7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 105)

November 12, 2010 | 122 comments

— 1 —

Daylight Savings Time is ruining my life. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Sort of. You see, my children still get up at the same time every day, only it’s an hour earlier according to the clock. So all that propaganda about how we get an extra hour of sleep when we change the clocks in November is all lies. “We” are getting less sleep because “we” are still going to bed at the same time according to the clock, and “we” have children who are getting up at the same time in according to their biological clocks, so “we” are actually losing sleep each night. “So why don’t you go to bed an hour earlier?” you ask. I could, but I’m a night owl, and going to bed early makes me feel like I’ve given up on living. Which brings me back to “Daylight Savings Time is ruining my life.”

— 2 —

I know, I know, it’s not currently Daylight Savings Time, DST just ended. Whatever. I use the term as an all-encompassing reference to “that thing the government does to mess with my head twice a year.” It usually takes me a few months to adjust to the new time, at which point we change the clocks again. It’s like something out of 1984, when you think about it. I’ll be off crafting detailed Daylight Savings Time conspiracy theories if anyone needs me.

— 3 —

When I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal announcing that rap label Cash Money Records is partnering with Simon & Schuster to sell books, it was as if Christmas came early for me this year. I don’t know if there has ever been a confluence of events more perfectly tailored to pique my interest. I may never shut up about it.

I’ve long been an admirer of Cash Money’s body of work, and I cannot wait to see how this is translated to the world of literature. If I recall correctly, in one song B. Gizzle states that “the Cash Money motto is we gotta drink ’til we throw up.” I wonder if they’ll bring this same core competency to their imprint at Simon & Schuster?

— 4 —

Based on their repertoire of music, I think I can predict the narrative arc of each Cash Money book:

  • Exposition: Protagonist just creating hot rhymes for the love of it. Rhymes are so hot that he now owns multiple luxury vehicles and wears so much bling that it causes eye damage to those who look directly at it.
  • Rising action: Haters come up, start hatin’. On top of this, protagonist realizes he’s the only rapper who speaks truth; is deeply concerned that people will get only weak rhymes and watered-down messages if they listen to his competition. Protagonist ruminates in detail about inner conflict between wanting haters to go away, and enjoying the vast amounts of riches and scantily-clad women that this career path has sent his way.
  • Climax: Protagonist considers returning to obscurity so that he can shake the haters and go back to rapping for the love if it. After detailed narration of a mental inventory of his possessions, including but not limited to Bentleys, Mercedes, ice, bling, yachts and helicopters, protagonist decides to continue rapping.
  • Denouement: Protagonist realizes that he’s talented enough that he can both keep it real and enjoy wild commercial success; resolves to let haters keep hatin’.

— 5 —

While we’re on the subject of books, let’s do a Fiction Book Challenge! I’ve said before that I almost never read fiction; it’s not exactly intentional, I just can’t ever seem to get into it. But I’d like to be more broad in my reading, so let’s see if we can find a fiction book I’ll enjoy! Here’s what I’m looking for:

I like to be able to learn something concrete from the books that I read (e.g. I’d probably love something that, say, painted a really accurate picture of medieval France). I don’t think that sci-fi or fantasy are my cup of tea. I love history, astronomy and science. An example of a fiction book I ready recently and really liked is Magi by Daniel Gilbert.

— 6 —

This is hilarious:

— 7 —

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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  1. Genny


    I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction too. A couple of fiction books I really enjoyed that I read this year: Firefly Lane and The Red Tent. Both had me completely immersed in the story. Firefly Lane is about women, friendships, family, and life. The Red Tent is a fictional account of the Biblical story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. The details and setting are absolutely captivating.

    Have a great weekend!


    • Elizabeth

      I second The Red Tent. Also, Willa Cather, A.B. Guthrie, Conrad Richter, Nancy Turner or James Michener … if you ever enjoyed Little House on the Prairie.

      A librarian friend of mine suggested Annie Dillard — she’s an alleged convert to Roman Catholicism.

      • Liesl

        the red tent is a pretty interesting read!

        • Gretchen P

          Loved The Red Tent. How about The Heretic’s Daughter, The Birth of Venus, Year of Wonders, The Girls, or The Other Boleyn Girl?

          Good luck! 🙂

          • Elizabeth

            I love those books! The Birth of Venus does have a pretty steamy scene, though… from the perspective of a teenager, I think. It’s a good one, though.

  2. Aubrey

    I will campaign with you for the repeal of whatever medieval law began the insane practice of Daylight Saving Time. I have five kids and I’m telling you, I’m done with it. There’s no such thing as extra sleep, only losing sleep. My 9 month old doesn’t understand why I put her back to bed when she wakes at 6 a.m. She doesn’t understand why, when she wants to go to bed at 6 p.m., I make her stay up til 7. Poor Maria, no one told you that it’s not really 7 a.m., it’s 6 a.m. now, and Mama doesn’t want to get up for the day. Poor Maria, no one cares that your body thinks it’s 7 p.m. (bedtime). It is really only 6 p.m. Please stay awake for one more hour! Whose bright idea was this, anyway!? Sheesh.

