Friday, January 15, 2016

Books I Read in 2015

This post is inspired by Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas who reviewed her reading goals from the beginning of last year and let us know how she did. I don't really set reading goals; I just read whatever I feel like reading, whatever M recommends, or whatever I think I should read. Reading is my way of bettering myself and I usually do it through literature and spiritual works.
These are the books I reread, read for the first time, and listened to while walking or running on the treadmill in 2015

Rereads:

Every pregnancy I have read the complete (completed) novels of Jane Austen.
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Pride and Prejudice
    Persuasion
  • Mansfield Park
  • Emma
  • Northanger Abbey
I love them all, and I love her insight into humanity and her emphasis on virtue in her ethics. This time around it occurred to me that I really don't like the character of Emma Wodehouse (Emma) and that I related most to Fanny Price (Mansfield Park). I probably should elaborate on that insight elsewhere so as to not make this post take forever.

The Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien--I read this every couple of years as the whim comes, or pregnancy fatigue or new-baby fatigue requires the old and familiar reading. You know how that goes.

Father Elijah by Michael O'Brien--I read this in anticipation of the release of the sequel, which I think is out by now. I suppose we (M and I) should read the sequel.

Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales--My go-to spiritual reading whenever I need a reexamination of myself, cleansing of my bad habits, and fortification of my good ones.

The Divine Comedy by Dante--For some reason I thought that this would be good postpartum nursing reading. It was not, so I gave up in the 5th circle of Hell. I suppose I should finish eventually, since Hell is a dreary sort of place to stop off in.

New reads. These were ones I read for the first time in the order that I read them.

Elisabeth Leseur: Selected Writings--I started this at the beginning of the year, but never finished. She was a very intriguing and relatable modern women of the 19th and 20th century. She is a Servant of God. I liked her a lot, but I put the book down when my Christmas present arrived in late winter.

Pioneer Girl
by Laura Ingalls Wilder--M got this for me for Christmas. This is a beautiful book to look at, and very interesting to read. It was more of a historical look at Laura's life, with lots of informative footnotes. It was very good, but I think I like her novels better. I also wish that she wrote more of her adult life beyond the babyhood of her children.
 
Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley--This was recommended to me by a friend, and I read it during Lent. I found it helpful and good for praying with.

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky--M read this in the spring, and asked me to read it. Personally, I found it to be more accessible than The Brother's Karamazov and Crime and Punishment largely because there is more conversation than interior dialogue which can make Dostoevsky extremely weighty. It also helped that M gave me all of Hans urs von Balthasars commentary on this book in his Glory of the Lord volumes. The Idiot/the clown is basically on important figure in Christian literature; he is able to be like the little children. Just read the book.

Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope--Trollope is great for what I consider "light" reading, but I am told that my light reading is not light for most people. He is one of those writers with conservative sensibilities that subtly mocks every type of person he writes about.

Martin Chuzzlewhit by Charles Dickens--I started reading this a couple of years ago because I needed a good novel and it was on the shelf. It is about as Dickens as you can get with absurd /memorable characters and way too much description. I finished it because we watched a BBC miniseries after T was born. It has about the evilest villain I have come across in Dickens, but you have to be up for knowing when to skim Dickensy verbosity if you want to get through it.

Call to a Deeper Love Letters of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin--This is one of my favorite reads this year. I probably should be reading her letters daily for the rest of my life. Reading St. Zelie makes me a better mom and wife; it is consoling, inspiring, and so very real. And St. Louis Martin is the perfect compliment to her, though the book has over 200 of her letters and about 16 of his. If you are trying to be a holy parent and spouse, I can't recommend this enough.

In this House of Brede by Rumer Godden--This after the saintly letters was also amazing. I loved the rhythm of monastic life portrayed in this book. For me, it was also spiritually edifying.

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh--Satire. Full of it, and upper class mockery. But funny. Waugh is pretty great.
 
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry--I finished this in 2016. I read A Place on Earth in 2014 in which we hear of Hannah's first husband. This one is a beautiful looking back at her life and how the world has changed.

