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Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life

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When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle's delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast? If so, you may be on your way to being a book girl. Books were always Sarah Clarkson's delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie childr When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle's delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast? If so, you may be on your way to being a book girl. Books were always Sarah Clarkson's delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie children of Narnia, and the wise Austen heroines, she discovered reading early on as a daily gift, a way of encountering the world in all its wonder. But what she came to realize as an adult was just how powerfully books had shaped her as a woman to live a story within that world, to be a lifelong learner, to grasp hope in struggle, and to create and act with courage. She's convinced that books can do the same for you. Join Sarah in exploring the reading life as a gift and an adventure, one meant to enrich, broaden, and delight you in each season of your life as a woman. In Book Girl, you'll discover: how reading can strengthen your spiritual life and deepen your faith, why a journey through classic literature might be just what you need (and where to begin), how stories form your sense of identity, how Sarah's parents raised her to be a reader--and what you can do to cultivate a love of reading in the growing readers around you, and 20+ annotated book lists, including some old favorites and many new discoveries. Whether you've long considered yourself a reader or have dreams of becoming one, Book Girl will draw you into the life-giving journey of becoming a woman who reads and lives well.


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When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle's delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast? If so, you may be on your way to being a book girl. Books were always Sarah Clarkson's delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie childr When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle's delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast? If so, you may be on your way to being a book girl. Books were always Sarah Clarkson's delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie children of Narnia, and the wise Austen heroines, she discovered reading early on as a daily gift, a way of encountering the world in all its wonder. But what she came to realize as an adult was just how powerfully books had shaped her as a woman to live a story within that world, to be a lifelong learner, to grasp hope in struggle, and to create and act with courage. She's convinced that books can do the same for you. Join Sarah in exploring the reading life as a gift and an adventure, one meant to enrich, broaden, and delight you in each season of your life as a woman. In Book Girl, you'll discover: how reading can strengthen your spiritual life and deepen your faith, why a journey through classic literature might be just what you need (and where to begin), how stories form your sense of identity, how Sarah's parents raised her to be a reader--and what you can do to cultivate a love of reading in the growing readers around you, and 20+ annotated book lists, including some old favorites and many new discoveries. Whether you've long considered yourself a reader or have dreams of becoming one, Book Girl will draw you into the life-giving journey of becoming a woman who reads and lives well.

30 review for Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I loved Clarkson's emphasis on women and the pure treasure reading is for our emotional, physical, and mental well-being. I think what I most took away from this book was more for me as a mother. That the little seeds we are sowing everyday of beauty and good literature are crucial. Even if we don't see the harvest or we don't see anything "measurable" EVER, we still keep faithfully sowing into our children and those around us by faith. If you are a bibliophile, the book lists and sentiments may I loved Clarkson's emphasis on women and the pure treasure reading is for our emotional, physical, and mental well-being. I think what I most took away from this book was more for me as a mother. That the little seeds we are sowing everyday of beauty and good literature are crucial. Even if we don't see the harvest or we don't see anything "measurable" EVER, we still keep faithfully sowing into our children and those around us by faith. If you are a bibliophile, the book lists and sentiments may be a bit of a review for you, but keep reading, because there are little gems interspersed throughout that will encourage you and spur you deeper into your shelves, reading community, and sharing all the wonder and beauty found in books.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I don’t review a lot of non-fiction books on my blog, but when I saw there was a book about books, the reading life and bookworms, I knew I needed to read and share it! This book is not only a wonderful read, but an amazing resource, filled with book lists for different seasons of a reader’s life! In Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson, Clarkson begins each section with a little essay of her own, and then proceeds to give us some I don’t review a lot of non-fiction books on my blog, but when I saw there was a book about books, the reading life and bookworms, I knew I needed to read and share it! This book is not only a wonderful read, but an amazing resource, filled with book lists for different seasons of a reader’s life! In Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson, Clarkson begins each section with a little essay of her own, and then proceeds to give us some book lists that correspond with the essay. I learned a lot from Ms. Clarkson’s essays and found them very relatable. Ms. Clarkson argues that reading shapes who we are and it’s the lens through which we view the world. She talks of stories helping us to understand things better in real life; they help show us what is good and give us hope to fight and cope with the evil in the world. Ultimately, she says that our lives are a story as a part of the Kingdom of God. I couldn’t agree more with her arguments for how important reading and stories are! I personally have such a passion for Story. Ms. Clarkson talks all about the exact reason why my blog is named Faery Tales Are Real, arguing for the importance of fairy tales and how they point us to the greatest Story of Christianity. I love how she found connections between fairy tales and Biblical narrative. I just felt through reading this book that I had found a kindred spirit, as the author talks about Anne from Anne of Green Gables and how she loves the Lord of the Rings (can I get an Amen). The Lord of the Rings helped strengthen her faith when she was younger, in the same way that it did for me. I highly recommend this book to any person who loves reading, no matter what stage of the reading journey they are in. It is an excellent resource to have on hand (the book lists are amazing)! Content: This is a clean read. The only content is: mentions rape when describing To Kill a Mockingbird; word damn is used. Rating: I give this book 5 stars! Genre: Christian non-fiction I want to thank Tyndale Momentum, Tyndale House Publishers and Sarah Clarkson for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jami Balmet

