Once again, I am trying to begin the year with the wonderful intention of making a dent into my piles of unread books. This event has been hosted by James Reads Books in the past, but this year, it has moved to a new blog, the TBR Dare, with two new hosts: Lizzysiddal of Lizzy’s Literary Life and Annabel of AnnaBookBel. The idea is to read only books that you already own between now and the end of March. Last year, I held out until the end of February; let’s see if I can do better this year. I will be making one trip to the library today, to pick up two books for previously scheduled readalongs, but that will be it for the next several weeks. Will I be able to do it? Here are a few books I am hoping to get to soon:
I actually finished this one late last night, and, sigh, what a wonderful way to start the new reading year: The son of a prosperous farmer, Claude Wheeler’s future is laid out for him as clear and monotonous as the Nebraska sky. Many young men would be happy to find themselves in Claude’s shoes, but his focus is on the horizon, and on the nagging sense that out there, past the boundaries of convention, his true destiny awaits. When the United States finally enters the war raging in Europe, Claude makes the first, and greatest, decision of his life: He answers the call.
I’ve read the first 20 pages or so already, and I think it will be very entertaining: Poor, lovely Viola has been left penniless and alone after her late husband’s demise and is forced to live with his family in their joyless home. Its occupants are nearly insufferable: Mr. Withers is a tyrannical old miser; Mrs. Withers dismisses her as a common shop girl; and Viola’s sisters-in-law, Madge and Tina, are too preoccupied with their own troubles to give her much thought. Only the prospect of the upcoming charity ball can lift her spirits—especially as Victor Spring, the local prince charming, will be there. But Victor’s intentions towards the young widow are, in short, not quite honorable.
This one is for Caroline’s Literature and War Readalong this month. I’ve had this one sitting on my bookshelf for a good, long while. A young Native American, Abel has come home from a foreign war to find himself caught between two worlds. The first is the world of his father’s, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, and the ancient rites and traditions of his people. But the other world—modern, industrial America—pulls at Abel, demanding his loyalty, claiming his soul, goading him into a destructive, compulsive cycle of dissipation and disgust.
It took me a long time to find an affordable copy in good condition, but a few months ago, I was finally lucky. I’m hoping that Katie at Doing Dewey will do a Women in Science month again this year. This one would be perfect, I think: At a time when women could not vote and very few were involved in the world outside the home, Annie Montague Alexander (1867–1950) was an intrepid explorer, amateur naturalist, skilled markswoman, philanthropist, farmer, and founder and patron of two natural history museums at the University of California, Berkeley. Barbara R. Stein presents a luminous portrait of this remarkable woman, a pioneer who helped shape the world of science in California, yet whose name has been little known until now.
The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of the Rare family. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing and a kitchen filled with herbs and folk remedies. During the turbulent years of World War I, Dora becomes the midwife’s apprentice. Filled with details that are as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to maintain control over their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine. Thanks, Naomi, for kindly sending me a copy.