Monday, February 13, 2017

Books I Finished reading in January 2017

I plan to continue posting my monthly list of books I finished the previous month and apologize for being a bit behind in doing so—not a good habit to start off a new year. Alas, travel and illness interfere with the best laid plans.

I have embarked on several lengthy and weighty tomes that will take me several months to complete, but one begun last fall wound up in January and is listed here.

1. The Four Dolls by Rumer Godden

When I was a little girl, I not only had an assortment of dolls whom I loved and cared for most diligently, but I adored stories about dolls and other little girls with dolls. One of these stories enchanted me, the author and title long forgotten, and I occasionally pick up a story about a doll to see if it might be that story. Thus, I decided on this one, as well as because I have only read Godden’s adult novels. This collection of doll stories is diverse—different kinds of dolls, children, and settings, but all delightful and exquisitely reminiscent of childhood fears, ambitions, and pranks.

2. A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep by Rumer Godden

I like to have a biography going all the time and enjoyed reading this first of Godden’s autobiographies while simultaneously reading one of her children’s books. This must rank in my all-time favorite autobiographies. Godden’s life is colorful and full of fortune and misfortune, triumphs and tragedies, and was written in her usual perfection of description and expression. I admired especially her ability to make the most of any circumstance by sheer willpower, creativity, ingenuity, and humor. In an era overpoweringly deluged with memoirs, this one stands out above the rest.

3. Best American Science Writing, 2003 ed. Oliver Sacks

Finding myself at a loss for a new science title to stretch my knowledge, I picked up this volume of 25 top writers in the field of science. Oliver Sacks is already one of my favorite science writers, so I was fascinated by his choices for best science writing. My ultimate goal was to discover names of authors I could then pursue to take me down some scientific trails and am now stocked thanks to these various and fascinating articles on subjects from zoology and oceanography to bioethics and physics.

4. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

There is nothing better than winter days with a new (to me) title by a favorite author. Mary Barton is a heroine who is far from perfect, but through willfulness and misjudgment rises to heroic heights of effort in a tense and exciting conclusion. I think this a good choice for teen-aged girls especially who are wrestling with family relationships, use of their talents, and finding their own moral compass.

5. Plato’s Republic. Ed. Jowett

I read this volume 15 years ago and felt like a first-time sailor put in charge of a voyage. I took a few impressions away, but thought returning to it after intervening years of further reading might help me make more sense of it. Though I get a bit annoyed at Socrates’ seeming disingenuous questioning technique, I did admire the Greeks’ efforts to grapple with the topics of justice, knowledge, class, and true nobility.

For the joy of reading,



  1. Liz, I love Rumer Godden too. I recently found out that she homeschooled her children for a while using the PNEU!!!! No wonder we love her :-)

    1. Amy,

      I was saving that for a surprise, but the cat's out of the bag now! I was so excited to read that in this biography.


  2. Replies
    1. It's actually fun when someone else finds out a secret through a book.