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Book Review: “Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief,” by Maurice LeBlanc

Genre: classic; adventure; mystery

Plot Summary: [from goodreads:] The suave adventures of a gentleman rogue—a French Thomas Crown Created by Maurice LeBlanc during the early twentieth century, Arsene Lupin is a witty confidence man and burglar, the Sherlock Holmes of crime. The poor and innocent have nothing to fear from him; often they profit from his spontaneous generosity. The rich and powerful, and the detective who tries to spoil his fun, however, must beware. They are the target of Arsene’s mischief and tomfoolery. A masterful thief, his plans frequently evolve into elaborate capers, a precursor to such cinematic creations as Ocean’s Eleven and The Sting. Sparkling with amusing banter, these stories—the best of the Lupin series—are outrageous, melodramatic, and literate.”

My Book Review: This series grabbed my attention on Librivox a while back.  I wasn’t expecting too much out of them, but I at least wanted to try the first book, “…Gentleman-Thief”Each chapter is basically its own standalone short story featuring the hero (or antihero) Arsene Lupin.  I tend not to like short stories, but I was surprised by how delightfully colorful and entertaining these were!  They all kept me guessing and contained much cleverness and wit.  Is it really him, or not him, or him pretending to not be him pretending to be him?  How will he get out of that pickle in time… or did he plan the pickle and is already gone… or was he there all the time?  I second guessed myself until the last page of each story!

It was a bit hard for me to conquer the long chapters, but I pushed myself.  The copy I read was a Penguin edition which had annotated notes in the back for lots of references and cross references in Le Blanc’s stories.  I started to read them, but then felt they gave away too many surprises for later in the book and series.

I will definitely be continuing with more Arsene Lupin books.  If you’re looking for something a little different, if you love roguish, daring characters, if you’re looking for adventures in France—I think you’ll enjoy this read.


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Posted by on October 26, 2019 in Book Reviews


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Katherine Kellgren, Inspiring Storyteller

Audiobook Narrator, Katherine Kellgren

I remember seven years ago.  With a little tinny microphone and Windows Movie Maker as my editing tool, I performed my first two short stories for and a whole new world was opened to me.  Immediately I knew what I had been searching for for years: I wanted to be an audiobook narrator/voice artist!  A counselor suggested I read up on all I could find on the subject so that I knew what it took to get there.

I started my research on youtube, of course!  And I learned about professional studios, home studios, how audiobooks were made.  This was just as the audiobook boom hit and was growing in leaps and bounds.  I learned about big names in the industry: Simon Vance, Scott Brick, Jim Daly… and Katherine Kellgren.  Each one had their own unique voice, but Kellgren’s was a voice that contained culture, beautiful diction, and soul.  I enjoyed watching any video I could find with her in it because I found her to be inspiring.  I learned her background story of how she became an audiobook narrator (reading to her father who had a fatal illness).  Every year when the Audie Awards were announced, her name was nominated for at least one– usually several– and she was a winner.

I was sad to hear that Katherine Kellgren passed away just a few weeks ago.  She will leave such a big void within the audio world.  Her beautiful, classical voice will be missed by her captive audience, as I’m sure will her person by the people who knew her.

(For the record, I’m really loving her bookshelves behind her as well!)

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Posted by on February 8, 2018 in Inspiring Voices Series


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Book Review: “The Club of Queer Trades,” by G. K. Chesterton

18834844Genre: mystery; classic

Plot Summary: [from Wikipedia:] “The Club of Queer Trades is a collection of stories by G. K. Chesterton first published in 1905.  Each story in the collection is centered on a person who is making his living by some novel and extraordinary means…  To gain admittance one must have invented a unique means of earning a living and the subsequent trade being the main source of income.”

My Book Review: If you’ve come to this blog post thinking you were going to read something on sexual identities, sorry to disappoint.  Once upon a time the word ‘queer’ was used to mean ‘peculiar’.  (I suppose ‘peculiar’ means something else now, too.  We’re so creative as to assign a double meaning to every word that already exists.)

There are ordinary men who lead ordinary lives with their chosen ordinary careers. And then there are others who take a different route in life.  They are the eccentrics, the colorful, and the crazy.  …Or are we, as ordinary citizens, the crazies?

