Book reviews

What’s on your nightstand, mate?

Recommended by the one and only, dear Jeanne, we took up these three Australian books for children -though I am lovin’ them as much or more than my girls-. We read Seven Little Australians. I knew the end. This is why I chose to read it in the car, in the daylight, without looking at their faces. I had read it myself before to prepare for it. It was sad, but still, we are glad we met these children and we read their story.

We are half way the Magic Pudding. This is the book for the child in me. I am reading it to that little girl who is now a mom, and who loves Lewis Carroll, and Edward Lear, and those poems, travel, adventure, and food. These first two books are free, in the public domain, but I am glad to have found not too pricey good hardcover editions for both of them, and illustrated. The illustrations in the Magic Pudding are quite the thing. As in Edward Lear nonsense rhymes, the illustrations add so much.

And our third book will be Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. I hope we like it as much as the other two.

To stretch my adored After You Marco Polo, I read Hannah Coulter. (I actually have the last 5 pages waiting for me tonight). Since the library had this title, I thought it would be my first Wendell Berry. I confess I opened it with not much expectations… I knew too much about him to have a fresh opinion. I was also fearing I would feel at odds with my life as a suburban mom, by reading such a nice portrayal of farm people. Nothing of that happened to me. I found it a book of ‘old age’, a book of aging and reflecting, a book about parenting, and marriage, and grief, and love. His nuggets of wisdom are credible, not on your face. His dislike for the new technological era is well presented, but I think what he talks about can be extrapolated to a non farming environment. I like when he says we waste our time looking for something better, for a better home, a better place… that it is what we have now, who we are now, what is best, what matters, what counts. While there is nothing wrong with having dreams and aspirations, those can be, as he says, buckets full of smoke.
Surprisingly, reading Wendell Berry, instead of fueling my desires of living a more country life, it has given me more purpose to live the moment, and specially, to keep strengthening the membership I belong to. My membership is not obviously his farming community, but my brethren. It is those in my congregation that I belong too, and some neighbors and friends. I am someone to them, and they are family to me.
This book and his Jayber Crow, are suggested literature reads for our children in year 12, or last year of High School, at Ambleside Online. That is surely a very long haul from now, but if ever my girls read Wendell Berry, I know much conversation will ensue. I wonder how they will relate to it, for as I said, to me, is quite reflective on life, but I am sure they will catch on parts of the book that may have not been as impacting to me as others.
Lastly, I am at a part in Waverley, chapter LV, that the plot is bubbling. Waverley is thinking about Flora and Rose, and as a woman, finally, romance has taken a bit over the harder read of politics and war. That part in which Edward reads from Romeo and Juliet, was very enjoyable. We are also about to finish the Iliad, and my thoughts are settling a bit more. These two reads have kneaded every single neuron in my brain, and have stretched me to unknown points in space as a reader. But I can already see myself at the end goal, and feeling quite accomplished and satisfied.

2 thoughts on “What’s on your nightstand, mate?”

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