Spring Reading Recap

Monday, June 13, 2016

Many of you have seen my posts on social media or have emailed back and forth with me about what we're currently reading. We've talked A LOT about Narnia and Dorian Gray and Salinger, but mostly I just keep saying something like, "I'll be posting a full review really soon." Since then, I've even gotten started on my summer reading list.

Here's the post I've been promising. It's the one with some highlights from the books I've had my nose in this spring. The books aren't in any particular order. This isn't a comprehensive list of everything that I read, but it covers quite a bit of it.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - This was my first real glimpse into the fiction of Lewis. I grew up watching the movies. My Mom bought me the entire paperback set when I was in third grade. Over the summer before my fourth grade year, I read "The Magician's Nephew" and then I also read "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" at some point. Then I stopped. I've been promising myself that I would read the entire series sometime.

It just so happened that I read it during Holy Week and I'm so glad that I did. The whole allegory category has always made me squirm in my seat. I think it's cheesy and cliche and entirely unhelpful. Basically, the idea of people trying to tell God's story without Him makes me very uncomfortable. HOWEVER....This spring, I learned exactly why people love and admire Lewis so much. It wasn't cliche. It wasn't cheesy. It wasn't unhelpful and reading the entire series for myself did not leave me feeling uncomfortable at all. Reading these books was like having hot coccoa in your grandfather's study by a roaring fire. He sits across from you, or maybe you're snuggled up on his lap, and you spend hours going over the tales from a make-believe land. The stories are all made up, but the smile on his face and the light in his eyes tell you that there's something in them that changed his life.

Some books come at just the right time. Reading the Narnia series during the Holy Week of 2016 was the right time. I was feeling displaced and happy and completely wrapped up in God's grace. I had no idea that a few kids, a lion, and a bunch of talking creatures could help me to see the wonder of Christianity. So many of you have been asking what I thought and this barely even begins to cover it.

The Long-winded Lady by Maeve Brennan - This was new to my library's catalog, so I gave it a go. I've been dedicating more time to this kind of writing and have found that I love reading it too. There aren't any real rules, so everyone's style is very different. Brennan's style was really annoying at first. I stuck with it and I'm glad I did because it got to the point where I had to force myself to put this volume down. She is blunt and seems to know exactly what she is trying to say. So many of her pieces end in a way that is neither neat nor tidy. Somehow, it always works.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks- I had no idea that it was written by a English woman who was born in 1929. It is fantastic. If you haven't read it, don't wait any longer. It's cozy and fun and Banks is quite the writer. I can't wait to read the others. I especially have my eye on "The Mystery in the Cupboard".

As Time Goes By by Mary Higgins Clark - I never miss a Mary Higgins Clark release. I beat her this time around, but I enjoyed it all the same! She'll always be my favorite.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff - I was never exposed to Salinger in school. I read "The Catcher in the Rye" one summer after finding it at some library booksale. Then, I read "Franny and Zooey" last fall. Both books left me moved and shook up and even stunned. For every moment that I agree with the characters, there are twice as many moments when I want to scream at them and throw the book down. Salinger knows how to get me riled up. I don't know what it is, but he is the one author whose work makes me really interact with the text without even realizing that it's started. Having a similar Salinger story as Rakoff, I found her book to be AMAZING. She is beautiful. She made it in New York City. She is a reader and a writer and she truly cares for people. Her job with Salinger was one that caught her by surprise and reading about these kinds of surprises is a real treat.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - This book deserves a post of it's own. I finished it in April after spending most of a year reading it. I despised Scarlett, laughed at Rhett, cried over Mr. O'Harra, and couldn't quite figure Melanie out. The language and themes of this book kind of shocked me. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I found. The whole time I kept wishing that the book was longer. Seriously. It's a classic for a reason and now I know why.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqeuline Woodson - Though Woodson is around my Mom's age, her story really resonated with me. In this book, Woodson tackled two genres at one time: memoir and poetry. She writes about moving to Greenville, SC from somewhere in Ohio only to move to New York City. Her life in Greenville was the kind of life I was always curious about. I heard about Nicholtown. My grandparents had several different women who did "day work" for them over the years. We called them housekeepers and I know that I always thought of them as our friends. Woodson's story belongs to so many people. Though we were separated by decades and by invisible lines, parts of it even belong to me.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - Jessica read this book and convinced me to dive into it too! She was right. It starts out sooooo strange, but you stick with it. I finished it in two days because it sucked me in. It reminded me a lot of Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby". Like Fitzgerald, Wilde has a way with making characters come alive. It's going on my list of favorites.

What have you been reading lately?

What's one book that you're hoping to read this summer?

I'm linking up with Anne's Quick Lit series.


  1. I'm so glad you like Narnia! I didn't read the series until I let Jacob read it when he was 15, I think. Ethan loved the dramatizations of it from Focus on the Family and so did I. We still pick out a book to take with us when we have a drive ahead of us.

    I'm thinking of rereading Christy or The Help this summer. I jot down titles when I read of something I may be interested in. Now I can't remember the author you told me to read on Instagram??

  2. Whew, so many books on this list! I love how detailed the recaps are--and you read a memoir book of poems?! I need some full on sentences in the books I read. Haha

  3. I'm so glad you found the beauty of Narnia! I grew up on those books and have always loved them. I should re-read them! I bet there are things I missed as a kid that would really impact me now!

  4. I have never read Mary Higgins Clark! I love to read mysteries in the summer, though, so maybe I'll give her a try. What's your favorite by her? I'm in the middle of Everyone Brave is Forgiven. The writing is great, though the story is rather gloomy. Modern books about WWII usually are. Very similar to All The Light We Cannot See but without the mystical touches.

  5. So glad you loved the Narnia books! I love them for the creativity and wonder the stories bring, but even more, I love the Christian allegories throughout the series.
    I really liked Brown Girl Dreaming! It was the first book I read in free verse and I actually listened to it on audiobook (read by the author ) and it was exquisitely done!
    I am so impressed you read Gone With The Wind! It's a hefty book! Have you watched the movie? So GOOD! Also, Scarlett still annoys me!
    I read The Indian In The Cupboard in grade school and loved it. There is a movie (made in the 90s) that is great too!

    Here are my May reads :) http://elle-alice.blogspot.ca/2016/05/may-book-reviews.html

  6. Mehmaw7:56 AM

    Just finished the latest in the Mel Starr series. Love this series! You really should read one! Going to try Letters in the Attic (sort of hokey thus far), that one book September something with the quill and paper on the cover, and Jay Adams and Charles Spurgeon on the next to read list.

  7. I bought The Indian In The Cupboard for my son. I'm hoping he picks it as a read out loud book, because that was one of my favorites when I was his age.

  8. I need to read The Chronicles of Narnia! I'm such a Lewis fan. He was such a genius.


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