The Family

The Family

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What We've Been Reading Lately

It's been a while since I posted about our adventures in reading. Truth is we've been doing so much reading that I've had a hard time narrowing down what to post about.

With the Kids:
"The Napping House" by Audrey Wood is definitely this week's favorite. We checked it out of the local library and both children already know it by heart. A big plus about our copy is that there is an accompanying CD that reads the story and includes some fun songs about naptime. It's going on my list for Mattie's birthday!

"Harry Potter" by JK Rowling is a must in this house. I read through all the books aloud to Jack when he was 3, and I was excited about starting them again. Of course he didn't comprehend much back then, but I was so eager to share my love of these wonderful stories with him. We've already made it through "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." Mattie is following in her brother's footsteps and paying attention so seldom that I wonder why I'm even trying to include her. We're halfway through "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." It seems all the more fitting that we got our dog this past weekend because his name is Sirius, just like one of the integral figures of the story that makes his appearance in the third novel.

Many, many random books on Egypt, mammoths, sharks and all sorts of sea life we've picked up on our outings to the library.

My Reads:
"A Feast for Crows" by George R. R. Martin had been on my list for a while. These books aren't fast reads. I think I started it in February and finally finished while on our recent vacation in Massachusetts. I had to take a break after "A Storm of Swords" because I was so upset about the Starks. While the Starks aren't mentioned much in this book, I still don't like what's happening with them. To my surprise, I've found myself warming to Jaime. I find his desire for redemption one of the most admirable qualities in any character in this series so far.

"Learning All the Time" by John Holt is one of three I picked up by the author. Holt is hailed by many as the father of "unschooling," and I was interested to read his thoughts on education. A former teacher, Holt died in the 1980s, and his insight and criticism of America's educational model are interesting. I can't say I agree with everything I read in this book, but there were a lot of examples that I can attest to from my own life, my experiences as a professor and through homeschooling my own children.

"Regarding the Pain of Others" by Susan Sontag was mentioned in a book I recently read. I expected it to be more of a philosophical essay of sorts, but it was primarily about photojournalism and its role in depicting suffering, tragedy and war. As a former journalist, I did find the subject interesting, and there are a few insights from the author that I thought worth sharing:

"While the image, like every image, is an invitation to look, the caption, more often than not, insists on the difficulty of doing just that. A voice, presumably the artist's, badgers the viewer: can you bear to look at this?"

"Central to modern expectations, and modern ethical feeling, is the conviction that war is an aberration, if an unstoppable one. That peace is the norm, if an unattainable one. This, of course, is not the way war has been regarded throughout history. War has been the norm and peace the exception."

"To designate a hell is not, of course, to tell us anything about how to extract people from that hell, how to moderate hell's flames. Still, it seems a good in itself to acknowledge, to have enlarged, one's sense of how much suffering caused by human wickedness there is in the world we share with others. Someone who is perennially surprised that depravity exists, who continues to feel disillusioned (even incredulous) when confronted with evidence of what humans are capable of inflicting in the way of gruesome, hands-on cruelties upon other humans, has not reached moral or psychological adulthood."

"The images say: This is what human beings are capable of doing - may volunteer to do, enthusiastically, self-righteously. Don't forget."

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