    I immensely enjoyed certain parts of this book and didn’t love a few other parts. Overall it was an enjoyable read and will be a reference books for years to come! I added over 100 titles to a new Goodreads list I started (you can go see it as “book girl recommendations” and there are dozens of books on that list I’m really excited to read (and several that I know I should read at some point)! I would rate this book higher, but I disagree with most of her theological/Christian recommendations. W I immensely enjoyed certain parts of this book and didn’t love a few other parts. Overall it was an enjoyable read and will be a reference books for years to come! I added over 100 titles to a new Goodreads list I started (you can go see it as “book girl recommendations” and there are dozens of books on that list I’m really excited to read (and several that I know I should read at some point)! I would rate this book higher, but I disagree with most of her theological/Christian recommendations. We clearly hold to different theological beliefs, some of them major. And as a Christian book, this heavily affects my ability to recommend this book. But if you read it with that in mind and take all recommendations with a grain of salt, then it is an excellent reference for finding new (and old) books to read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Julie Durnell

    I LOVED this book! Book Girl is an amazing book-on-books, probably the best I've ever read. Sarah Clarkson, as a young woman, wife,( and new mother poised to transform her own daughter into a "book girl"), and Oxford theology graduate, writes extremely well on a subject that is truly dear to her heart as well as her readers. She is perceptive, discerning and having grown up with books from birth is exceedingly well read. I had to suspend reading my library copy, return it and buy one for myself, I LOVED this book! Book Girl is an amazing book-on-books, probably the best I've ever read. Sarah Clarkson, as a young woman, wife,( and new mother poised to transform her own daughter into a "book girl"), and Oxford theology graduate, writes extremely well on a subject that is truly dear to her heart as well as her readers. She is perceptive, discerning and having grown up with books from birth is exceedingly well read. I had to suspend reading my library copy, return it and buy one for myself, so I may highlight and notate; in fact, digest this book slowly! The book is broken into lovely Books Can.... chapters and subchapters, interspersed with recommended reading lists of her personal friends and family. There are the perennial favorite classic titles along with newer book mentions, that will be added to my TBR list. Highly recommended!

  5. 4 out of 5

    K.M. Weiland

    Sarah Clarkson speaks to me. In both the books I’ve read from her (Caught Up in a Story and this), it’s like someone has looked into my head and described my experiences to me with a greater emotional understanding than I had heretofore had for myself. In both instances, her books have come to me at opportune moments, when my life was in flux, with me standing at a crossroads of sort. I read this one after a significant move—and, just as significantly, after several years of struggling with the Sarah Clarkson speaks to me. In both the books I’ve read from her (Caught Up in a Story and this), it’s like someone has looked into my head and described my experiences to me with a greater emotional understanding than I had heretofore had for myself. In both instances, her books have come to me at opportune moments, when my life was in flux, with me standing at a crossroads of sort. I read this one after a significant move—and, just as significantly, after several years of struggling with the motivation to read. Her ode to words and stories and her loving lists of great books—so many of which I’ve already read—has reinvigorated the reader in me. I don’t think it’s too much to say that her first book changed my life; this one did too.

  6. 5 out of 5

    The Hofs

    DEVOURED this book! Cheers to Sarah Clarkson who truly is a kindred spirit! I found myself resisting the urge to mark this book and then about 25 pages in, I grabbed a pencil and went back to the beginning and marked away! This is so well written and such an encouragement for those of us who love books and I hope, motivating for those who have yet to discover their inner “book girl”. So many excellent quotes, book suggestions to mention. I wish that I could sit and chat with Sarah for a bit. We DEVOURED this book! Cheers to Sarah Clarkson who truly is a kindred spirit! I found myself resisting the urge to mark this book and then about 25 pages in, I grabbed a pencil and went back to the beginning and marked away! This is so well written and such an encouragement for those of us who love books and I hope, motivating for those who have yet to discover their inner “book girl”. So many excellent quotes, book suggestions to mention. I wish that I could sit and chat with Sarah for a bit. We have many things in common but notable differences in Faith, I disagree with her stance on HP but we share many many favorites for all the right reasons. Perfect gift for yourself or any person in pursuit of the good, the true and the beautiful (all of us!). This is just what our culture needs!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kalena

