Friday, April 17, 2015

March 2015 Book Reports

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher is a book of essays on NFP that won't tell you anything about how to practice it. Instead, it's a humorous but real look at what life is like for those who try to follow the Catholic church's teachings on contraception but find themselves more frustrated than enlightened. It's so easy to find lots of people spouting the fabulous benefits of NFP on their marriage and relationship with their spouses, but the truth is that NFP can be hard. I appreciated reading Simcha's essays because they revealed the struggles that others have had as well as insight into how the benefits might simply be delayed. (borrowed from a friend, but also purchased for the Kindle)

The Story of a Bad Boy by Thomas B. Aldrich is one I pre-read, wondering whether we should listen to it together on LibriVox or if I should put it on a Kindle and let First Son read it. I think he'll enjoy it because he loved Tom Sawyer so much and this book is similar. It does include some tragedy (the death of a friend and the death of the boy's father), but much of it is pure fun. There are a few missing "diagrams" from the text, so now I'm also considering purchasing a copy of it so we can see those. Either way, I think I'll give it to First Son (11) to read rather than listening to it with the girls. On a side note, I never knew what to say when someone asked what I was reading with this book. Given the recent press on an extremely popular movie, I was a little afraid the questioner would get the wrong idea. (purchased for free for the Kindle)

The Best of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle includes The Adventure of the Speckled Band, Silver Blaze, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Adventure of the Dancing Men, The Final Problem, and The Adventure of the Empty House. I picked this up at a library sale because the children had listened to Sherlock Holmes for Children by Jim Weiss and wanted more. I wasn't sure about the content of the stories, having never read them myself, so I pre-read the book before sharing it with them. For those that are interested, these stories include a reference to a mistress (though no explanation to what one is), a mention of "drug-created dreams" though no actual drug use, and a number of murders. I intend to put the book out where the children (11 and 8) can read it if they want, but the vocabulary might be a little daunting for them. (purchased used at a library sale)

Ben and Me by Robert Lawson is listed as a possible family read aloud for American History in volume 4 of RC History. It's the supposed autobiographical story written by a mouse named Amos who lived with Benjamin Franklin. Amos, it turns out, was the source of some of Franklin's best ideas. It was a little silly for my taste, but the children loved it (especially the great battle scene). (library copy, read aloud with the kids)

Who Was Daniel Boone? by Sydelle Kramer is an early reader chapter book recommended by RC History for volume 4. I read it this month anticipating giving it to First Daughter (8) to read, but then decided to finish a unit early. It'll be one of the first books she reads next year. I don't know much about Daniel Boone, but it seemed interesting and well-written. (library copy)

I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge is a sweet tale of Christmas. A small girl spends her first Christmas after her parents die with her spinster aunts. There's a friendly but distraught French man, a wandering uncle, and an open window for the angels. Of course, three ships arrive on Christmas morning amidst great rejoicing. I hope to read this to the children in Advent. (inter-library loan)

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans by Rush Limbaugh was a gift from my parents to the whole family a few years ago. First Son (who was, I think, nine at the time) read through it speedily and loved it. He laughed out loud often and has since read it many times. He asked me often if I would read it and I finally agreed, mainly because it seemed right and proper that he should share his favorite books with me just as I love to share my favorite books with him. I'm sad to say, it's twaddle. It's not particularly well-written and it devotes much space to indoctrinating the reader to the astounding benefits of a free enterprise economic system. I don't necessarily disagree, but it certainly wasn't like he describes in the book. It also irked me a little as he so often proclaimed the righteousness of the Pilgrims who established this country for the freedom of all when the Puritans had no desire at all for freedom for other religious groups (Catholics among them). I don't actually think this book did my children any harm and, because I love my children and they have asked, I will read the other two books. I'm afraid I won't enjoy them very much, though. (received as a gift)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer - my review. (library copy)

The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye is a delightful fairy tale about a princess given a fairy's gift to be ordinary. She steals away from her castle and ends up working in another where she (of course) meets a man of all trades and falls in love. Princess Amy is diligent, joyful, and lovely. This book will be on First Daughter's summer reading list (between second and third grade). (library copy)

The Religious Potential of the Child: Experiencing Scripture and Liturgy with Young Children by Sofia Cavaletti - my review (purchased copy, I think from the National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd)

The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2) by Lemony Snickett, performed by Tim Curry. The children experience more sorrow, but are courageous and loving throughout it all and there are moments of humor along the way. (audio CD from the library)

Books in Progress (and date started)
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These reports are my honest opinions.


  1. I always enjoy your book reports. I am intrigued by the Pope Francis title you have in progress. Really trying to wrap my brain around the seeming conundrum of the whole hate the sin love the sinner thing.

    1. The Pope Francis book is good, but it's definitely written for priests and religious, so some of the thoughts have to be kind of translated into lay life. I am managing to get through it only slowly. And it's on my Kindle which just died so I probably won't read it until I figure out how/if to replace the Kindle. I could read it on the computer, but I doubt I will.

  2. Reading on the computer is not fun IMHO.

    So how much twaddle so you read aloud to your kids. I am always torn, esp with my non-readers. It seems like such a fine line of encouraging books without encouraging trash. ;-) and some trash is certainly worse than others... One one of the reasons I love the hold shelf...

    1. I try to only read aloud books I like, so often I will just tell them I don't like that book and ask that they choose another. Or I'll only read a few pages. If it doesn't seem too long and I'm feeling alright, I'll go ahead and read it. It's easier now because the older kids are usually more than happy to read anything they want. We basically don't keep them from reading anything, though (you know, besides adult-content books). If they find it at the library and want to bring it home, we allow it. If they ask at a convenient time, I will request it from the library for them. In some ways, it's easy for me to allow some twaddle because I know they are getting 1-2 hours of solid quality read-alouds almost every day of the week and I assume in the end, they will learn to recognize what it good.


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