And I smiled back. Because he is right.
I like to dream big. When we came to China I figured we would be able to turn our whole family into health-food fanatics, I would read the whole D & C with my early-morning seminary kids, I would become an email master, I would label every picture I have ever taken, I would have interviews each week with each of my children, blah blah blah.
All those things up there in that list are complete fails. Yep, you got that right. Not one of them has been fulfilled.
But reading? My goal to get us all reading our hearts out? Well, that one has come to fruition. And that little fact makes all those other goals fade into the minutia of this adventure we’re on. Life is long. I’ll get to all that other jazz. But seeing my kids delving into books is one of the very most rewarding things I could ask for.
Max had come home earlier that afternoon on cloud nine about a book he had just finished and was antsy to download the sequel (The Maze Runner
). The girls have their noses in Harry Potter
at any given moment of the day (even Elle’s joined into that one), Grace and I are jumping into The Arabian Nights
, Elle and I have had some great discussions about slavery spurred by her reading of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
, Max has delved into John Donne and The Jungle for his AP English class, and I am offering up gratitude beyond measure for all this. Our “E” on our “China Theme” (back here) is filling up quick, with more to be added.
It makes me happy because I know what books can do to you. I know how they can make you think and take you somewhere you’ve never been before. I know they can help you express yourself better. I love the examples I find within their pages The good and the bad. Sometimes I get little epiphanies from the most obscure little side-stories. It’s like they are speaking to me. And I always, always wish someone were reading it right alongside me who I could discuss my thoughts. That’s why I love book club so much. For the past year and a half I have been a book club fail. I think there is a time and a season for everything, and the “season of remodeling a house” didn’t coincide very well with the “season of reading.”
But only when we started sinking into good books here did I realize how much I missed it!
I’m so glad for a book club here where we’ve read some great stuff and had some equally fascinating discussions, and I’m also so glad that it’s kinda like a book club around our house all the time lately. Claire will delve into questions and awe-filled comments about how in the world J.K. Rowling came up with all the crazy imaginative things she does. She and Lucy will dive into why Dudley is so mean or what a “Snitch” is at any given moment. Max and I will discuss the meaning of things like what “death” is in a poem he has to read for school, and the big girls and I have loved discussing the books we are all reading.
So I figured I should share some of my favorites here, because I want to remember how they made me think and why I loved them so, and I would so love to hear what books others have enjoyed as well. I wish I could write a whole blog post and have a discussion about each of these books…so much food for thought, but since I can’t, just click on the name of the book for more information.
I was transported into the world of slavery while reading The Kitchen House
. I got so frustrated at the lack of communication in that one (just talk to each other for crying out loud!) and fell in love with Mamma and her courage.
I loved the concepts my girls and I got to talk about as we read The Giver
together so much that I have to do a separate post on that soon. Way too many thoughts and lessons learned from that one.
Grace and I were enthralled by The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
. Wow, I LOVED how this book made us think, and the discussions that came from it. I have to warn readers that there are some some parts in there that I wish the author would have left out. But I knew that from the onset so we read it at the same time (not together because she read a lot at school) and loved the topics it brought up for us. Boy oh boy did that ever take me into a new world! It was fascinating being inside the head of a native-American kid as he tried to make sense of his world at the reservation vs. his world at the high-faluting school he decided he wanted to attend. I loved his courage and determination. I loved that he overcame so many fears. I loved the description of how he grew by facing them.
Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague
got me thinking about so many things. First of all how we all deal with catastrophe in our own lives. How I would deal with catastrophe. When we talked about the title at book club my friend mentioned that maybe it is more a year of “wondering” right along with the “wonder” of the amount of growth and knowledge Anna (the heroine) gained through going through that year of agony.
I loved her true grit to get through things and how her world was expanded as she went through agony and heart break like never before. It made me think so much about how hard things break us in so many ways, but if we have enough faith we can mend those broken places and build something stronger in their place.
Elle and I read portions of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass en route to Beijing and I still think about that one all the time. I had never read it before and we read the part where he learns to read, and how education makes him continually less satisfied with what he knew..it makes him yearn and thirst for more which took him on an amazing journey escaping slavery.
Right now I’m just finishing Pavilion of Women
. My favorite book is The Good Earth (more on why back HERE and also HERE with a lot of other book suggestions) and my sister suggested this one since she knew I love Pearl S. Buch so much. Wow, I keep trying to tell my kids all that’s going on in that one. In some ways it’s driving me crazy, but Andre is such a great example and I love seeing the meaning of life come into focus for Madame Wu.
I’m also reading The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
which I’ll have to do another post on some day. I “stole” it from my mom’s bookshelf because it just happened to be there and I had been wanting so much to read the one on kid’s love languages (The 5 Love Languages of Children
). I was trying to figure out some things my kids are going through and how to love them better through them and figured maybe I could learn some stuff from this one since it was right there, but oh boy I love how that one on relationships sure makes me think in a whole different way.
I could go on forever about many more, but I am out of time (and I’m sure you are too :). I’ll just leave this post with a few more book recommendations for Christmas stories. Each Christmas it is our tradition to read a Christmas book under the Christmas tree every night we can in December.
We don’t have our Christmas book stash here so we have printed out some books from the internet to read under our blue-ish disco-flashing Chinese Christmas lights :), but a list of my favorite Christmas books (and some great suggestions for additional books from readers in the comments) is back HERE.
If you have any great book recommendations for us to keep this reading going send them on over!