known what it takes to be healthy, but we don't do it.

The second book is basically a preview and supplement to a book you can buy called --Nutrition Diva's Secrets for a Healthy Diet .   The author makes a case that you should avoid added sugar (or realistically, limit it), exercise, maintain a healthy weight, get enough sleep, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, etc.  Mostly just sensible things you've heard before, but with tips for doing it well in today's world and some conventional research supporting the points.   Quick, to the point, sensible refresher course on what we all know but don't always do. 

I actually read this a while ago but forgot to include it in my last list.  It is the free version of Leo Babauta's book on getting things done by eliminating distractions -- mental clutter, especially media input.   The focus is more on creative output (like writing or other personal productivity) rather than ordinary jobs or housework, clearing the deck for what you REALLY want to do.  So some of it doesn't really apply to my life since my problem seems to be hyperfocusing on "my" things rather than taking care of what needs to be done around this house.   But there were some good tips and I did like reading the book and found it helpful.

French Women Don't Get Fat
I got this from Paperback Swap.  The first "real" (paper) book I've read for some time.   Very readable.  I plan to blog about it separately so I won't get into detail here.  

Decline and Fall
Evelyn Waugh's first published novel (1928).   Another "paper" book.  Very clever, very funny in a sort of British Cervantes way.    Paul Pennyfeather has lived a stable, secure, predictable life as a student and prospective cleric when an unfortunate turn of events plunges him into a downward spiral.   Basically, as Waugh points out, Pennyfeather is sort of a blank, a mirror to reflect a bunch of mostly disreputable figures in different levels of British society.  Sort of an anti-Quixote.    There is no overt Catholicism in this book and in fact, no Catholics appear, though middle-class "career" Anglican clericalism is skewered in several parts.

Unknown to History:  A Story of Mary of Scotland
This is by Charlotte Yonge and is free on Kindle.  I just finished reading it yesterday.  It's about a supposed daughter to Mary Queen of Scots from her dubious marriage to the Earl of Bothwell.   In the story, the daughter is found as an infant on a sinking ship by John Talbot, a sailor and small nobleman and relative of the Earl of Shrewsbury who hosted Mary in part of her captivity.  The infant is raised by the Talbots, staunch Protestants and good country folk, as one of their own until events cause them to make her secret known to Queen Mary.   The story is a romance, and also gives a historical view of the time and a mostly sympathetic portrait of the tragic Scottish queen.   I would say that the story is written from a Reformed perspective, and the heroes of the story are the Protestant and very British Talbots, with their sense that their personal honor and truth is far more valuable than gold, as Queen Mary says of them.  In the book Catholics often come off as flighty and feckless (like poor Anthony Babington) or morally somewhat shady (like the villainous Cuthbert Langston), and the Spanish are shadowy figures of dread and terror, while the Puritans often come off as sincere but narrow (the pastor Heatherthwayte, who re-baptizes the baby girl because he thinks her Popish baptism was idolatry, and later calls his children Oil of Gladness and Dust-And-Ashes), or rigid and even cruel (Amyas Paullet, the later custodian of Queen Mary, who takes away her royal fittings when she is condemned to death).   Queen Mary is presented as someone who is a victim as much as a repentant sinner, human and capable of manipulation, but also with high ideals and a true faith, and very attractive and appealing to all around heer.   The love story is a sweet thread running through the historical events, and in general the story could be read by a bookish junior high student, certainly by a highschooler.   I highlighted lots of passages about the worthy foster-parents John and Susan Talbot. 

A Canticle for Leibowitz
This is a reread, and a paper book.... the first time I read it was in college, before I was a Catholic.  It was fun to read again now that I can understand most of the Latin parts and understand monasticism and Catholicism better than I did then.  The setting is post-nuclear-war Earth and more proximately, a monastery in Utah of the austere order of Leibowitz, who in the book was a scientist and martyr of the nuclear apocalypse. The monastery is devoted to preserving the remnants of pre-nuclear knowledge much as the monasteries preserved books and learning through the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome.   The main theme seems to be the tension around scientific knowledge and the fallen nature of man which turns both knowledge and ignorance into weapons of destruction.   The Catholic Church is presented as the protecting though sometimes frail glass around the candle-flame of knowledge and hope.  The timeframe encompasses the post-war millenium, from the Dark Ages, through re-civilization and all the way back to a replay of nuclear destruction.   There are three parts to the story and the general perspective is that of the long-sighted monk, a spectator and sometimes martyr to human evil and also a preserver of human knowledge and civilization.  A recurring figure sort of like the Wandering Jew appears here and there in the storyline and may be associated mysteriously with Saint Leibowitz himself.  It would be interesting to read alongside Asimov's Foundation Trilogy which has a similar longterm framework but a very different worldview.


Treasures of the Snow
I started reading this to my kids before Christmas and we just finished!  Now have started reading Tom Playfair for our Morning Time.   We are also continuing with An Island Story and Island Saints, and are reading some of the stories from Famous Men of the Middle Ages.

I am halfway up on my 2011 reading goal!  So that gives me a reason now to slow down.  I think the reason I've been reading so much fiction is that it has been such a long time since I read fiction.   Non-fiction takes me longer, unless it's one of those self-help books with lots of stories.   I have several non-fiction books in the "Current" category of my Kindle that I am slowly working through.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to add my read alouds for last year's list...which included Tom Playfair.

    We also read Percy Winn...and are half-way through Harry fact....we have been remiss almost a month...I will pick up for them in about an hour...


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