    Non-fiction/Book love. This is the BEST book I have read about the love and importance of reading life. While I am autodidactic by nature (so I loved all the lists!), it was more than that. Mrs. Clarkson voices so many of the feelings in my heart regarding how reading has contributed to my salvation (in multiple ways). It is important people understanding she is a Christian and discusses how her reading added to how she walks her Christian life, overcomes struggles, questions the world as we kno Non-fiction/Book love. This is the BEST book I have read about the love and importance of reading life. While I am autodidactic by nature (so I loved all the lists!), it was more than that. Mrs. Clarkson voices so many of the feelings in my heart regarding how reading has contributed to my salvation (in multiple ways). It is important people understanding she is a Christian and discusses how her reading added to how she walks her Christian life, overcomes struggles, questions the world as we know it, and celebrates the imagination. She states, "Next to Scripture and the influence of my parents, great books have formed my worldview, developed my moral imagination, and shaped my idea of virtue." For those who have ever questioned the place fantasy and imagination have in your Christian walk, she answers this well. "A great book meets you in the narrative motion of your own life, showing you in vividly imagined ways exactly what it looks like to be evil or good, brave or cowardly, each of those choices shaping the happy (or tragic) ending of the stories in which they're made." She clearly loves classic literature and holds a special fondness for C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, L.M. Montgomery, and Wendell Berry. The timelessness of so many of their stories speaks to their wisdom and ability to touch readers of all ages and backgrounds--so powerful! This book articulates how reading and sharing books helps us form our lives, find inspiration and faith, as well as create community (Hello, CFD!). Plus, who could resist a book that celebrates book girls?!? Absolutely loved this!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Hurd

    I LOVED this book. Sarah Clarkson is such a treasure. My full review will be posted at Englewood Review of Books within the next few weeks.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    Like many book bloggers, reading is one of my biggest hobbies. Talking about my latest read or your favorite book is one of my favorite pastimes. Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson is all about her love of books and reading. In Book Girl, Sarah Clarkson starts about by sharing how she got her love of reading and books. She then shares how books have shaped her life and how she created book lists. She then shares some of her book list categories: books that broaden your world, books can shape your story, Like many book bloggers, reading is one of my biggest hobbies. Talking about my latest read or your favorite book is one of my favorite pastimes. Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson is all about her love of books and reading. In Book Girl, Sarah Clarkson starts about by sharing how she got her love of reading and books. She then shares how books have shaped her life and how she created book lists. She then shares some of her book list categories: books that broaden your world, books can shape your story, books can stir you to action, books can cultivate imagination, books can foster community, books can open your eyes to wonder, books can deepen your soul, and books can impart hope. In each of these sections, Clarkson shares books that can affect readers in ways related to each section. She shares about the books that she has found to be helpful in each of these areas and why she recommends them. She closes Book Girl with the importance of passing books and the love of reading to those coming behind us and to those around us. Clarkson's passion for books comes through in Book Girl. As someone who shares her love of reading and books, I enjoyed this book. It is a keeper for me and one I will refer to again. I found some new titles to add to my reading list and I appreciated the fact that some of my favorites were also some of her favorites. It was like getting together with another bookish friend and gushing over books together. I would recommend this book to all other book lover girls out there. I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    "To be a book girl is to take up membership in the ranks of women who read and, by their reading, live to the brave and courageous full." I wanted to love this book. I wanted this book to be about the celebration of books and the love of books that we share. But what it felt like, for me, was mostly convincing me that I should love books. (Even though I think only a true book girl would pick up a book entitled "Book Girl.") And even more, convincing me what books I should love. I don't know that t "To be a book girl is to take up membership in the ranks of women who read and, by their reading, live to the brave and courageous full." I wanted to love this book. I wanted this book to be about the celebration of books and the love of books that we share. But what it felt like, for me, was mostly convincing me that I should love books. (Even though I think only a true book girl would pick up a book entitled "Book Girl.") And even more, convincing me what books I should love. I don't know that the author intended it to feel that way, though, because many times she offered the idea that we should love what we read and read what we love. However, she then contradicted that thought by saying we should be "intelligent readers." And spent quite a few chapters explaining what "intelligent reading" is and is not. Basically, I am a very unintelligent reader. (Or at least by her terms I am.) Even though I consider myself a very diverse reader. Once that was established (because I don't pick books to read the author believes I should), then it felt a bit condescending. No, I am not an Oxford person and she is, but I don't believe that because I pick less "difficult" or "arduous" books to read that it means that I'm an unintelligent reader. Yes, I believe in being a discerning reader, but to me that means I should read all different view points while holding strong to my values and belief system. I believe in challenging myself, but not to the point of hating what I'm reading or THAT I'm reading. And in all honesty, if I subjected myself to some of the books that she so highly recommends (I'm looking at you Dante), then I could truly come to begrudge reading. The majority of the chapters in the book read like Pinterest pins or blog posts of book lists that fit a certain category. Nothing wrong with the books listed, but I only connected with about 10% of the books in the lists. And being that she harped on "intelligent reading" so much, it was shocking how few books were by diverse authors or about diverse characters. I mean, how do you write a chapter on the best poetry books and not include Maya Angelou? (But I do love the Anne books and the Lord of the Rings trilogy just as much as the author does!) All that to be said, I ultimately just don't think the book was for me. (I very much preferred I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel.) Clarkson and I have very different reading tastes. I, however, do not believe that either one is right or wrong. I do think a LOT of readers will find a kindred spirit here, just not me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Mead

