Books are an unending springboard for philosophical and practical rabbit trails. These are some of the things I've wanted to do or learn about after reading books:
1) These books had me wondering how I'd cope without community, electricity, running water, a dependable food supply, fuel and everything else I take for granted on a daily basis. How knowledgeable am I about even basic survival skills?? I enjoy dystopian-type books mostly because of the philosophical questions they raise about human behaviour and the development of character.
On the Beach by Nevil Shute - an apocalyptic/dystopian look at a community of people in Australia preparing for the arrival of airborne radiation which has already wiped out the population of the Northern Hemisphere. It was interesting to read about aspects of radiation and its effects on humans that Shute wove into the story. Not my favourite book because it was quite depressing and I stupidly kept waiting for everything to come good, but of course, it couldn't and didn't. Apart from my shattered hopes, it was a compelling and well-written story. Nancy @ipsofactodotme wrote an excellent and detailed review of the book.
Alas, Babylon by Pat Franklin - survivors of a nuclear holocaust try to rebuild their lives. I read books like this and realise I probably wouldn't last five minutes in the same scenario with my limited survival skills.
Thus the lights went out, and in that moment civilization in Fort Repose retreated a hundred years.
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndam - this is one of my favourite dystopian reads. It has a more literary flavour than some of the others I've read and explores the 'What if?' and social structures. I loved it.
2) Books that inspired me to be a better mother, to watch my words, and to work on my lack of the virtue known as patience:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - I first read this book when I used it as a read aloud for my older children when they were quite young. When I came to the chapter 'Jo Meets Apollyon,' it was as if it was written just for me:
"Jo, dear, we all have our temptations, some far greater than yours, and it often takes us all our lives to conquer them. You think your temper is the worst in the world, but mine used to be just like it.”
"...you must keep watch over your ‘bosom enemy’, as father calls it, or it may sadden, if not spoil your life. You have had a warning. Remember it, and try with heart and soul to master this quick temper, before it brings you greater sorrow and regret than you have known today."
3) A book that made me want to go and hug my girls and tell them how much I appreciated them.
Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter - Elnora's mother has kept a dark secret for many years and as a result has never been able to show her daughter any real love. Elnora goes off to highschool and is ridiculed because of her clothes and obvious poverty. Her mother refuses to provide her with money for books and tuition because she considers her desire for an education 'foolishness.' This is a beautiful story that poignantly shows the effect of the withholding of love but also the release that forgiveness can bring. Lovely!
4) A Book That Made Me Want to Homeschool my Children
For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
"Educating extends to all of life. In fact, an educational system that says, one bright summer's day in the dawn of my youth, 'There. Now you are educated. This piece of paper says so,' is doing me a gross disfavor. The truly educated person has only had many doors of interest opened. He knows that life will not be long enough to follow everything through fully."
"How do we shortchange the child of today? We coop him up like a battery hen in a gaudy plastic cage. We 'timetable' his day with 'improving' activities so that he is a foreigner to himself and to the great outdoors."
"Many schools excel in wasting time. Time is like a fortune; it is wrong to allow it to be buried. Child are tired out with busy work. They are talked at until their attention habitually wanders, and maybe nine-tents of their time is wasted."
5) A Book That Made Me Want to Keep Homeschooling Them
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Homeschooling by John Taylor Gatto - Gatto was a public school teacher for about 30 years and a recipient of the New York State Teacher of the Year award.
"School is a twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know."
"It is time that we squarely face the fact that institutional schoolteaching is destructive to children."
"Although teachers do care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic — it has no conscience."
6) A book whose author referrenced a whole lot of books he read growing up and inspired me to search them out
Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks - apart from being a wonderful autobiography and introduction to the world of chemistry, Sacks talked about the books he'd read and how they motivated him and inspired his love for science. What impressed me was the wide range and genres he absorbed and gleaned from: Our Mutual Friend by Dickens, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger books; War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells; T.E. Lawrence and John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, to name a few.
7) A book that had me finding out all about post WWII Vienna - the city was divided into four allied zones which were administered by Britain, USA, Russia & France. A fifth zone in the inner city was administered by all four powers. A dangerous and fascinating city.
The Third Man by Graham Greene
8) Books that made me long for the land of my birth
The Three Hostages & The Island of Sheep by John Buchan - Buchan's books are often set at least partly in Scotland, and whenever I read them, I want to pack up and head off back to my homeland. He describes the Scottish landscape so perfectly; I feel the cold air, imbibe the damp atmosphere and lose myself for a time.
9) A book that introduced me to Croatia, a new artist, and gave me insights into The Odyssey
Island of the World by Michael O'Brien - actually, this book did much more than introduce me to Croatia, Marc Chagall and aspects of The Odyssey. It's a very moving and painful epic about loss, hatred, justice and forgiveness that still lingers in my thoughts after two and a half years.
10) An author whose books explore aspects of human behaviour and provides interesting details for rabbit trails about topics as diverse as art, bell-ringing, publishing companies, poison, university life, relationships...
Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers
One of the true pleasures inherent to picking up a Sayers novel now is to see how the times in which we live alter our perceptions of the world around us, while doing nothing at all
to alter the core of our humanity.
My two favourites
Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them is the topic for this week's: