What I Read – January 2018

For although a man is judged by his actions, by what he has said and done, a man judges himself by what he is willing to do, by what he might have said, or might have done – a judgment that is necessarily hampered, not only by scope and limits of his imagination, but by the ever-changing measure of his doubt and self-esteem.

– The Luminaries

One of my goals for 2017 was to read more classics. As such, I re-read The Power and the Glory, an amazing classic that I read several years ago but so many things in it felt like I was reading it for the first time. I’ve also (finally) begun to tackle The Silmarillion. I think my dad will be proud of me.

And, as always, I want to read more from my own library (Meaning read some of the stacks of books that I already own but have not yet read.) 84, Charing Cross Road, Rules of Civility, The Luminaries, Purple Hibiscus, and The Painted Girls all fit into that category.

I managed a couple of book reviews (titles are linked) but hope to do better in February. Feel free to share your favourite reads of the month in the comments!

Read:

  1. 84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff (Penguin Books, 1970)
  2. The War that Saved my Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Penguin Books, 2015)
  3. Rules of Civility – Amor Towles (Penguin Books, 2011)
  4. Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist – Martina Scholtens (Brindle & Glass, 2017)
  5. The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton (McClelland & Stewart, 2013)
  6. The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene (Penguin Books, 1979)
  7. Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2012)
  8. The Painted Girls – Cathy Marie Buchanan (Harper Collins, 2012

There was silence all round him. This place was very like the world: overcrowded with lust and crime and unhappy love, it stank to heaven; but he realized that after all it was possible to find peace there, when you knew for certain that the time was short.

– The Power and the Glory

Currently Reading:

  1. Rest, Play, Grow – Deborah MacNamara
  2. The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. The Hut Builder – Laurence Fearnley

But Ilúvatar knew that Men, being set amid the turmoils of the powers of the world, would stray often, and would not use their gifts in harmony; and he said: “These too in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work.”

– The Silmarillion

*Friendly reminder that you can follow me on Instagram @karissareadsbooks if you’re into that sort of thing. Mostly pictures of what I’m reading as I’m reading and my kids.

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What I Read – June 2016

A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby (Riverhead Books, 2005)

Monkey Beach – Eden Robinson (Vintage Canada, 2001)

Modern Lovers – Emma Straub (Random House, 2016)

The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery (McClelland & Stewart, 1989)

Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace (Back Bay Books, 2006)

Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008)

Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese (Vintage Canada, 2010)

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – Chris Grabenstein (Yearling, 2014)

Currently Reading:

Six Walks in the Fictional Wood – Umberto Eco

Book Review: Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv

Last Child in the Woods - Richard Louv (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008)

Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008)

I knew before I began Last Child in the Woods that I was likely to find myself agreeing with Richard Louv. Children today play outside less than previous generations. Children today should play outside more. Playing outside – especially unstructured outdoor play – has a myriad of benefits for children and their families. This is the essential point of the book and one that is basically stated over and over again in slightly different ways.

Which isn’t to say Last Child is not a worthwhile read. Louv has one major point to make and so he really drives that point home. However, this is a zone where very little research has been done and so Louv begins on ground zero and attempts to lay a foundation. I may have agreed with him before I even started the book (after all, it’s one of the reasons our family has chosen to live where we do) but he’s also talking to parents and educators and city planners who may have more trepidations.

Louv goes into some of the reasons why children don’t play outdoors as much as they used to. The reasons here are interesting because there are actually a lot of them. Fear, politics, urban sprawl, among others. My generation (Louv specifically mentions those 30 and under) is one of the first to have spent more time indoors than out in our own childhoods and so this has repercussions as to how we raise our children now. Even if we want our kids to spend more time outside, we don’t always know how to go about making that happen. Or, even more likely, we don’t live in places where that’s easy to do. (Louv is an American and is specifically taking about life in the United States. Some, thought not all, of what he discusses is applicable to Canada. In countries beyond that, I can’t say and Louv doesn’t delve into it.)

Louv spends a lot of time detailing the ways that outdoor play benefits children, as well as their families, communities and the environment at large. I thought some of the most interesting research (and because there’s been very little “official” research in this area, most of what he shares is largely anecdotal and of his own gathering) focused on the difference between structured and unstructured play. Meaning, kids playing at the local playground is great but free play in the vacant lot down the street or in the woods behind their neighbourhood is actually far more advantageous for their creative development, self-esteem, and ability to learn about the world around them.

So while the book felt longer than it needed to be, it also has some great points and information to it. As a parent, it was encouraging to read something that coincides with the way I view raising kids. If you’re more on the fence about letting your kids play in that vacant lot, Louv offers some great reasons as to why to let them go. It will at least give you something to think about.