    This book... how do I even describe it... It's like sitting down with a kindred spirit at the end of a long hard week and being able to share our hearts together... This was just such a heart-warming, refreshing read, with so much wisdom and joy and beauty packed between the pages to be gleaned! As a reader, as a woman, as a writer - my heart needed this book. It came to me at a moment where I was feeling spiritually and creatively low. But as I journeyed through the pages, I felt that my heart This book... how do I even describe it... It's like sitting down with a kindred spirit at the end of a long hard week and being able to share our hearts together... This was just such a heart-warming, refreshing read, with so much wisdom and joy and beauty packed between the pages to be gleaned! As a reader, as a woman, as a writer - my heart needed this book. It came to me at a moment where I was feeling spiritually and creatively low. But as I journeyed through the pages, I felt that my heart and soul were being gently nudged awake, pushed towards Christ, and being given the permission once again to dream and revel in the wonder of story. This book is a gem, and I know I will be coming back to it again and again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    I’ll be returning to this as a resource time and time again through the years, I’m certain. A delightful combination of personal essays and reading recommendations.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    Got about halfway through then skimmed the rest. I usually enjoy books about books, but not this one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Preston

    “Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly through–and very good lists they were–very well chosen and very neatly arranged–sometimes alphabetically and sometimes by some other rule. The list she drew up when only fourteen–I remember thinking it did her judgement so much credit that I preserved it some time; and I dare say she may have made out a very good list “Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly through–and very good lists they were–very well chosen and very neatly arranged–sometimes alphabetically and sometimes by some other rule. The list she drew up when only fourteen–I remember thinking it did her judgement so much credit that I preserved it some time; and I dare say she may have made out a very good list now. But I have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma. She will never submit to anything requiring industry and patience and a subjection of the fancy to the understanding.” Mr. Knightley discussing Emma’s faults with Mrs. Weston, who will not admit them Emma, volume 1, chapter 5 Books about books have exploded on the market recently. It seems to be an obsession among the bookish types - this is at least the 4th I've read personally, with Read-Aloud Family being the most useful. But at the end of the day, it's just a book of book lists. I feel like Book Girl is just capitalizing on the trend rather than adding something new and valuable to the collection. Sarah Clarkson spends the first chapters waxing poetic about the reading life - "becoming a book girl" or a "bookish person" before launching into her collection of lists. And yet, I assume, anyone who would even grab this book is already convinced of the value of frequent reading. Also this is just a personal quirk but the more I read of the Clarksons (both Sally and Sarah), the more their excessively descriptive vocabulary bugs me. While there are times that torrents of explanation serve a purpose, there are other times that it comes across that the author appreciates the sound of her own voice... Book Girl gets a few stars from me for a handful of solid book suggestions. But I can't give it many for the reasons listed above.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    3 - 3.5 Stars I'm a sucker for books about books so I enjoyed this, although it didn't bump my top five such books. I'd probably include it in my top ten or fifteen, but I'll have to think about it awhile and then hopefully come back and write a real review later. However I do know that since I'm not Roman Catholic, I strongly disagree about reading many (if not most) of the religious books she recommends. I loved most of her other booklists though, having already either read or listed many of t 3 - 3.5 Stars I'm a sucker for books about books so I enjoyed this, although it didn't bump my top five such books. I'd probably include it in my top ten or fifteen, but I'll have to think about it awhile and then hopefully come back and write a real review later. However I do know that since I'm not Roman Catholic, I strongly disagree about reading many (if not most) of the religious books she recommends. I loved most of her other booklists though, having already either read or listed many of them on my TBR list. And now I've added even more.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elliott