    And you’re right–the Star Wars spoof made me laugh. I’m going to have to show it to my 3 year old. Yes, this is the same 3 year old who wanders around the house humming the Imperial March. He’ll think he’s in Heaven … Veggie Tales meets Star Wars. I can’t wait til he wakes up.

  3. Alice

    A novel set in Medieval France which I really enjoyed was called ‘Through a dark wood wandering’ by Hella Haasse, a Dutch writer (I think). It’s about the Duke of something in the 100 years war and his life. (St Joan of Arc makes an appearance!) It starts off slowly but once I got into the swing of things I was completely immersed in the setting. There’s beautiful prose and it ended up being quite a page-turner.

  4. Marie

    * As far as daylight savings time I always feel completely jet lagged. Its one hour. Why such suffering?

    * Some of my favorite fiction: The Help. March. The Gold Coast by Nelson Demille (hysterical!) Unto the Sons by Gae Talesse (sp), tons of family memebers are in to the series The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.

    • Jaimie

      The Help is AMAZING.

      • Christina

        I also really recommend The Help. Very enjoyable easy read. I also highly recommend The Time Traveler’s Wife. Not realistic and you won’t learn anything but beautifully written and leaves you asking yourself what you would truly sacrifice for the love of your life.

    • Gretchen P

      Definitely The Help—forgot to add that one!

    • Stephanie

      To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of The Help.

  5. Daniel Cox

    I would think that the great state of Texas wouldn’t have fallen in with the rest of the states over such an obvious government intrusion. How is it that Arizona doesn’t move their clocks but Texas does? Something is not right in the universe…

  6. Dorian Speed

    I was wondering why everyone was leaving such highbrow comments, and then I realized I’d skipped right over the Fiction Book Challenge because I was contemplating the wisdom of Take #4. You should be, like, a tutor for hardened youth. Relating to them with your knowledge of inner-city life.

    Hmmm. I’ve been on a Ron Hansen kick of late. Maybe try “Mariette in Ecstasy?”

  7. Erin


    RE fiction- Have you tried This House of Brede by Rumer Godden.

    • Kate

      YES! Jen, you need to read “In This House of Brede”.

  8. Rachel

    I likewise read mostly non-fiction, but a couple of my favorite novels I’ve read in the last couple of years are _The Sparrow_ and _Children of God_ by Mary Doria Russell. The premise has to do with space travel, but they don’t really belong in the SF genre. Intelligent life is discovered on a planet in a neighboring solar system, and the Jesuits send a team to make first contact. Russell is careful to make the scientific elements at least plausible, but is far more concerned with the theological and anthropological dimensions of the story she’s telling. It’s very well done.

    • Erica Minneman

      Both of those books are great, but I preferred A Thread of Grace by the same author.

  9. Elisa | blissfulE

    OK, I know Arizona is closer, but Western Australia just recently voted down daylight savings time and we’re all the happier for it. Move here, and enjoy your extra rest. 🙂

  10. Kimberlie

    I am a “Daylight Savings Time” “Spring Forward, Fall Back” hater now that I have kids. I used to love the extra hour of sleep on that one Sunday. I love to sleep. My kids, however, do not. They can barely stay awake until bedtime, are crabby, crabby, crabby, and up with the birds. Yuck. As a low-energy parent, I think it’s all a vast government conspiracy to make me even more miserable in the mornings.

    As for fiction, Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth is good for medievil stuff. If you want a little suspense/freakishness try The Eight by Katherine Neville. Lastly, my current “favorite fiction book ever” I actually read nearly three years ago. Read Ralph McInerney’s The Red Hat. It’s set in modern times and is about an archbishop’s ambition to be cardinal, and then all the surrounding things going on in the Church which eerily mimic recent history (written in 1998), it’s got intrigue, suspense,and beautiful moments of faith. For me, the thing I really like about reading a lot of his works is that he’s super intelligent and I sometimes need a dictionary because he doesn’t dumb down the language. You probably won’t need the dictionary but I think you will appreciate the novel.

  11. Kathryn Rose

    Oh my goodness Jen! I have the perfect book for you! It’s actually not fiction, but it reads like fiction, so it’s close enough. It’s called “Galileo’s Daughter” by Dava Sobel. She traces the arc of Galileo’s life and work, but she uses as her frame the surviving letters that his daughter wrote from her convent. Fascinating stuff. And the best part is, it’s not only NOT anti-Catholic Church, but she actually makes a point to show that it wasn’t the church that condemned Galileo – it was a handful of crazy guys wrapped up in politics. A great read!