If someone asked you to invent a whole new career that had never been thought of before, do you think you could do it and make money from it? Not merely recycling an existing career, substituting one thing for another, but actually coming up with a line of trade that’s never been done before.  It’s harder than it at first seems.  Of course, there would have to be a market for it.  And in the case of many of the extraordinary tradesmen in this collection of short stories, their careers are kept secret either because of the nature of their work, or because they would be thought insane.

As one would guess, this leads to many bizarre circumstances of ordinaries encountering these oddbodies (or geniuses) in society. The facts are there in front of their noses, but they can’t make sense of them.  It takes a remarkable fellow straddling the best of both worlds to make sense of the mysterious cases brought before him.  It makes for a curious read.

4b4f62db81ff23d0d0a99f7b0870ecddAlthough I usually dislike short story collections, I was glad this was written as it was. I didn’t particularly feel in the mood for a novel-length Chesterton at the time.  Sometimes he’s best taken in ‘doses’ because he can be so thick in his nonsense.  🙂  Really, G.K. was such a Mad Hatter!  Chesterton is never for those wanting a nice little story.  And it definitely isn’t my favorite book of all time.  But I enjoyed reading it anyway, because he picks you out of the mundane and makes you view the world at a different angle.  It gives the brain a good exercise!

I would say my favorite chapter story was “The Adventures of Major Brown”, in which a man is caught in an awfully good escapade, but doesn’t realize how much fun it was until it was over! How often are we the same in life?  We read novels for “escape” or to pseudo-live other “experiences”, but when some adventure happens in real life we are too overwhelmed to enjoy it in the moment.  Then of course, there’s the debate over modern-day video games.  Guys are so eager to play at fantasy games because it feeds something deep in their souls- the need for adventure.  But what happened to living real life?  Life is full of exciting experiences if only we accept its opportunities.

You can listen to the audiobook on Librivox by clicking here.

If you liked this book, I also recommend…:

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Posted by on April 22, 2017 in Book Reviews


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Book Review: “The Agony Column,” by Earl Derr Biggers

3234828Genre: mystery; suspense; intrigue

Plot Summary: Geoffrey West is a young American staying in a rented flat in London when he meets another fellow American—the pretty daughter of a senator who is touring with her father. The year is 1914 and it is the hot month of July. Talk of war is in the air as the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand makes headlines. But there is another column in the newspaper that catches both Americans’ attention: the personal notices in the Agony Column. As Geoffrey communicates to Marian via this modern-day version of Facebook, he delivers an exciting narrative of mystery, murder and suspense that may threaten his life.

My Book Review: I found this vintage publication on Librivox and found it to be a short but cute read. Chapters are long, but the plot moves right along and it didn’t take long to finish. All of the fun melodramatic elements of a dime novel are present in the tale: murder, spies, ladies in black veils, strangers at a restaurant, espionage, cloak and dagger, shadow-filled alleys…

This wasn’t the classic of the century, but it made for some good entertainment. It certainly had a couple of huge plot twists towards the end that kept me on the edge of my seat! (Talk about a way to keep a lady’s attention!) If you’re in the mood for something light, fun, and adventure-filled, you may enjoy this WWI-era story.  I know that for myself, I plan on reading at least one other book by this author!

*This book was also published under a different title: The Second-Floor Mystery.  I believe it was turned into an early film by this name.

*To listen to the Librivox audiobook for free, click here.

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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Book Reviews


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Book Review: He Fell in Love with His Wife, by Edward Payson Roe

8805214Genre: classics, romance; Inspirational

Plot Summary: James Holcroft is a widower farmer trying to keep his farm going, but is losing financially.  He needs a housekeeper (or so he thinks) and employs several different ladies who each in turn cheat, pry, and lie.  After suffering through the oppression of Mrs. Mumpson, Holcroft is done with housekeepers and is ready to auction off his farm for good… But then he meets a woman in need of a home and his plans are radically changed within an afternoon.  Will Holcroft and Alida make a successful business partnership, or will they form a different type of relationship altogether?

My Book Review:  Of course the title of this novel gives the end away, but it’s the getting there that makes this novel a delightful read.  I discovered this gem on LibriVox (which you can listen to for free here) and decided I wanted to read it for myself.  I had never heard of the author Edward Payson Roe and truthfully I was expecting a fluffy, vintage read.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find a book of substance which kept me from feeling guilty about reading a ‘romance novel’!  It being originally published in 1886, I was also expecting to have to work at understanding what was being said.  Instead, the narration and dialogue was a breeze to read through.  I wouldn’t have guessed it was written way back then!