    Before I was ever born, my mother read to me. While in her womb, she would read from classics by Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, and, of course, one of her favorite books Anne of Green Gables. Is it any wonder then that I was a born reader? For as long as I can remember, I have adored books. Before I could read them on my own, my mother would read to me. I would sit in her lap and look at the pictures as she read. Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, The Velveteen Rabbit, Blueberries for Sal, Sylveste Before I was ever born, my mother read to me. While in her womb, she would read from classics by Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, and, of course, one of her favorite books Anne of Green Gables. Is it any wonder then that I was a born reader? For as long as I can remember, I have adored books. Before I could read them on my own, my mother would read to me. I would sit in her lap and look at the pictures as she read. Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, The Velveteen Rabbit, Blueberries for Sal, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble . . . the list goes on. But it did not take long for me to want to read on my very own. I pretended to read from what words I had heard her say aloud and then I would make up the rest that I couldn't remember. As I followed along to her reading, I began to learn words and the beauty of language. From Beatrix Potter alone I discovered words like soporific, marrows, terrace, or paduasoy. It was glorious to be able to add new words to my vocabulary by simply asking my mother what a word meant or, when I got old enough, to look their meanings up in a dictionary. Words became expansive and opened my horizons that the world was bigger and filled with more magic than I could even begin to imagine. Books were portals to new and amazing places for me: whether that was the Boston of Johnny Tremain or the Narnia of Aslan. I was formed and shaped by story. I treasured books, particularly those given to me as presents. My great-Aunt Annie was a wonderful book giver and understood how delighted I'd be whenever I got one (even more than in my receiving toys). She, who had been a teacher, saw in me a desire to devour books whenever I got my hands on one. And she, like my mother, never stopped me from attempting to read a book because they thought it might be too difficult for me. They saw that I would read and, either put the book back on the shelf, or I would pull the dictionary down as well and have it there on the floor beside me as I read. She was the one who filled my childhood bookshelves with classics like A Child's Garden of Verses, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, Grimm's Fairy Tales, and Robinson Crusoe. My days and especially my summers were taken up with books. As a child who was often lonely, the characters who inhabited their pages became my constant companions and I knew Wilbur the Pig, Pippi Longstocking, Anne Shirley, Laura Ingalls, Claudia Kincaid, Harriet the Spy, and The Great Brain as well, if not better, than the kids in our neighborhood. I was a child of books who never lost that deep, abiding love for reading and literature. I have written before how I have learned courage from Lucy Pevensie or Meg Murry, sacrificial friendship from Charlotte the Spider or Frodo and Sam. I acquired the ability to see the beauty in the world through Anne Shirley or Mary Lennox. I connected with the power of story through Sara Crewes telling of tales in A Little Princess or from Wendy in Peter Pan. I gained an appreciation of nature and of animals through works by E.B. White or Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. Books guided me along the path as if I were Christian making my way to the Celestial City in Pilgrim's Progress. I spent time in places I could only dream of Lilliput, Narnia, the Shire, Wonderland, Neverland, Oz, B-612, or under the house with the tiny Borrowers. And I have nurtured and nourished this love of books in my own sons. Grateful for a mother who read to me and exposed me to great works, I have done the same. My younger son and I are in the midst of our summer book, The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. As I read to him, my young son leans his head against my chest, he listens and I can tell he is reading along silently to my reading aloud. Jody moved a stone that was matching its corners against his sharp ribs and burrowed a little, hollowing himself a nest for his hips and shoulders. A shaft of sunlight, warm and thin like a patchwork quilt, lay across his body. He watched the flutter-mill indolently, sunk in the sand and the sunlight. The movement was hypnotic. His eyelids fluttered with the palm-leaf paddles. Drops of silver slipping from the wheel blurred together like the tail of a shooting star. The water made a sound like kittens lapping. A rain frog sang a moment and then was still. There was an instant when the boy hung at the edge of a high bank made of the soft fluff of broom-sage, and the rain frog and the starry dripping of the flutter-mill hung with him. Instead of falling over the edge, he sank into the softness. The blue, white-tufted sky closed over him. He slept. After I read that passage, my son looked up at me and smiled. "That was so beautiful," he said, "and I could see it all so clearly." He was falling in love with the languidness of the language and with the beauty of Rawlings' descriptions. He's already a boy who feels at home in nature so I chose this book because I knew he would connect with young Jody in it. He would hear the slow-moving paragraphs that are descriptions and appreciate the world they are painting with words. It was the same with My Side of the Mountain. And, just like Where The Red Fern Grows, he would hold the beauty and bear the sorrow that the story contains. He would, once again, rediscover the power of words and reading. It is with this that I came to Sarah Clarkson's Book Girl and, while I understand that from its title I am not her target audience, I have never, ever let that dissuade me from reading a book (not even when a well-meaning librarian asked me if I was sure I wanted to check out A Little Princess, thinking a ten-year-old boy would not be interested in what she thought of as a girl's book. I did not heed her words and loved the book and Sara Crewes). I could not help but connect with the first sentence of the introduction, "My Mother swears she read to me while I was still in the womb." When one is bewitched by the magic of words, the loveliness of language, and the power of imagery, we desperately want to share that with others; in particular our own children. Just as her mother did with her, Sarah, a new mother herself now, wants to pass her love of reading on to her own daughter. As she writes of her hope to give her daughter "the beauty of the world and the strength to bear its sorrow, and knew that one of the best ways to do that was through the gift of the reading life." The reading life is a precious gift and one that I so wish all parents had and passed on to their children. Why? Because reading offers the gifts "of learning and wonder, of hope renewed, of the capacity to ponder, of the will to act . . ." This brought to my mind a quote from the naturalist Rachel Carson, who writes in The Sense of Wonder: A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructable that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year. . . While there is no good fairy to bestow this wish, there are books. In my own life, books are the antidote and have supplied me with years of discovering and rediscovering wonder and awe and beauty and excitement, so much so that it transfers to the natural world for me. Both my attention to words and reading and to the natural world began in the explorations of childhood. I learned through both to pay attention, to notice and see what so many overlooked because they did not pause to focus and truly spend time looking at what was before and around them. As a parent, I, like Sarah Clarkson, wish over my own children, "I want your heart to be stocked with beauty." Because the world, or at least our society and culture, can be cruel and chaotic. It can feel as overwhelming as a raging sea. Yet I have found an anchor-hold in the power of stories to ground and guide me over the years and, like Sarah, have realized that the world can be "wondrously good." Who would not want that for their child? To let their children know that they are not alone in this world, that what they are feeling or struggling with have been faced and conquered by authors in their own lives and stories. That they can, like myself, see bravery in the smallness of Hobbits or in the weaknesses of Meg Murry. The reading life is a rich life and should be celebrated. Book Girl is just such a celebration and a very welcome one, indeed. In the introduction, Clarkson writes, "This book is about the joy and dance of women reading, an invitation to that wise laughter, to the grace known by all the book girls of the world who live by the delighted conviction that reading is a vital ingredient in a woman's full engagement with her faith, her creativity, and her capacity to grow in knowledge and love throughout each season of her life." Though not a woman, I have found this to be true in my own life. Reading has opened me up in ways that I cannot imagine being who I am without having read the books I've read. They have answered questions and, better yet, offered me greater questions and to rest in not always knowing or having to have answers. Books share in our dreams and give us new ones. They offer solace and comfort. They offer companionship during loneliness. They offer adventure and new horizons when I cannot afford to leave our own town. My house is crammed full of books. There are bookshelves everywhere and even where there are not shelves, there are books. I have learned the rhythm of reading and seen how reading is a spiritual act. Reading not only fiction and nonfiction but theology, poetry, essays, and plays. I read with a cup of coffee or tea by side. I read in bed, on the sofa or in a comfy chair, outside in the fork of a great oak's roots, or by a stream or creek. Rainy days are reading days. As are sunny days, snowy days, cloudy days . . . There are at least three books in my car because I never know when I am going to be somewhere and need a book handy. I make time to read. In the quiet of the early morning, along with reading a devotional and my Bible, I read poetry. My days also end with reading. Sitting in bed, I read before I switch off the light. I read some of whatever I happen to be reading, along with a Psalm and a poem. I like to bookend my days with beauty. Avid readers, book people are those who understand what Gustave Flaubert means when he writes, "Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live." Yes, one can be amused or learn from books, but book people read because reading is so very much a part of their lives. Great literature lays life bare before us. We read and are challenged and are confronted by a world and universe that is so much greater than we can even begin to imagine. Reading helps us to see life and new ways to live life. In Book Girl, I see a kindred spirit in Sarah Clarkson. Anna Quinlend captured it best in How Reading Changed My Life, "Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home." So I cannot wait to spend time in the company of another book person, Sarah Clarkson, as I grab myself a cup of coffee (or tea) and find a comfy place to inhabit the pages of Book Girl.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ashley McKnight

