Friday, January 17, 2020

Two "Beautiful" Movies (Worthwhile Movies #19 and #20)

I saw my two favorite movies of 2019 back to back. Two weeks before Christmas my husband and I went to see "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" with Tom Hanks. We usually enjoy anything Hanks does, but I was nervous about how Mr. Rogers might be portrayed. Would they make him look like a total goofball? Would they try so hard to show that he had feet of clay that we would lose our respect for him?

Thankfully, none of those fears were realized. The story is just as much about the hard-nosed reporter sent to interview Rogers as it is about Rogers. The juxtaposition of their two lives gave a wonderful texture to the film. Never too harsh. Never too sweet. The filming was beautiful. Roger's faith was not ignored. Frankly, it's been years since I've felt that good coming out of a movie.

Then a week later, I watched This Beautiful Fantastic. (Amazon Prime). It's quirky beginning requires you to suspend disbelief from the get-go, and the result is a magical ride through the life of recluse Bella Brown (played wonderfully by Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey). Bella has anxiety issues and only leaves home to work in the library. But through a series of encounters with other unconventional people, she learns to live life more fully. It's a wonderful tale of the messiness of life and of relationships, and yet it celebrates it all. The music, the filming, and the dialogue are top-notch, and I can't wait to watch it again. (Beware of some swearing.)

What was your favorite film in 2019?


Friday, January 10, 2020

Reading Goals for 2020

My reading challenges for 2019 were a complete bust (too much time in transition) so I hesitate to make new lists, but I've decided on several light goals.

First of all, I want to slow down and re-read several favorite books. (Wind in the Willows, Persuasion, etc.) I don't do this enough because I'm always anxiously pursuing my next book. I don't want to ANXIOUSLY read anything this year.

Secondly, I want to continue the Fairacre series by Miss Read. (more unhurried reading)

Thirdly, I want to read 10 literary classics. Not too daunting considering that I have several of them in audio book form. These are books that feed my soul and I need to make them a priority. (Anna Karenina and Silas Marner are two titles I hope to read.)

Fourthly, I want to always have a Christian classic on hand to read for a few minutes after my daily Bible reading. (Andrew Murray, A.W. Tozer, etc.)

What about you? Any goals for the year? How did you meet last year's goals?


Friday, January 3, 2020

Reading Year in Review - 2019

I was in transition for most of the year so I wasn't able to read as deeply as I usually do. But being in the U.S for eight months meant I had access to a greater variety of books. Out of the 90 books, these are the ten that made the biggest impression on me.

Hardest to read but worth the effort: Island of the World by Michael D. O'Brien. An achingly sad and beautiful book. I appreciate the ability of Catholic authors to include suffering in their fiction without facile answers. But I struggled at times to identify with the more mystical elements of Obrien’s book. Still, this is some of the best storytelling you will ever read.

Not my favorite, but the one the made the biggest difference in my thinking: The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield (reviewed here)

Another book that deeply affected my thinking: The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher (reviewed here)

Favorite non-fiction: The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller (reviewed here)

Favorite vintage novel: Fair Harbor by Joseph Crosby Lincoln (reviewed here)

Favorite re-read: The Damerosehay Trilogy by Elizabeth Goudge. "Loving well is true artistry."

Biggest surprise: Poetry as Means of Grace by Charles Grosvenor Osgood. The poets, in this case, are Dante, Milton, Spenser, and Johnson. Osgood wrote to men preparing for ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1940, and he asserts that the writings of these four men will "illustrate, reinforce, verify, and illuminate" the Bible.

Absolute favorite of the year: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder (reviewed here)

Honorable mention goes to the C.S. Lewis titles that I read along with blogging friend, Carol B: Miracles and The Great Divorce

What about you? What were your favorite books of the year?


Monday, December 30, 2019

More Kindle Unlimited Titles for Thoughtful Readers (31-50)

Amazon had a half price deal for Kindle Unlimited until Dec 31st; if you happened to take advantage of it, here are some suggestions for better-than-average books.