  12. Tom L

    You might enjoy Death Comes for the Archbishop. Based on the life of the first bishop of Santa Fe.

  13. KJ

    I recommend A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin. Wonderful book. You’ll learn about: life in Rome before WWI, Italy’s role in WWI, paintings by Raphael and Giorgione, climbing in the Alpini…but the book isn’t about any of those things. It’s about a young Italian man, with a very Catholic outlook, trying to find beauty and sense in God’s world. The book is just so beautiful – nearly everyone who reads it puts it in their top 3 books. It came out in the early 90’s to critical acclaim. I think the story would especially resonate with readers of this blog.

  14. Kathleen@so much to say, so little time

    As for DST, I am so with you! My kids have adjusted, but it irritates me every time the shift happens. Why didn’t they just move us to DST permanently a few years ago when they started mucking around with it? What’s the matter with these politicians? Didn’t they ever have kids?

    Books: 5 for Sorrow, 10 for Joy by Rumer Godden. Revolutionized the way I look at fiction writing.

    #6…uh…some people have wwwwayyyyy too much time on their hands!

  15. Pam

    My first item this week is a mini-rant about DST too… but it never occurred to me that it might be a government conspiracy! You’re right — it’s 1984 all over again!! (argh.)

    And I deeply enjoyed your Cash Money sarcasm, especially the plot outline… hilarious. 🙂

  16. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

    I totally understand about Daylight Savings Time…my morning routine is completely in shambles…especially my prayer time, which I desperately need. This morning I gave my girls their breakfast, and locked myself in my room to pray,is that wrong?

  17. Oscar G

    A great book I was thinking of rereading is “Anil’s Ghost” by Michael Ondaatje. It is set during the twin civil wars in Sri Lanka during the 1980s. It does a great job of placing you in a certain time and place, and is very faithful to the actual events and environment (speaking from personal experience). Wonderful website by the way – my girfriend and I have been reading for about a year, and we both love what you do here.

  18. elizabethe

    Until recently South Bend, Indiana where i used to live, also didn’t do the DST switch. I have to say, either the whole country has to do it, or no one. We never changed clocks, but twice a year the entire TV schedule shifted forwards or backwards by one hour. It was totally confusing. If you think losing an hour of sleep is bad, wait until you have to change your whole schedule because your favorite show now comes on at 7 instead of 8.

  19. Susan

    Please give In This House of Brede a try. It is an amazing novel set in a Benedictine convent. The story is extremely good and well written and it will give you a wonderful insight into the world of a Vatican 2 era convent. It is also chocked full of both spiritual insights and chanllenges.

  20. kathy

    You expressed exactly how I feel about DST. Don’t worry though, in about 6 months, the kids are back on schedule. Oh wait, that’s when we change the clocks again. Grrrr!

  21. Kim D.

    Go for Theophilos or anything else by Michael D. O’Brien! Best EVER!

  22. Jules

    I just got back from a vacation to the UK. I flew to Phoenix, and then to STL, and then drove home, and then the government changed the time. I still can’t figure out what time it is. They do the same thing there too, only a week earlier. I look forward to your conspiracy theories and will gather my tin foil.

  23. Kim D.

    Also check out the several AWESOME page-turning historical fiction Saint biographies by Louis DeWohl! I highly recommend St. Catherine of Siena–amazing!

  24. Stephanie

    If you want to learn something and have history, then Russian literature is where you should start.

    Personal favorites: Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky; War & Peace by Tolstoy (seriously, I’m finishing it right now and it’s amazing); Doctor Zhivago by Pasternak.

    There are so many more, but that’s a good starting point.

    • Stephanie

      I’m going to follow up to my own comment: these books I’ve mentioned not only have captivating story lines, awesome character development, and beautiful language, there’s also morality, love, religion and everything else good in them.

  25. Megan

    I am a night owl too! I do not remember the last time I was in bed before 11. I agree that DST is a pain in the butt!

  26. Stephanie

    Ok I might just get the prize for most comments on one post. I could not leave without thanking you for the Cash Money news. Having grown up in NOLA (504 boys!) I feel like I’ve had the unique opportunity of growing up with Cash Money.

    I cannot wait to see how they grow and expand into the realm of literature (as you call it). Lil Wayne, Juvie, BG, all of them I’m sure will make fabulous authors. I also (might have) driven by Juvenile’s house a few times when he lived nearby hoping to catch a glance… but really all I ever saw was ridiculously large hummers with shiny things all over them. Living the dream.

  27. MrsDarwin

    Your #4 is almost accurate, but you’ve left out the development of “beefs” with the haters. Scholarship proves that you can’t be considered in the top tier of rappers unless you’ve instigated a “beef” on the way up, and successfully defended yourself against a challenger’s “beef” once you’ve hit the big time.