    There was so much I loved about this book. Her rich, warm writing about her own life and love of books invites you into her magical world of words, stories, characters and how meeting them shaped and informed her every day life. I loved the passion with which she shared how stories shaped our imagination, and why both adults and children need good stories, especially as Christians. There are so many wonderful books she has intrigued me to read (both fiction and non-fiction) which I may never hav There was so much I loved about this book. Her rich, warm writing about her own life and love of books invites you into her magical world of words, stories, characters and how meeting them shaped and informed her every day life. I loved the passion with which she shared how stories shaped our imagination, and why both adults and children need good stories, especially as Christians. There are so many wonderful books she has intrigued me to read (both fiction and non-fiction) which I may never have encountered otherwise, and I truly look forward to reading them. That being said, as this is a Christian book I did find many of the Christian and spiritual books that she recommends to be unhelpful, and some straying outside of the realm of orthodoxy. She does recommend some wonderfully solid books along side these. For the most part I found this to be the greatest weakness of the book. I understand that these books can still be read discerningly (she does include a section on reading with discernment), and one can benefit from them but for me, with that in mind I would be very slow to recommend this book to many people.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This was not all what I was expecting, but I liked it. I did a lot skimming in this book because to me, it was more of a reference book (the endless book lists) for mostly classic-type books. But I really enjoyed some of the chapters—the one on imagination in books I felt like I had written! She put into words what I have been thinking for years. Overall, this book inspired me to read and treasure books, and reminded me of just how important they are and gave me some good recommendations. Though This was not all what I was expecting, but I liked it. I did a lot skimming in this book because to me, it was more of a reference book (the endless book lists) for mostly classic-type books. But I really enjoyed some of the chapters—the one on imagination in books I felt like I had written! She put into words what I have been thinking for years. Overall, this book inspired me to read and treasure books, and reminded me of just how important they are and gave me some good recommendations. Though my reading style is definitely not equivalent to Clarkson’s, she challenged me to read out of my comfort zone at times. She shed light on the things that I have held on the surface of my mind for years: In short, books are powerful.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I enjoyed it. It mainly consists of list of books with brief synopsis of each. The lists are classified by subject. It started out great, but by the end every list had most of the same authors and some of the same titles. I get it. She loves Lewis and Tolkien. I did pick up ideas for a few books I would like to read that I haven't already read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    JLS10

    I don't normally re-read books, but this will definitely be one that I will keep re-reading. So much for the avid reader to "yes" in this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    AnnaScott

    Y'all. I've only gotten to read the first four chapters of this book as a part of its launch team, but I am in love. Sarah's writing style is gorgeous, but more than that this book feels like coming home. Sarah has beautifully expressed so many of the thoughts and feelings that I have had about books, plots, and characters. She has renewed the love of reading that often gets pressed down in the busyness of day-to-day life. She recommends countless books, many of which already hold a place on my Y'all. I've only gotten to read the first four chapters of this book as a part of its launch team, but I am in love. Sarah's writing style is gorgeous, but more than that this book feels like coming home. Sarah has beautifully expressed so many of the thoughts and feelings that I have had about books, plots, and characters. She has renewed the love of reading that often gets pressed down in the busyness of day-to-day life. She recommends countless books, many of which already hold a place on my favorites and the rest of which I'm sure will be there soon. I spent at least two of these chapters grinning, and I am quite sure my mother gave me several curious looks, but hearing Sarah talk about my favorite authors and books in her way was glorious. I cannot wait to read the rest of this book! (Here is a link to pre-order it: https://amzn.to/2OXG6nl )

  22. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    With chapter titles like "Books Can Stir You to Action" and "Books Can Foster Community" Sarah Clarkson's Book Girl is a joyful manifesto of all the good that books bring to our lives. Almost every chapter has a booklist too, so lots more titles to consider adding to your reading list!

