Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Open Book for August 2022


I'm joining up with Carolyn Astfalk who hosts an #OpenBook Linkup on Here's what I've been reading this past month. The dates indicate when I finished the book. Thanks for stopping by!

7/10/22 - Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and The Rise of Jim Crow - Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - This was a painful (but important) read about white supremacy and the Black efforts to live as equal Americans from after the Civil War until the 1960s. The illustrations are particularly effective at demonstrating the racism inherent in the United States. 

 7/11/22 - Within These Gilded Halls - Abigail Wilson - This was an engaging mystery / treasure hunt / romance set in 1819 Southern England. Phoebe Radcliff is an artist working on a ballroom restoration when her patron is murdered, setting up a race to find the long-buried treasure on the property. (Read for a book review publication).



7/12/22 Rescued: True Stories for Catholic Kids - Kathryn Griffin Swegart - This collection of short stories shares true-life rescues where people were miraculously rescued from dangerous situations (often with the help of their guardian angels). While it is geared to 8 - 12 year olds, adults will also enjoy these stories. At the end of the book, Swegart includes a "Facts Behind the Stories" section that provides additional information on the stories. This section is as interesting as the stories themselves. 

7-17-22 Overdue: Reckoning with the Public Library - Amanda Oliver - Anyone who knows me knows I love libraries. Libraries, churches, college campuses, and bookstores are my favorite places to visit. But this isn't a feel-good book about libraries. Instead, it is about libraries as safe spaces for homeless populations (or as Oliver refers to them, "houseless" populations) and the expectation that librarians serve as quasi-social workers. It is a difficult read, but an honest one. I live in a medium-sized city that has a significant homeless population. There are libraries in my city that I avoid because I don't feel safe there even with the security guards visibly standing guard. I've seen librarians deal with situations they shouldn't have to, and because of my privilege, I am able to go to the library in the more affluent suburb I live near because I am more comfortable there. This book raised a lot of questions about the place of libraries in our society and while disjointed in parts is an important book for that reason. 

7/18/22 Culture Club: The Curious History of the Boston Athenaeum - Katherine Wolff - I read a magazine article recently on the Boston Athenaeum, an incredibly beautiful member-based library / art gallery in Boston that I had never heard of! This sent me on an immediate search in my local library system for more information on this place. Culture Club discussed the beginnings of the Athenaeum in the 1820s through the start of the Civil War. Dr. Katherine Wolff pays special attention to its treatment of women and how it responded (or didn't) to the abolition issue. She also discussed its relationship to the Boston Public Library.  

7/23/22 The Amish Quiltmaker's Unconventional Niece - Jennifer Beckstrand - This is the third book in a series, but you don't need to have read the other two to enjoy it. Part comedy, part romance, it features a young Amish woman on her rumschpringe who decides to run for town council in order to fight a local law banning Amish buggies from streets. (Read for a book review publication)

7/24/22 Acquired Tastes: 200 Years of Collecting for the Boston Athenaeum - This book continued my foray into exploring the Boston Athenaeum. It is a coffee-table book which highlighted many of the special books / paintings / sculptures in their collection. I didn't read every word, but it was lovely to browse.

7/24/22 Write for Your Life - Anna Quindlen - I almost didn't read this one. I picked it out of the to-be-read pile two days before it was due back at the library, but I'm glad I did. It offered some lovely reflections on writing hand-written letters and journaling. 

7/31/22 The Other Alcott - Elise Hooper - This novel is based on the life May Alcott, the youngest sister of Louisa May Alcott of Little Women fame and the prototype for the character of Amy in that famous book. I really knew nothing about May Alcott before reading this and while much is fictionalized, I learned more about the Alcott family. I also greatly enjoyed the story about a young woman striving to be an artist in a man's world. Shortly before her death, May Alcott wrote Studying Art Abroad, and How to Do It Cheaply to help other young women with similar ambitions.

Since spring of 2019, I have been making my way through the Great Books Curriculum of Thomas Aquinas College (I'm currently working on the readings for sophomore year). 

7/8/22 Aeneid - Virgil - trans. by Robert Fagles.When I first started this project, I read the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. I really struggled to understand them (To be honest, I mostly read the Sparknotes.) I did much better with the Aeneid. I think that is because unlike the Iliad and Odyssey, this was written to be read not listened to. I also think the translation by Fagles was excellent and very accessible to the modern reader. Virgil was born in 70 BC and died in 49 BC. He was the supreme Roman poet. The Aeneid is based on Homer and uses many of Homer's characters. The first half is most like the Odyssey as Aeneas wanders while the second half is more like the Iliad as it describes a war. It combines a mythological epic with themes from Roman history.   

7/24/22 On the Nature of Things - Lucretius - trans by H.A.J. Munro. Lucretius was a member of a Roman senatorial or equestrian family who lived from 98-55 BC. This work was published after his death. It was his effort to explain how things come into existence. He spoke of first things - which we would probably refer to as atoms. He rejects the idea of creation myths and the Greek and Roman gods. He maintained that the soul died at death and that there was no afterlife.


My eleven-year-old daughter and I read the following book this month:


7-13-22 The Black Reckoning - John Stephens - We finished up The Books of Beginning series with this book in which Emma must find the Book of Death and the prophecy about the three children is fulfilled.


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AnneMarie said...

That book on libraries sounds completely up my alley! That's a topic I think of from time to time (when libraries completely shut down during Covid, I wondered where the homeless men and women who frequent our library could go) and I would love to see a more in-depth discussion of it. And that's so neat you read The Other Alcott! I read that book a while back and really enjoyed it :)

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Thanks so much for stopping by! The book on libraries was definitely thought-provoking!

Carolyn Astfalk said...

I would love to re-read the Aeneid. I can't even recall now if I read it in English - I think I did - but I read it in Latin during college. In fact, we had to memorize the opening stanzas. Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primes ab oris. (And so on and so forth.) I think that's how it begins, anyhow.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

I can't even imagine reading the Aeneid in Latin! That is amazing!

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