Truthfully, I was reading in 12 books last month, and that’s pretty average for me, but these are the only ones that I finished in May. I try to read in two or three of them every day, but every day read different books. For a couple of years, I have been trying to read books the way I expect my children to read their schoolbooks, slowly, on a variety of subjects on different days. It takes many months sometimes to read through a long book, but I am finding my appreciation and retention of what an author has to say has increased with this method. Here are the books I closed the cover on this month:
1. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. I got to know the Bronte sisters as a young reader in elementary school. One of my favorite poems in my commonplace book was written by Anne. Its poignant grief after the loss of a lover twists my heart every time I read it. But, I at this late date in life have just had the pleasure of reading one of her novels. It is apparent that some of her sisters’ social concerns were hers as well. I don’t think she is as masterful a storyteller as Emily and Charlotte, but still has her own quiet story to tell. Agnes is a girl who, in hopes of helping her family with an ailing father, ventures into the world to try her hand at being a governess and earning her living. She has experiences that are doubtless representative of young working women in that era. Agnes is an upright young woman, though naïve of the world outside her small family circle. She is an interesting mix of bashfulness and boldness, simplicity and strength.
2. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. I’m still trekking slowly through this series a second time after a ten year hiatus. I find myself noticing details I missed the first time in my suspenseful rush through the first reading of this series, pondering with admiration the details of the plot unfolded through the entire series that show the talent of a masterful storyteller. Still, I end up rushing at the end and holding my breath at Harry’s predicaments and perils even though I know what’s going to happen. It’s no surprise children gravitate to these spell binders (no pun intended).
3. The Bird in the Tree by Elizabeth Gouge. I have read this one before, too, about 13 years ago. It is the first in a family saga during the World War II era. The first time, I read the second, then third novel in the trilogy, and this first novel last. My book club picked this one for May’s meeting and, since Goudge is one of the best authors I’ve read in my life, I settled in to enjoy it again. It was richer the second time. I again reveled in the beauty and power of her writing, but this time fully recognized the symbolism and beauty of the tale, the wrestlings of faith of the characters, and a beautiful picture of the story of redemption in the Book of books.
4. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Curtis. My sister urged me to read this book after meeting the author at a conference. He is from our hometown. He also is a fabulous writer for children. This is the tale of a boy in an abusive foster home who strikes out to find his own way in the world. The problem is, it is the Depression, and he is very naïve. He is also very intuitive and persistent. This book had me laughing and crying by turns.
For the joy of reading,