  23. 4 out of 5

    K. L. West

    This book gave voice to so many things I’ve sensed intuitively about stories my whole life. I want to press a copy of it into the hands of ever book lover I know and then demand they meet me for coffee after each chapter so we can talk about it. But for now, I’ll settle for recommending it to close friends and giving it this glowing review. Even if Sarah didn’t have powerful, articulate, intelligent, and yet very readable chapters on the value of good stories, I would buy this book for the bookl This book gave voice to so many things I’ve sensed intuitively about stories my whole life. I want to press a copy of it into the hands of ever book lover I know and then demand they meet me for coffee after each chapter so we can talk about it. But for now, I’ll settle for recommending it to close friends and giving it this glowing review. Even if Sarah didn’t have powerful, articulate, intelligent, and yet very readable chapters on the value of good stories, I would buy this book for the booklists alone. I am supplied with book recommendations for the next few years thanks to her expertise. But she does have those wonderful chapters on why stories matter, so I don’t just have to recommend it for the lists. Whether you want to explore a story’s unique ability to voice suffering and struggle or to reignite an enchanted view of the world or to connect you to other people or to stir you to action or to give you role models or to sharpen your spiritual sight or to give you a fuller understanding of existence, this book will not disappoint. The world of literature has been opened anew to me, and it is due in large part to this book. Read it, and then meet me for coffee to discuss. (Kidding. Mostly.)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I have been able to preview the first four chapters of this book before the release and absolutely devoured them. Honestly, I knew I would love the subject matter as a book girl myself and mother of book girls, but I didn't know if I would like the prose. In the past Sarah Clarkson's style has not always been my cup of tea. In this particular book her writing is a little more spare than usual and I found the style as pleasant as the content. And the content well-reasoned and interesting. My only I have been able to preview the first four chapters of this book before the release and absolutely devoured them. Honestly, I knew I would love the subject matter as a book girl myself and mother of book girls, but I didn't know if I would like the prose. In the past Sarah Clarkson's style has not always been my cup of tea. In this particular book her writing is a little more spare than usual and I found the style as pleasant as the content. And the content well-reasoned and interesting. My only problem with the book is going to be the explosion of my want to read list from all the wonderful book lists included. There are even more book lists as bonuses if you pre-order the book now! As a side note: Sarah Clarkson has managed to finally fit a missing piece of a puzzle into my view of sanctification, and for that alone this book is worth five stars. Clarkson argues convincingly and effectively that books shape our loves, and follows James K. A. Smith in arguing that we ARE what we love. If books shape who we are, then this finally provides a simple explanation for why reading Scripture is so essential to our growth in grace and why Christians are truly people of the Book. ---- A few updates after completing the book: 1) Parts of the book brought me back to senior year of college, when I was in a capstone course for my English writing major. Our assignment was to find a passage that we had studied in our time in the program, memorize it, and write an essay as to why that passage was meaningful. I searched my notes, my anthologies, and all my materials and found...nothing. I ended up memorizing a poem I found merely fun and writing a defiant essay on why fun was good enough. My professor pulled me aside after I presented and told me that, no, my work did not fulfill the assignment. He was right. And as I read through Clarkson’s luminous reviews of works I have read and remember, I felt pretty chastened. It is only in the past few years that I've gained the ability to learn from literature the way Clarkson does (and my classmates did) despite years of study and reading. Better late than never, I guess, and this book helped me have a renewed desire to keep on learning. 2) No matter what stream of the Christian faith you identify with, you'll find authors recommended here who might be far outside your stream, and in some cases whom you might vehemently disagree with. I was surprised at the way that Clarkson recommended authors who might be very at odds with each other without comment. There are content warnings for potential violence and darkness in books, but not for potentially poor theology. I get that, because different readers will find different recommendations to be potentially troubling. But I would warn Christians reading this book to check the theological recommendations against your own creeds and traditions and most of all against Scripture itself.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christina Hubbard

    A book for any woman who wants to rediscover her bookishness, intellect, and imagination. In the chapters I've previewed, I am struck by how important books are to who we become. Sarah has helped me to reflect on my own love affairs with certain books and ask how they have shaped me (and continue to). Reading matters. It develops empathy and understanding, which are marks of true greatness. The book is full of great reading suggestions for any woman, especially the one who desires to learn how t A book for any woman who wants to rediscover her bookishness, intellect, and imagination. In the chapters I've previewed, I am struck by how important books are to who we become. Sarah has helped me to reflect on my own love affairs with certain books and ask how they have shaped me (and continue to). Reading matters. It develops empathy and understanding, which are marks of true greatness. The book is full of great reading suggestions for any woman, especially the one who desires to learn how to bring more beauty into the world, by thinking well and, thus, living well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    too christian and author tells you she went to Oxford approximately 1 zillion times