  28. Jaimie

    You would like Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. It won the Pulitzer.

    • Jaimie

      Oh, and it’s about a hermaphrodite and the history of his/her bad gene — the history of his/her family as immigrants from Greece. Also it’s about sexual awakening, sexual identity, the psychology of sexuality, etc.

    • Sarah

      “Middlesex,” is an excellent book. Have to concur. Also enjoyed, “The Misadventures of Cavalier and Clay,” if we’re talking Pulitzer prize-winners – details some of the background of early comic book writers and artists, in and amongst the rest of the story . . .


  29. Rosita

    I love good fiction, but I agree that it is not easy to find well written fiction. One excellent fiction book is The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Here is a brief summary from Amazon (It is really hard to summarize, but an excellent read)

    “In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being “human.” When the lone survivor of the expedition, Emilio Sandoz, returns to Earth in 2059, he will try to explain what went wrong…”

    Another book that I love, even though it is considered a young adult book, (and I did first read it in high school, but I still reread it about once a year) is Good Night Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian. It takes place during WWII and the evacuation of children out of London to the countryside.

    A final book I would suggest is Follow Your Heart by Susanna Tamaro. It was one of those books that when I first read it, it really spoke to me where I was at and I couldn’t put it down. It is a set up as series of letters from an Italian grandmother to her granddaughter who she raised.

    I am in total agreement with you about DST. You get NO extra sleep when you have children and it is very 1984ish.

  30. Susan

    I like fiction. Right now I’m reading a book by Karen Andreola, Lessons at Blackberry Inn, it’s a sequel to Pocketful of Pinecones, her first fiction book centering around Carol and how she homeschools using a Charlotte Mason influence. It’s a good read.

  31. 'Becca

    Have you read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon? There’s time travel, but other than that it’s mainly historical fiction/romance/medical drama. Claire accidentally travels from 1945 to 1743 in Scotland and has nonstop adventures, very well-written with oodles of description. And she’s Catholic!

    I love your plot outline. Did we have the same 7th grade English teacher??

  32. Liesl

    I’m a chemist, so I enjoy reading scientific fiction haha. I would recommend Timeline by Michael Crichton – it’s a scientific thriller that throws in French medieval history as well! Excellent book! Also, have you read anything by John Case? The Eighth Day and The Genesis Code come to mind – again, both scientific thrillers.

  33. nicole

    If you like historical fiction you might like Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. A little slow to start, but very engaging once it gets going. Also, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger is more modern fiction, but it is a beautiful book.

  34. Amy

    The change in time is my nemesis too. So much so that even now I’m so tired I can’t think of anything else to say! 🙂

  35. Kris, in New England

    I echo Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and would add the follow-up World Without End. I also saw someone else recommend Nelson DeMille’s Gold Coast and I agree there as well. I would also recommend The Lion’s Game and the follow-up to that, The Lion.

    Right now I’m reading Follett’s newest book Fall of Giants and while I’m barely 100 pages in on my Nook, I am already totally in love with the book.

    And you can never go wrong with Jane Austen. When in doubt … there is always Jane.

  36. Christine

    I’ve been reading “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese. It seems to fit your description of books you’d enjoy- set in a different, time and culture, based around the lives of people who work in a hospital in a 3rd world country. I’m finding it fascinating.

  37. IL Gamer

    I finally read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” after years of being on my to-do list. I loved it. It was a bit long in places and a little scary for the parallels I saw to our current time, but it was well worth the read.

  38. Christine

    I forgot to mention that we work the kids up to the time change by moving their bedtimes up 15 minutes every couple of nights. By the time we hop back one hour, they are going to bed an hour PAST their normal bedtime and starting to sleep later as well. Of course, with homeschooling we can do this with no problem. It’s worked for us, as by a week past the time change they are sleeping in again to their normal wake time (which for us is still early!). 🙂

  39. Sarah@From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell

    Hmm, a fiction book, you say…of course, the obvious would be Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte…but…if you are more adventurous in your fiction choice, read the Medieval French poem called “Silence.” Medieval knights, cross-dressing women, awesomeness that was written during the Medieval period. Or Chaucer’s Legends of Good Women…

  40. Keith B

    Just to be pedantic on the Internet: it is not actually called Daylight Savings Time. It is Daylight Saving Time. No ‘s’. In this case, it is not a collection of stored daylight (as the first one would have you believe), but a time during with you act to reserve daylight for the afternoon (as the second one is). Gerund, not noun 😉

    I think more traditionally, it was (even more correctly) written Daylight-Saving Time.

    Compare with e.g. labor-saving device, princess-saving hero errant.