One of the things I loved about the story was the lovely characters and their development.  There are three principle players central to the plot: Holcroft, Alida, and Jane.  Reading about their past histories to understand why they were the way they were, why they reacted the ways in which they did, and the decisions they made during the course of the book did much in making the story seem organic and believable.  Its funny how each of these characters think they want a certain thing and set out to obtain it, yet in the end find that their hearts need something much more important.

"Spring Sky," by Eric Sloane

“Spring Sky,” by Eric Sloane ~ “He did not know it, but his nature was being softened, deepened and enriched by these deep and unwonted experiences; the hard materiality of his life was passing away, rendering him capable of something better than he had ever known.”

I loved Alida Armstrong.  I could totally identify with her personality and motivations, especially her heartfelt wish for a safe and secure home.  Holcroft is a man of the earth, a farmer through and through, and his desire is to be able to remain on the land where he has lived all his life.  He’s just trying to keep anything more in his life from changing.  But what they both find they really need is to experience genuine love.

What made this book so enjoyable was Roe’s perfect touch at story pacing.  The characters and events seem to happen along naturally at just the right time.  He marinates them in the cause and effect juices of the previous chapter, and then ups the suspense to keep us from getting too comfortable in a book where the title gives the end away.

Part of how he does this is through the cat-like character of Jane.  I inwardly groaned when she showed up on Holcroft’s doorstep one rainy afternoon, for the same reasons in which Holcroft and Alida wished she hadn’t.  The farmer and his wife are just starting to get to the point where they are discovering feelings for each other.  Things are developing along quite nicely between them, and then all of a sudden there is a third party that puts a little obstacle in their way.  Now things aren’t quite so cozy!  But at the same time, you feel sorry for this poor little girl who has grown up feeling like she never belonged anywhere.  I admire her for her sense in making a way for herself despite the foolishness of her mother.  Jane makes it difficult for anyone to feel affectionate toward her.  Holcroft and Alida are good people, yet human.  They know Jane yearns to be acknowledged and to be secure.  The addition of this ‘intruder’ in the story makes for some misunderstandings, and hence heightened suspense.  But she is also the one who saves the day in the end.  Jane adds an even more heartwarming element to the story.

"Woman Reading," by Edouard Vuillard

“Woman Reading,” by Edouard Vuillard ~ “…she entertained and interested him, although she said so little, and by some subtle power she unloosed his tongue and made it easy for him to talk to her. In the most quiet and unobtrusive way, she was not only making herself at home, but him also; she was very subservient to his wishes, but not servilely so; she did not assert, but only revealed her superiority…”

As I was reading, I was struck by the immense understanding the author had of men and women, –their needs, values, psyches.  In fact, this is much of how the story forms naturally, through all the misunderstandings, motivations, and consequences.  James Holcroft has no interest in promising to love and cherish another wife and refuses to take the traditional marriage vows.  Yet he does just that in his actions towards Alida.  He is a good and kind man and she senses this.  In turn, she does her utmost to be a wife who does her husband good and not harm, like the Proverbs 31 woman. It doesn’t take the man in Holcroft long to recognize her beautiful personality.  His character becomes incredibly attractive to Alida, and before we know it, they are in love.

The only small thing I didn’t think was believable enough was how soon Alida trusted Holcroft.  After her ordeal with previously marrying such a skunk as Henry Ferguson, I don’t see how Alida’s sensitive personality would have easily trusted another man.  Even though she married for convenience, I don’t think she would have learned to love him so quickly in real life.  Or, at least she would have struggled with trust issues.  Also, I wish the ending was a tad more romantic.  🙂

There’s something for nature lovers in this book as well.  I loved how the story is woven among the timeline of spring, from March to late June.  The weather, flowers, buds, and birds are detailed along with the growth of the romance between the farmer and his wife.

This book has the wonderful makings of a Hallmark movie (Holcroft played by none other than Aidan Quinn, OF COURSE!).  It sort of reminded me of stories like Sarah, Plain and Tall, The Magic of Ordinary Days, and Seasons of the Heart.  You’ll find this to be a sweet sentimental tale that clearly goes beyond ‘fluffiness.’  Don’t pass over this gem!  It may be your new favorite book!

Aidan Quinn as Holcroft?

Aidan Quinn as Holcroft?




Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Book Reviews


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Book Review: The Man Who Was Thursday

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G. K. Chesterton. 4 = Recommended ReadingGenre: classic; inspirational; mystery; intrigue; suspense; drama

Plot Summary: Gabriel Syme, a poet from Saffron Park, finds himself in over his head in a nightmarish mystery.  From secret meetings, to anarchist intrigues, to wild chases and a flight for his life, Gabriel finds that no one is as they seem.  Who is the man called Sunday?

My Book Review: To be honest, I wasn’t greatly looking forward to reading this book.  A couple years ago I had read The Napoleon of Notting Hill (see my review here) and wasn’t enthusiastic about it.  But I wanted to try my hand at another work of G. K. Chesterton, and I know his books are good for the brain, so I decided to stretch myself once again.

And I’m glad I did.  I liked this one loads more than The Napoleon…  It also happens to be considered Chesterton’s best book.  I was pretty much hooked from the beginning chapters, and actually felt excited about finding out what happens next.  Mysteries that just get more mysterious all the time, impersonations, car chases, secret meetings in secret rooms…  What more could you ask of a thriller?  I’m having a little trouble writing this review because to tell anything more would be to give it away!

The subtitle of this short book is entitled “A Nightmare.”  Given Chesterton’s penchant for hair-brained story-lines, I think this is an apt description.  A lot of intellectual dialogue takes place (hence, get your quote-books ready), but it’s action packed as well.  [Edit: After reading some of Chesterton’s comments about his own novel, I feel I understand it a bit better, which is to say I understand that even the author didn’t take his book seriously enough to understand all of it!  It is, as he reminds us, A Nightmare.]

"He felt he was in possession of some impossible good news, which made every other thing a triviality, but an adorable triviality." ~The Man Who Was Thursday

“He felt he was in possession of some impossible good news, which made every other thing a triviality, but an adorable triviality.” ~The Man Who Was Thursday

When reading The Napoleon…, I came away from it feeling like there was a lot going on that I was not comprehending and needed a commentary to understand it more deeply.  I found that to be the case with this book as well, though I liked it immensely better and felt I could comprehend it a little easier.  There was a three part introductory commentary at the beginning of the copy I borrowed from the library, but frankly I needed a commentary to understand the commentary!  I hope I can get my hands on a better discussion of this classic work.  It seems to be one of those books you could go on dissecting for years and years and still never get to the bottom of it.  I guess that makes it a true classic! 

I’m not sure exactly why this book appealed to me so much.  Maybe it was the action, the unbelievable events.   Maybe it was because it wasn’t what I was expecting when I checked this brown, dull-looking book out of the library.  Or maybe it was because, even though I’m no lit. professor, I couldn’t help but recognize and glean little gems of spiritual allegories in the unfolding of the story.

If you feel you want to give your brain muscles a workout while being taken for a thrill ride at the same time, this book is for you!  It won’t take long to read.  I recommend a good commentary to go along with it!

Have you read this book, too?  Leave your thoughts on it below!

Listen to a free audiobook version of The Man Who Was Thursday.

Or, you can listen to a radio dramatized version from Mercury Theatre, originally aired in 1938:

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Posted by on March 7, 2015 in Book Reviews


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Book Review: Five Children and It, by Edith Nesbit

E. Nesbit was a classic British children's author whose work inspired Edward Eager. This is her first book about the "Five Children."    Goodreads says: To Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane, and their baby brother, the house in the country promises a summer of freedom and play. But when they accidentally uncover an accident Psammead--or Sand-fairy--who has the power to make wishes come true, they find themselves having the holiday of a lifetime, sharing one thrilling adventure after another.Genre: classic; children’s literature; fantasy

Plot Summary: Five children growing up in Victorian England stumble upon a magical creature who grants them a wish a day.  But what seems like a fun way of obtaining their hearts’ desires may turn out to be receiving their worst nightmares!

My Book Review: I remember once coming across this book on the shelf at school in 6th grade and thinking the cover looked evil, and so wouldn’t even touch it!  : )  Years later I fell in love with the “Half Magic Series” by Edward Eager, and discovered that he modeled his books (and even borrowed plots) from the author Edith Nesbit, whom he greatly admired.  I knew I had to try her out, too!  And so, I finally got my hands on “Five Children and It,” one of Nesbit’s better-known stories.

