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    Books & Reading, Other Thoughts

    Thoughtworthy: Boy Books v. Girl Books and MORE!

    January 13, 2017 by Brandy Vencel


    :: 1 ::

    I rarely read books that are “boy books” or “girl books.” What I mean is, most of my children find all of the read alouds attractive — or, on the rare occasions when some of them don’t, the divide is not boys versus girls but some other point of interest. Anyhow, this week, we began Anne of Green Gables as our lunchtime selection, and my oldest rolled his eyes. When he was 11, I put this book in his free reading pile. I told him he didn’t have to read it, but he could if he liked. He tried it, and decided he despised Anne.


    Turns out, it’s okay if it is read aloud. So that’s a good thing.

    One of the things I try to do is keep our read alouds balanced. So, for example, if one is fantasy, the other is not. In this case, since one is a “girl book” I decided that the next book in line would be a “boy book.” I decided on The Four Adventures of Richard Hannay by John Buchan, which is technically four books in one, but I maintain this was a good decision. I mean, what’s not to like about a bunch of spy fiction?


    :: 2 ::

    I have listened to not one but two fantastic podcast episodes on poetry lately. The first was The Mason Jar podcast in which Cindy Rollins interviewed the poet Sally Thomas. Sally read a poem aloud that made me tear up. Thankfully, no one saw it, so my reputation remains. The second was from The Gospel Coalition podcast (a big thanks to Dawn Duran for pointing it out to me!), and it was actually a workshop from one of their old conferences by Kathleen Nielson. It was So. Good. As in: not to be missed!


    :: 3 ::

    Speaking of podcasts, the Deeper Theology podcast on the polemical theology in Exodus is WOW! It’s multiple episodes long, so that link just takes you to the main page. I recommend listening to every Exodus episode. So good!

    If you aren’t familiar with polemical theology, but want to be, the podcast recommends the book Against the Gods by John Currid. I haven’t read it yet, but I think it might be perfect for one of my summer reading lists.


    :: 4 ::

    This October, because I was traveling, I picked up a little bottle of Biotrue contact lens solution. I have worn gas permeable contact lenses since I was about 16 or so. These are, in my opinion, way harder to wear than the soft lenses that are so popular. But, I have a unique eye problem for which soft lenses (and glasses) do not help. Needless to say, contact lens care matters to me.

    Oh my word.

    I am so glad I tried this. For years I have used various generic brands of solution. I never noticed a difference. No matter what I used, my eyes were always irritable. I just assumed it came with the territory.

    But this stuff? This stuff is amazing.

    It’s quite a bit more expensive than what I was buying before, but I recently realized it works so well, I’m not using nearly as much solution as before, therefore the bottle lasts longer, therefore the price isn’t really as expensive as I thought. I mean, it’s more … but it’s not as much more, if that makes sense.

    Anyhow, I thought I’d mention it in case any of you have irritable eyes. You might want to try it.

    I have to use a separate cleaner because this isn’t sufficient for gas permeable lenses, but even so I’m using it for rinsing and moisturizing and basically anything not involving a cleaner and I am so happy with it.


    :: 5 ::

    This month in 2016:

    This is especially good to read if you have listened to my memory talk because what I describe there is not what I do now.


    :: 6 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 7 ::

    Answering your questions:

    • Question: I noticed you read the book The End of Acne. Is it worth purchasing? I buy so many health related books that end up not being worth the cost. I would appreciate any commentary you feel comfortable providing!
      • Answer: My answer is … maybe yes, maybe no. Ha. So, on the one hand, it’s a good read. It’s written interestingly, so even folks who don’t normally read health and nutrition books would probably like it. On the other hand, I really do not think she’s discovered the problem for all people with acne. Actually, it’s more that I don’t think there is one single cause of acne. My guess is that it is much more helpful if the issue is cystic acne. I think she added some good things to my repertoire of how I approach acne in our home, but I ultimately do not think her answer is appropriate for us. With that said, my oldest is only 14 and no one in our home has cytic acne. I do think there is a difference. This is one that would probably be worth buying on Kindle rather than paying the extra $5 or so for a hard copy. Does that help? If not, I recommend reading up on what the best acne treatment for your skin profile is in this post by the Acne Foundation.


    :: 8 ::

    If you missed it, AfterCast Episode 3 came out this week:

    You can use the podcast player at the bottom of the page, or you can listen in your favorite podcast player.

    As an aside, if you wanted to leave a review — especially in iTunes or Stitcher — I would really appreciate it!


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  • Reply Carol January 13, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    We LOVE John Buchan! One of my dd’s didnt like Anne because she was ‘very silly.’

  • Reply John Barach January 13, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    What’s strange about The Four Adventures of Richard Hannay is that John Buchan wrote five books about Richard Hannay. The fifth, for some strange reason not included in this volume, is The Island of Sheep. And in between The Three Hostages and The Island of Sheep there is also The Courts of the Morning, which involves some of the central characters in the Richard Hannay novels, though not (for the most part) Hannay himself.

