Reading Notes April 2019

Reading Notes April 2019

Reading Woman (Portrait of Artist’s Wife) by Ivan Kranskoy
via Wikimedia Commons

Books Finished

I finished Brothers Karamazov!!!

I must say, this experience was very different from the first time through, in 2011, during the Lent that followed Anthony’s birth. At that time I knew I hadn’t read well. I noted: ” don’t know that I got very much out of my solitary read. I really need a group, a class setting, to push me to dig deep as I read.” And indeed this time through I hardly remembered what I’d read before. It was very hazy and the novel actually surprised me this time. I really didn’t remember it being such a whodunnit.

Read The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatley Snyder because Sophie picked it up and I wanted to be able to discuss it. I remembered it as being rather dark and disturbing. And it was fairly dark, but now as an adult I understand the shape of it much better. Such a sad story about a single mom and her imaginative daughter who feels neglected as her mother goes out on dates leaving her home by herself under the supervision of a neighbor. She begins to imagine that her cat is a witch cat and that it makes her do witchy things. Nothing too bad, really, but the kind of acting out you might expect from a lonely girl who doesn’t have any friends.

Also The Egypt Game, which was much better than I remembered it– I think in my memories it was a little entangled with Witches of Worm. Bella and Sophie loved The Egypt Game because the way the children play is so much like how they play.

Read The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

I know I owned this and the prequel when I was younger. I remember that I’d read it. But I’m not sure I read it more than once. I don’t remember loving it, I don’t remember hating it. I just remember it being on my shelf. But I guess I didn’t really connect with it much? I liked it this time through. Harry is a fun heroine. The fantasy world is an interesting set up. It feels very colonial Britain, but in no specific time and place.

In Progress

I’m continuing to read Can You Forgive Her, but I’m almost done.

Reading The Hero and the Crown.

The prequel to The Blue Sword, I didn’t love this one quite as much. I liked Aerin as a character and I thought the dragon fight and recovery was one of the best scenes of its type ever. But I didn’t love the plot where she falls in love with the mystical mountain man and then goes back home and marries someone else because she’s determined to keep the kingdom together, but knowing she’s maybe not mortal so she can go back to the other lover someday. That plot line I did not love so well.

With the Kids

Kids and I finished Little House in the Highlands, the first in the delightful series by Melissa Wiley about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s great-grandmother, Martha Morse (sadly they are now out of print and the publisher has released a much abridged version).

Also a book about St John Neumann, who I really didn’t know much about before. .

Currently the kids and I are reading The Far Side of the Loch and a book about Blessed James Alberione, also The World’s Story, Men, Microscopes and Living Things, Book of Marvels.


Kids listening to The Saturdays in the car. It’s from Kay Ray Reads to You, a nice free podcast with a selection of books. I like her voice and have found it to be a thoroughly charming podcast. Her reading isn’t perfect, it’s a podcast not an audiobook, so it has some places where she begins a sentence, makes a mistake, and goes back to re-read it. But that has a charm of its own– it feels like having someone read to you.

Listening to The Odyssey and I also picked up Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and listened to a bit of it.

What are you reading?

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  • Two astonishing memoirs- Educated by Tara Westover and an autobiographical series by Dani Shapiro. Love Trollope.

    • Educated has been on my radar. Though I have no idea when I’d find the time… but it sounds fascinating. I love reading and thinking about education. And of course am often haunted by thoughts of what will my children think of their education when they are grown….

      I looked up Dani Shapiro because I didn’t recognize the name and her books look interesting.

      I really didn’t know anything about Can You Forgive Her before I picked it up, it was a friend who selected it. And it was such a fun read. This was my first Trollope and I really enjoyed it–So much that I’ve got that fear that this might be my favorite Trollope and anything else couldn’t possibly be as good. I hate it when I read an author’s best book first and then plow through everything else looking for that same experience, but while the other books are good, they aren’t quite as good. And I suspect that might happen here. But, I’m definitely going to try more Trollope.

  • What a great array of books! I have read a couple of them. I read the Brothers Karamazov a few times, although it has been almost 20 years since the last time. I cannot claim to have come even close to appreciating it fully, but I really liked it. A moment that sticks in my mind is the wonderfully cinematic one where Dmitri and Grushenka are in a back bedroom at the inn and, as she is lying on the bed, he suddenly realizes she is not looking at him but is looking in fright over his shoulder–at the police who have come to arrest him.

    I read the Egypt Game when I was kid, in large part because I loved all things Egyptian. I wonder how I would react if I re-read it as adult? As I recall, it involves a fair amount of real-world issues that largely went over my head at the time: neglectful parents, inter-racial friendships, and of course fears of predatory adults. Funny how the same book can strike you very differently at different ages.

    • That is a great scene. The book is filled with those very cinematic moments, which makes me wonder what Doestoevsky would have done as a screen writer. I really loved Grushenka this time through. And was much more aware of what a tragic character she is. This time too a friend informed me that Brother’s K was meant to be the first part of a larger story about Alyosha. And I really wish Dostoevsky had been able to tell it all. I’m fascinated by the idea of Mitya in America too.

      Yes, the Egypt game has many real world issues that I find more disconcerting as an adult. Especially the child predator roaming the streets. But maybe that’s why I didn’t re-read it as a child. I do remember loving the game itself. It’s funny reading many of these books as a mother, with that doubled vision of remembering being a child and living in that children’s world and yet also being able to see everything from the adult perspective. I did love the inter-racial friendships in the novel. The children all seem completely unconscious of racial issues and I love that it’s just not an issue in the story at all.

      I just finished reading The Headless Cupid and it seems like Snyder really does write a lot about children being raised by neglectful single parents. It’s interesting how there’s a thematic connection between neglected daughters and dabbling in the occult. I’m finding myself rather troubled by the dabbling in the occult. On the one hand Snyder definitely shows the children in her novels being scared when they get more than they bargained for. On the other hand… I take that sort of stuff seriously because I believe in supernatural forces. And I’ve know people who have got into serious spiritual trouble with such dabbling. And on the third hand… I had a friend when I was a girl who was in love with ghosts and magic and such. She left me with a lifelong fear of looking into the bathroom mirror in the dark when alone in the house at night. And for a long time one of her stories had be afraid to flush the toilet.

  • We’ve listened to Kay Ray on librivox and enjoyed her very much. I always go to her first if I’m looking for books there.