One month in to my 2014 reading resolution, I am happy to report that I am off to a great start! I already have read 5 of my 30 categories and 6 books total towards my overall 60-book goal. Despite the busy time in the school year (for better or worse, testing season has officially begun) and trying to keep on pace with my other 2014 goal — to cook all 153 recipes from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger — my reading has not yet fallen to the wayside. With one exception (which you’ll see below), I have enjoyed quality, well-written books in this first month; I granted 3 of my 6 books a five-star rating on Goodreads.
1. The New Testament in Modern English –
2. Theology – I currently have Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline by Lauren F. Winner in progress.
3. Pulitzer Prize Winner – I also am currently reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
4. Mystery – Done! (For now.) I read, and was sorely disappointed by, Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James. Here’s my 2-star review from Goodreads:
Billed as a mystery, I found very little that was mysterious or intriguing about this novel set in the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Death Comes to Pemberley plods along with characters and plot events flat on the page. Mystery and Jane Austen fans: look elsewhere for a good read.
To cleanse my mystery palate, I will be picking up an Agatha Christie before the year is out.
5. Spy/Crime Novel –
6. Science Fiction –
7. Fantasy –
8. Christian Romance – My mother-in-law, Loveta, has informed me that I will be reading Sophie’s Heart by Lori Wick. I plan to happily comply.
9. Popular History – Done! John and I listened to the audiobook version of Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America, 1927 during our holiday travels after I won a free copy from Goodreads. Here’s my Goodreads 4-star review:
One Summer by Bill Bryson is an extensive, but enjoyable and accessible, history of America in the summer of 1927. Infamous personages, including Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Sacco and Vanzetti, Al Capone, Jack Dempsey, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Henry Ford (among many others) had their names and faces featured on newspaper pages around the United States and the world during that long summer, and Bryson brings them all back to life with vivid detail and wry commentary. While the book covers a wide array of topics and lives, Bryson deftly weaves them together, often circling back to previously-mentioned content. Bryson organizes One Summer by month rather than by topic — a choice that gives an overall arc and direction to the book. I listened to the audiobook version of the book, which is read aloud by Bryson himself. With One Summer, Bryson does a solid job as both the author and the reader, making it an informative and worthwhile experience for his listener.
10. Social Criticism –
11. Biography –
12. Memoir –
13. Book-That-Has-Been-Made-into-a-Movie –
14. Comedy –
15. British Classic –
16. American Classic – Done! John, Kalyn, and I agreed upon Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as our next book club read. I gave it an easy 5 stars on Goodreads:
Despite having read Little Women multiple times in childhood and young adulthood, I found that I could not put the book down upon this reread. Louisa May Alcott once again had me utterly charmed with the March family and their small circle of friends. My use of the word “charmed,” however, does not mean that all is perfect, happy, and ideal in the world of Little Women. Alcott is honest about the flaws and foibles of her characters, and indeed about humanity as a whole. We all have selfish desires and ambitions, and we all make mistakes. Even when we strive to be “good,” disappointments and tragedies come our way. Yet growth is possible and love of family paramount. Little Women may have been written in another age, but its heart is timeless.
17. Author-I’ve-Wanted-to-Read-but-Never-Have: Edith Wharton –
18. Current Bestseller –
19. Travelogue –
20. Cookbook – I have begun to cook my way through Ellie Krieger’s Comfort Food Fix. I have 7 recipes done, with 146 still to go.
21. Culinary Memoir – Done! I heartily loved A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg. Here’s what I had to say about this 5-star book on Goodreads:
I picked up A Homemade Life never having read Orangette (the author’s blog) or any of Molly Wizenberg’s writing. Yet within a few pages, this culinary memoir/cookbook had me hooked. Wizenberg is honest, funny, and touching without being cloying or cute. Each “chapter” contains a brief, personal essay followed by one or two related recipes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading both. As a budding home chef and blog writer myself, I found Wizenberg inspiring, thought-provoking, and somewhat of a kindred spirit (I, too, am stubbornly attached to precisely following recipes). A Homemade Life is a worthwhile read for anyone who believes in the philosophy that cooking is an act of love.
22. Historical Fiction –
23. Christmas-Themed Novel –
24. Education –
25. A Collection of Poetry –
26. A Play –
27. Young Adult Lit –
28. Carnegie Winner –
29. Newbery Winner – Done! After reading Little Women, I felt pulled to read Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs. I enjoyed it, but gave it an average 3-star rating on Goodreads:
While recently reading the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Little Women, I became intrigued by the various endnotes that drew parallels between the Marchs and Louisa May Alcott’s own family. I had known that Little Women was based upon the author’s life but had never realized the extent to which this was true. So upon finishing Little Women, I took up Invincible Louisa, the 1934 Newbery Award winner and children’s biography of Louisa May Alcott.
As an adult (and former history major), I found Invincible Louisa to be slightly frustrating. The book moved quickly and succinctly through Louisa’s life, leaving me longing for more details, dates, and excerpts from Louisa’s letters and other writings that were mentioned merely in passing. Yet this is a biography for children, not adults, so I cannot fault Meigs for having kept her book brief and child-friendly. The language and style felt somewhat dated to me, and I wonder if today’s children would find Invincible Louisa as accessible as the youth of the 1930s would have. Despite these quibbles, I did find the biography to be informative and even enjoyable, and I am glad to have read it.
30. Graphic Novel –