Posts Tagged With: summer reading

Plan Ahead for Summer Reading

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s almost summertime and I am pushing my “read more” agenda again! Here are some specific ideas for getting more from your reading this summer:

1) Read more – set higher personal reading goals! Summer reading is a special experience because is often takes place out of doors, on a beach or a porch swing. We can allow ourselves a large allocation of time to read during this season because our routine is changing as we welcome our children home from school and make vacation plans.

My goal: Read a minimum of an hour a day June -August.

2) Connect with others in your reading! Reading is not a solitary happening, but a satisfying conduit for building common experiences. Use your inner circle’s reading recommendations – children, spouses, parents, librarians, and friends. Target your children’s favorite book and watch their pleasure as you become familiar with the plots and characters they love.

My goal: Read The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

See! A boy is reading in this candid photo.

See! A boy is reading in this candid photo.

3) Stretch your mental muscles! All have the capacity to enjoy a classic book. Although there is no harm in seeking a “light” read; the mental challenge in reading classic literature propels you into new depths — past the shallow water of superficial plots and stereotypical characters.

My goal: Read The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

4) Re-read a childhood favorite! Go down memory lane and enjoy that classic children’s book again. Perhaps a family member might join you in this endeavor, but even when you read something independently, you can still take time to share excerpts that you felt most impacted by; whether it be humorous, serious, or touching.

My goal: Read Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne.4cd2e-the_sweetness_at_the_bottom_of_the_pie

5) Listen to an audio version of a book! On a family car trip or even during your mundane work commute, pop in an audio book and enjoy a good story as the miles roll by.  As a side effect, if your children are listening too, audio versions of books allow them to participate and experience literature above their own reading level.

My goal: Listen to the fourth book in the Flavia de Luce mystery series, I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley (Book #1 is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – all the books are narrated splendidly by Jayne Entwhistle)

6) Be a good reading example to others! Maybe this summer is the time to read purely for enjoyment. Others watch what you do more than what you say, so if you especially want your spouse or children to pick up a book in their spare time, – to “read for pleasure” – as the phrase goes, then you must do the same.  Show them by example that reading isn’t always work!

My goal: to put up my feet in the daytime and read when the chores are not yet done.

7) Hit the library! Make use of your tax dollars and browse the local library for good ideas and free books to borrow. Library summer reading programs for kids and adults help direct our goals to increase reading with their prizes and recognition.

My goal: Sign us all up for the Dauphin County Library summer reading program on June 1st.

da69a-girl-reading1So, enjoy some special reading adventures this summer and please tell me about them!

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Categories: Autobiography, Biography, British novels, Chick lit, Children's Books, Christian Fiction, Classics, Fantasy, Girl Fiction, Historical Fiction, Humorous, Inspiration, Mystery, Read Aloud, Romantic Fiction, Uncategorized, young adult fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

City of Tranquil Light – Summer Reading Favorite

city of tranquil light 4Summer reading is a very special type of experience because it often takes places out of doors, on a beach or a porch swing. Often we allow ourselves a larger allocation of time to read during this season, giving ourselves a little break from the hard work ethic of the school year and the full calendar of goals and achievements.

So that means we need some rich reading options and I have one to recommend: City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell, first published in 2010. I blogged on this novel eighteen months ago, but if you missed it here is another chance.

A former Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University, Bo Caldwell demonstrates her ability to provide a fulfilling sensory experience as she recreates a slice of place and time in early twentieth-century China. The two thousand-year-old dynasty is crumbling and civil war rocks the county. Into this turmoil steps a set of unmarried mid-western Mennonite missionaries, Will and Katherine, who are each determined to give their skills and their hearts to the people of China.

They are the good kind of missionaries with the respect for their adopted country that is the foundation of true service: “Katherine, there are practices in this country that you will dislike, I assure you. But some of these we must accept as they are. We are here to offer the gift of faith, not to remake their way of life, even when the change seems necessary and right. It is a question of choosing your battles. Remember that we are guests, and uninvited ones at that.” (Will Kiehn)

Caldwell thoroughly researched the history of her grandparents’ lives as missionaries, as well as this historical period in China, and that background gives this fictional story a realism in its setting and a high level of tragedy in its plot line.

