Today’s quick takes will be book-centered, in part because I just can’t seem to review all the books I’m reading (which isn’t really that many) and in part because I only have a few words to say about most of the books I’ve been reading (which isn’t really a proper review). Read more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary, where Jen hosts with bells and whistles and great hospitality.

1 – Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
I haven’t raved recently about Forgotten Classics, have I? It’s a podcast that focuses on books of the out-of-copyright-and-often-out-of-mind variety. Now, granted, I’m a sucker for anything that relates to reading. It’s a weakness or a sickness, depending on whether you’re the relative I don’t call because my nose is firmly inserted in a book or whether you’re my sports loving spouse.

But I think Forgotten Classics might be something for you too. Don’t believe me? Well, then, when was the last time you read Uncle Tom’s Cabin? You know, that book that’s supposed to be such a classic? Remember it? Have you even read it?

Yeah, me neither.

But, thanks to Julie, I am finally reading it. And I get the benefit of her narration skills on top of things. She’s doing research as she reads, so there’s an intro and closing that adds immensely (I surely wouldn’t have done that on my own!). The link above takes you to the posts, if you don’t have or can’t use iTunes to download the episodes. There are a lot of reasons to love Forgotten Classics, and this is just the most recent in my long list of reasons it bumps to the top of my listening list when there’s a new episode. 🙂

2 – Saving Dinner Basics: How to Cook Even If You Don’t Know How, by Leanne Ely
Last week, I ranted a bit (in #4) about the sorry state of my cooking skills. I’ve been faithfully reading a chapter or two of this book this week, and wow! What a help! I’ll probably do a proper review of it once I finish it (or, as seems to be the case of late, a month or two after I finish it). I’d be remiss not to mention the other (cook)book of Ely’s that’s really helped reform my cooking, Saving Dinner. My stress levels relating to dinnertime have really diminished, thanks to the guidance she has given me in menu planning. Jen also helped with her tip on displaying her weekly menu, which keeps me ahead of the game. It’s true (at least for me, right now): knowing what’s for dinner really makes at least half the challenge disappear.

3 – The Love Dare, by Stephen Kendrick & Alex Kendrick
I read this for Lent, and I meant to review it. And then time passed, and then more time. My copy is no longer in my possession. I think this is a good book and a good exercise for Christian couples, and I recommend it. If it does nothing more than make you talk about something you wouldn’t normally discuss — your spouse’s top annoyance with you, for example — then I think it’s worth the $7.50 (and twice that, I think) on Amazon.

4 – Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, by Anne Rice
I really, really, really enjoyed this book. It’s fiction, and it’s not the flowery prose I recall from when I read Rice back in college. She paints Jesus as a real person, though she doesn’t take anything away from his divinity. I know, that sounds confusing. But what came to my mind, reading this book (and anticipating the reward of reading the next one), was that it would be a great Bible study. So many of us have trouble relating to Jesus, to Mary, to those faroff distant people from the Gospels. Rice brings the Gospels to life for me, and she supplements with documents from tradition. I know I wrote about it a few weeks ago (in #5 of this post), but I had to mention it here too. Highly recommended.

5 – A Whole New Mind, by Daniel H. Pink
I have a friend who’s old enough to be my dad. We went to grad school together; he was the oldest and I was the youngest in our cohort. We became friends, discovered we were both Catholic, and he and his wife have become another set of grandparents to my kids. After grad school, he started teaching as an adjunct professor at our little university, and he has gone on to teach at at least one other local university. He does a lot of business and marketing reading, as you would expect, because that’s what he teaches. He tells his classes that his hobbies are neuroscience and something else (it’s equally as hilarious in a b-school professor).

What I love about this is that he shares his good finds in the reading arena with me. A Whole New Mind was one of his picks. I read it and largely enjoyed it. At the end, it got too market-ey for my taste, but considering that it’s written for marketers, I guess that’s to be expected.

6 – Magi, by Daniel Gilbert
I had to read this, especially after a confessed reader-who-doesn’t-do-fiction raved about it. If you want to read a thoughtful review that will give you good cause to go pick it up, whether you buy it or borrow it, you should read her review. I enjoyed it immensely, and I plan to check out both the author and the publisher for other titles. I liked the historical aspect and the fact that it’s not religiousy. It’s a tale well-told and it’s short, and both of those traits helped me polish it off in a day and a half. I expected to have a sort of “been there, read that” feeling throughout it — after all, don’t we all know the story of the magi? — but, delightfully, I didn’t. I haven’t decided if it’s a must-own title for me, but I do recommend it.

7 – The Polysyllabic Spree, by Nick Hornby
When Lissa mentioned her new favorite book the first time, I immediately logged into the library website to see if they had it. When I saw they didn’t, I emailed my new librarian friend and recommended it (I think she ordered it too), and then I picked a different title. Then Lissa mentioned it a second time and a third, and I decided to check out a different Hornby book. My eeny-meeny-miney-mo pick was The Polysyllabic Spree, probably inspired by Lissa’s mentioning it in those subsequent posts. (I honestly don’t remember. But her reading and her recommendations play a pretty big part in my reading lists, almost as big a part as that other dear and lovely bookworm in my life. Someday, I hope to be the inspiring bookworm, though it will be post-little-kids, methinks, so I’ll just enjoy being the inspired bookworm right now)

So what’s the book about?

Ah, glad you asked. 🙂

Nick Hornton goes month-by-month for I forget how many months, and he lists the books he bought and the books he read. He addresses the discrepencies and it’s safe to say that I felt much better about my own “habit.” I’ve been doing some big time purging in the last year, getting rid of books that just aren’t keepers (never thought I’d say that), which makes room for the ones that are. His reviews and comments about books — and life — are witty and humorous and refreshing.

He inspired me. I try to review books here, and one of the things I’ve always done — in the back of my mind, I suppose, because I hadn’t thought of it until I read this book — is be honest without being dry about the books I’ve read. I don’t often succeed (and I’m certainly no Nick Hornton!), but it’s worth trying, I think. I’m also inspired…more books than time, and I guess it’s going to be that way…always, whether I have little kids or work to do or any of the other excuses I currently use. If someone getting paid to read can’t get it all done, well then, there’s a common gripe. It’s like the weather in Ohio: we can always complain about it, no matter how exquisite a day it is.

If you’re a reader, check this book out. You’ll laugh, I think. Oh, and the chapters are short. 🙂