On My Bookshelf {September & October 2012}

reading
source: Mo Riza

I’m really excited about my brand new Kindle Paperwhite, which arrived yesterday!

I got my first Kindle almost four years ago, and I loved it, except I found it difficult to read on at night because I hated using an external light. I then switched to an iPad, which was quickly claimed by our children so that I had to compete with not only their game playing but also their music and Audible stories for a chance to use it. When the Kindle Fire came out, it seemed like the perfect solution. A small, affordable tablet that I could claim as my own. I used it mostly for reading and the backlight was my favorite feature, despite the dangers of staring at a backlit screen for so many hours a day.

However, when Amazon announced the new Kindle Paperwhite, I knew I wanted to move back to the e-ink reader. I have an iPhone now, so I don’t need the multiple features that a tablet brings to the table, and the Paperwhite is not only amazing lightweight and portable, but it also has a built-in lighting system that actually pushes light down toward the words rather than up toward your eyes. And the promised 8-week battery life is delicious, gooey icing on the cake!

I have only read for a few minutes on it so far, but so far I think I made the right decision in selling my Kindle Fire in favor of this one!

Here are the books I read in September as well as my overly ambitious reading list for October:

Children’s Fantasy

  • The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
    This five-book series by New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Collins (who is better known for the Hunger Games series) was written for kids, but I really enjoyed this story, which is written as a “modern day Alice in Wonderland in an urban setting”. I also really enjoyed that it was a five-book series instead of the more common trilogy, since the story lasted much longer!Gregor is just a normal urban kid who works hard to help his mom at home since his dad’s mysterious disappearance. Then one day his toddler sister tumbles into a laundry vent. When Gregor dives in after her, they find themselves falling into the depths of the earth, known as the Underland. There they encounter large versions of the animals you find on earth — including cockroaches, bats, spiders and rats — as well as strange looking humans who have been living in the Underland for generations. The Underlanders consider Gregor the center of many prophecies about the future of their society, and he’s thrust in the middle of a war between the species.These stories are well written and engaging, and I’m excited for my oldest daughter to read them, although the last book is fairly gruesome as the war reaches her peak, and I’m not sure she’s quite ready for that much violence!

Historical Fiction

  • At the Sign of the Sugar Plum and Petals in the Ashes by Mary Hooper
    A friend of mine loaned me these books because she knows I enjoy historical fiction, and they were amazing. They’re not necessarily the kind of books you “enjoy”, since they focus on London at the time of the Great Plague and Great Fire, but the writing is beautiful, and I truly felt as if I was experiencing the sights, sounds and emotions of the main character as she did. In fact, I happened to read these during an extremely emotional week, and I spent much time holding back tears as I read. I’ll definitely be reading these — which are intended for grades 5-8 — with the girls when they’re a little older!

Dystopian Fiction

  • Crossed by Ally Condie
    I often find the second book in a trilogy lacking, and this was no exception. I really enjoyed Matched (despite the stereotypical love triangle!), but this book alternates between Cassia and Ky’s perspectives, which I frankly found annoying. It made the book feel choppy, and I hated that I had to pay attention to the chapter transitions rather than just losing myself in the story. If you’ve read Matched, you’ll probably still want to read this one just to know where Cassia, Ky and Xander have ended up so you’ll be ready for the third book, Reached, which comes out on November 13th. But I suggest going in with low expectations so you can be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed!

On My Bookshelf for October

  • Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin by Tracy Lee Simmons
    This is a heavy read, and I haven’t made any progress this month (because I haven’t even picked it up). I liked what I did read, and I need to put down the fiction for a bit to focus on this book instead! As classical homeschoolers, Latin is an important part of our curriculum — and I’ve loved Latin since I took it in 8th grade — and this book really explores why Latin and Greek are important to a well-rounded and effective education.
  • Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra
    I also haven’t made any progress on Don Quixote, and part of me is tempted to just give up, but I’d really like to finish it. I’m taking it on our upcoming anniversary trip, so maybe I’ll get to it during out kid-free evenings!
  • Shaman and Matters of Choice by Noah Gordon
    Although I wasn’t sure how I felt about The Physician when I first read it, mostly because it is gritty and crude in places, it’s actually really stuck with me. I was fascinated by the history, the depth of insight into the characters and the story in general, and I find myself still thinking about the book at random times. With that in mind, this month I plan to read the second and third books in the trilogy, which focus on descendants of the original Rob J. Cole who carry the family legacy as doctors with The Gift, a sense of knowing whether someone will live or die (which is less woo-wooey in the books than I made it sound there!).
  • Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
    In an attempt to avoid picking up Don Quixote again (although I can’t explain why I feel that way), I picked up Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy, which is written as a series of letters to a young girl, each of which introduces her to a certain aspect of philosophy or asks a question to make her think. It’s not exactly light reading, but it’s fairly easy to read, and I find it fascinating so far!
  • Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
    My 8-year-old is currently obsessed with the Chronicles of Narnia, so I’m hoping to reread the series (although, to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever read all of them!) this month so that I can actually have an intelligent conversation with her rather than just sitting nicely and listening to her describe them. In detail. Over and over. (Ha!)

I often get asked how I have time to read so much, and you can read my top strategies in the busy mom’s guide to finding time to read. I also recently came across this post about the benefits of reading fiction that I thought made some great points about why making time for reading is a worthwhile endeavor.

If you just want to start reading more and aren’t especially particular about what you read, one of my favorite sources for reading material is Amazon’s free Kindle books, which really allowed me to restart my reading habit without investing a lot of money in books. I’ve “purchased” more than 1,000 books for free over the last two years, and I’ve discovered more than a few authors and series that I love. Amazon offers free Kindle apps for your PC, Mac, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android or Windows 7 phone as well!

What great books have you read recently? What’s on your reading list for this fall?

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