The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon

I can’t really call this a book review, since I’ve just dipped into Meghan Cox Gurdon’s thrilling book about reading aloud. What I love about the book’s subtitle, The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction, is the phrase “miraculous power.” Being read to feels like a warm embrace. Whenever I reread parts of Madeleines L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, I hear the voice of my third grade teacher reading the novel to us at the end of each school day. Believe it or not when I read Caps for Sale to my granddaughter, Olivia, it is Captain Kangaroo’s voice scolding the monkeys on behalf of the frustrated cap peddler.

Such is the anecdotal power of reading aloud. Gurdon brings more, much more than anecdote to The Enchanted Hour. From brain development to strengthening the bonds of love to the long-term benefits of building vocabulary through reading, the author shares the latest scientific research on why reading aloud to children is a “fast-working antidote to [today’s] fractured attention spans.”

This book moved from my to-be-read shelf to being actively read. I’m even going to read parts aloud to my husband.

PS. If you’ve never checked out Gurdon’s reviews for the Wall Street Journal, read them! Olivia doesnt’ know it yet, but some of her faves have come at the suggestion of this enthusiastic writer and children’s book editor.

A Banquet of Consequences — Elizabeth George

Sometimes you just want to read something that you know will captivate you, surprise you, involve you, and end in a most satisfactory way. Elizabeth George’s crime novels never disappoint.                 A Banquet of Consequences did all of the above and more for over 700 throroughly enjoyable pages. I’m usually pretty good at figuring out at least part of the plot and the bad guy or gal. Not this time. Utter surprise. The plot twist turned out to be creepier than I would have ever imagined.

There are the series familiars: Inspector Lynley, Barbara Havers, and Winston Nkata, the three detectives challenged with finding out why              a young man committed suicide. Then you have    a deliciously twisted and interfering mother-in-law; her long-suffering, and tragically clueless second husband; a successful feminist author with her own hidden darkness; her manipultive and mommy-attached elder son and his wife who would love nothing better than to change her relationship status from separated to divorced; and assorted others who distract and delight.

The title got me thinking why we always frame consequences as something negative. Feast on George’s novel. You’ll find the consequences delicious.