Summer Reading

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Every summer I usually have more time to read than I do during the school year.  I have several books I want to read for my own growth in various fields of study (history, literature, philosophy, theology, etc), I usually have three or four (sometimes more) that I want to pre-read or skim for the upcoming school year, I always have some for work (new best-sellers, genre fiction, and writing books), and then there are the books I read just for fun.  While on vacation last week, I read a new-to-me Georgette Heyer historical fiction novel, one of the Fairacre series by Miss Read, one of the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith, and a book about decorating my house.

This week I have started a book I’ve been eagerly anticipating for months:  Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith.  Anyone who knows me will tell you what a devoted Jane Austen fan I am.  I have read all of her books multiple times, have watched most of the film and TV adaptations (some of which irk me for various reasons as I’m finicky about adaptations actually being faithful to the book), and have even read a couple of biographies about Jane as well as some of her letters.

I have had mixed feelings about retellings and continuations.  P.D. James’ Death at Pemberley was only okay since she tried too hard, in my opinion, to protect Austen’s characters and it made the story kind of “wooden”.  Bridget Jones’ Diary, on the other hand, was hilarious and didn’t take itself too seriously so it worked.

I have only just started Emma, but I could tell almost immediately that I’m going to like it as a book, even if the retelling of Austen doesn’t work for me.  Here is a quote from the third page which has already pulled me in and told me that this is going to be a delightful read:

“‘My son,’ said his mother with a certain pride, ‘ is a valetudinarian.’

That sent her friends to the dictionary, which gave her additional satisfaction.  To dispatch one’s friends to a dictionary from time to time is one of the more sophisticated pleasures of life, but it is one that must be indulged in sparingly: to do it too often may result in accusations of having swallowed one’s own dictionary, which is not a compliment, whichever way one looks at it.”

The humor, as always, is gentle and understated, but appeals to me every time.  Alexander McCall Smith is also great at understanding and poking fun at our human failings.  I am just enough of a word snob that sending my friends to the dictionary on occasion would give me satisfaction, too, so I identified with this passage.

What about you?  What are you reading this summer?

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8 thoughts on “Summer Reading

  1. I read the Marie Kondo book a few weeks ago and I’ve had next to no time to read since then. I’ve gone through all my clothes and toiletries, and helped the four younger kids go through their clothes. That took two and a half weeks. This week I’m doing books — I’ve eliminated another 200, which, coming on top of the 200 or so I got rid of in the spring, is finally starting to make a visible difference in my house. I can’t tell you how good it’s making me feel. Just doing my clothes and toiletries made me feel so much more energetic and organized, even though it hardly made a difference in the way the house looked.

    When I have brain power for books I’m reading The Odyssey, and re-reading Clark and Jain’s Liberal Arts Tradition and Izaac Walton’s Life of Donne. The kids and I are read The Faerie Queene.

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    • I had to return the Marie Kondo book so I’m back on the list to finish it although I think I may try her method for sorting out my dresser drawers in the meantime. Baby steps…..

      My son and I are still finishing up last year’s reading of Dante and a couple of medieval history books. We finished The Wind in the Willows and are currently deep into The Fellowship of the Ring as well as listening to the audiobook of Inkheart (so, so, so good!).

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      • I’m teach the Lost Tools of Writing to my three youngest and a friend’s son starting next month, and we we’re going to combine it with literature so I’ve decided to start with The Wind in the Willows — it’s such a beautiful book and it seems like it will lay a good foundation for future stories.

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  2. I’m reading purely for fun this summer – nothing taxing or enlightening or “powerful”, LOL. And I am absolutely picking up “Emma, A Modern Retelling” this weekend – you’ve completely sold me- thank you! Also – as I am watching the new Poldark (Amazing – Le Sigh -and yes, I did in fact watch the original), I think a re-read of the novels might be in order as well. And, because I just love her to pieces, I’m re-reading the Dorothy Sayers’ LPW-Harriet Vane stories.

    If you like Austen retelling, then there are several I want to recommend (all variations of Persuasion, my very favorite Austen) – first, Regina Jeffries, “Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion” (which I’ve read so many times now it’s wearing out); and then, Laura’s Hile’s 3-part Mercy’s Embrace, which is about Elizabeth Elliott. So good. that’s all I can say. Just so good. OK, I’ve blathered on enough.

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    • Well, the summer got away from me, but I did put Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion on my TBR list at my library for when I have a few moments for fun reading. Thanks for the recommendation.

      I just finished Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee last week, which was very thought-provoking and, oh my goodness, I could certainly see why it has caused such a ruckus. Right now I’m reading an advanced reader copy of The Lake House by Kate Morton (I love her books!) and The Library at Mount Char, which is disturbing, intriguing, and not for the faint of heart. The jury is still out on that one, but a friend says that the last 50 pages makes the book so I’m planning on finishing to see if I agree with her.

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  3. I wish I read nonfiction faster, but it takes me forever to read it because I like to “chew” on each bit as I read it. Right now I’m slowly making my way through Annie Dillard’s “A Writing Life” (although I’ll have to speed it up because someone at the library has requested it), I’m finishing up “The Hole in Our Holiness” by Kevin DeYoung, and I’m reading “Holiness” by Ryle aloud in the evenings to my husband and son. What nonfiction have you been reading?

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  4. Just got Christless Christianity from the library. Looking forward to reading that. Just finished up Please Stop Helping Us by Jason Riley. Politics, mostly that one.

    I read Our Great Big American God, which was written by a guy (Matthew Paul Turner) whom I was unaware was a raging liberal or I wouldn’t have picked up the book. Sadly, he still made some good points about the state of American evangelicalism.

    This one took me the longest to read:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Question-God-Sigmund-Meaning/dp/074324785X

    But it was also the meatiest, and the one I learned the most from, both about C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud.

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