    This is, of course, utterly, utterly, utterly pedantic, and has no actual bearing on the validity of anything you’ve said. Not to mention cutting against how pretty much everyone actually says it. But gosh darn it, it’s the Internet, so I can say something 🙂

    And yes, I rather hate the whole thing. Why can’t we just pick one time for noon to be and stick with it?

  41. Gina

    Do you like Tudor history? I’m currently reading and enjoying “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel.

  42. Mary

    Historical Fiction that makes the ancient world come to life:
    The King Must Die,The Bull From the Sea and anything else by Mary Renault.

  43. Erica Minneman

    A great novel about the middle ages in England is The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It’s a time travel book, but it seems a lot more like living history than sci-fi. Also in that genre are Willis’ novels To Say Nothing of the Dog (which is hysterical – and involves bits of time in WWII and Victorian England) and the more serious Blackout (which is about 21st century historians stuck in WWII England).

  44. Brianna

    Oh I am SO with you, I rarely EVER read fiction. I really did love The Help though, set against civil-rights era Mississippi. I think you might like it!

  45. majellamom

    Daylight savings time is also ruining my life…but getting my homeschooling done earlier in the day, so there is a small plus to it (I’d prefer the sleep, though…)

    I know that you said you are not much into sci-fi and fantasy, but just in case you want to give one a try, I have really enjoyed Christopher Stasheff’s novels. He is at least nominally Catholic, and writes his sci-fi/fantasy (not sure which one they fit better in) with religion included…the Wizard in Rhyme series is my favorite, but the Warlock books are also very good…both have magic in them, within a religious setting…so there are monks and nuns and priests among the characters, which makes them far more intresting to me. Dorky, I know, but I thought I’d pass it along in case you might be interested in spite of the sci-fi part.

  46. Lauren P

    Just a guess, but I’m thinking you’d probably love Flannery O’Connor…

  47. Anne

    I recommment The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. It’s a really intriguing book set in a medieval monastery.

  48. Craig

    1. me too
    2. it IS a conspiracy
    3. excellent snark
    4. AMAZING snark
    5. sorry, I don’t read fiction either
    6. yes – sooo funny – I saw this movie in an actual movie theater – I’m that old – but I still won’t be chewing any broccoli though – no matter how cute the humor – and stretch out with his “peelings” – funny!!!!!
    7. Thank you

  49. melissa

    This is a science fiction book (actually a trilogy of books) but the science fiction is just a means to an end. C.S. Lewis wrote his space trilogy back in the late ’30s and early ’40s – Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. These are wonderful classics and are for adults what his Narnia books are for children. They are not to be missed. In fact, they are so good that I reread them every 4 or 5 years and find new truths in them each time.

    • Stephanie

      I finally read these this year. I had read every other book by Lewis except the trilogy and kept putting them off. Now that I’ve read them I don’t know why I was putting them off. They were excellent!

  50. Melora Campbell

    I second Sharon Kay Penman or Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, but I’ve added To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Willis, to my list — that one looks good!

  51. Salome Ellen

    I think organic food can be overdone, but that video is awesome!

  52. Gretchen P

    I LOVE DST, I just HATE falling back.

  53. JoAnna

    Another blogger recently recommended the Kristin Lavransdatter series by Sigrid Undset. I haven’t read them yet but she says they’re fantastic.

    Even though you’re not a sci-fi fan, you should check out C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy. It’s wonderful.

  54. Josephene Kealey

    “May the peelings be with you” WAHAHAHAHAHA!! I love it!

    I had an idea regarding your Christmas Card Marathon. Give your nails an awesome manicure and paint them really brightly before you begin (or have them done by someone else). You’ll feel more inspired! (I say this knowing how important things like shoes are in your life).

    Best of luck with the new season — DLS and all.


  55. JD

    I echo all the comments on the space trilogy by CS Lewis, especially That Hideous Strength. Also, I didn’t see mentioned two of my personal favorites: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (best novel ever in my opinion) and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (one of the most fun and suspensful novels I’ve ever read — and I teach literature!).
    I would also include Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry for a great exploration of the nature of community and how it shapes our understanding of ourselves, especially in light of the pressures of the modern world.
    For great historical stuff, there’s always War and Peace and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy as well.
    My wife and I also recently read Redeeming Love (don’t remember the author) but it’s a fictionalization of the book of Haggai and it is really good and thought-provoking.

  56. Kate

    Another vote for “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett!!!

  57. suki @ [Super Duper Fantastic]

    I think my body knew it was time for daylight savings because I would wake up progressively later each day. :/ So it’s good not to be behind schedule.

  58. Kris

    My personal 3 favorite historical fiction books that I think are page turners:
    1. Pope Joan by Donna Wolfolk Cross.
    2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
    3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

  59. Jodi

    I’ve recently started reading “Her Fearful Symmetry”… and soon after had to stop reading it. eep! Why do fantastically talented authors have to put descriptions of sex in their books? sigh.

