How's your summer reading going? Are you looking for some new titles? Never fear! Here's my list of books I read in June, and my notes on them.
The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera: Elizabeth recommended this one to me, and I'm shocked that I hadn't read it early. I'd actually never heard of it before. It's Cranford-like. Miss Prim takes up the post of librarian in a private house, owned by the "man in the wing chair" and run as a school for his nieces and nephews. Miss Prim finds him odd--but the whole town is odd, as well. Odd in the best way possible!
El Deafo, by Cece Bell: A graphic novel/memoir that details the author's life as hearing-impaired child. After a bout of menningitis, she lost her hearing, and was fitted with hearing aids. At first, she attended a school that was for hard of hearing students, but after her family moved to Virginia, she had to adapt to a hearing school, and making new friends.
I adored this. A lot of it spoke to my experience of hearing loss, and I loved the illustrated guide to reading lips:
"Shouting is not good!" TRUTH.
A Family of Saints by Fr. Stephane-Joseph Piat O.F.M.: A biography of the Martin family (the family of St. Therese), with particular emphasis on her parents, Zelie and Louis. If you're a devotee of St. Therese, you need to read this.
4 Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly: I received this book for free at Edel last year; it was part of our gift bag. And it started out pretty well. I was thinking, of, it's going to be one of those books that helps deepen the reader's spiritual life. Well, no. Not really. It started that way, but then it ended up like Forming Intentional Disciples; this whole idea that we need to "evangelize" by telling "Fallen-away Catholics" the Gospel because they haven't heard it (I call b/s on that one. I just do. I know plenty of fallen-away Catholics who "heard" the Gospel. The problem was, in their families, that didn't have much emphasis on anything); we need RENEW, and we need Small Groups, and and and......and somehow it misses the point that all the programs in the world, and all the flash-whizbang stuff, isn't going to help if people aren't catechized well.
Basically, I get really annoyed at books like this that say we need to have flashier programs and more stuff like that--what people need is good catechesis and reverent Mass. For starters, anyway. But I digress. Onward!
Vinegar Girl: Anne Tyler's take on The Taming of the Shrew is excellently done.
Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch: YA novel about a girl who is shipped off to Italy to live with her father after her mother dies of cancer. But why did her mother want her to live with a man she's never met? And is he really her father? You'll want to go to Italy after you read this.
Finding True Happiness by Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ: The first of Father Robert Spitzer's happiness quartet. Jen Fulwiler described this book as "meaty", and it is, but it's also definitely worth reading. I'm about to start the second volume in the series.
Surrender!:The Life Changing Power of Doing God's Will, by Fr. Larry Richards: A book that does tell you how to deepen your spiritual life, and is funny as a bonus.
Rocket Ships and God by Rocco Martino: If you like math and science, this is a good book for you. Otherwise the math details might be overwhelming! :)
The Children Act, by Ian McEwan: This is the second McEwan book I've read, the first being On Chesil Beach. And I guess I just can't get into him. He writes well--some of his sentences are like music--but his characters seem so flat to me. The book revolves around Fiona, a family court judge, who has to decide whether or not to allow a hospital to give a blood transfusion to a pediatric patient, who is a Jehovah's Witness. I think one the disappointing things about this book is how lightly faith is handled--and how in the end, it has no power over its players. That bothered me a bit.