Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    by MODERN CURRICULUM PRESS
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in Read 52 (2011) (6)

Wednesday
Dec142011

Book reviews

For the sake of keeping this blog dedicated to our homeschooling journey, and this section of the blog dedicated to resources used on that quest, I have removed all of my personal book reviews to my Blogger site Finding Time for Proust. Calvin's reviews will remain here, as well as any reviews I have written for resources we've used or books we've read together or for the purpose of homeschooling. If you are looking for my personal book reviews, or the reviews that I write for Book List, I hope you will join me at Finding Time for Proust.

Tuesday
Aug162011

His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman (review)

Setting all issues and agendas aside, this is a beautifully written young adult sci-fi story. I am inordinately critical when it comes to story writing, but I found myself falling in love with Lyra and her friends right from the beginning of this tale. Like most series I enjoyed the first book the most, but unlike others my interest had not seriously waned by the very last sentence, and now that I've finished I'm even looking into reading Pullman's additional works with these characters. They seemed so authentic, so believable, even in a universe acceptable only via suspension of disbelief, that I just fell in love with them each immediately.

The scenes, the suspense, the characters—all were rich and imagination grabbing throughout. The series is a calling together of many a myth and many a mystical culture, all given a physical meaning and existence. It is the story of an orphan who finds she has a purpose, and family, as she travels through an earth that is mostly foreign to us. Her journey is full of honor, magic, and love, and as she progresses we see her beginning to grow up. There is witchcraft, quantum mechanics, religion, death, sensuality. There is war, Armageddon style. There is love, there is a coming of age, but what could have become sappy or uncomfortable was written with sensitivity and authenticity so that it never crossed that line. The story is woven tightly and well, and it never let me drift away.

It has been said that Pullman's story is just shy of propaganda—the atheist's C. S. Lewis I think I've read—and with each successive book a message does become more obvious. It is with sharp literary skill that he doles out revelations of the symbolism and understory in carefully measured amounts. The final book is the most clear in terms of agenda, and not everyone will be comfortable with it, and The Golden Compass could conceivably be read as a stand alone, albeit with a rather plot hanging ending.

Books 28, 29, and 30 on my way to 52.

Wednesday
Jun152011

The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, by Alexander McCall Smith (review)

I'm not really the right person the review this book—it's not really my type—but I picked it up for a little light reading break from Proust, and light reading it really was. Really a collection of three different stories, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs is absurdist humor of a dry English variety. What it lacks in depth it fails to make up in other arenas, except for maybe the relatively happy, if sappy, ending. I don't think I'll be trying any more of his books, but if I'm looking for another one-night read I just might.And I hear that if I'd picked it up as an audio track I'd be listening to Hugh Laurie as the reader, and that might have been funnier.

Book 24 on my way to 52

Saturday
Jun112011

Day, by Elie Wiesel (review)

I have now completed my tour through the trilogy that is not a trilogy. Day is the third of Elie Wiesel's books that are named with vague time references. As far as I can tell these books are lumped together because a) they are all written by the same auther, b) they are all about the same subject matter, and c) they do follow life chronologically even if they are not all about the same person growing older. Day is about a middle aged man (?) who has just been in a serious accident and is recovering. It is the symbolic final chapter in what is a loose story of life after concentration camps—the chapter in which our hero (who is different in every book) is struggling for a final time with his images and view of life and death. The accident itself brings this struggle to a head by almost, but not quite, ending his life, and then bringing him into contact with his antithesis: a doctor who loves life completely and without caveat. While I was not a big fan of Dawn, I was able to enjoy Day a little more, if enjoy is the right word for such a dark book.

Book 23 on my way to 52

Saturday
Jun042011

Dawn, by Elie Wiesel (review)

I have seen this book referred to as part of a trilogy, including Night, Dawn, and Day (also sometimes titled The Accident). Night, which I've already read and reviewed, is a memoir, so imagine my surprise at finding that the second book in the "trilogy" is a fiction. That was my first disappointment. The book spans just one night in time as the young man waits for morning, when he will have to kill a British officer in the name of the fight to free Palestine from British rule. During this time he is visited and spoken to by the ghosts of many people from his past. The story might have been fine—the struggle of a young man to come to terms with the sum of his existence—but for the use of trite symbolism and meaningless poetic text. Wiesel's clipped, contemporary writing style is what saved this from being a complete loss for me.

Book number 22 on my way to 52.