  60. My Thoughts

    I’m new to your blog and 7 Quick Takes Friday. Thanks for sharing.

  61. Marsha Michaelis

    I really love Penelope Wilcock’s trilogy “The Hawk and the Dove.” Fictional stories of monks living in the 14th century, wrapped in the context of a 20th century mother sharing them with her daughter. Beautiful, rich, often humorous writing, and a wealth of insight into human nature and God.

  62. Sharon

    I loved Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth.” It’s kind of long, but it’s a hard-to-put-down story about an 11th-century monk who is struggling to keep his monastery alive despite adversaries who want to see it sink into oblivion. The focal point in the story is a cathedral that is slowly being built under his supervision, and the struggles he and his friends have to get it finished. It’s fantastic.

  63. Sarah

    Hi Jen!

    I concur with the death of DST. My little ones are currently waking up at 6:30am EVERY DAY now. Baloney about this extra hour of sleep, bit.

    #4. Hilarious.

    Fiction . . . I love good fiction. I sneer at bad fiction. I’m kind of a literature snob, but haven’t read much fiction myself lately! Something vaguely historic I read recently was, “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” by Katherine Howe.

    Thought it was great . . . melded together a study of witch hunting in Puritan Colonial America with the present time. Also enjoyed, “The Forgotten Garden,” by Kate Morton but I almost think I liked the former better. I read “The Heretics Wife” a few months ago, but didn’t think much of it (though, I admit, I did read the whole thing.)

    Getting ready to read,”The Solitude of Prime Numbers,” which I don’t believe is historic or scientific.

    I also liked, “Last Night in Twisted River,’ by John Irving, but I like pretty much everything by him, so . . . not exactly an unbiased recommendation! 🙂

    Good luck! Let us know what you choose!


  64. Nina

    Okay, I’m just getting to my computer today. I checked Jen’s post today and after reading 79 comments, only ONE mentioned RAP. Everyone else is commenting on the literature and the Daylight Savings Time, even, but the RAP part fascinated me! Ha.

    Jen, could you please explain (or anyone) the appeal of rap to me?! Besides the depth, poetic meaning, and existential angst, of course…..:)……the: *music*. Anyone? I’ll take anything. 🙂

    • Stephanie

      My love of rap has long departed. But as a teenager, the appreciation of such music could be summed up in three words: high school dances.

      The tunes (always the edited and “clean” versions) were the perfect dance music at said dances. And with lyrics like “after you back it up then stop, now, wha wha wha wha, drop it like its hot” how could you not dance to that? And Cash Money was particularly good at creating fabulous dance tunes, which makes me only anticipate with excitement their foray into publishing. 😉

      • Lauren

        Totally agree, and did you say you were from NOLA? Me too. I think our love of rap was encouraged by the millions of high school dances we had, was it something like once a month? Not to mention the boys’ schools’ equivalent. Two of every dance!

        • Nina

          Well, thanks, you two. I suppose I am from an older group because it didn’t seem “in” when I was in school. (I’m 42.) And anyway, how can you dance to just words….there doesn’t seem to be much of a melody? They were playing Madonna and pop at my school dances. But now, it seems like rap has replaced “popular music” or is incorporated into the pop music……

        • Stephanie

          Hi Lauren! Yep, I grew up on the Northshore (a place where many Cash Money alumni moved to after they got famous) 😉

          There seems to have been at least a dance a month. And then if you had friends at other schools, you could also tag along to those. I particularly remember a very fun Brother Martin dance.

          Nina, it’s all in the beats. Plus, it wasn’t like we were pulling out choreographed dances here, just moving and bouncing along and rapping with the (clean) lyrics – which always gave the songs a comical note.

  65. Catholic Poet

    I used to read a lot of SF and fantasy but not any more. The best general fiction book I’ve read recently is The Ladies Detective Agency. I’ve also been enjoying the series whenever it is re-run on HBO.

  66. pharmgirl

    I know exactly how you feel about Daylight Savings Time! My husband and I have been getting up an hour earlier out of habit and we don’t even have kids!

  67. Monica

    Maybe you’ve already read it, but Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, is fantastic, and it’s a great commentary on human nature.

    Also, I recommend the Lord Peter Whimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers. The first one is Whose Body.

    The books by Patrick O’Brien that begin with Master and Commander are also great, and I learned a lot about 19th century British life. The first one is hard to get into, though.

    • Stephen

      Pride and Prejudice gets a very strong second from me!

  68. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time

    If you’re looking for great fiction that will enlighten as well, I highly recommend anything by Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy specifically. It’s about the life of Michelangelo. My second favorite of his is Those Who Love, the story of John and Abigail Adams from Abigail’s perspective. It’s outstanding.

