By CARLA OFFENBURGER
COOPER, Iowa, May 2, 2014 — In my last column, you may recall, I reported that in 2013, I finally reached my goal of reading more than 52 books in a year. I read 54 last year. I hope you noticed that I haven’t written a column since that one in January. What have I been doing? READING! And right now, I’m at 22 books thus far in 2014.
I’m on a roll, and when I’m on a roll reading, that leaves little time for anything else. Oh of course I have to go to work and do household and gardening chores. And in the cold months of January and February, I did some quilting. But pretty much I’ve buried myself in one good book after another.
And wow, I’ve read some good ones!
What motivated me to take the time to write a column now is that I’ve just finished “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. And I just think everyone should stop whatever they are doing and read that book, which was published in 1960. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve read it, you’ll find a new message or lesson or scene that will surprise you in a new way. And if you’ve never read this book before, shame on you. Get going right now!
If you are only going to write one book, as Harper Lee did, or if you are only going to read one book, then “To Kill A Mockingbird” is a pretty good one to leave it at that. This Pulitzer Prize winner is timeless even though it takes place in a 1935 setting and deals with racial injustice. There are so many vignettes and lessons that cover far more than racial injustice. It’s just a warm, wonderful book, and I’m not going to ruin it for anyone. But, “Scout” is my hero. And “Atticus” is about the coolest old dad a kid could ask for, really. Go ahead, read it!
I’ve read other great stuff this year, too. Books that are on my personal “highlight” list, which reminds me that I really liked them, include “The Secret Garden,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a classic that I’ve read nearly every spring for as long as I can remember. And “March,” by Geraldine Brooks, which is the wonderful story of Mr. March, father of all those March girls in “Little Women.” Brooks gives us Mr. March’s story from his time away from his family, participating in the Civil War as a chaplain. If you are a “Little Women” fan, you’ll like this one as much as I did.
My list to date is eclectic, for sure. I’m sharing that list with you here. While I certainly have my favorites, there isn’t one of them that you’d be wasting your time on. Well, I’m guessing many of you might not be interested in the two I read in late February on Barbie (yes, the doll). I was preparing for a presentation I was giving as Barbie celebrated her 55th birthday on March 9.
“David and Goliath,” by Malcom Gladwell.
“The Daniel Plan,” by Rick Warren (et al).
“If the Church Were Christian,” by Philip Gulley.
“The End of Your Life Book Club,” by Will Schwalbe.
“The Books that Mattered,” by Frye Gaillard.
“Frankenstein,” by Mary Wollstencraft Shelly.
“March,” by Geraldine Brooks.
“Walking Across Egypt,” by Clyde Edgerton.
“The Runaway Quilt,” by Jennifer Chiaverini.
“The House Girl,” by Tara Conklin.
“Mary Poppins,” by P.L. Travers.
“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,” by Helen Simonson.
“Forever Barbie,” by M.G. Lord.
“Barbie and Ruth,” by Robin Gerber.
“The Secret Garden,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
“Hidden,” by Catherine McKenzie.
“I Still Dream About You,” by Fannie Flagg.
“Thursdays at Eight,” by Debbie Macomber.
“In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden,” by Kathleen Cambor.
“To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee.
“Crazy Love,” by Francis Chan.
“The Book of Mercy,” by Kathleen Cambor.
How did I choose some of these to read? I have an ongoing list of recommended books that could keep me reading for years. But early this year, and toward the top of this “recommended” list, I read two books – “The End of Your Life Book Club,” by Will Schwalbe, and “The Books that Mattered,” by Frye Gaillard. Both of these referenced many books that I put on my own reading list. And I’ve tackled a few of those now, too.
I’ve got a stack on my overflowing bookshelf of books to read, and some have been there for years. Isn’t that how book reading goes? There will always be too many books and not enough time.
Now that gardening season is in full swing, I’m sure my reading will slow down a bit. But I’ve so enjoyed long evenings with a good book that I might find myself staying up a bit later to get a few more chapters read after daylight in the garden.
Life is pretty darned good when you get to divide your time with gardening and reading, don’t you think?
You can write the columnist at carla@Offenburger.com or comment using the handy form below here.