Today I’m linking up with Kat and the Unravelers to share what I’ve been reading and stitching lately. Last week was a big stitching update; this week has been heavy on reading. So make sure you have a warm beverage ready because I have a lot to say today!
STITCHING THIS WEEK:
I’ve made it to the brioche on my Ramble shawl! It’s been a few years since I’ve knitted a brioche project and I forgot how fun and cool this is. There’s a lot of brioche increasing/decreasing, which requires my focus. I was able to pick up/put down this project easily when it was just stripes and I worked on it here and there throughout the day, but I can’t do that anymore at this point. And that’s okay because it’s nice to have an engrossing stitching project to keep me from watching the news late in the evening!
READING THIS WEEK:
My reading life got off to a slow and hesitant start this year but has picked up steam these last couple of weeks. I’m not sure how long this enthusiasm will last for me, but I’ll enjoy it while I can!
Many of us remember the image of the small child fleeing Syria found on the beach a few years ago. What Strange Paradise asks us to imagine that he was the only survivor and had to find his way in an unknown country surrounded by people who didn’t want him there. Luckily, he finds a young girl who knows who he needs to hide from and who can actually help him. This book forced me to consider, would I be someone he could run to or away from? This book was heartbreaking, while finding ways to be hopeful at the same time. We have such a responsibility to each other and have so much work to do in the world. This is on the Aspen Words short list.
Bronwyn and I are working our way through the American Girl books in chronological order (not in published order). We started with Kaya, a young Native American girl living in the American Northwest. We’re now on to Felicity, who is part of a colonist family in Williamsburg, VA. In Felicity Learns a Lesson, Felicity is taking etiquette lessons but runs into a conundrum. Her family is no longer drinking tea to protest the King’s taxes, but teatime is her favorite part of the lessons. Will she choose to continue drinking tea? Or will she find a way to politely refuse? I know the American Girl books are somewhat problematic and stereotypical, but I love that Bronwyn is being exposed to different parts of American history at such a young age. The American Girl books were among some of the first chapter books I read on my own when I was little. Kaya wasn’t created yet, but I vividly remember reading the Felicity books and imagining myself in Colonial Williamsburg, so it’s fun revisiting with my little one.
The Write Start is a book about encouraging your children to write at any stage of development. The first part covers the basics of writing: the mechanics and when/how to encourage children to take the next developmental steps. The second half of the book is full of fun writing activities to engage with. I found several tips that I’m going to carry with me throughout my homeschooling journey.
The Fell surprised me! It’s written in a stream of consciousness, which I typically despise (despite engaging in that writing style quite often myself). But I found the three main characters to be likable and relatable and I quickly fell into a nice rhythm with them. This is set outside of Manchester, England during a covid lockdown. A single mom, Kate, has gone totally stir-crazy and slips out of her gate just before sunset for a quick hike that she knows like the back of her hand. She leaves her teenage son napping inside, her telephone in her bedroom, and no note because she expects to be back in a flash. As you probably suspect, she ends up falling and suffering a major medical emergency, which requires help from a rescue squad and hospitalization. But before she can get help, her son Matt first needs to realize that she’s missing. When he wakes up, he’s surprised to find no sign of his mother. He’s forced to ask his neighbor, Alice, for help despite worrying about infecting her with covid. This book was full of the decisions we’ve all had to make over the last few years. How much risk is too much? How responsible are we all for each other’s health and well-being? How can we tend to our own self-care while ensuring that we’re not putting anyone else in danger? This slim volume is absolutely worth picking up as we begin to slowly “recover” from the last few years.
Love Medicine started as a struggle for me. I picked it up because it was the first selection in Mary’s Erdrich-Along, enjoyed the first 20-30 pages, and then got stuck. For months! The Zoom discussion came and went while this book waited on the shelf for me. I picked it up again last week, was so confused, and nearly abandoned it altogether. But I gave it one last shot. And amazingly, something clicked for me and I couldn’t put it down. I was riveted by the families Erdrich introduced us to and, once they began to take shape, couldn’t let go of their stories. This is clearly foundational reading for all of Erdrich’s future novels and I feel privileged to have read it. I can imagine myself referencing this book as I read more of her work. (I have the next book for the Erdrich-Along ready, but I’ve also ordered The Beet Queen and Tracks because I want to see how all of these puzzle pieces fit together.)