    • Emily

      I was actually relieved when with the timeshift because my children are all night owls and will *not* wake up happily before sunrise, which is a problem when sunrise ends up after 8:30AM (Calgary,Alerta,Canada)

      So now the times better fit our schedule until the utter misery of the spring timeshift and trying to get my children to sleep while it’s still light outside (sunset just before 10PM equals tired cranky children, particularly with extended twilight)

  69. Veronica Mitchell

    The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene would be perfect for you. It’s short, it’s a brilliant novel by a famous catholic novelist, and it depicts life during the violent revolution in the Tabasco region of Mexico in the 1930s, when all churches were forcibly closed.

    • Mary

      I totally agree. The Power and the Glory is one of my all time favorite novels.

  70. Kristina

    I hate the entire idea of daylight savings and it’s ending. It is now pitch dark out and have never been more tired. I wish I had more time to read fiction…when I finish school, I’ll revisit this post and check out all the recommendations for a book list! 🙂 Have a great weekend everyone!

  71. Josephene Kealey

    Do you know Canadian Catholic writer Michael O’Brien? I’ve read three of his novels, and they are wonderful (Strangers and Sojourners, Fr. Elijah, Eclipse).


  72. Jen

    Francine Rivers writes some GREAT fiction! Her best (IMHO) is the “Mark of the Lion” trilogy which I believe begins with “A Voice in the Wind.” I’m sure you can pick them up at CBD or paperbackbookswap.com. They are wonderful historical fiction. I feel like they gave me such a greater understanding of life in the first century. One of her other good ones is Redeeming Love – a modern (well, sort of) take on the book of Hosea.

    REALLY good! Please check these out!

  73. Lana

    Fiction: I loved Jane Smiley’s “All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton.” I understand that much of what she writes is historical fiction and she obviously researches herself silly before sitting down to write. Just absolutely brilliant, I couldn’t get over how good she is as I read that book.

  74. Ashley

    Daylight Savings Time is evil. I fell asleep at an average of Way Too Early this week. My solution is hibernation. Who’s with me?

  75. Lauren

    Island of the World, by Michael O’Brien, my favorite book. Has some dark scenes, but thoroughly Catholic, thoroughly delves into the mystery of finding God in the midst of deep suffering. Set in Bosnia/Croatia, during that conflict.

  76. Michele

    Oh my goodness! This is my first daylight savings time with a kid and I agree…throws everyone off! Oh…for the days when you could actually sleep an extra hour!!!

  77. Lauren

    Just a clarification re: Island of the World. Not sure it’s Croatia, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve read it, but it’s basically about all the conflict within Yugoslavia around the second world war. I can’t say enough how excellent the storytelling is.

    “This novel cuts to the core question: how does a person retain his identity, indeed his humanity, in absolutely dehumanizing situations?

    In the life of the central character, the author demonstrates that this will demand suffering and sacrifice, heroism and even holiness. When he is twelve years old, his entire world is destroyed, and so begins a lifelong Odyssey to find again the faith which the blows of evil have shattered. The plot takes the reader through Josip’s youth, his young manhood, life under the Communist regime, hope and loss and unexpected blessings, the growth of his creative powers as a poet, and the ultimate test of his life. Ultimately this novel is about the crucifixion of a soul — and resurrection.”


  78. Christy

    I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda excited about your #3 too — in my quick takes this week I mention a new book on the Hip-Hop industry coming out that I’m excited for. Have a great week! 🙂

  79. David O'Neil

    >>I love history, astronomy and science…

    Then read “Laughing at the Devil.” It shows how science was once linked to religion, how our ancestors’ astronomical hypotheses evolved over the past six-thousand years, and how their observations still affect us. For instance, that is where the ‘sixty’ on our watches comes from.

    The book is available through Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Laughing-Devil-Survivors-Religious-Discoveries/dp/1440459614.

  80. Faith Cruz

    I didn’t take the time to read all of the comments – but I highly recommend The Book Thief. A story of WWII in Nazi Germany – told from the standpoint of an ordinary German family & the choices they were forced to make.

  81. Eva

    I have the perfect book for you. It’s called ‘ People of the Book’ and it’s by Geraldine Brooks. It’s premise is the restoration of a sacred Jewish text by a rare book conserver. As she unwraps the layers of history, we are taken on a journey through the experiences of the people who have joined together through the centuries to keep the book safe fir posterity. It Is a fascinating, and compelling read. If you can’t source a copy, I would happily send you my own.

  82. Mary

    If you haven’t read all of Jane Austen’s novels, I recommend all of them. Pretty much in this order: Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey.