I never realized how much influence Edith Nesbit had on children’s literature and the paths she trailblazed for many authors after her.  Apparently, she was the first author who actually wrote of magic coming to children in our world, instead of writing about a fatansy-land or of children going to other places to find magic.  Finding the magical amongst the everyday should be celebrated, and the secret to staying child at heart, I believe, is to search for this.

I suppose it isn’t fair that I began comparing Nesbit with Eager, and any comparison on my part is weak, since I’ve read several Eagers to only one Nesbit.  But I did feel like Nesbit’s story was lacking something I’ve learned to love from Eager.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Maybe it’s that Eager had more fully developed characters, the dialogue was crisp, I laughed more, and there was always a deeper problem the children had to deal with (a sick parent, family financial problems, etc.) that the magical adventure helped them sort through.  Usually by the end of the story, the children had matured through their adventures and were better prepared to deal with their real-life situations.  But like I said, it isn’t fair for me to completely jump to conclusions, since some of Nesbit’s other books may be different.

H R Millar illustration from Five Children and It by E NesbitI enjoyed this book for many reasons.  One, a light children’s story full of imaginative wishes and the scrapes the siblings find themselves in and how they problem-solve to get out was a fun break from deeper adult fiction.  I loved the realistic way the children related to each other (something Eager carried over into his books).

I want to try reading more books by Edith Nesbit, even though I was slightly disappointed with my first one.  I wish I would have decided to read this as that kid in 6th grade, as I know I would have loved it back then.   So, I would definitely recommend this as a nice summer vacation read for younger readers!

You can listen to the complete tale of Five Children and It for free here.

So have you ever read this classic children’s story?  What did you think of it?  Feel free to post comments below!

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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Book Reviews


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Article: Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling

I happened to be on LibriVox today where someone posted a link to the this article.  I thought it quite interesting and wanted to pass it along.  I think it’s fantastic we live in a world where audiobooks are growing in great leaps and bounds!

Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling, by T. M. Luhrmann

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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Uncategorized


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In Memory of Aunt E.

Sometimes it’s the people you assume will be with you forever that pass away unexpectedly.  Last fall, my Aunt E –farmwife, book lover, and lifelong lover of learning—went to be with her Lord at a young age.  After she died, I began to reflect on just how much influence my aunt had on my life.  Especially in the arena of books.

Aunt E. loved books.  She decorated with books (“Books are the best things to decorate with,” she told me).  Her living room included a built-in bookcase made of rough-hewn timbers and was lined with all sorts of books.  There were her favorite Trixie Belden series from her teenage years.  Classics.  An old school textbooks.  I once asked if she’d ever read any of them, expecting that she’d say they were just for pretty.  But she surprised me by saying, “Of course!”

Uncle B. once gave his wife a stack of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not (from the old original series), which he’d scoured the local used bookstore for, and she enjoyed them just as much as if he’d given her flowers.  It was not uncommon to see my aunt and uncle reading during their late supper-snack, after they’d come in from the barn chores.

Aunt E. loved learning anything and everything she could get her hands on to read.  From history, psychology, to nature, it was said during her eulogy that she voraciously consumed nearly the entire local library.  During the years 2006-2007, she read 216 books, –quite a feat, considering the amount of farm duties she took care of on a daily basis.  Of course, audiobooks were a large part of her literary diet.  Being so busy with farmwife duties, she often checked out audiobooks to listen to while canning peaches, cleaning house, or doing dishes.  I remember riding with her home from the library while she popped in a cassette of “Jeeves and Wooster,” which was the first I’d ever heard of it.  My aunt and uncle didn’t have tv, but she knew about so many subjects just from reading/listening that she often was more informed about topics than others in conversations.  She knew as much (if not more so) about the scandal surrounding the Prince of Wales and Lady Di than we did after we’d watched a documentary on tv about it.

My aunt kept up a long-distance letter correspondence with my sister and I when we were growing up.  That definitely exercised our writing skills!  It was always the highlight of the week to find a letter in the mailbox from her.  We talked about so many things.  One time I wrote to her all about how scared I was to move, and in her responding letter she reminded me that ‘This is not our home; we’re just passing through…’  I think she liked to read about all the girlhood experiences we were having growing up.  We liked to hear her unique thoughts on all types of things—from Christmas music to vacations, to Victorian dresses and politics.  And books, of course!

watercolourHer first influence on me when it came to books was sending a box full of paperbacks to take along with me on a summer vacation camping trip to New York.  I can’t remember what any of them were anymore, but I remember the gesture.  If it hadn’t been for my aunt’s suggesting, I might not have discovered such books as: “Anne of Green Gables,” “Betsy, Tacy, Tib,” “Daddy-Long-Legs,” and “Laddie.”  “Every girl needs to read the Anne books before she grows up,” she told me.  And she was right.  She also said that Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer,” and “Huckleberry Finn” were best enjoyed as an adult.

