Really Nowhere Near 50 Books!

Happy stupid new year, everybody!  It’s supposed to be our first day back at school today, but we’re keeping everyone home, waiting for the phone to ring, hoping that the idea of nine kids coming in to the hospital to be tested for strep throat is just as terrifying for the doctor as it is for us, and that she will just call in prescriptions for everybody.  Maybe just a giant vat of penicillin, which I will pour into the tub, and we can just swim around in it for a while. I wouldn’t even mind the big pink cat ring, as long as we don’t have to go to the hospital.

We did this same thing last year (the strep, I mean, not the vat).  This photo is in the folder marked “Christmas 2011”:


(Don’t worry, I wasn’t storing them in direct sunlight.  I just lined them up on the windowsill for dramatic effect.)  This year, my husband went from being sorta kinda sniffly to DYING VERY FAST, and it turned out he had an abscess on his tonsil.  EWWWWWWWWW.  I mean, awwwwwwwwww.  Poor guy. Isn’t that awful?

The worst part was that he only had me to take care of him.  I can be nurturing for as long as ten or eleven minutes at a time, but beyond that, I find sick people irritating.  As you can imagine, I then feel horribly guilty about that, and take it out on the sick people. So, the moral of this story is, get the hell away from me, with your pain and suffering.  I mean, would you like some orange juice?  Or tea?  No?  Well, then I guess I’ll go shovel the driveway ALL BY MYSELF, with no one to help me.

The other thing I stink at is doing fifty book reviews on the fifty days before Christmas.  I thought I would be really clever and have fun while raising enough Amazon credits to entirely pay for Christmas.  And dad gummit, I almost made it!  To tell you the truth, I made TONS of money in credits, and I am so grateful to you guys!  Lots of people went out of their way to use my links to buy all sorts of big ticket items.

The only catch was, there is a 60-day delay on payments, and so I’m expecting a huge credit  . . . any day now.  Le sigh.  But man, next Christmas is gonna be a doozy!  So again, thank you for going to the trouble.  I know shopping is complicated enough, without having to remember to make sure some lady on the internet gets her piece of the pie.

By the time Christmas came, I had managed to list 33 books, and have sort of organized them below.  (If you want to see the original posts, here is a list of them.)  I thought it would be fun to keep up a once-a-week book recommendation, too, probably on Wednesdays.  As long as no JERKS get SICK again and mess up my schedule.

Oh, and Christmas day itself was lovely at our house (the sickness really set in a few days afterward).  We went to Midnight Mass and spent Christmas day wallowing in wrapping paper and cinnamon buns, and everyone was happy.  There was a little bit of this


while we were preparing to go out in the cold in the middle of the night, but there was a lot more of this:

[yeah, okay, actually I haven’t uploaded the Christmas morning photos yet, but it was pretty great.]

Oh, one more thing:  please join me in sending up a prayer for Melanie Bettinelli, who was hoping to have her new baby Lucia in her arms by now, but had to postpone her c-section because she was so sick!

All right, here are the 33 books:

YA Fiction

Most of these were recommended by my 13-year-old and 14-year-old daughters.  I’ve starred the ones I recommend for adults as well as “young adults.”

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

Angels and Other Strangers:  Family Christmas Stories by Katherine Paterson

*The Golden Key by George MacDonald, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

*The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

*Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

A Dog’s Life:  The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin

*The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare


Children’s Books

A Time to Keep:  A  The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays

The Flying Carpet by Marcia Brown

Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff

The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise brown, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivisas an illustrated by the wonderful Helen Oxenbury.

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

The Golden Bible, Old Testament, illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky

It Could Always Be Worse:  A Yiddish Folktale written and illustrated by Margo Zemach


Non-fiction for adults  (I’ve starred the ones that are also suitable for teenagers.)

From Bauhaus to Our House   by Tom Wolfe

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Fr. Jacques Philippe

God Help Me!  This Stress is Driving Me Crazy: Finding Balance through God’s Grace by Gregory Popcak

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham

*Masterworks of Ukiyo-E: Hokusai Sketches and Paintings

*The Rattle Bag edited by poets Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes

*The Family of Man by Edward Steichen and Carl Sandburg

*and Hokusai, First Manga Master [for some reason, WordPress won’t let me turn this one into a link]


Fiction for adults

Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

The Odyssey, the translation by Robert Fagles

*The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Wow, I can’t believe those are the only two adult fiction books on the list!  I guess I was trying hard to branch out, since I actually read mostly novels.