    However, as I am a younger reader, you may prefer more “mature” novels (whatever that means): The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene, Atonement by Ian McEwan, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (a short, France-set novel)…

    It’s hard for me to give advice. I’m a total romantic and tend to read all romances like Georgette Heyer.

  83. Jaibee

    Sarah’s Key — great book! I read it in one sitting. I didn’t even pause for dinner. 🙂

  84. Eva

    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

  85. Angela

    I loved Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead. It’s a long but fascinating tale of an Irish monk who journeys to Byzantium on a mission to deliver the Book of Kells to the emperor. Some of my favorite quotes are from it! I read it as a high school student and have never forgotten the lessons I learned from the main character, Aidan.

  86. Kim

    I’m not a big sci fi reader, but I really like Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I think it was the practical application of mathematics. I just understand calculus better with practical application than theories.

  87. Ed

    The Name of the Rose – entertainment, history and philosophy/theology all in one. Brilliant.
    Sophie’s World – overview of Western Philosophy set in a story. Brilliant.
    Bonfire of the Vanities. “Master of the universe” banker in New York accidently runs over a poor kid in the a poor part of N.Y. and the tragedy of his life ensues. Modern classic.
    The Alchemist. About a Spanish shephered boy looking for spiritual enlightenment in Northern Africa. Classic.

  88. KyCat

    I actually like switching the clocks! I think that it keeps us more in time with nature, back to a time when the world wasn’t driven by clocks, but by the sun. I see it as anti-establishment rather than an establishment conspiracy — yes, we’ve all agreed on this 24 hour day and we all wear these watches and have clocks surrounding us CONSTANTLY so we always know what time it is, but now the sun isn’t jiving with these clocks so we’re just going to change them. We have power over the machines- ha,ha!!! (The kids we have no power over!sorry)

    Since I read it a few months ago, I recommend that everyone read “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s an epistolary novel (all letters) set in London and the Channel Islands just after WWII. It is lovely!!

  89. Ed

    Brideshead Revisited – a bit indulgent in British aristorcratic life, but still a deep book focused on Catholicism.
    The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene. Greene’s famous whiskey priest.
    Pride and Prejudice – just sheer great, sparkling writing.
    David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and Christmas Carol. Dickens at his imaginative best with lots of great characters.
    Middlemarch – Brilliant, deep book – offering a kaleidoscope of life in 19th England.
    Crime and Punishment – Dostoevsky. Brilliant about the power of Christian compassion.
    The Tempest. Shakespeare’s most spiritual play, i think. Focusing on the contrast (and the tension) between the rational and the natural – and the magical consequences of what happens when the two work in unison in the human soul, under the guidance of grace (interpration, i think, shared by many others).
    Huckleberry Finn. Fantatic, lively dialogue.
    Wuthering Heights – 19th century classic (enjoyed every page – really lively).
    Charlotte Brone (great heroine – but in an everyday sense of the word).

  90. Malia

    I agree with everyone else that The Help was awesome, and if you’re looking for some good historical fiction, try Sharon Kay Penman’s books (the first one is The Sunne in Splendor). They’re set in thirteenth century Wales, and although it’s been years since I read them, I was hooked from the first book.

    • Malia

      Oops! I goofed on the title. The first one is actually Here Be Dragons. Sorry!

  91. L a u r a

    Your commenters have created a wonderful list of recommended books that I look forward to reading!

    Since I don’t recall as much as I should have from my school days, I love historical fiction with lots of facts. Now that we’re homeschooling our kids I’ve had the added benefit of reading aloud numerous historical fiction books in chronological order. (We just finished “A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver” set in medieval France/England about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Louis VII, Henry II, Abbot Suger, first Gothic structure, the Plantagenets, etc.) Although these are juvenile books, I love sharing them with our kids to see how history comes alive for them. It’s kind of like enjoying Christmas through the eyes of a child!

  92. Jamie

    Read The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks- it’s smart, historical, informative about one of those moments in history you’d never think of (17th century English village that quarantines itself after plague hits)…I raced through it…hope you enjoy!

  93. Elisabeth Allen

    Thinking of books … I think you’d enjoy a few by an English writer called Cynthia Harnett. Officially, her books are for children. But my whole family enjoyed reading them – again and again! She doesn’t just entertain, she enthralls (with mystery) and educates (with history) – and with a little bit of imagination her stories and characters are REAL! Most of her books are set in England before the Reformation, so most of her characters are Catholic. My favourites are:

    * The Wool Pack
    * The Load of Unicorn

    And, set in the reign of Mary I, before Elizabeth this one is good too:

    * Stars of Fortune


  94. Shirley

    I didn’t read through the comments, and I’m sure somebody else out there has recommended Michael O’ Brien. He’s awesome. Father Elijah is an apocolyptic page turner, and I have no doubt you will both learn something and be edified. His other books are awesome too.

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