It was my aunt who inspired me to start keeping my own “To-Read” notebook.  I noticed she kept a little spiral bound one with the titles of books she wanted to look up at the library.  I decided to start my own similar notebook, and have now graduated to two Meads: one for fiction, one for non-fiction.  I remember asking my aunt if it were possible to ever run out of books to read.  She shook her head.  She was right, of course.  (I also have her to thank for inspiring me to keep my own quote-book.)

My aunt and uncle didn’t have any children of their own, but they had many nieces and nephews.  Her sister’s children (not related to us) were much younger than my sister and I, and their mother didn’t always have time to read to all of them at the time, so my aunt came up with an idea.  They sent me her children’s picture books and asked me to tape record the stories and send them back for the kids to listen to and follow along.  I loved doing that so much!!  I probably had more fun than the kids did listening!  And it also was my first experience in reading on tape for someone else.  Now I have moved on to Librivox, but it was my aunt’s idea that made me realize it was a dream for me to pursue.

My sister and I stayed for several weeks at my aunt’s house the spring my grandmother died.  I was 15 years old and needed a book to read to pass the time.  I wandered down to the back living room, to the built-in bookcase beside the fireplace and decided to try a faded purple volume of “Jane Eyre.”  I loved it!  I spent many hours engrossed in the story of Jane and Rochester.  Years later, my aunt gave me that very copy when she was ‘weeding out’ to make more room for other books.

 Aunt E. told me she wished she’d spent more time reading the classics when she was growing up, but at the time she was only interested in horse stories.  As an adult, she often said her favorite books were “Laddie,” by Gene Stratton-Porter, and the “All Creatures Great and Small” series by James Herriot.  She said she’d listened to the latter so many times on audiobook she had it memorized, and that when she finally got the chance to watch the tv series, she knew what the characters were going to say before said it!

Her annual Christmas letters definitely showed a James Herriot influence.  She usually had some sort of animal story to tell, farm drama or other tidbit to share, and could spin it in such a humorous way that people often anticipated next year’s letter.  People told her she ought to write a book.  Sadly, that didn’t happen.

Aunt E didn’t like sad endings (I remember she gave up an audiobook early on in the story because the main character’s beloved aunt died).  It was a shock to all of us when she became very sick several months before she passed.  But she bravely faced her own mortality—because she believed that those who belong to Christ Jesus are promised an ultimately glorious ending… which happens to be the beginning of another and Better Story.

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Posted by on February 8, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The Art of Reading Aloud: To and with Others

Illustration of Children Reading by Emilie Benson KnipeIt probably started when I was a little girl first learning to read Amelia Bedelia.  I was older by my sister by 3 years and so had a great advantage over her in that I could read ‘real books.’  I would read “Geraldine’s Big Snow”,  “Kidderminster Kingdom Tales“, and “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day” to her because I loved to read all the expressive words.

Little Sister eventually learned to read, but somehow reading aloud didn’t stop.  We got older and I discovered Nancy Drew.  I’d read a whole mystery out loud for us on a rainy Saturday afternoon.  We’d pitch my pup tent out in the backyard during the summer and we excitedly devoured Frank Peretti’s Cooper Kid mysteries.  Then we got older and it was the Father Brown mysteries I got for Christmas one year (I think S. just wanted to hear my unrealistic British accent more than anything!).

When we were in our late teens/early twenties, our family went through a long moving ordeal during which we forwent a tv for a while.  Ever since we were small, S. and I had learned the skill of being our own entertainment.  So, in the evenings we sat in the living room and I read Agatha Christie mysteries (Why Didn’t They Ask Evans and The Body in the Library among others).

