Seven Recent Reads/Shows

It’s Friday!! And I’m gearing up for a solo weekend with the girls while Tom flies to his younger brother’s graduation. I will readily admit how wimpy I am about solo parenting, but, armed with a lot of coffee and a bottle of wine, I should be just fine, and I will choose not to care about the state I’m sure the house will be in by the time Tom returns. Also, perspective is everything, right– all I need to do is think about this mom of QUAD babies (!) and/or watch an episode of Victorian Slum House when things are getting bad and life will suddenly seem rosy!

Like I said the other day, one of the best parts about less social media has been a lot more reading. It actually is the perfect antidote to all the crazed distraction that smartphone use breeds: you have to sit in one spot while you read, you have to actually focus on ALL the words on the page if you actually want to follow the story or the thought, there are no distracting images (well, beautiful picture books excepted), and you have no chance of clicking over to an entire other story/post/whatever and thus losing the original story thread you picked up.

So I thought I’d tap out a few highlights of what I/we have read in the last 7 months or are currently reading, but also some good stuff we’ve watched. (Is it just me, or are the streaming options lately just abysmal?!?).

Books (links are affiliate!)

1.Till We Have Faces– C.S. Lewis

This was a reread for me for book club, but it is a story that is so well-crafted and sticks with you.

2. The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene

I could not believe Tom hadn’t read this yet, so I made him read it with me over the winter. I consider it required reading for 21st century Catholics. Greene pretty much mastered the portrayal of the struggling sinner who is nonetheless called to do something beyond himself. If you like Brideshead Revisited, you must read this!!

3. Consider This by Karen Glass

This is a really wonderfully written and accessible book explaining how Charlotte Mason fits into the sphere of classical education. (I told you I’ve been totally geeking out on education lately!). Even if you have no interest in Charlotte Mason or classical education (though I strongly recommend you look into her work if you’re in the education/homeschool world), this will be very inspiring just on teaching, learning, and education in general.


4. A Serious of Unfortunate Events (Netflix). This goes under Funny, Well-Acted, Well-Produced. It was just really fun to watch, the cast is perfect, and we are really looking forward to the next season.

5. To Walk Invisible (PBS). We were reading Wuthering Heights together when we watched this, so it was apropos. It was hard to understand, what with the accents, but was fascinating (and depressing in some ways) to see how the Bronte sisters developed into the most famous sisterly band of writers.

6. The Crown (Netflix). We watched this when it came out, just like every other person, I’m sure. We enjoyed it overall though. Claire Foy was literally perfect as the Queen, and the story seemed to be presented accurately.

7. We have sort of started this Turkish period drama, Kurt Seyit and Sura (Netflix), but we’ll see how long we stick with it (maybe it will pick up in future episodes).

Well, that brings me to 7, and so I’ll just link-up with Kelly and the Quick-Takers here, and call it a night.

As always, tell me what you’re reading or watching (and hopefully save us some time scanning Netflix/Prim to try and find something decent!)

What We’re Reading

I used to be an insanely avid reader. Then, I grew up and things called “responsibilities” butted their aggravating heads into my reading time. Probably sometime in college, I made the subtle switch from reading for the sake of pleasure to reading because it was assigned, or reading something that was going to augment what I was learning, researching, or whatnot. I realized that was a sad shift, and have been consciously trying to read more in the first category. Tom and I like to keep at least one novel going, and sometimes also another non-fiction. Here’s what we have going right now, as well as my own individual list!

Out loud/Together:

Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset

We loved Kristin and wanted more Undset, so we started this a few months ago. St. Catherine’s story is very Italian– dramatic, intense, over-the-top. She’s equal parts inspiring and non-relatable. I’m hoping we can finish this during Lent.

The Warden by Anthony Trollope

This was recommended to us based on our love of Austen. Trollope is quite funny, and we’ve enjoyed this one, though I don’t think it quite stands up to Austen.


Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

This one I just finished reading on Kindle from the library e-book system. I had heard it raved about and I loved his Freddy and Fredericka, so I was eager to see how this one is. Basic conclusion: WTF. And, put more elegantly… seriously, what is this tripe? It’s fantasy masquerading as pseudo-historical fiction but it’s mostly just utterly ridiculous. I mean, the totally unrelated 20-100 page (NOT exaggerating) tangents and descriptive narratives aside, the book just has no coherency.  The theme… is there one? I seriously couldn’t figure it out; the most obvious thing seemed to be the author screaming, “Oh look! I know words! Big words! I can make crazy, convoluted, un-readable metaphors and sentences and call it a story!” Oh, and the ending is a pick-your-own-adventure, too. I feel like I wasted several weeks of my life reading this over 700 page tome of tawdry writing. Don’t do the same! Also, I looked up review on Good Reads, just to be sure I wasn’t crazy and totally missing something, and man, some of the reviews had me cracking up! (And no, I wasn’t crazy). Here’s an excerpt of my favorite:

“In a certain now-distant era in the vestibules of verbiage, a diamond-dusted nor’easter came brightly brushing, softly sifting, sewing the perspectives, peripheries and promenades … with perilously prolix page-counts .. that persisted then, all along the gridded avenues of the grandest city that Time had surely ever decreed.

It was the City Of Books, and this was the kind of book, nay, the Very Kind and most-principal example, that was written then, and by rights most highly regarded by the Reading Citizenry to deck the halls and paper the walls.” 

So, basically, I wish I’d never read it and that Helprin confined himself to what he does well: humor.

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

The Pope’s fave book. More Italian drama/romance/adventure/intrigue– and so far it is awesome!

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

I like that I can pick this up and read a chapter here and there. Which is to say, I started it last May, and just now got back to it. 🙂

What are you reading? I’m always, always looking for good recommendations, particularly for fiction!