{Books Lately} September 2018

Books Lately | The Open Home

One of my goals for 2018 was to read more fiction books as I tend to gravitate towards parenting books and homeschool how-tos, which whilst often interesting and helpful they aren’t the sort of reading that feeds one’s soul and replenishes one’s energy. I’ve done pretty good with my fiction goal, if I do say so myself and also managed to utilise my local library for the majority of the following books, which has felt like a second win.

Here are some of the fiction books I’ve been reading lately:

To Kill a Mocking Bird image

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I’ve always enjoyed books set in the mid 1800’s to mid 1900’s time period of America, but alas my high school curriculum did not cover this one and thus I have missed out on a much loved modern classic until now. Many of you will know the story well. Young Scout and her brother, Jem develop a fascination with their mysterious and reclusive neighbour, Boo Radley whilst their Father, Atticus works to defend a young black man accused of a crime he did not commit. It’s humorous and heart warming in parts whilst dealing with the difficult subject of racial injustice in the Deep South of America in the 1930’s, and all through the eyes of a young child. I highly recommend it.

Anne of Green Gables image

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables is another of those books that I missed out on as a girl and yet it is a favourite of so many of my friends that I knew I must finally catch up. This is definitely a book I think I would have enjoyed more if I had read it in my tweens, but that’s not to say I didn’t like it I just think some of the childhood whimsy and teenage angst was wasted on an old bird like me. The story is a sweet one though. It’s starts with a young orphan girl called Anne accidently finding a home with two middle aged siblings on Prince Edward Island and then follows her life through school and college as she makes Green Gables her home. By the end of the book of was feeling very fond of “Anne with an E” and I look forward to experiencing the rest of the Anne series through the eyes of my girls over the years to come.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette image

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

I thoroughly enjoyed this epistolary novel and recommend it to all my fellow letter writers. Bernadette is quite the character. She has many unique personality quirks and struggles to connect with her family and fit in with her local community. For the first half of the book you are reading all the various correspondence from schools and personal assistants, between friends and neighbours, knowing that at some point Bernadette will go missing, but still not quite understanding why. I was unable to work this one out on my own and I struggled to put the book down. This one is available at the local library for those Guernsey based folk who fancy giving it a read.

Books Lately September 2019 | The Open Home

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Cranfield Fisher

This was a sweet read to end the summer with and await the start of the new school year. It was lent to me by a fellow homeschool mum and a gentle reminder about how sweet and enriching this learning lifestyle can be. The book starts with a very timid 9 year old orphan girl, Elizabeth Ann having to leave the sheltered home of her very loving yet over protective aunts to stay with the dreaded Putney cousins. The Putney cousins of course turn out to be rather lovely and their simple way of living out in rural Vermont turns out to be just what Elizabeth Ann needs to transform from a small, anxious and entitled little girl into the healthy, confident and competent Betsy you’ll come to know and love.  In an age of over scheduled, constantly connected, rather lazy children this book has an important message to tell. It is a gentle reminder that sometimes the simpler ways are not only sweeter but also more satisfying and life giving. This book contains some important values that are still relevant today, along with some much loved characters and is suitable for junior school kids as well as adults who enjoy some quality children’s fiction.

What books have you been reading lately?

{Books Lately} February 2018

Books Lately | The Open Home

The cold winter months have really fuelled my reading of late as snuggling up with a good book when the weather outside is so cold and blustery is a wonderfully comforting feeling. I usually read a lot more non-fiction than I do fiction, but I’ve had so much fun with fiction over the last couple of months that I’ve set myself the goal of reading one fiction book per month throughout 2018.

Here are some of the fiction books I’ve been reading lately:

A Christmas Carol by Charles DickensBooks Lately January 2018 | The Open Home

Having watched The Muppets version of A Christmas Carol religiously on Christmas Eve for over a decade I decided it was high time I actually read the original book, this copy of which we’ve had sat unread for far too many years. The work of Charles Dickens has always felt a little intimidating to me as I tend to picture incredibly thick books filled with lofty words set against the back drop of bleak Victorian England. A Christmas Carol is a great introduction to the works of Dickens. Firstly, because it’s not too thick. Secondly, because it’s not too bleak and thirdly, because most of us are quite familiar with the festive story the parts with the occasional lofty words are understandable. The illustrations by P.J. Lynch in this publication of the book also entice you to keep reading and there is definitely more to the story than the TV adaptations can include. I felt these extra snippets added a lot of depth and back story to Scrooge’s character and felt a lot more empathy for how the young man became the “miserable, bitter old miser” we often remember him as.

Books Lately January 2018 | The Open HomeLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott

Historical fiction may be my favourite reading genre but somehow it has taken me 30 years to discover the gem that is Little Women. Set during the American Civil War of 1861-1865 this once wealthy family now finds itself rather poor and with Mr March away on the battle field, Mrs March and the two eldest daughters are working to support the family. Jo, our protagonist along with her sisters Meg, Beth & Amy befriend a new neighbour, Laurie and the first part of the book follows their childhood games and war time struggles. The second part of the book follows the various adventures of the sisters as they come of age and find their place in the world. It’s not all love, marriage and babies though, although those do make up some very sweet parts of the story. The book is also full of some very relatable character struggles, as well as the presence of fear, the pain of rejection, and the heartbreak of loss. I think as a mother of just girls this book appealed to me all the more and the scenes of sisterly love, squabbles and unity were particularly sweet to me. I was pretty much hooked from chapter one and in fact a word of warning: Do not read this book when sat in the Departure Lounge of an airport, you may get so wrapped up in the story that you almost miss your flight!

Books Lately January 2018 | The Open HomeA Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers

I read this book a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely, more so now that I am reading it again with my church Core Group. Francine Rivers is well known for her historical fiction with Christian themes, but the stories from this book are actually based on the real women in the Bible that were woven into the genealogy of Jesus; Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and of course, Mary the mother of Jesus. I love how the author can bring so much life and context to even the shortest of passages in the Bible. She really helps you to read the Bible in the culture and context in which it was set, enabling you to rethink the familiar stories you thought you knew so well. I highly recommend this book, as well as Sons of Encouragement by the same author, which is written in a similar style. Both books come with discussion questions at the end of each novella to help you to dig deeper and unpack the stories more.


What have you been reading lately?