Family readingThere is something memorable and delightfully homespun about reading out loud in a family setting.  Yes, it does feel a bit awkward at first, especially if you don’t view your family as anything particularly resembling The Waltons.  To be honest, to this day I don’t feel completely comfortable reading in for a live audience.  Being an introvert causes an internal self-critic to warn me against letting myself go “too much or I’ll feel stupid.”  I feel ridiculous trying to put on voices or accents, I fear mispronouncing a word, I hate reading the kissy scenes, and on and on.  I don’t read perfectly.  But you know what?  Looking back, I have all of these wonderful memories of reading to my Mom and sister when we were still all living together.  Families change as the years go by, but remembering that we did something other than watch the latest Law and Order: CI episode makes me feel like maybe we did have our Walton moments.  It sort of gives me a cozy, reminiscent feeling that is precious.

Click on the picture for a wonderful article on the same topic!

It is rare in this day and age.  It’s much easier when you start young or start when you’re kids are young.  Reading books to kids at bedtime never grows out of date.  Can you remember a parent, grandparent, older sibling or someone who read you bedtime stories?  I think we’ll realize if we ponder long enough that it wasn’t the story so much that we loved the most.  We’d heard that Peter Rabbit story so many times we had it memorized!  No, it was the person who was reading it to us that mattered.  Hearing the voice that cared so much about us that they spent the time to read out loud, no matter how tired they themselves were.  It was hearing the excitement in their voice as they enjoyed the story right along with us.  It was like that moment of time was the only thing of importance, and nothing else existed outside of experiencing the story together with someone else.  This wasn’t something that could be tangibly felt or put into words at the time, but looking back you see how precious that was.

We have the opportunity to pass along the same kinds of memories!  The big secret is that bedtime stories aren’t just for the kids.  Adults love them just as much.  Timeless stories that stand the test of time, like fairy tales or E. Nesbit.  We can enjoy exploring those story worlds with the next generation.

I don't know who painted this, but I'd like to know!But reading aloud doesn’t have to be only for children.  Aging parents, grandparents, the bedridden or anyone who has ears to hear can enjoy being read to.  The unspoken message is that is says someone cares enough to spend time sharing a story with someone else.  You might be in a phase where there isn’t much else to talk about with each other, but you can connect through a story.  In a safe, loving atmosphere, gradually stepping out to read to the people you love can boost self-confidence.  When you hear that first word of encouragement, that first positive laugh over the way you read a humorous line, that “Stop that!  You’re scaring me!” …you will bless yourself for taking up the idea of trying!  Affirmation can make one feel like they can do anything!

Reading aloud is a constructive, imaginative, and creative art.  Edith Schaeffer, in her book “The Hidden Art of Homemaking” suggests it as an outlet for acting.  She says that if you’re a person who had always dreamed of being an actor but never had or took the opportunity, reading out loud to the people nearest you will give you a feeling of fulfillment.

You can be creative about this.  How about reading to each other for a romantic date idea?  I knew of someone who read “Anne of Green Gables” to her college dorm mates on weeknights while they pampered themselves in the bathroom.  Perhaps you’re one of those lucky people who can read during long car rides without getting motion sick.  Read about the sights you’ll be seeing, the history of the places you’ll be going.  When my sister and I were homeschooled, Mom read the history of Genghis Kahn while us girls shelled peas.  My grandma and grandpa started up their church’s library and personally read every book they entered into their card catalog system.  In this way they discovered The Mitford Series, by Jan Karon which they took turns reading aloud to each other.  One summer when I came down with poison ivy really bad, my mom read Tales of the Kingdom by David and Karen Mains while I soaked in a ginger bath.  My friend’s mom refused to let her children see the Lord of the Rings until the had completed the trilogy together as a family.  Their goal was to read each book before they hit the theater.

Antsy listeners who can’t keep still while being read to can enjoy the story just as well (or even better) when they have a quiet activity like putting together a puzzle, working on crafts, building models, etc.  Children might want to act the stories out with their stuffed animals as they are listening.  I always listened to a good story with a blanket thrown over my head to block out all distractions.  There is no right or wrong way of doing this.

If you’re still shy about trying this, there are other ways to enjoy reading aloud to others without the live audience. is a wonderful way to read in community!  I once recorded a set of children’s books on audio cassette for some children whose mother didn’t have time to read to them.  It’s a great way to start out and practice at, before offering to read with others physically present.

It requires commitment to complete a story, making time out of everyone’s schedules, patience and courage, but whatever you do, don’t let life slip by without discovering this wonderful pastime!

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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in The Art of Reading Aloud


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