  1. Happy New Year to you and yours! Okay I will certainly offer up special prayers for Melanie Bettinelli. I already have a few of the books on my Amazon wish list. I will continue to click on the links to help out. I’ll pray also for your husband to get well.

  2. You make it so hard not to laugh at your pain.
    I have a theory about strep throat and our family. Given my same fear and horror of doctors’ offices and hospitals, I’ve made them sweat it out so many times that I think we’re just semi-immune carriers. That means that when one of them was caught having it and a few of the others were tested, they tested *positive* but were freaking asymptomatic. I, not having any tonsils, had a hard time relating to my daughter’s pain. It turns out that whatever was living on her tonsils turned into these atrociously disgusting, hard little yellow rice crispy looking things that she managed to dig out of her own tonsils without the help of a surgeon.
    That’s my girl.
    We just like to pay the health insurance premiums without going near a doctor. That is, of course unless I have to get a baby out.
    What beautiful little girls you have!
    How brave to do Midnight mass.
    We had a sweet Christmas too.
    The low point was cussing in “Gamestop” on Christmas eve, and telling the deer in the headlights girl at the register that the company she works for is God forsaken, (with a giant line behind me listening). My husband, who was in the car at the curb with the engine idling gave me mock absolution, which made me kind of envy “priest’s wife”.
    Thanks for the book list.
    I’ll tackle that soon, including finally ordering Kristin Lavenscaboodlestater, that I never got around to.
    I think adult fiction is what has been missing from my life for a decade or so.
    Prayers for Melanie.

  3. Ah Simcha, you really crack me up!! I love your humor. Hope everyone is feeling better.
    I forgot to use your Amazon link!! I shop through Amazon quite alot during the year. I’ll have to remember next time.

  4. Love the book list. You can tell your daughters (and yourself) thank you, as I’ve had lots of fun reading The Thief +sequels and Leviathan over the Christmas “break.”

  5. Christmas and sickness go together like…eh, my brain is simile-less in the fog of a receding head cold.

    How sickness is dealt with in a marriage is a really interesting dynamic. When my wife gets sick, or just starts with an ominous cough, I smear on a smile and immediately tell her she’s free from all child-related responsibilities and that she should stay in bed and text me when she needs anything. She seems to welcome this, but my motivation is entirely my frustration with her sickness. All the groany slow-motion flopping on the couch. I can’t deal with it. (To be clear, my wife is not a whiner at all and doesn’t play up being sick. She’s a champ. I’m just a selfish jerkface.) And, of course, when I’m sick I expect the world to stop and acknowledge that because I have moderate-to-maybe-sorta-severe sinus pain, I should be relieved of all the attendant responsibilities of being a grown-up. So in a way, I’m technically following the Golden Rule but not really out of love. Somehow, I don’t think this jibes with the second part of the Great Commandment.

    @Aileen – here’s a tip: bookmark one of the book recommendations and then only go to Amazon through that bookmark. Then everything you do will count.

      • Yeah, I have an older link to _The Pope and I_ by Jerzey Kluger bookmarked. I’ve seen that page a thousand times and many times I’ve thought, “hey, I should buy that. That looks good.” But I never have. Maybe next Christmas.

  6. My sister-in-law bought a pants pass for me for Christmas. Thankfully she bought the keychain version since I’m in the military and therefore wear pants everyday. Makes me laugh everytime I look at it. Thanks for your humorous genius. I hope your family gets well soon!

  7. Just so you know I think the little patience for sick people is a mom thing. Something about knowing you wouldn’t get to lay around and wallow if you were sick makes it hard to muster up any sympathy for others.

  8. I love the pants pass. LOVE. The reason being, of course,that it highlights the ridiculousness of self appointed Catholic “leaders” (aka some weirdo husband with way too much time on his hands and way too much shame about his own past). I am so, so sick of people like this. They make us all look like a bunch of creeps. I should forward you some hilariously whacked out emails from a local homeschool dad who goes into a blind rage and then sends out rude/odd/psycho rants filled with his own embarrassing boastfulness and condescending projection as to how the rest of us should conduct ourselves. I . like to read these emails with a glass of wine in hand and a hearty snack.
    I have watched people like this crash and burn over the years, but not before they have left many people confused, hurt and sometimes disillusioned. Anyway, this is the reason why so many readers like myself love you: because you are NORMAL. And HILARIOUS. YAY!!!! yay for normal Catholics who love their faith and have a sense of humor!!!! yay for the pants pass!!! haha:) Don’t ever stop!

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