    If your son is old enough to read history on his own and he wonders about the plausibility of the plot of Greenmantle, he (or you!) might be interested in Peter Hopkirk’s Like Hidden Fire: The Plot to Bring Down the British Empire. Hopkirk points out that Buchan was involved with British Intelligence in WWI and was friends with Lawrence of Arabia, so what he wrote in Greenmantle was likely based on things Buchan knew were afoot.

    Hopkirk, by the way, also wrote, among many other historical books about derring-do in Central Asia, The Great Game and Quest for Kim, which are the true stories that underlie Rudyard Kipling’s Kim.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 14, 2017 at 8:32 am

      Thank you so much for this, John! I really had no idea there were five. Is it worth it to read them in order? Would your advice be to buy the missing pieces and read them where they fall in the sequence?

      And thank you SO MUCH for the tips on Hopkirk. I’m thinking the last two you mentioned might be good gifts for my son’s 15th birthday. Kim was a book we thoroughly enjoyed, but it was one of those hard-fought victories. I think he’d love to know more about it! And then maybe he will let me borrow them … 😉

      • Reply John Barach January 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm

        The five Hannay books should be read in order; there is some continuity and development between them. But I don’t think it would matter much if you didn’t read Courts of the Morning in a specific location. Mind you, it’s been a while since I read Courts. Hannay narrates the prologue, and the rest of the book involves several of the regular characters from the Hannay series.

        The Hannay books, by the way, also fit into a broader series that you could call The Runagates Club. That’s a club that several of the characters, including Hannay, belong to, and it’s also the title of a collection of short stories various characters at the club tell. There’s one by Hannay (“The Green Wildebeest”).

        Another major member of the Runagates Club is Sir Edward Leithen, who not only tells a story in The Runagates Club but also appears in several novels, some of which involve characters you’ll know from the Hannay books: The Power House, John Macnab, The Dancing Floor, The Gap in the Curtain, and finally Sick Heart River.

        Alongside the Hannay and Leithen books, Buchan also wrote a third series, starring a retired Glasgow shopkeeper, Dickson McCunn: Huntingtower, Castle Gay, and The House of the Four Winds. Set in the same world as the Hannay/Leithen books, so that you’ll see one or more of the minor characters from those books here, too, but I won’t tell you who or it’ll spoil the pleasure of spotting old friends.

        I’m obsessive/compulsive enough to want to read everything by Buchan in order of publication, but I don’t think that’s required except within a narrower series (e.g., the Hannay series; the McCunn series).

        By the way, the character Sandy Arbuthnot is based on a combination of Lawrence of Arabia and Aubrey Herbert.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel January 16, 2017 at 2:15 pm

          Well, I just bought the two other Hannay books thanks to you, John! 🙂

          • John Barach January 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

            Excellent choice!

  • Reply Christine Ridderikhoff January 13, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    We listened to an audiobook of Anne of Green Gables when we were driving across Canada towards PEI from Alberta when our two oldest boys were 12 and 10. The oldest protested mightily about my selection, based, I think, merely on its title. Not another complaint was heard after we got a couple of hours into it. In fact, he was the first to ask for it to be turned back on when we got back on the road! It’s such a good story. And I do think it is important not to pre-select boy stories for boys and vice versa. One of the amazing things literature does for us is let us see into the lives of people who are not like us. It’s part of expanding their view of the world to read works by and about the opposite gender. Sometimes they surprise us, too, like this fall when my 12 yo son (different kid than in the Anne anecdote) liked Little Women more than my 15 yo daughter.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 14, 2017 at 8:36 am

      I have heard that there are some very good audiobooks — and how could you resist, given the setting! ♥ I love what you said here about literature, Christine!

  • Reply Nelleke January 13, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    I have all boys, and I still don’t make any distinction or comment about boy or girl books. We’re all loving Caddie Woodlawn right now. I also wanted to chime in on how wonderful that Kathleen Nielsen podcast was. That Billy Collins poem she quoted near the end was so good, too! I immediately texted it to my husband because I had to share it with somebody.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 13, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Good for you, not making the distinctions! I agree! My boys both loved Caddie Woodlawn, too … and probably would have been surprised to hear someone say it was a book for girls. I think the deal with Anne is that she talks too much! But, of course, that is entirely the point with her. 🙂

      • Reply Nelleke January 13, 2017 at 2:14 pm

        Anne is very N and F too. I have a feeling it might not be a favourite with my oldest either. (ISTJ) I’m just taking my time to introduce it. Her saving grace with him may be the very tangible connection to the history and geography of PEI.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel January 14, 2017 at 8:30 am

          Your oldest is an ISTJ, too, hm? Taking your time is probably your wisest course. Or, at least, it turned out that way here. 🙂 I didn’t think about her MBTI, but YES! So true. And that is something books can do — introduce us to and give us empathy for other personality types. I love that.

          It must be so amazing to read the book in the PEI setting! ♥

        • Reply Claire January 14, 2017 at 10:57 pm

          DH is INFP and he talks a lot (I won’t say too much ;)) and so do I and I love Anne – and I don’t think he’s ever read her! And now I’ve decided he will be the reader when it’s time to read those books aloud 😀 That will be hard for me to let go of, mind you, but it will do him good 😛

  • Reply Angie January 13, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Thanks for discussing The End of Acne! I appreciate it!

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