Catching up with some book posts from the last few weeks. 'Saturday Stacks' are my attempt to capture what everyone is reading at a particular time each week, but does not represent all the books that have been read or that people are currently reading.
Book stack, week two - January 15. On the bottom there is Albert Marrin's Sitting Bull and His World. Lydia received this for Christmas, as we usually like Marrin's work and she has a liking for things of the old west. She liked it better than Russell Freedman's The Life and Death of Crazy Horse, though she reckoned this one had a great deal of chopping up of things (starting with buffalo to desensitize you and progressing to fellow humans). Freedman's book focuses on mainly Crazy Horse, while Marrin's presents a more extensive overview of the times and shows more of both sides of the story. Also of note is a photograph of Sitting Bull with his children and his mother, and unusual portrayal of him.
Jonathan is reading Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc by Joseph Pearce. He reads a great deal of Belloc, so he borrowed this biography from the library. He's also reading The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against Nazis Fr. Daniel Utrecht which I gave him for Christmas.
In October of 1933, before his consecration as bishop, to fulfill the requirements of the concordat between the Catholic Church and the German government, Clemens August von Galen swore an oath of loyalty to the state in the presence of Herman Goering: "In the dutiful care for the good and the interests of the German State, I will, in performing the office entrusted to me, seek to ward off any dangers that could threaten it." Contrary to what you might think, Bishop Von Galen would proudly cite this oath to those who would complain of his actions, saying: "When people would seek to shake the inherited Christian faith of our People, that, in my most holy most inward conviction, is the greatest danger that could threaten the German State."
As soon as Jonathan finished reading it he lent it to a friend, so the rest of us have to wait a while to get our hands on it. Must be good.
My husband is continuing in the third volume of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples. He is very disciplined and won't read anything else until he finishes the set. Mary Rose continues in Finding a Hidden Church, regarding the persecution of the Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Church by the Communists in the former Soviet Union. The Catholics were forced to convert to Orthodoxy or face persecution, oft times unto death, while their churches and monasteries and convents were confiscated and given over to the Orthodox. I hope I am next in line to read it after her.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is the best-selling novel of a Lithuanian teenage girl captured by the Russian Communists and sent to a work camp in Siberia. I admit I had a little trouble 'getting into' the book as we are accustomed to reading non-fiction and hearing the true stories of those who have survived the horrors of the World War II era. My brain was inadvertently yet constantly comparing it to The Hiding Place, particularly the train transport of prisoners at the beginning of the book, although it's not quite fair comparing fiction to reality. It's a decent read, and I'm very glad it was written and has done so well, introducing the subject matter to a generation of young people who might not otherwise read about this time in history. Much attention is given to the Nazi Holocaust and so little to the far more widespread genocide perpetrated by the Soviets, so the book tells a very important narrative. I suppose the book fell a bit flat for me as the girl's faith, while occasionally mentioned, is so inconsequential. I tend to think that if you had a weak faith it could very well be obliterated by the sufferings of war and imprisonment, or it could be strengthened into the bedrock that enabled you to persevere in the wake of such pain and evil. But to have faith that is just mentioned as an aside, a Christmas-and-Easter sort of cultural nicety even in the midst of a Siberian work camp doesn't seem to hold water for me. I also am not used to books targeted at a young adult audience, so that aspect made it feel a bit simplistic and contrived to me as well. There are maps included in the front of the book but they are 'not meant to accurately represent all country borders or locations.' So all in all I thought it was definitely worth reading, but not sure how it got to be a NYT Bestseller. (Although maybe that's just me, as I don't understand how the Nobel prize in literature is awarded either...) I tried to find a copy of the memoirs used by the author as one of her reference books, but alas even interlibrary loan failed me there. The author interview at the end of my copy was interesting, but I wish I could just read the actual stories she compiled while interviewing survivors and doing research for the book.
Kateri is taking another read of Understood Betsy, while Josiah is enjoying a nice vintage hardcover of Tremendous Trifles, a classic collection of Chesterton essays Anna found for him. On top remains Christmas with Anne and Chronicles of Avonlea.
Week III - January 22 Stack
Michael is now on the the fourth volume of Churchill - The Great Democracies. Mary Rose is reading Fingal's Quest by Madeline Polland about Irish monks in the sixth century, to go along with her history studies. She's the one reading The Hobbit in there as well.
Jonathan is reading 1917: Red Banners, White Mantle by Warren Carroll The point of the book is to emphasize, describe, and give the context of the year 1917, in which there happened simultaneously the Communist takeover of Russia and the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. Written in 1981, the book has an interesting perspective in that at the time, Soviet Russia was still going strong with no end in sight. Also, there is mention of a secret told to one of the children in the apparitions, but there is no hint of the controversies that are now so common regarding this.
Kateri is enjoying a lovely vintage Alice in Wonderland she received for Christmas, from about 1900 with classic illustrations by John Tenniel. Eliza is dabbling in the dearly loved The Middle Moffat. I am just now returning to George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss after taking a break from it over the holidays.