September (and October) books

After finishing The Ocean at the end of the Lane, I decided to read Three by Dillard, which contains three of her best books, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, An American Childhood, and The Writing Life.

I must say that Annie Dillard is an exceptional writer. Her words, while simple, evoke such a clear picture of what she is writing about. She has a way of making you look differently at commonplace things and feel the wonder all over again. I think my favorite was actually An American Childhood.” It was full of insights that I think many of us could relate to and it left me with a sense of the connectedness that we all share. I finished the three in this set on September 26 and had a hard time then deciding what next to read.

Concurrent with reading Dillard, there are a couple nonfiction books that I read pieces of. First, because I am always looking for resources to assist me in my homeschooling project, I found Homeschooling: The Teen Years, by Cafi Cohen. One thing that really caught my notice is where the author writes about decompression. It is said that when you take a kid out of the school system, they need decompression time, sometimes as much as two years, or as some say, one month for every year they were in the school system. It apparently takes a fair amount of time without any kind of school or academic pressure for these kids to decompress and be ready to start with homeschooling. I found this immensely comforting and guilt-alleviating because of the length of time my son has taken to be ready to do this. I have not understood it, but now I do. It is primarily difficult due to the felt criticism coming from family members.

So this has helped me to relax and feel confident that despite how things have gone so far, my son will, in time, be ready to make a go of this. I am ready, and so soon will he be. Enough said.

The second nonfiction book I started reading is also loosely connected to the homeschooling topic. I, of course, read The Well-Trained Mind from cover to cover and found it extremely helpful in everything to do with homeschooling. One of the authors of that book has another book called The Well-Educated Mind, in which she sets out to teach adults how to read good literature. I picked this up because I did have a lot of gaps in my formal education and there are many “Great Books” that I have never read. So I was curious. If I want my son to read these books, then I need to also educate myself. At the outset, though, I felt rather condescended to. After all, I am a better-than-average reader and do not need anyone to teach me how to read. On the other hand, there are things I can learn from reading this. But her “instruction” is more aimed towards people with a lot less education and acumen as I personally possess. But I have tried to put away my annoyance at the condescension and aim to get what I can out of the book.

One thing that I found interesting is where the author talks about “commonplace books” that people used in the past, and that appealed to me. So I decided to do a “commonplace book” for myself as a sort of reading log. I frequently mark passages in books with page points or a highlighter. But it seems to me a better idea to put my notes about books in a notebook designed for that purpose instead. So far I haven’t written very much in there, but time will tell.

My next fiction choice was to read Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, starting by rereading the first two books, and then reading the final book which I recently got after seeing the author at Copperfield’s and having the books autographed.

The first of these books is A Discovery of Witches, which I began reading on September 28th. The only notation I made about this book was that on page 38 she talks about “adrenaline poisoning” and because the character is a witch, it made me think that perhaps that explains my problem (for years I was told by doctors that my problem was that I pumped too much adrenaline through my system on a regular basis). So – I must be a witch. LOL

In the second book, Shadow of Night, I was tickled to find the character keeping a “commonplace book.” I love synchronicities. It’s like, once you learn of or become aware of something, you see and hear about it constantly when you never did before. Just one of life’s interesting little things.

And I enjoyed the final book, The Book of Life, very much indeed. She did a wonderful job tying up all the loose ends as far as I could tell and it was a great story. I finished this book and the trilogy on October on October 26th.

And it seems a perfect time to have been reading these books with Halloween being just around the corner. You know, witches, vampires, general paganism – I love all things witchy. And because of all the negative feelings I have about religion these days, I think it would be good if we all revert back to paganism. I’ve even started praying to the Goddess. It feels much better to pray to a female deity – it is females who create life, females who nurture. Worship of a male deity involves too much violence, hate, fear, and judgment. All you need to do is look at history to know this. Christianity, it seems to me, celebrates death. I want to celebrate life. And that is what the Goddess represents to me.

So what will I read next? Always a mystery…

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