Saturday, April 2, 2011


We're halfway through Lent. I fail daily at keeping my resolutions, but I pick myself up and try harder again. Developing good habits takes time and I although I feel like this cat some days, most days, I am happy to spend greater time with our Blessed Lord. Today I am giving in to temptation so that I can share all the great books I've been reading.

I loved Home is with Our Family by Joyce Hansen because it so vividly portrays family life at a time that I don't know much about. My kids soaked up all the details of how school was conducted. And I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book about black Americans who were relatively well-off and who did not have a dysfunctional family. The illustrations by E.B. Lewis are gorgeous. It's a beautiful book to read.

Long after I closed this book, I wondered how Maria and her family fared in the Midwest, and whether Anna and Maria were able to keep in touch. Their homes, gone, replaced by Central Park. Hansen is unsentimental, letting us into the hearts of her characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool, taking me into two times and places, and again, what it means to be a family. I loved the way Vanderpool peeled the layers of this onion to reveal the hearts of the characters, the mystery I never suspected.

Book of the Maidservant by Rebecca Barnhouse was sheer delight. It's based upon the pilgrimage of Margery Kempe from England to Rome, but from the viewpoint of her maidservant, who Margery described in her autobiography as disobedient. Again, the details of their lives on the road with their fellow-travelers created a picture for me that I will not forget soon.

As you can see, I enjoy historical fiction very much and I must admit that I've learned more history by reading historical fiction than dry history books. Oh, there are some exceptional authors I've read, like Steven Ambrose or David Halberstam, but I'm afraid the vast majority of history books do not appeal to me.

Other books I've enjoyed are the Latin-English Missal, since we try to go to High Mass at least once a month. There is so much Beauty and Sacred Tradition that I didn't know I was even missing. We will probably invest in the 1962 Daily Missal eventually.

In The Seven Capital Sins, Fulton Sheen reflects upon the seven Words of Christ and correlates them to the reparation of the seven sins. In our culture, the idea of sin has practically vanished in the name of tolerance, so this slim book is a must.

I've also been enjoying Word Work: Surviving and Thriving as a Writer by Bruce Holland Rogers. It is not a book about the craft of writing, but about becoming and staying a writer. I highly recommend it.

My reading pile is ever growing ... I can't wait to get my copy Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys and The End of the Line by Angela Cerritos. My own writing is going well too -- I'm now revising the second half of my book.

I hope you have all found something in here that piques your interest, and I hope you will continue to have a blessed Lent.



Bish Denham said...

The title Moon Over Manifest keeps popping up, I want to read it. And Word Work sounds like I I could use.

I'm glad your writing is going well.

Missed you.

Faith E. Hough said...

I loved Moon over Manifest, and Between Shades of Gray is on my list, too.
I'm so glad to find out that friends are fellow historical-fiction lovers. :) I just finished Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larsen; I think you would really enjoy reading it if you haven't already!

Vijaya said...

Bish, get thee a copy from your library of both Moon and Word Work. You won't be disappointed.

Faith, I really enjoyed Hattie. Kirby is a local author, so it was an extra-special book for us.

HF rocks!

Shirley Anne Ramaley said...

Thank you so much for your recommendations. I'm taking this list to the library with me next time. I am so wrapped up in non-fiction and my photography that good fiction gets left by the wayside. But fiction is so important too.

Vijaya said...

Shirley, you are so talented because you single-minded. I've much to learn from you ... but I'm happy you will read some of these books. Happy reading.