Archives for posts with tag: books

The best book you’ve never heard of about being a woman is Stepping Heavenward. 

Stepping Heavenward

I first read Stepping Heavenward as a teenage girl. I found comfort in the heroine’s petulant moods and innate desire to be the good girl she wanted to be.

I read Stepping Heavenward again as a young woman and recognized myself in her awkward proceeding and receding down the passageway into adulthood.

I read it again as a young married woman and her woes in early marriage resonated with me.

In short, this is one of the most “re-readable” books I’ve read. In fact last year I re-read a few pages again when I found a copy (that I had gifted) on a friend’s bookshelf while I was spending a few days at her home.

While the book is fiction, it is based on the life of the author Elisabeth Prentiss who lived from 1818 – 1878. Stepping Heavenward was published in 1869 and is the most well-known of her books. It is written in a diary format and is at once amusing, charming, wise, and so very real. In fact, it is also one of the most modern old novels I’ve read. The truths are timeless and you will find yourself reaching for it again and again to read about the season of life you are currently in. It’s a great gift for teenage girls or young women, but it’s an even better gift for yourself.

You can purchase a paperback or read it free through Gutenberg Press.

This post is part of a link-up for The Best Book You’ve Never Heard of… hosted by The Modern Mrs. Darcy

Book stackI’m sure I’m not the only one with a “stack”. You know, the books you’re in the middle of that are scattered throughout your house and up on top of your bedside table. I have it on good authority that most readers have this stack. Some are ashamed of it, but not I. I love seeing a big stack of books. I love reading more than book at a time. I love my stack!

Currently I have several books going. Not all will make it to my finished list (I’m also a shameless book-quitter) so I thought I’d list them out here along with my initial thoughts.

First, I’m reading Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson. My verdict? Hilarious. It falls well within my favorite genre of fiction: Early 20th century british. I kept laughing about it and finally made my husband listen to my re-telling of a main plot point. He laughed. That’s a really good sign that it is truly funny because re-tellings rarely are.

Next up, CataloocheeI’ve barely started this one. I saw it on the shelf in a bookstore in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and wanted to buy it then and there. I exercised discipline and checked the library before we came home and reserved it. It’s not my typical read, but it’s set in a part of the park so there’s a chance I’ll like it. One of the reviews I read said it was more a character study than a narrative. They meant that negatively, but I took it as a good sign I’d enjoy it.

I’m slowly making my way through The Brain That Changes Itself. It’s not boring, but it’s also not night-reading which is what I have the most time for these days. I like reading the stories about brain plasticity. When your child has brain damage these types of stories can be so encouraging. I don’t know if I’ll finish this one, or just skim it, or skim it enough I consider it finished. We’ll see.

I’ve been working on Blood Sisters for months now. It came as a random gift from a friend who is an Indie Bookseller in Seattle. She knows my taste and had a free copy of this book and mailed it to me. I enjoyed it, but haven’t had as much time for biographies in my brain space as I did last year. I plan to pick it back up and finish it for this years 52.

Another one I’ve been reading for a long time is Middlemarch. I’m enjoying it a lot so I’m not sure why I keep putting it down to read other things. I expected it to take awhile, but not this long. My reading has been a bit ADD this year and I’m not in a position to change that right now.

And finally, Our Southern Highlanders has been sitting around. It’s interesting, but not gripping. While on vacation we watched Ken Burns’ National Parks and this author was mentioned a lot. He also kept popping up on the signs and in booklets throughout the park. I found this old copy of his book at the Library. I may or may not finish it.

New to the stack as of yesterday:

The Whole-Brain Child and Simplicity Parenting. I’ve heard great things about both so I’ll post more when I’ve gotten a chance to dig in.

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I linked up my Early Summer Reading post with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Twitterature Link up. Hop on over there to see some other great book reviews!

I’m dedicating a whole post to one book because I liked it that much.

The Snow Child

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey was an unlikely choice for me. I don’t often read modern fiction. I’m not against it, I just don’t often find modern fiction suits my taste and interests. But there are always exceptions and this one is a shining example.

I found The Snow Child by looking at the list of Pulitzer Prize winners, an award I respect and used to inform my purchasing as a librarian. It had been several months since I last browsed the list and I hadn’t seen this year’s picks.

The Snow Child was a runner up for the Fiction Prize and when I read their synopsis I was hooked.

 “an enchanting novel about an older homesteading couple who long for a child amid the harsh wilderness of Alaska and a feral girl who emerges from the woods to bring them hope.”

Yes, please.

It’s probably not surprising that I would be drawn to a book about a childless couple finding hope through a child.

And my instinct was correct.

The way Ivey explores the relationship between the couple and the child was so delicate. It makes me wonder what her experience with foster care and adoption is.

The best word for what happens is that the older couple “woo” the girl, slowly building mutual trust and a relationship. It’s so true to how parenting a child from a hard background is in real life. I think anyone with experience in building a relationship with a child they love who has a broken background apart from their own will enjoy this story.

I don’t want to give anything away, but the novel constantly teeters on the edge of fantasy and reality right up to the end.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this book.

I also have the winner, The Orphan Master’s Son on hold at the Library. When I get to read it I’ll post my thoughts.

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Here’s a glance at what I’ve been reading lately. I started to crave Wendell Berry as I approached the warm months. These books quenched my thirst.

A Place on EarthA Place on Earth. Wendell Berry was new to me last year thanks to Sarah Clarkson’s inclusion of Hannah Coulter on a list of her favorite works of fiction. I fell in love hard and fast and read Hannah twice, once to myself and once aloud to my husband. Then I went on to read Jayber Crow, The Memories of Old Jack, and The Adventures of Andy Catlett. Berry’s writing satisfies my love of rich characters, a sense of place, and incisive looks into the human spirit.

Nathan CoulterNathan Coulter. I didn’t like this one as much as I have the others, although I enjoyed reading more about Nathan’s story. It has a whiff of the dark and negative themes that seemed so popular in the mid-century novels.

Everybody Was So YoungEverybody Was So Young. I cringe at the word “favorite” because I don’t like making judgment calls about what’s better or this and that, but biography is probably my favorite genre of writing. This biography of Gerald and Sara Murphy is fascinating and illuminating, sad and strangely beautiful.