Poignantly, Caldwell describes the resultant suffering as the Communists defeat the Imperial government. Will and Katherine marry and then align wholeheartedly with their Chinese friends to endure this troubled period in an ancient and beautiful land. The opening chapters detail the couple’s initial meeting, but the majority of the book takes place as they walk out their married life together.

In my opinion, this novel satisfies the avid historical fiction reader, the romantic, those who love beautiful prose, and the reader searching for an inspirational story. In the novel, Will reflects on his long life “When I was twenty-one and on my way to China, I tried to envision my life there. I saw myself preaching to huge gatherings of people, baptizing eager new converts, working with my brothers in Christ to improve their lives. I did not foresee the hardships and dangers that lay ahead: the loss of one so precious, the slow and painful deprivation of drought and famine, the continual peril of violence, the devastation of war, the threat to my own dear wife. Again and again we were saved by the people we came to help and carried through by the Lord we had come to serve. I am amazed at His faithfulness; even now our lives there fill me with awe.” (p. 9)

Bo Caldwell

Bo Caldwell

 

 

 

 

Categories: Chick lit, Historical Fiction, Inspiration, Romantic Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Reading For Pleasure

The pleasure of outdoor reading

The pleasure of outdoor reading

The idea for this blog came from my cousin, Jennefer, about a year ago as I was, once again, waxing eloquent about some book I wanted her to read.

I started pineneedlesandpapertrails as a blog to recommend my favorites, not provide a deep critique what’s out there – new or old. I realized, too, as I blogged, just how fervently I believe in the benefits of reading.  Literacy – yes – but not just literacy for the sake of job advancement or the achievement of educational goals; I mean reading for enjoyment.

Inspirational author Gladys Hunt challenged us to have “honey” in our lives so we can give it away: “Many years ago Erich Fromm wrote in The Art of Loving that children need two things: milk and honey.  Both are necessary to thrive as human beings.  Milk symbolizes the necessities – like good food, brushing your teeth, drinking your milk and plenty of sleep. Honey is just as important. It means finding sweetness in life, like beauty and goodness that nourish the inner person…Good books are full of honey.  It reminds me of the proverb that says ‘Pleasant words are like a honeycomb; sweet to the soul and healing to the bones’.” [Proverbs 16:24] blog post, dated September 12, 2008 http://www.tumbon.com/honey.

Mrs. Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart and Honey for a Teen’s Heart are excellent resources that offer book lists and inspirational chapters on why children should read, but few people realize that she wrote Honey for a Woman’s Heart for adults. This wonderful book spurred me to read for pleasure in the midst of my busy, and sometimes chaotic, life. It also helped me to climb out of the reading rut I had fallen into (British or historical mysteries) to try new genres.

I am not telling you WHAT to read this summer.  Some novels are written perfectly to be read in one afternoon on the beach, other books are best read in installments. The Sherlock Holmes detective stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for example, were originally published as serial articles in a magazine.  My seatmate on a recent airplane trip was a writer who described reading a classic novel too quickly from cover to cover like “eating an entire pan of fudge at one sitting. It would not be very enjoyable.”

Just read! Pick up a classic to stretch your mind, or read a light novel!

Okay, I admit I have some personal favorites. You can check out my recommendations for the year on the “My Library” page of this blog.  I love Neta Jackson’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series, At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon, a wholesome, hopeful book set in a North Carolina small town.  City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell, the story of a missionary couple in China, containing heroism, tragedy and romance all in a fascinating historical setting.

You could take a dip into mystery with The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey, or Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers.

For fantasy, the Narnia Chronicles always delight. I blogged about my favorite, The Horse and His Boy. My friend, Lynne, suggests reading them in the order C.S. Lewis wrote them:  Lion, Prince, Voyage, Silver, Horse, Magician’s, Lastly, I recommend Beyond the Summerland, the first in the Binding of the Blade fantasy series by L.B. Graham.

A final thought! If you are a parent or grandparent who wishes that the children in their lives would read this summer, be sure to put your own nose in a book – the power of example.  My posts with short reading lists for boys and girls are found in the month of November.

Happy Reading!

Categories: British novels, Classics, Fantasy, Girl Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

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