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Bike and Book and Family

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I grew up in a small town in northeastern Utah. It was pretty idyllic. I see now that it was the last window of a certain way of life for children in the United States. Summers were - well, perfect. My mother had a job list every morning of the summer except on Sundays and when we were on our two-week vacation to visit her family in Idaho. As soon as your chores were completed the day was yours. We packed some food, hopped on our bikes and were gone. In several places around where I grew up there were huge undeveloped tracts of land. We rode our bikes so frequently that we made trails through the dirt and sagebrush. We weren’t the only kids riding on those trails and so you’d be going along on what you thought was one trail and suddenly it was going in a new direction or a new path was ahead on the right. It was magical. That’s what this year of reading has been for me thus far.

It’s only February and my book trails have already moved in unplanned directions. To date I have completed ten books in 2023. Already, January seems like a long time ago. It’s an eclectic list of books, even by my standards.


I am teaching The Hobbit in school this semester and, when I am able, I like to do a little background research about the subject matter. I found and watched the latest Karukoski film about Tolkien’s early life – and that only piqued my interest – so I choose to read J.R.R. Tolkien a Biography by Humphrey Carter. It was wonderful and I learned so much about his process and life. Having watched the Tolkien movie, Amazon was sure to recommend a movie about C.S. Lewis. (To be fair, I find Amazon’s algorithm to be quite good. I have watched, read, and purchased many items that I didn’t even know existed until Amazon made me aware.) Again, that movie made me want to learn more about Lewis, an author I have read extensively – both his fiction and non-fiction. For this biography I choose Jack, C.S. Lewis and His Times by George Sayers (this is the biography that his stepson recommends). It blew me away. This was a fascinating man who led a very remarkable life in a very unremarkable way.


One place I’ll watch for book recommendations is Costco Magazine. I enjoy the columns that their book buyer writes and I’m often interested enough in their picks to check out the books. Two books in the last magazine that caught my eye were The Maid by Nita Prose and The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes.


I loved The Maid. It was an interesting story told well, and from a unique protagonist. If you are looking for a book that transports you to its world, this is the one. I was, however, very disappointed in The House in the Pines. I’ve read a couple of other reviews since completing it and they boggle my mind. It was an interesting book that I enjoyed, but I don’t know how a person in the 21st century couldn’t figure out what’s going on.


Sometimes when I get my notebook out to record the completion of another book I’ll pause and look back over the books I’ve read so far that year. It’s like backtracking the book trails. I used to keep a journal but somewhere along the child-raising years it fell by the wayside. I can look at that list and remember how one book led to another or why certain books are on the list. This particular notebook was begun in 2009 and when I let myself wander through its pages it stands as its own kind of journal. I see the books I read to the kids. I see books I’d never heard of that I read because they were on one of my children’s book lists and I wanted to check them out first.


My favorite is when I come across a book that one of my children found on their own and recommended to me! It’s a different kind of record of our family’s life, recorded in the books that we’ve read. Few things bring me as much joy as a mother, knowing that my children learned to read in our home and also learned to love to read in our home. All kinds of trails through life – bike and book and family – not always knowing where the trail will lead is one of the best parts.

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Thanks for the tip about Costco magazine!!! I forgot about Costco books.


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