May 30, 2011

Golden Heart Summertime Booklist

All that Mankind has done, thought, gained or been-- it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of Books. ~ Thomas Carlyle ~

Thanks for your recommendations for the Golden Heart Summertime Booklist! Hope you have a wonderful summer full of things like sunshine, swimming, bikes, fresh fruit, vacation, and a few really great books.

-My favorite summertime books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and My Antonia by Willa Cather.

- Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale, Gillian Gill. That is really the author’s name that isn’t a mistake, well it isn’t a typo, in my opinion it was a mistake. Florence’s life really was extraordinary it will broaden and enlighten your views on the Victorian era and transform Florence into a real woman instead of a cardboard cut-out of do-gooding. By the way Parthenope is the Greek for Naples, the Italian city of Florence’s sister’s birth and unfortunately her name.

- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. This one is on my list. My mother and sister loved it though...and they have good taste.

- The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis. I finally read this really thoroughly and it is great. The usual amazing C.S. Lewis insight and profundity on a subject core to Christianity and humanity in general.

- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. An epic. Jane Austen meets harry potter. Copious footnotes. If you love details you will adore this book.

- Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy's insight into human nature is more profound than any author I have read. This is a lesser-known work, but I don't know why. The story is beautiful. If you haven't read Tolstoy, this is a great place to start...for one thing because it's shorter than the others!

- Approaching Zion, by Hugh Nibley. Top 5 in the life-changing category for me. Nibley's ideas made connections for me that I had been trying to make in my own head for years. His ideas were challenging to the way that I was thinking about and living my life, and it ended up being just the kind of challenges I needed to gain a lot more peace and understanding.

- A Visit from the Goon Squad. Multi-narrator books are nothing new, but this book puts a really interesting spin on that style.

- Every Man Dies Alone, Hans Fallada. Loosely based on a true story, a middle aged couple begin leaving subversive postcards in public places decrying Hitler’s regime. Originally published in German just after WW II by a man who spent the war in a mental hospital writing novels in code. Definitely read the notes on the author at the end of the book.

- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley Clever. An entertaining novel with a young protagonist whose love of chemistry helps her solve crimes.

- Her Mother’s Hope & Her Daughter’s Dream, Francine Rivers. These titles are misleading I promise. Rivers began her career writing dime novel romances, but then she was Born Again and began writing Christian romances (traditionally soft porn for church-goers) I read her first Christian Romance, Redeeming Love, another vomit inducing title, after I’d read several of her other works. Far and away these most recent works that I recommend here are not only good, but so much better than her earlier stuff I’m surprised it’s the same author. I enjoy seeing her skill as a story-teller improve with practice, but you can skip the mediocre and head for the good stuff – you are welcome.

- The Prophets (non-fiction by A. Heschel). An in depth analysis of old testament prophets and their relationship with God. Better than seminary...and more interesting than sunday school (i'm a heretic!)

- The Story of Civilization by Will Durant. I will be reading a hundred pages per month of this series for almost ten years. I will review it more thoroughly in the year 2020. So far, I feel like I am finally getting history to some extent, and all I have read is half of the first book (of eleven). So far he has covered Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, and Jerusalem. Now we are hitting India. I love it, really.

- From Beirut to Jerusalem, Thomas Friedman. Famous journalist’s record of the time he lived in Beirut and then Jerusalem in the 80’s. I only read the half on Beirut. Quite fascinating and well told.

- A Little Lower Than the Angels, Virginia Sorensen. This was published in 1934 soon after the author graduated from BYU. That’s right! The first LDS romance novel. Sorensen did quite well on the national writing scene but was never terribly popular in Utah, but this is one heck of a well written novel that takes place in Nauvoo and deals most insightfully and disturbingly with plural marriage and family.

- Arm the Children: Faith’s Response to a Violent World, Arthur Henry King. Collection of essays by LDS British poet and literary professor. “One of the major reasons we should read is because we waste so much of our spare time just thinking.” AHK

- Mister God, This is Anna by Fyne. This is an amazing book on God and how people see their relationship to a higher power.

- The Emancipation of Domesticity by GK Chesterton. This is a short paper on womanhood that would be an interesting discussion, also you might add to it Woman, The Folly of Female Education, Women in the Work Place also by Chesterton

- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's been a while since I've read contemporary literature, so I was hesitant, but this was a pleasant surprise. I loved his writing style...the story of a young girl in Nazi Germany, told from the perspective of personified Death. Great read.

- Codependent No More. A friend of mine, who is a therapist, pointed out, as the Martha and Mary analogy suggests, that many LDS women go from being service-oriented in a healthy way to abandoning their own needs and spiritual growth due to a desire to make others happy. This book is a classic on this issue and a treasure for anyone who has had trouble seeing their personal self-worth. Beattie points out the stark difference between helping others in a healthy way and sacrificing your own dignity, happiness and personal needs by taking inappropriate responsibility for making others happy. If you have had burdensome relationships or have dealt with friends or family who ask too much of your soul this book will be incredibly eye-opening.

- The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. I had a love hate relationship with this book, but found it interesting to ponder the dichotomy of conscience (what you know is right) and culture (what is accepted in a society.)

- Civil Disobedience by Thoreau. I recently re-read this little essay and loved it even more than I did the first time I read it - which was quite a bit! In this short essay Thoreau addresses ideas that touch each of our lives and asks us to consider what it really means to be civil, to be human, and to choose our own compelling reasons to live. This is a short, thought-provoking work and as members of a democratic-republic, I think everyone should be familiar with it!

- Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella. Funny Chick Lit, better than the Shopaholic series.

- In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. This book has helped me to love food in the best ways. Pollan points out that an enjoyable community experience is an essential part of healthy eating. Most "health foods" and diets are actually quite bad for us due to the "fake" manufactured food and the harsh, scarcity mentality associated with dieting. Eating whole foods our great-great-grandmothers would recognize, with a sense of abundance is the answer to the Western food problem. It’s really changed the way I eat.

- Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.

And last but not least, our recommendations from Erin and Angie throughout the year. You can read their recommendations here: Around the World in Eighty Days, Lectures on Faith, And There Was Light, What the Scriptures Teach Us About Adversity, Lilith, The History of Love, and Mother Teresa.

Picture from here.

1 comment:

  1. How fun to see your thoughts on certain books. We feel the same (at least the ones I've read :)
    Stephen has my nightstand sky-high with books I MUST read right now, so these recommendations are killing me. So much to read, so little time.