Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately - because it's been a while!

I've gone two months without writing about books. That is ridiculous. Although, I'm sure the time flew by for you, dear reader!

Without even realizing it, it seems I've been reading a bit of literary fiction which isn't a bad thing, but it does make me read a bit slower. If you're looking for a more serious read one of these may be for you!

Here are my quick, blunt, ruthlessly honest capsules of what I've been reading lately:

Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset

I've already written about this book, but as a book review this one still deserves mention. It's a wonderful biography of a saint that doesn't become overly sappy, sentimental or pious while at the same time retaining a respect for the often-times strange mysticism that was part of Catherine's spirituality. This book could be read simply for the amazing telling of the political situation of medieval Italy which is complicated, multi-layered and nuanced, because Undset's incredible gift for making the medieval life and mindset understandable for us moderns is present on every page. It is so helpful to have a good representation of not only the saint themselves, but the times in which they lived because saints don't live in vacuums. I learned so much about St. Catherine and have a new appreciation for her spirituality while at the same time being still in awe of her -- she was an amazing woman, and an amazing biography!

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I haven't talked about Gilead since talking on the podcast about it, but it is such a beautiful book that says so much with such subtlety and love. It is a tale of an elderly minister writing to his son, recounting some of his family history, his own story of faith and life, as well as examining forgiveness and love. It's honest and lovely. The book is such an excellent telling of what faith really is and how a life of faith is lived.

Home by Marilynne Robinson

Since I was hooked by Marilynne Robsinson in Gilead, I kept going with Home which continues the story of Gilead in a way, by exploring the Boucher family and it's wayward son Jack. Where Gilead is full of hope and seeing grace in the ordinary, Home is the heartbreaking tale of what happens when someone just can't accept that grace. It is again, a beautiful telling of a very human story with perfect honesty. I especially thought her writing of the intricacies of family life, especially adult siblings was incredible. It is a truly heartbreaking book, but it also portrays the importance of love in striking ways and is a story that stays with you. I've got the third book in the series waiting to be read on my nightstand!

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

I went on a real literary fiction kick, didn't I? This is the story of a Lebanese woman retelling her tale of living through turmoil, war, divorce, and Lebanese society while pursuing literature. I like the premise, and the writing was interesting, but the tone of the book and the main character just left me not liking it very much. I gave this one a go because it was on a lot of literary top ten lists for the best books of last year, I probably shoulda put it down, but then again I have "Must Finish Books OCD".

The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge

My sister has always loved a good Goudge, (I should also say that I relish pronouncing her name "Goooodge" which I understand is totally incorrect, but fun to say) but I've never read her before so I read this selection from Micaela's book club long after the book club read it! I'm not sure if this novel is indicative of her writing style, but I'd say this book was not big on plot but was a more introspective look at a cast of characters of an English cathedral town and what brings them together, even through their struggles. I enjoyed it once I got used to her pacing, which was slooow to begin with. It was a satisfying story if one that was mostly character driven over plot.

I haven't finished any non-fiction in months because all my non-fiction reading time is currently devoted to this doorstop. I adore presidential biographies (it's probably a terrible personality flaw). But this Lincoln biography is so great that anyone would enjoy it. I might have it finished by Advent!

Make sure to go check out all the other great books and link up your read's with Jessica today at Housewifespice!

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  1. Wait. It's NOT Goooodge? What the heck? I adore Lincoln. He is an "American saint." We should discuss this over cocktails. Gilead and Undset's Catherine are on my to read list now. Thank you!

  2. I totally agree about The Dean's Watch. It took me awhile to get into it but I ended up loving all the characters.

    1. Okay, I totally got cut off by a crying baby last night. What does it say about me that I've been counting my kids' read-aloud books as my own reading lately? I feel so lazy, but really, it seems to be all I can handle right now. I started Unbroken after watching the movie, but even that is going slowly. Maybe one day I will be as good at reading as I used to be.


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