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Archive for January, 2016

 

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What good is a wordless book? In its silence, it shouts.

“Pause! Reflect! Absorb!”

On every page of this concise little title, the reader is encouraged to drink deep the adventures of youth. The child’s delight as he steps off his porch, fervor as he splashes, and dismay at losing something dear to him, are all beautifully illustrated as a reminder of just how passionately the young among us experience what seem to us to be the humdrum day-to-day moments.

My favorite part, though, is when his parent acknowledges his dismay, and helps him go about setting things right. How often do we brush off the big emotions of our children, meeting their dismay at losing that leaf that looked just so, with frustration of our own?

“What’s the big deal? Grow up!”

We may not say these words aloud, but we certainly say them with our actions. When I am frustrated that my son cannot cope with the fact that he cut the construction paper too small for what he wanted to build, or that his creative process requires a certain color LEGO piece that he cannot find, may I be reminded that he is human, too, and these “little” things matter to him as strongly as my experiences matter to me. May I be reminded to see things through passionate eyes once more, and to revel in the simplicity of splashing in puddles and watching snowflakes drift.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended by: 17 of the Most Beautifully Illustrated Picture Books in 2015

Recommended if: you’re looking for picture books demonstrating gentle parenting, you enjoy losing yourself in illustrations, or you just need to be reminded of the wonder of youth.

Linked at: Saturday Review of Books

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I had the greatest of intentions to start blogging again in 2016, beginning with a grand list of all of the books that I intended to read (and, in theory, review) this year, as well as an update on life as I know it.

Then, you know, life happened. I had a lovely little health crisis the day after Christmas, which has dragged on and left me fairly lacking in energy, motivation, and organization to do anything except keep the kids alive. (Kidding. They’re all still alive. I think. One, two, thr– yes. All still there.)

Finally I just decided to return with a book review.

But now! Yes, now. Now the list is assembled. Or rather, the lists are assembled. See, I’m going to be ambitious. (Because that’s the thing to do when chronic illness besets you, am I right? Be ambitious. Ambition will help you do ALL THE THINGS.) I’m going to partake of multiple reading challenges.

I’ll just pause right here to let you shake your head in dismay for a moment.

Done? Good. Moving right along.

My initial goal for this year was to say that I wouldn’t be reading library books. Or, well, okay. I would limit the reading of library books. To a minimal amount. As yet undecided. Then life happened, and not only did I not finish what I already had checked out in late 2015, but books that had been requested via inter-library loan came. So. Erm. Well. What reading has been accomplished in January has been primarily focused on getting those books back where they came from or so help me–

No, I did not just break into a chorus from Monsters, Inc. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

So. The notorious To Be Read pile. All of those books that you picked up because they were free or cheap, or that were given to you, lent to you, or that you borrowed from the library but then decided that you needed to own so that you could sit down and study, highlight, peruse, and absorb them… only to have them sit on your shelf once purchased, unread. Yes, that TBR pile. Turns out, there’s actually a challenge for this. With prizes.

I’ll be participating at the Mount Blanc level or, for the uninitiated, the plan is to read twenty-four of the books on my shelf. If I read more, great, but I figure with three mobile children now (yes, you read that correctly, three), setting the bar at two books per month is fairly ambitious, since most of my TBR falls under the category of thought-provoking non-fiction or classics, neither of which are particularly easy to breeze through. I haven’t nailed down exactly which ones I’ll be reading; I certainly have a fair number from which to choose.

Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity? I’ve only had it since high school. Jane Eyre? No, I’ve never read it. Yes, I can feel your disapproving gaze from here. Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church PracticesA friend lent it to me, so obviously I need to make this one a priority. Then there are titles like Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant, The Kite Runner, and the somewhat-ironic How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent ReadingPerhaps I should start with that last one! If you’d like to take a peek at some of the others I am considering, you can take a peek at the applicable Goodreads shelf. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the titles therein, especially if you have read them yourself!

Now, when I stumbled upon the Mount TBR challenge, I also discovered Read It Again, Sam . No prizes here, but I figure that it will be good motivation for me to re-read a series that I’ve been meaning to reread for quite some time: Harry Potter. I started reading them my freshman year, and the last time that I read Deathly Hallows was, I’m afraid, the only time I’ve read it – and that was shortly after it was published. So, yes. It’s about time. There are a few others on my shelves that I would like to take the time to revisit, so I’ll be joining this one as well.

Last but not least – yes, that’s right, three challenges – I will be participating in the Finishing the Series reading challenge. I’ll be working at Level Two, with the goal of finishing off two to four series in 2016. Since I had already begun Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by the time I discovered this challenge, I’m going to include the Harry Potter series in the challenge, as well as Anne of Green Gables and Ralph Moody, as I’ve read the first two books in both of those series and would like to finish them off.

Yes. It’s a bit ambitious. But I’m looking forward to the challenge.

So, what about you? What are you planning to read in 2016?

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It’s the first Picoult that I have read in a while, and while I enjoyed most of it, the end fell a little flat for me. I thoroughly enjoyed My Sister’s Keeper, although I had watched the movie first and while thought that I knew the twist – ha! – so that ending left me a wretched mess. I’ve read a few others since, and none of them has quite struck the same chord that MSK did; some even felt formulaic. (more…)

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