Books in progress

16 Feb
Since I’m generally being slow as all get-out on finishing any books, I thought I’d give some brief descriptions of the books currently hanging out on my nightstand. I really want to finish a book, but one is a memoir and the other two are non-fiction, none of which fall into my speed-reading categories. I also have a problem with reading multiple books at one time – my attention span has never been vast, so when I divide it by three, it’s not good.

So, first up is Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden. It chronicles the real-life adventures of Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, two educated and well-bred women in their late-20s who, just before World War I, decided to pick up and move to a remote town in Colorado to teach school to homesteader children. Kind of amazing, right? Wickenden is Dorothy Woodruff’s granddaughter and an executive editor at New Yorker magazine and she had access to piles and piles of Woodruff and Underwood’s personal correspondence. So far, I’m amused and interested, mostly by how my preconceptions about the women’s attitudes are way off. They seem continually enchanted by it all, the rough and tumble cowboys, the spare and desolate country, and the less than comfortable conditions at times. I think I may end up being very, very impressed by their fortitude and love of life.

I’m also reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions: Reviving Victorian Family Celebrations of Comfort & Joy. How to describe this one? I’d read the author’s immensely popular Simple Abundance a few years ago and enjoyed it – her old-timey, sensitive writing really calms me and gets me to slow down and think about my life in a really nonjudgmental way. Having found out that years before, she’d written a kind of guide to instilling some of the positive aspects of Victorian family life into your daily life, I thought it sounded just odd enough to delight me. And I am delighted. There’s stuff about celebrating the seasons, and making easter egg trees, and how to create a serene and peaceful home life. It’s pretty foreign stuff to me, but I like the history and the idea that we all could look to some of the traditions of the past to enhance our modern lives.

Last, I’m making my way through Louise Erdrich’s The Blue Jay’s Dance: A Memoir of Early Motherhood. I’ve never read her fully before, only dabbling a little here and there, and am actually a little intimidated because her work seems to be held in really high regard and I’ve never found her style easy to get into. I am motivated though to discover her novels, and this loan from a friend seemed like the perfect way to dip my toes in. Erdrich describes a year of motherhood, from pregnancy through some way into her baby’s first year. I’m enjoying it, though I suspect it suffers a bit from my only read bits and pieces as I go to bed. I think I need to really immerse myself in her voice and get into the rhythm of it to really appreciate it.

Well, that’s it! Wish me luck in finally finishing up some of these!

3 Responses to “Books in progress”

  1. Rebecca February 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Wickenden and Breathnach’s novels both sound fascinating. I’m looking forward to your reviews. They both sound like the type of book that would sit on my TBR list or pile for years, and I’d have the best of intentions to read them, and there’d always be another book that was calling to me a little louder.

    And Breathnach? What an awesome last name. So is Wickenden. 🙂

    • Amanda February 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      You know, I think you’d really like Ban Breathnach’s books – they have a very soothing quality, and I know how you like to emphasize the happy in life. 🙂

  2. Rebecca February 18, 2012 at 9:03 pm #


    I just got a kindle fire and your site was the first place I checked to make sure it worked. And it does. Hooray! Now I can take this with me to the bookstore and have all your recommendations right on hand.

    Is this what it’s like for people with cell phones?

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