The Bread the Devil Knead is on the 2022 Women’s Prize long list. It’s set in the Caribbean and is written in a Creole dialect, which took a little getting used to but was necessary to transport me from snowy New Hampshire to a tropical island. This is a story about a 40 year old woman, Allie, who has been seriously abused her entire life. It’s also a story about how genuine, nonjudgemental friendships and unconditional love can help people in abusive situations more than we realize. I loved getting to know Allie, understanding her point of view, and cheering her on. (And it’s currently $3.99 on Kindle).
I don’t expect next week’s update to be so massive, so thank you for hanging in here with me today! You know how everything ebbs and flows with me and this week was no different. But I love filling my reading journal and book lists and I hope I can keep up my reading intensity for a while longer. It feels so good to be reading and talking about books again.
I plan to be back on Friday with a little update on my life, but this post pretty much sums everything up! (Hint: I have been reading.) Until then, please stay safe and cozy. And let me know if there’s anything I should add to my library list!
Love that you’re thinking about how to open up the world of writing for your young ones. Rachel had an early love of writing nurtured at the Canterbury Children’s Center and one of the helpful things they did was to NOT worry about spelling at all in the earliest days. They also ‘published’ the books that the kids wrote and had a library of student-created work that everyone had access to. I’m not remembering all the cool stuff they did — but not introducing a picky ‘editor’ early on seemed to make a world of difference! And Louise Erdrich is mostly unexplored territory for me…hmmmmm…. 😉
Always enjoyed reading about what other blogging friends are reading. Your comments on some of the books illustrates how sometimes, for lack of a better phrase, we’re just not in the mood for a certain book. However, a second chance is sometimes warranted. I, too, am not a fan of stream of consciousness. Do people really think in such long convoluted sentences? But based on your review of “Fell,” I just might give it a go. I’ve recently finished a memoir called “We Were Not Spoiled,” by Lucille Verreault Ledoux. It’s a quiet book about growing up Franco-American in Lewiston, Maine, in the 1920s and 1930s. While nothing exciting happens, I found it compelling nonetheless. Maybe it’s because I’m Franco-American, too.
Oh, Katie! That shawl! Gorgeous! (and I am in awe of your brioche knitting skills!)
What an incredible reading week as well! Sarah Moss is a wonderful story teller! And What Strange Paradise is such a gut punch… and really gives food for thought as the world opens its doors to the stream of Ukrainian refugees.
Lovely to encourage children from a young age to read, write and be inquisitive. You have some deep books there. The shawl looks amazing.
So much good reading here! I really love how you model regular reading and writing for your kids and how you read about how to instill the practices in them as well. I know it’s going to pay off!
I had a similar initial reaction to Love Medicine, but I think it’s the kind of book you really need to stick with. The method of storytelling in such a circular fashion is less familiar to me, but I’m coming to see that it’s pretty typical for Erdrich, not just within a single book but within her entire body of work. Like you, I plan to read beyond the selections for our Erdrich along, and I’d really like to read all her works eventually (though I think I will need several years to get to them all).
With Love Medicince…as with a few others; Cuckoo Land was one of them…I find that my chemistry with a books is often a matter of 1) timing and 2) letting go. By which I mean letting go of my need to keep close track of every single detail/relationship/link….which is my default setting!–and after awhile, trust it will come together for me. And it does, in time. Usually! I think listening to books on audio has helped me with that–especially, for example, when I’m driving and I can’t backtrack.
Elsa and I have loved the AG chapter books. Such a great way to engage in reading + history. I’d say I enjoy them as much as she does!
I have to say I have never tried Brioche knitting. I read a little more about it after reading your post. I think I will give it a try. I love your book reviews and will read some of them. I love that you are reading the American Girl books it makes me want to read those too. Have a wonderful week!!!
I love thinking about you and your daughter reading the AG books. Our girls loved their dolls and the books. They used to dress up and do plays based on the stories. Now if only we could figure out what to doo with all their dolls🤣
Your Ramble Shawl is going to be beautiful Katie! I remember reading the Little House on the Prairie books with my Mom when I was little. Such treasured memories that I’m sure you and your daughter will share too 😊
If the American Girl books has been around when I was a kid I would have enjoyed them. I think some of them had started to come out in the late 80’s but I wasn’t aware of them. I have never read Erdrich but I’ve heard nothing bu high praise for The Sentence, and that and Love Medicine are on my TBR list for sure.