Thursday, May 23, 2019

Spring 2019 Mother Culture...

The calendar says spring, but it really hasn't felt like it yet here in Wisconsin. We've had really cold, wet weather and we're about two weeks behind as far as the growing season. That's not great for the farm, but it's been good for my literary life, as I've continued to pluck away at my reading indoors. You can see my winter reading list here. Today, I'm going to share an update on past reading and show you my current book list.

CM Study Group

In March, we finished reading The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis. We also read the section on C.S. Lewis from The Great Tradition by Richard M. Gamble. In April, we discussed The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers. That was a re-read for me, but much more interesting the second time around. I will be posting more on that in the future.

In May, we began discussing A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle. There are four parts so we will discuss a different part each month over late spring and into summer. I am also discussing this through Voxer with a couple gals I met on the Schole Sistership. I believe very strongly in reading in community. If there is no one in your area, technology has made it amazingly easy to find someone online.

Convivial Circle

I didn't finish Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot, which was on my winter reading list, but will pick it up again at some point in the future. I did, however, read Finish by Jon Acuff earlier this year, which is a current book being studied at Convivial Circle.

I am also leading a study on Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott at Convivial Circle, which is amazing so far! I will be blogging on that in the future.

High School Community

Our High School Community concluded in March, but I did finish reading Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens at that time. Both of which are excellent!

Read Along

Riley, Ruben, Steve, my dad, and I all finished reading True Grit by Charles Portis in April. It was such a fun study! When we were finished reading and discussing, we watched both the 1969 and 2010 True Grit movies. Reading along with family is another great way of reading in community. Create your own family book club!

Schole Sistership

I have joined a group of women being led by Cindy Rollins through a reading of Seeking God by Esther De Waal and The Rule of St. Benedict. However, I haven't started reading yet. I do aim to over the next couple of weeks as we are just finishing up school this week, which will afford me more time.

Literary Life

If you haven't joined Cindy Rollins and Angelina Stanford on their Literary Life journey, you should! They've started a podcast that explores all aspects of life cultivated by books and stories. I listened to the first episode and loved it! They are currently hosting a study of Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, which is also on my list to be read. My only Sayers' read thus far was The Lost Tools of Learning mentioned above. I have heard a great deal about her mystery stories and can't wait to get started.

Summer Schole Sisters

Lastly, I will facilitate discussion locally as we read through Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset beginning this spring and running into summer. We will study Book I for June, Book II for July, and Book III in August. I'm nearly done reading Book I, The Wreath and am really looking forward to our June 2nd discussion! I love this summer group!

You may remember in past summers, we studied Anna Karenina, The Grapes of Wrath, and Les Miserables. We meet at a local restaurant one Sunday evening a month over the summer (typically June-August) to discuss our read. Several women in the area were asking to continue the gatherings this year. This will be our third summer and hopefully, we can continue for many more!

What's included in your spring reading list? Please share in the comments below...

Saturday, May 11, 2019

True Grit...

"There is no knowing what is in a man's heart.", Mattie Ross - True Grit.    
One day, I was doing some research on the Close Reads podcast and mentioned to the kids that True Grit was initially a book written by Charles Portis. Riley and Ruben had seen parts of each True Grit movie. They are John Wayne fans and asked to watch the 1969 movie in it's entirety. I proposed a book study first and they were both intrigued. We decided to include their dad and grandpa, so I ordered multiple copies of Portis' novel from the library and we each set off in our own direction to read.

A month later, we gathered to discuss. True Grit is the story of 14-year old Mattie Ross, who's father was killed by his ranch hand, Tom Chaney. Mattie sets out to avenge her father's death. First, Mattie goes to town to identify her father's body and settle the family's financial affairs. Then, she hires Reuben J. Cogburn, also-known-as Rooster, a rough and tough, hard-drinking, one-eyed U.S. Marshall, to bring in her father's killer. However, there is one condition, that Mattie must travel with Rooster in order to see that justice is served.

In the meantime, a young Texas Ranger named La Boeuf shows up also looking for Tom Chaney. He decides to team with Cogburn in his quest, but doesn't want Mattie tagging along. In the end. La Boeuf looses the battle and the three of them set off for their fugitive, who's hiding deep in Indian Territory. Their journey proves to be quite an adventure! Mattie Ross, a proud Presbyterian, is a wonderful protagonist that I would liken to Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn.

After reading and discussing Portis' novel, we watched John Wayne's 1969 Academy Award winning performance as Rooster Cogburn. With a G-rating, I would say it was an excellent family film! Then, we watched Jeff Bridges' 2010 portrayal of Rooster, which was equally good. Both Bridges and Wayne bring Cogburn's rough and tumble, but highly lovable character full circle on the big screen. The 2010 film is more true to Portis' book, but John Wayne certainly can't be beat in his display of true grit. Interestingly, the 2010 version is rated PG-13. It's funny to see how ratings have changed over the years. Both True Grit movie versions have some minor language and violence in them, but so does the book.

Whether it be True Grit or not, I highly recommend book studies with your older children. Sometimes while parenting teenagers, we get lost in the day to day grind of them trying to assert their independence. It is so wonderful to build family culture around books and movies. It creates a bond that surpasses the most difficult days. I can't tell you enough how much I love reading along with my older kids!