Dorothy Sayers detective novels: Lord Peter Wimsey Vol. 2 (The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Strong Poison, Five Red Herrings and Have His Carcase) and Vol. 3 (Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors, Gaudy Night and Busman's Honeymoon). Oddly, Vol. 1 is not available for KU.

Amberwell and Summerhills - D.E. Stevenson (2-part Ayrton Family series)

Home Cooking (a memoir as well as a cookbook) - Laurie Colwin
Caught Up in a Story - Sarah Clarkson
The Rainey List of Best Books for Children (Ages 0-12)

I have not read the Harry Potter books, but all 7 are free for Kindle Unlimited.

What about you? Have you made any discoveries with KU that you want to share?

Previous lists are here, here and here.


Friday, December 27, 2019

More Kindle Unlimited Titles for Thoughtful Readers (21-30)

Here are ten more better-than-average titles for Kindle Unlimited. (Two previous lists are posted here and here.)

Books I plan to Read:
I'll Watch the Moon by Anne Tatlock (reviewed here) There are many other free Tatlock titles.
The Tall Stranger - D.E. Stevenson
This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems - Wendell Berry
Hangman's Holiday by Dorothy Sayers (book #9 of 15)

A Cloud by Day, A Fire by Night: Finding and Following God's Will for Your Life - A. W. Tozer
The Unsettling of America - Wendell Berry
Time Management is Really Life Management by Roy King
Tech-Wise Family - Andy Crouch
The Trojan Mouse - An interesting title about Disney's effect on popular culture.

Books that others have enjoyed:
Green Ember by S.D. Smith


Monday, December 23, 2019

More Kindle Unlimited Titles for Thoughtful Readers (11-20)

As far as I know the Kindle Unlimited deal (1/2 price for 3 months) is good till the end of December. So here are some more suggestions for some of Amazon's better offerings. Enjoy!

1) Raising Your Spirited Child - Kurcinka (This book was very helpful to me with one of our boys!)
2) The Dangers of Shallow Faith - A. W. Tozer
3) The Crucified Life - Tozer
4) Weeknight Cooking for Two: 100 5-ingredient Suppers
5) Healthy Cookbook for Two
6) Healthy Slow Cooker for Two

7) Remembering - Wendell Berry
8) Son by Lois Lowry (book #4 in The Giver trilogy shows what happens to the people in book #1. It is not necessary to read books #2 and #3 to understand the last book in the series.
9,10) Katherine Wentworth and Katherine's Marriage by D.E. Stevenson's (reviewed here)

Stay tuned for two more upcoming lists.


Friday, December 20, 2019

Kindle Unlimited Titles for Thoughtful Readers (1-10)

Let's face it. Most titles for Kindle Unlimited are junk. You have to scroll through hundreds of trashy books to find the gems. Since I first tried it, in 2017, I've learned a trick or two. Now whenever I'm browsing for books, I make a separate list of the ones available through KU. My original plan was to join for a month and read as many of the free titles as possible during that month. But when Amazon offered three months of KU for half price, I decided to join sooner rather than later. (This deal is good till Dec 31st.) If you plan to take advantage of the discount, here are some suggestions for better quality books. (Amazon offers millions of fluffy romances, but I prefer the better writing and characterization of  vintage author D.E. Stevenson and Christian fiction writer, Lisa Wingate.)

Six books I have enjoyed:
The Magic Apple Tree by Susan Hill (beautiful non-fiction, reviewed here)
Bel Lamington and Fletcher's End by D.E. Stevenson (reviewed here)
Thrush Green by Miss Read (first in the series of over 20 lovely books)

Four books I plan to read:
On Reading Well by Karen Swallor Prior
Sandy's Seashell Shop Christmas by Lisa Wingate
To-Do List Formula by Zahariades
Evangelism as Exiles: Life on Mission as Strangers in our Own Land by Elliott Clark

Other ideas:
Drawing Book for Kids: 356 Daily Things to Draw, Step by Step (There are half a dozen other drawing books available.)
Christmas Jokes for Kids

Ten to get you started. More ideas next week!

If you have any recommendations, please let me know and I'll add them to my next lists.