Audio Read. These are whatever I can get from the library app for free, and mostly classics/good literature that I have failed to read in my life so far. For me treadmill reading is free reading time, because I am going to exercise anyway:

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells--I started this in middle school and never finished. An invasion of Martians is quite frightening to think about, isn't it? And I enjoyed it, though some might think it slow.
 
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson--I should have been reading Stevenson instead of Babysitter's club, my whole youth. A high-quality, youth oriented story.

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott--Once again, filling in the gaps of my failure to read good books in my youth. Gotta love Alcott even if she is a bit moralistic.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe--I kept waiting for things to go really badly, and I suppose that they did. It just was not as crushing to me as a Thomas Hardy novel.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton--A good book, which turned out differently than I expected.


Howards End by E.M. Forster--Recommended by a friend, and I enjoyed it a lot. 

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift--He is not exactly the most diverting while trying to get past 2 mile runs in my getting back in shape postpartum exercising. I know I am missing so many political references. Honestly, I prefer Waugh satire to Swift satire.

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Any good books you loved in 2015?

5 comments:

  1. Hey, I read the Divine Comedy in 2015, too! Purgatorio was the best part, although in Paradiso, Beatrice is WAY less annoying than I remember from Fr Connie's class!

    I audio-read Kidnapped recently, too, I think in 2015.

    Hmm, I've got a lot of highlights from this year! You may have inspired me to blog about them myself... :)

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    1. Do it! I want to hear about what you read! I really need to finish the Divine Comedy... maybe in Lent? ;)

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  2. Oh, I have been wanting to read Elizabeth Leseur for years, and I also HAVE to get a copy of Call to a Deeper Love, because that sounds amazing and I love Sts. Louis & Zelie :) I read Consoling the Heart for Lent on year, too! I love how practical and profound that book is. I read Pioneer Girl this year as well, and really liked it, but like you-I like the novels more. I think Pioneer Girl is good for those times when I want to do more of a "study," and the novels are good for when I just want some very light, fun reading. In 2015, I read lots of lighter books (for example, The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer, which are YA science fiction-fairy tales; I also got on a random murder-mystery kick, so I read quite a few books of that genre), and I read a couple heavier books: The unabridged Les Miserables, which I had literally been wanting to read for years was my favorite. Oh my goodness-I love the movie adaptations I've seen, but the whole story is so much deeper, fuller, and simply exquisite. Yes, I "skimmed" over a couple parts (like the 30-page description of a random battle), but otherwise I stuck it out. So, so good. I also read Kristin Lavransdatter, which I liked! However, Kristin herself made me quite mad sometimes. I don't know if you've read it, but I feel like her husband is villainized by most people, and I've heard many commentaries on "what a great mother Kristin is," but I wasn't a fan of the way that she treated her husband. I should probably just re-read it, so that I can understand the lessons and undertones better.

    For 2016, I just read The Jane Austen Handbook, which convinced me that as much as I love the Regency world, I am so glad I don't live in it! (it sounds pretty boring) I also am on a mission to finish Northanger Abbey, because I've seen the movie a couple of times, and started the book before, but never have wound up finishing it. I'm intrigued with The Divine Comedy; I've always been a bit terrified to pick it up, but it's something that I think would be worthwhile. Especially since I recently watched the Cartoon Network show "Over the Garden Wall," which has a couple straight-up references to The Divine Comedy. I'll think on that one :)

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    1. I keep on getting caught up in the Divine Comedy footnotes, which makes reading it cumbersome.

      For Northanger Abbey you have to read it understanding that she is mocking the Gothic Novel. And any movie adaption I have seen of it has been less than impressive, so I would give the book another try.

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    2. Oooh, footnotes will do that! (the same thing happened to me when I read Pioneer Girl-fun book, but slow going because I would start reading all of the footnotes and lose track of the story). I really liked "Northanger Abbey"-I just finished it the other day! I found the book actually quite hilarious, and I think it is helpful to go into it realizing that it's satire (similar to reading "The Loved One" by Evelyn Waugh). In fact, over the weekend I was talking to my sister, and she was surprised to hear that NA is satire, because she had no idea, and just disliked the book. I think it's also helpful to know that Jane wrote a lot of parodies and satires for fun, so NA isn't some random "black sheep" among her works, but another area of writing interest for her.

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