Sunday Selections: What We’re Reading

Our group has an amazing theme: female authors and/or strong central female characters. While we do read many novels that fit this subject matter, for both the club and on the side, we all have eclectic tastes and expand into many other genres for our pleasure reading. Here we explore what books some of the Regimentals are currently consuming in their free time.

Tim: I am currently listening to Soul Music by Sir Terry Pratchett on audiobook, and am reading John Kaag’s American Philosophy: A Love Story in standard hardcover. Soul Music is the 16th stop on my quest to complete the 41 book Discworld series for the first time. Generally I only focus on one story at a time; however, due to how long the Discworld series is and that I am listening to them all rather than reading, I have had to take breaks and read other books. That’s where American Philosophy comes in, it’s a nice break to get some light reading in about solipsism and the meaning of life when the current Discworld book I’m listening to gets too heavy.

Hannah S: In preparation for the North American Discworld Convention in September, I’m trying to read through all the books again in order. (I’ve read them all many times, but I generally read them sporadically–just whichever book I feel like at the time.) I’m currently on Mort, which is a definite favorite of mine. It’s so fun to go back, read things from the beginning and watch the characters that you know so well develop again. If you haven’t read Sir Terry Pratchett’s incredible feat of imagination and satire, there’s nothing in the world I would recommend more highly. I’m also listening to Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope, which I am thoroughly enjoying. I was in the mood for some Victorian drama. I had never read any Trollope before this year, and he’s quickly jumped to number 3 on my list of favorite 19th century writers after Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell.

Hannah Z.:  I just checked my purse and there are three books in there–Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell, Longbourn by Jo Baker, and The Princess Bride by William Goldman. A fellow Regimental gifted Longbourn to me last year, and I’m enjoying this look at the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of their servants (N.B. Lydia is still super annoying). If you’ve never read Sarah Vowell, please stop denying yourself her witty and engaging thoughts on American History. I’m learning so much about the annexation of Hawaii and its rich history simply by traveling with Sarah into libraries and temples and caves and museums. I’m reconsidering much of what I already thought about the 50th state. As for The Princess Bride, it is a kissing book, and one I’ve read many times. I’m looking forward to diving into S. Morgenstern’s classic tale again.

Erin: Sometimes stories for work require some extra research. So, I’m currently reading How to Talk About Wine by Bernard Klem. It’s a basic guide to the world of wine, including which countries make it, how to taste it without looking like a rube, and what fancy-sounding words like terroir mean.

Exciting, interesting, and fun reads all around! We are all working through the next book club book as well; Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robinson. Some of us have at least three novels on themselves at all times (Hannah), and others just concentrate on one at a time. Regardless, we all have the love of reading in our souls.

Throwback Thursday: First Novels

Most members of our group didn’t just suddenly dive heavily into reading. Many of us have been bookworms all of our lives. Let’s Ask the Regiment about their first reads! In this post we each take a look back at the first book we remember reading, and how it influenced our current literary choices today.

Hannah S: The first non-picture book I really remember reading is Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne. I remember reading it with my Grandma, reading it with my parents, reading it to my siblings. I absolutely loved it. It’s not really a novel though. The first novel I have vivid memories of connecting with is The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. That world was so vivid to me. I still can’t see a wardrobe or rack full of fur coats at an antique store without wanting to climb through them and see where I end up. It’s practically a physical memory, rather than an intellectual one–the soft fur and hardwood giving way to scratchy pine needles and crunching snow as you enter Narnia.

Allyson: I’ve never been one to gravitate toward books, so when I was assigned to read The Outsiders in my 9th grade English class, I was less than thrilled. As I began reading this novel in class, I was instantly hooked. I don’t know if it was my obsession with mid-twentieth century pop culture or the social struggle that Ponyboy and his friends dealt with, but this was one of the first books that I truly ate up. When I learned that S. E. Hinton was a woman, I was in awe and felt empowered. A few years later I was cast in a stage adaptation of the book, and it will forever be one of my favorite novels. It reminds me that no matter what life throws your way, to stay gold.

Amelia: The first chapter book I can clearly remember reading is The Little House in the Big Woods, although honestly, most of the reading was done by my mother.  But I loved that book!  As the middle child in my own family of five, I felt like Laura was my fictional counterpart, someone who could easily be my friend.  At the same time, her world was totally foreign to me! I loved the descriptions of her daily routines and remember being very sad when I couldn’t have my own “sugaring off.”  Maybe that’s when I first fell in love with history, even the romanticized versions of it.  Little House still holds a special place in my heart.

Erin: When I was in kindergarten I used to read the Nancy Drew series with my mom. Sometimes she would read and sometimes she’d make me read out loud for practice, which I’m sure was a little tedious. I loved that Nancy and her gal pals were so good at solving mysteries. I even named several Barbies after Nancy, Georgie, and Bess. And the best part was that there seemed to be a limitless supply of books, at least in the mind of a little kid.

Hannah Z.: When I was growing up, my family listened to lots of audiobooks. My very favorite was The Mouse and The Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. Seeing the world from a mouse’s-eye-view fascinated me and I could see everything about the story, from the pattern on the Mountain View Inn’s carpet to the chrome handlebars on the toy motorcycle. This listening-and-reading experience opened up my whole world as I was first learning how to read, and helped introduce me to that intrepid third-grader, Ramona Quimby, whose adventures still serve as my own model for life.

Tim: I have a very poor memory, so while there were probably many before this,  the first novel I remember really getting into was Redwall by Brian Jacques. As a child (well, to be fair, still as an adult) I loved the main characters being animals rather than people. It was also my entry into fantasy epics, which remains one of my favorite genres today.

So there you have it–a few favorite early reads from The Regiment! What first book experiences do you still savor? What is the first book you remember reading?