Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On my Christmas break bookshelf

Now that I'm home from college, I'm finally finding time again to actually read. It feels wonderful! Here's what I'm munching on right now.

Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis

Lewis wrote so many things, and I love him so much, that it seems like I've been constantly reading something or other by him for the past three years or so. This actually isn't turning out to be my favorite of his non-fictional works, but I'm enjoying it all the same. It's enlightening to be able to learn about the events in his childhood and early adulthood that influenced his inner development and led to his conversion, and to read first-hand about all of the intriguing characters who inhabited his life.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

I'm only on chapter three, but I love it already. The Catholic theme is already apparent to me, and I can't wait to see how that's going to develop. Once I've finished it, I'd like to see how the two film adaptations compare - I've heard that the '81 mini-series is quite good, while the '08 film kind of falls short of the book (and is anti-Catholic, to boot. Go figure). Right now, I'm loving the character of Sebastian Flyte. I don't know if I will the whole way through - I still don't know what his back story is, or how he will develop - but he totes around and talks to a teddy bear named Aloysius. He has my heart.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

McKinley - one of my favorite contemporary fantasy authors - has constructed a world where vampires and other ghastly creatures run loose and frequently terrorize the human population, kept in check only by a sort of anti-monster police force. In this world, vampires are ugly and entirely unappealing, not to mention terrifying - a nice change from the world of Twilight. Dark humor sets off the suspense and gore: the narrator is a shrewd, determined young woman (like most of McKinley's heroines) who also has a sarcastic take on every situation encountered. This definitely isn't my favorite of her books; Rose Daughter and even The Hero and the Crown both had more emotional depth and more enduring themes than this new novel. I find this interesting, seeing as Sunshine is supposedly McKinley's first "adult" work. The only things that this has more of in comparison to her YA novels are language and sleaze.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

A part of me is sad that I didn't read this as a little kid, but at the same time I'm so glad I'm reading it now, from a young adult's perspective. The older I get and the more I read, the more firmly I believe that any children's book written by an adult will always be more than just a children's book. Something that immediately struck me when I began reading The Wind in the Willows was how sensual some of the imagery is - in a good way, of course, but also in a very mature way, that makes the mind stretch. I'm talking about even just Grahame's description of a river. He has a lovely way with words. It's amazing. I'm so in love. Gah.

Edited by John F. Thornton and Susan B. Varenne

There's a reason this guy was called the "Mellifluous (honey-sweet) Doctor". He writes simply - a 12-year-old would have no trouble understanding him - but with such incredible SWEETNESS. He's amazing. This book contains selections from his sermons, letters, and other writings. My favorite part is the selection from his sermons on The Song of Songs. I forget how large the collection is, but this books contains the first 23 sermons. They are gorgeous. The end.

Winter really does bring out the Hobbit in us all - there's nothing better than to snuggle up indoors with a good book when the weather's cold and stormy. What are you reading this winter? Feel free to share in the comment box!

Happy Advent,


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