The Week In Books, No. 10

I heard about “Reading Like a Writer” from Shannon’s blog, and thought it sounded interesting. It was! Prose declares that one learns to be a good writer from reading and loving good writing, more than from taking a class or doing exercises. She then describes how close readings of various aspects of writing can inform and strengthen the reader’s understanding of composition.

People often ask me if I speed read. I don’t, because I consider that to be a waste of good material. I do read quickly (or fluently, I suppose, I don’t read as if reading out loud to myself, I just think the words), but I read completely and I love to savor a well-turned phrase or artfully executed paragraph. I think that is why I enjoyed this book so much. Prose seems to take the same type of enjoyment out of excellent writing that I do, and many of the passages she quotes and discusses reminded me of old favorites in my collection. I was also reminded of many books I’ve been meaning to read, and found new ones to try.

I recently compiled a list of recommended homekeeping manuals to peruse, and found “Confessions of an Organized Homemaker” to be helpful. Over the past year or so, I have gradually come to a housekeeping routine that fits our standards, our house, and our time constraints. I liked that Schofield understands that everyone’s housekeeping will be different (for example, if you don’t have a black dog who sheds all over your beige carpet, you can probably safely vacuum far less often than I do!), and that she doesn’t presuppose that all readers are total slobs OR total perfectionist germaphobes. There IS a middle ground, thank you! The best tip for me was in her section on organizing and streamlining, in which she counsels readers to ask themselves, “Do I need this? What would happen if I got rid of it? Would I love the person who gave it to me any less if I got rid of it?” I’m busily applying those questions to the remaining clutter in our house while the nesting urge burns brightest. 🙂

Sidetracked Home Executives” was also on my list, but I thought it was disappointing. First, the book is very, very corny. Second, it starts from the premise that one is either born organized or else a hopelessly nasty total slob. As I mentioned before, there is a continuum there! Anyway, the system the book suggests seemed needlessly complicated to me, and wouldn’t fit my needs at all. That said, different things work for different people, and this system may be just what you’re looking for. Personally I don’t like having just one or two marathon cleaning days, I prefer to do a little every day so that it’s never overwhelming and the house is always basically clean. I have a page I print out every week with a column for each day containing that day’s “to do” items, and I add in extras below the standards. I made it up based on what we want and need for our situation, and I like to be able to see my day at a glance. But it would not be a sure fit for everyone.

Cooking Ahead” by Mary Carney is not on Amazon or the other sites so I couldn’t get a picture. I’ve read a lot of books about cooking ahead and freezing stuff, and this one was pretty much the same as the rest. I know people who really love the freezing thing, but I don’t like it. I really enjoy cooking every day, and when I have tried freezing meals, they come out tasting bad and/or require so much prep and cooking after they thaw that I wonder if I really saved any time after all. I can see how it might be more worthwhile if you have a bigger family and don’t mind that freezer taste.

Hannah and I finally finished “Farmer Boy.” Can I just say, Almanzo could EAT! Sheesh! Every chapter has at least one detailed description of the staggering amount of food he packed in at every meal. Do all 9 year old boys eat that much???? Wow. I mean, Almanzo would eat like four helpings of the main dish, several pieces of bread, all the side dishes, and three pieces of pie, while drinking milk. Then between meals he seemed to always be eating donuts or other snacks. I guess he was working up an appetite doing his farmer boyish tasks, but still! Jeepers.

Also Completed:
Deuteronomy, 1 Corinthians

Currently Reading:
Joshua, Psalms, Luke, 2 Corinthians
“Sleepless in America” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
“Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” by Susan McCutcheon
“On the Banks of Plum Creek” by Laura Ingalls Wilder (to Hannah)
“Training Hearts, Teaching Minds” by Starr Meade (as a family)

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