Tag Archives: TBR

The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure

I miss Decorah. There’s a bit at the end of this book where they’re staying in Decorah (after seeing the Laura stuff at Burr Oak) and they stay at the Super 8 and go to Bookends and Beans – which isn’t named, but anyone who’s spent time in Decorah knows that’s where they went – and now I want a raspberry chai from Bookends and Beans and to wander through their carefully selected shelves where I always saw a book that I’d been craving. And then I’d take the chai and the book and go to Dunning’s Spring and read (if it were warm enough) or maybe up to campus and sit by Pioneer Memorial or up to Phelps Park or walk along the river….


I quite enjoyed this book. It helps that I’ve been to most of the sites myself, although a few of them I only have hazy memories of. I always enjoy books that reference places that are familiar to me, as long as they get the details right. (See also: Housewives Eating Bonbons, or whatever it’s called, also presumably set in Decorah, but an unrecognizable version of it, and if you’re going to change such an important feature of the town as the college that has been there since 1861 – just change the name of the town already.)

If you don’t know, this is a book about one woman’s journey around the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites, in an emotional search for “Laura World” – the sense of recapturing the world of the series as she experienced it when she was a child. It’s not a particularly calculated journey. She didn’t set out to write a book or a travel guide about the Laura sites. And I like that. There are plenty of books out there that serve that function. This is much more personal. It’s about the journey, the exploration, and in some ways the pilgrimage aspect. She’s trying to recapture her childhood connection with Laura and her old sense of the world Laura lived in. The book doesn’t really try to evoke that world – although there is some of that – as much as it does her reaction to that world, or what is left of it, and trying to fit Laura into her adult urban life.

And I think she’s pretty successful at it. She discovers along the way what she needs Laura to be – an example of girlhood and exploration – amd what she doesn’t – a lifestyle example to help prepare for the End Times. She meets some interesting people, in both good and bad ways, and learns how to do quite a lot – cooking some of the Little House recipes, twisting hay, surviving a Midwestern thunderstorm.

The only thing I didn’t like was a vague sense of condescension to the more rural people that she met and some of the small town things she experienced. It wasn’t really explicit, but I got a feeling that she saw small towns in the Midwest as a kind of foreign country and “oh, aren’t their customs quaint and cute!” That could just be oversensitivity on my part, though, seeing as I grew up in small Midwetern towns – large by local standards but smaller than the university where I did my MA.

The main thing that I came away from this book with was a desire to reread the entire Little House series. It’s been years since I’ve read them. I also want to give them to some young girls I know. I think they’re at the right age to start them, and one of them at least will get a kick out of the history of it all.

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Filed under Non-Fiction (Other)

TBR List

I have moved this list to its own page.  Feel free to comment there with suggestions for me.

This list will be constantly updated. I say constantly. I mean ‘when I get around to it’ or ‘when I remember’.  It’s really just for me, for when I’m looking for something to read, so that I remember what to look for at the library.

If you have suggestions for me, put them in the comments, and I’ll add them to the list the next time I update it.

Books I haven’t read yet

  • Exit Music (Ian Rankin) – Sitting on my desk right now.
  • The Princes in the Tower (Alison Weir)
  • – the introduction alone is annoying me, but I’ll get through it eventually…

  • Certain Girls (Jennifer Weiner) – well, I liked Good in Bed.
  • The rest of the Fablehaven series (Brandon Hull)
  • The Green Knowe series (Lucy M. Boston) – recommended by Kelly
  • The Enora Holmes series (Nancy Springer) – recommended by Kelly
  • A Kind of Intimacy (Jenn Ashworth) – I borrowed this from Rachel months ago, and haven’t gotten to it yet. (Now that we’re housemates, it’s probably not an issue.)
  • One Day (David Nicholls) – I saw a review for this and was instantly intrigued. The book covers a single date, every year, for two people. I know that sounds odd; I’m not sure how to phrase that to make it more clear
  • The Little Stranger (Sarah Waters) – I got this for a reading group meeting that I couldn’t go to. Whoops.
  • The Regeneration trilogy (Pat Barker) – My birthday present from the lovely Rachel. Set in the World War I hospital that Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon were in.
  • Outlaw (Angus Donald) – the most recent (fiction) Robin Hood book that I’ve seen – just came out.
  • Who Murdered Chaucer? (Terry Jones) – He signed my copy. Hahaha.
  • Women in Love (D.H. Lawrence) – I enjoyed Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I enjoyed less Sons and Lovers. I’m hoping Women in Love is more like the former than the latter.
  • Birdsong (Sebastian Faulks) – I have heard nothing but good things about this. Plus it’s set in WWI, which is one of my fascinations. [Plus Richard Armitage’s character in The Vicar of Dibley mentions it. Should I not admit that that is one of my motivations to read it? I did want to read it even before that episode….]

Books that I want to re-read

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
  • The Barchester Series (Anthony Trollope) – I saw Barchester Towers on Marian’s shelf when I was there. It reminded me that I’ve read Trollope, but all I remember is liking it – I don’t remember plot, or characters, or anything. Also I found out that Alan Rickman was in a 1982 version, so now I want to see that, too.

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Filed under The Plan