Christmas break reading, part one

Greetings, y'all! I had a loverly New Year's Eve (more on that later, perhaps), and I hope you did too! I've enjoyed gathering titles from your "Best of 2007" lists and I'd like to compile my own, but that'll have to wait until I'm back at college, where I left the pertinent records. As for now, I thought I'd update you on what I've read thus far in all this glorious free time!

Just Ask, Meant To Be, and Falling Up, by Melody Carlson

These three are part of the third quartet in the author’s Diary of a Teenage Girl series, this time narrated by Kim, a high school junior and an adopted only child in the small-town suburban community somewhere where the other books were set. Written in diary format, they deal with her relationships with her family, friends, and boyfriend, and the ordinary events of high school, but also with her coming into faith and some other heavier "life issues" such as terminal illness and teen pregnancy. They can be a bit awkward at portraying the thoughts and words of a teenager, and feel a little heavy on the issues/drama at times. (Not as bad as Libba Bray, though – have you ever listed all the teenage issues she packs into her books? [spoilers for A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels; highlight to read] My suitemate and I did for the first two: there’s drug addiction, self-mutilation cutting, alcohol, date rape, eating disorders, and child molestation, to name only the plainest. ) Nonetheless, they're enjoyable. Quick and absorbing Christian fiction.

A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue, by Wendy Shalit

This one’s a really outstanding book about what sexual modesty means to women and men alike, about its decline in western culture, and about the societal and personal repercussions thereof. Before I started it, I didn’t think I’d find it too interesting, but it’s truly a fascinating (and at times angering) read. And surprisingly, it’s not written from a religious perspective. Speaking of which, I know if you come from a conservative religious background like I do you’ve probably been hearing about the importance of modest dress for years. This book, however, presents a much deeper and more analytical perspective than I’d ever heard or even considered, of a much larger issue. So, highly recommended for older teens and above. Don't be deterred by it's non-fictional nature!

And yes, I did feel kind of embarassed carrying it around, not unlike when we read A Streetcar Named Desire in English and our school copies (bookcovers not required) featured Marlon Brando's shirtless torso.

The Kalahari Typing School for Men, by Alexander McCall Smith
The fourth in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, about a (woman, obviously) private investigator in Botswana. A humorous and insightful read, fairly light on the mystery, and a lovely portrait of a slower, sweeter way of life.

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo
Despereaux is a truly charming book. It’s quick, whimsically witty, and seriously cute. If you like keeping up with the best of children’s lit., this is a must-read!

My sympathies to those of you who are back in school already. Be strong!


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