Reading Round-Up: January 2014

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for January, 2014

Little House in the Big Woods (Little House #1), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House on the Prairie (Little House #2), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Farmer Boy (Little House #3), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek (Little House #4), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
By the Shores of Silver Lake (Little House #5), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Long Winter (Little House #6), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little Town on the Prairie (Little House #7), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
These Happy Golden Years (Little House #8), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The First Four Years (Little House #9), by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I spent the first three weeks of 2014 (give or take a few days) immersed in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s pioneer world.  I was with her in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, rode in the covered wagon with her family to Indian Territory, then to Plum Creek in Minnesota and finally to Silver Lake and De Smet in the Dakota Territory.  I watched her grow from a “Half-Pint of Sweet Cider Half Drunk Up” to a young woman and then a wife and mother.  I rejoiced in the wild beauty of the prairie, celebrated when Mr. Edwards met Santa Claus, gritted my teeth at mean girl Nellie Oleson, marveled at the bowl of violets in the buffalo wallow, shivered through the long winter, and walked hand in hand with Laura and Mary on their sunset strolls.  Reading the Little House books end-to-end like I did was a wonderful experience – more about my impressions of the series after reading it again, but for the first time as an adult, here.

The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting, Written Under the Supervision of Bunmi Laditan – I am a HUGE fan of the Honest Toddler, “the internet’s most infamous tot,” and I follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, in addition to reading HT’s blog posts and the absolutely hilarious press releases put out by the Toddler Council of Everlasting Gloriousness.  (The Toddler Council’s press release on the birth of Prince George was priceless.  “To Will and Kate, we would like to wish you both a heartfelt blank stare followed by crying.”  Tears, people, I had tears running down my face.)  I am constantly trying to read HT blog posts out loud to hubby and breaking down in uncontrollable laughter after three sentences.  The Honest Toddler book was more of the same cheeky, mischievous wit and I loved it; some of the content was directly from the blog or was otherwise repetitive, but since I read HT’s blog posts over and over again, that didn’t bother me so much.  (A warning: do not allow grandparents to read this book.  My mom read it while visiting me and got an incredibly big head from the constant grandma-boosting.  And a word to Peanut: if “loving like a grandparent” means allowing you to eat cookies anytime, then don’t get any fancy ideas.  Peas for lunch, and you can complain to Nana all you want but you’re still going to eat your veggies.)

WinterSong: Christmas Readings, by Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw – I’ve been dipping into this slim, but lovely, volume most days since Thanksgiving.  Although the book is billed as “Christmas Readings,” it starts with meditations on Thanksgiving and late fall, covers Annunciation, Christmas, Incarnation, and Epiphany, and finally concludes with New Year’s and early winter.  I picked a few readings each night, working my way gradually through the fall chapter around Thanksgiving, the Christmas chapters at the appropriate points in the celebration, and finally reading the New Year’s and late winter chapter over the month of January.  The poems and readings here are lovely, often poignant, and always thought-provoking.  I’ll be revisiting this one each year.  (And proving once again that we are kindred spirits, my pal Katie posted this blog about “dipping” into books just as I was finishing my two-months’ enjoyment of WinterSong.)

A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce #3), by Alan Bradley – Flavia just keeps getting better and better!  In this third installment, my favorite eleven-year-old sleuth/chemist/cyclist/revenge specialist finds herself involved in two separate, but possibly related, investigations.  First a Gypsy woman is brutally attacked while camping on Flavia’s ancestral estate.  Almost immediately thereafter, a local ne’er-do-well is found dead, with a lobster pick from the de Luce family silver chest sticking out of his nose.  Are the two crimes connected?  And is the attack on the Gypsy related to the case of a baby who went missing several years earlier?  One thing is clear – the police will need Flavia’s help to sort out this fishy situation.  I love Flavia more every time I crack the spine of one of her adventures.

January was all about comfort reading for me, and it was the right time for it since I spent most of the month hunkered down inside, trying to weather the Polar Vortex along with the rest of the East Coast.  (<– See what I did there?  “Weather?”)  I’d been wanting to revisit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s world for a long time, and the Little House books made for perfect winter reading – especially Little House in the Big Woods and The Long Winter, both of which have many memorable wintry scenes.  After I finished the Little House books, I continued on the comfort theme with some comedy via HT, and a cozy mystery via Flavia.  And, of course, L’Engle and Shaw dealt out plenty of lovely, comforting bedtime reads in WinterSong.  Now I’m looking forward to February and some more good reads – I’ve got a couple of books out from the library that I’ve been very excited to read, and I think I’ll also dig into some of my Christmas books.  Stay tuned…

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