  27. 5 out of 5

    Callie

    I'm going with 3 stars for this one. I received this book for review a few months ago, and to be honest, I wanted to give up on it after the first few chapters. I was a little worried when I requested this book from the publisher because of my previous experience with Sarah Clarkson's writing in my attempt at The Life-Giving Home. Her writing has come off stilted and pretentious to me in the past. I had hopes that this book (about books! one of my favorite subjects) would be one I would enjoy, bu I'm going with 3 stars for this one. I received this book for review a few months ago, and to be honest, I wanted to give up on it after the first few chapters. I was a little worried when I requested this book from the publisher because of my previous experience with Sarah Clarkson's writing in my attempt at The Life-Giving Home. Her writing has come off stilted and pretentious to me in the past. I had hopes that this book (about books! one of my favorite subjects) would be one I would enjoy, but I was almost immediately bogged down in that same pretentious tone. I liked a lot of what she had to say, but her writing style is just not for me. I snagged the audiobook because I was not getting anywhere in print, and her writing came across much more relatable and friendly with the narrator's voice. Overall, while listening, I enjoyed it. Most of the book was composed of recommended booklists, with thoughts on reading and personal stories in between. I liked hearing her book recommendations, as well as her thoughts on the reading life and the benefits that can come from reading good books. However, I won't be adding all of these books to my to-read list (even if I did have time to read them all). I could tell from her interjections and the actual book recommendations that we are not on the same pages theologically. I wouldn't trust all her non-fiction recommendations, but I am interested to check out a few of the fiction books she referenced. The book also lost half a star for the constant references to Oxford. I'm sure studying at Oxford was a cool experience and formative for Clarkson (if something can be "formative" at 30 years old), but it was starting to feel awkward, like name-dropping (except with a place instead of a person). The "place-dropping" just added to my problems with the writing style. Overall, would I say this book is worth reading? Sure, go for it if you want. Not everyone will mind her style, and she did have some good recommendations (but take some of what she recommends regarding Christianity with discernment). I'll keep this one on my shelf as a reference for when I want to add a meaningful fiction book to my reading list. However, I think I can pretty confidently say this is the last book I'll be reading by Sarah Clarkson. I've read enough of her writing at this point to be able to say it's not my cup of tea. Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Flowers

    Sarah Clarkson is a kindred spirit. I think we would be great friends. I wanted to sit down with her for a cup of tea and talk about books all afternoon. I think we would get on splendidly! Love all the book lists in this book. I've read a lotto them but there were many I hadn't ever heard of and am excited to investigate! She gave wide range of examples across a multitude of genres all grouped together in categories. Her anecdotes were lovely to read and gave the book a robustness beyond just b Sarah Clarkson is a kindred spirit. I think we would be great friends. I wanted to sit down with her for a cup of tea and talk about books all afternoon. I think we would get on splendidly! Love all the book lists in this book. I've read a lotto them but there were many I hadn't ever heard of and am excited to investigate! She gave wide range of examples across a multitude of genres all grouped together in categories. Her anecdotes were lovely to read and gave the book a robustness beyond just book lists. This will be a good resource for what I should read next for the year.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Magistra

    A book for reading and re-reading, a book of lists to delight the heart of every book lover, a book of prose about the meaning of reading in our lives. I loved every minute of this book and intend to read it again very soon as well as seek out the books she suggested that I have not yet read. What a treasure trove of book ideas.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Bridgewater

    Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson's synopsis sounded right up my alley. I define myself as an avid bookworm. I mean, who else besides bookworms finish 200 books every year. It is a lot of books, but I love reading. So the description sounded just like me. I really couldn't wait to get my hands on the book. Right away, the book filled me with good feelings as it appeared to be describing me as someone who discovered reading at a young age. I remember traveling to the library every week and coming home Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson's synopsis sounded right up my alley. I define myself as an avid bookworm. I mean, who else besides bookworms finish 200 books every year. It is a lot of books, but I love reading. So the description sounded just like me. I really couldn't wait to get my hands on the book. Right away, the book filled me with good feelings as it appeared to be describing me as someone who discovered reading at a young age. I remember traveling to the library every week and coming home with at least ten books. Then the fun part was deciding what to read when I returned home. Then Clarkson started to create chapters with lists of books to appeal to a certain audience, such as, imagination stories or women power stories. I think eighty percent of the book appeals to an audience that doesn't read a lot and couldn't recommend books but wants to jump into the book life but doesn't nowhere to start. As she started listing the different books in different genres, I skimmed through the list by reading the titles. Not that many appealed to me or I already read them. A side note . . . why does everyone recommend Jane Austen for everything? I can't stand her books. She bored me to tears. No action. Just heads bopping around. Doing nothing. But I did like that she recommend Tolkien, Lewis, and Rowling. Some of my favorite writers. Overall, Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson is, I believe, a book for people who want to incorporate more reading into their life. Not for me since I do a lot of reading already. Her lists can introduce readers to some new authors they have never heard of. I received a complimentary copy of Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson from Tyndale Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

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