Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Books #50, #51, and #52

Here we are on the eve of 2012 and I have finished my reading challenge! I will post a wrap-up soon with some statistics and final thoughts. In the meantime, here are the last three (quick) reviews:

I stumbled upon the audio version of The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi at the public library. Mark Logue is the grandson of Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who proved so valuable in helping King George VI (aka Bertie) overcome his life-long speech impediment. Interestingly and atypically, the book came after the movie and fills in a lot of missing details from Bertie's early days as the second son of King George V to the end of his life as the much beloved King George VI. In listening to this book I came to admire both the man who was one of the early pioneers in the field of speech therapy and the man who never wanted nor expected to be king. I like stories of perseverance and hard work and triumph over difficulties and this one did not disappoint. One of my favorite non-fiction reads this year.

Simon Vance did an excellent job reading this book. Another highlight was the inclusion of entire speeches as given by the king. That's something you can't get in a printed book, so I highly recommend the audio version.

A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck was a delight. Peck writes with wit and a purely American flavor reminiscent of Mark Twain. Fans of his award-winning A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder won't want to miss the further adventures of Grandma Dowdel. She's as feisty and peppery as ever as she assists the new Methodist preacher and his family adjust to life in small-town Illinois in the 1950's. The theme of Grandma Dowdel's life is helping the underdog while conspicuously maintaining a front of indifference. If you've read Peck's other Grandma Dowdel books you'll recognize Joey (well, his son anyway), Carlene Lovejoy, Effie Wilcox, Mrs. L.J. Weidenbach, and the Burdick clan as they all make appearances in the book. This book can stand alone, but you will appreciate it more if you've read the other two first. I hope this is not the last we hear of Grandma Dowdel.

Martin Luther's Christmas Book is a short 70 pages of excerpts from Luther's sermons pertaining to the events leading up to the birth of Jesus and the events immediately following. This book was edited by Roland Bainton, the prominent Protestant historian, whose best known book is Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. The illustrations are drawn from the woodcuts of Schongauer and Durer. In addition to the many insights Luther gives regarding the biblical account of Christ's birth, also interesting to me was seeing the quite different viewpoint and treatment of history and tradition Luther exhibits as compared to modern Christians. As we would expect for someone who was born in 1483, Luther's vantage point smack in the middle of the Renaissance is evident. The modern mind and the Renaissance mind are not the same. This is one reason why C.S. Lewis strongly advocates reading old books~it helps to expose our own prejudices and parochialisms stemming from the times in which we live. An enlightening read.

There! I did it! Even though I've completed my 2011 Reading Challenge, I won't quit reading or posting book reviews. I've already got some books in mind for 2012 . . .


  1. Congratulations, Martha! I admire your discipline and organization and I have enjoyed your thoughtful and well written reviews. You've introduced me to some new authors that I look forward to investigating in the future.

  2. Congratulations on completing your challenge, Martha. I have enjoyed your reviews all year. Thank you for reviewing the audio book of "The King's Speech." My library has it and I've already put it on hold. That movie was one of my favorites ever (I saw it three times in the theater and I *never* do that). I look forward to listening to it.

  3. I am so impressed with you -- well done!!! I hope you keep your book list handy on your page as I plan on referring to it often. Happy New Year :)

  4. Gee, thanks, everyone! I will keep the list up for awhile, but I will probably move it down pretty soon.


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