Spell the Month in Books is a linkup hosted here on Reviews From the Stacks on the second Saturday of each month. The goal, inspired by a hashtag I first encountered on Instagram, is to spell the current month with the first letter of book titles, excluding articles such as ‘the’ and ‘a’ as needed. That’s all there is to it! Some months there are theme challenges, such as “books with an orange cover” or books of a particular genre, but for the most part, any book you want to use is fair game! To participate, simply make a post, comment, or picture of the books you choose. They can be books you physically own or simply titles you have come across. Most of the time I create a virtual bookstack from titles on my Goodreads shelves. If you make a list, please share a link to your post in the comments so that I and other participants can see! There is also a Spell the Month in Books button which you can use in your posts. To use it, copy the code from the box below my list and paste it into your blog editor in HTML mode (for WordPress users, insert a “Custom HTML” block and paste the code there).
Theme: Books I have read for school, noted on my AP & Required Reading shelf on Goodreads.
A – As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
One of William Faulkner’s finest novels, As I Lay Dying, originally published in 1930, remains a captivating and stylistically innovative work. The story revolves around a grim yet darkly humorous pilgrimage, as Addie Bundren’s family sets out to fulfill her last wish: to be buried in her native Jefferson, Mississippi, far from the miserable backwater surroundings of her married life. Told through multiple voices, As I Lay Dying vividly brings to life Faulkner’s imaginary South, one of literature’s great invented landscapes, and is replete with the poignant, impoverished, violent, and hypnotically fascinating characters that were his trademark.
Where I had to read it: 19th Century American Lit, 2017
P – Parliament of Fowls by Geoffrey Chaucer
The “Parlement of Foules” is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) made up of approximately 700 lines. The poem is in the form of a dream vision in rhyme royal stanza and is the first reference to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day is a special day for lovers. The poem begins with the narrator reading Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis. When he falls asleep Scipio Africanus the Elder appears and guides him up through the celestial spheres to a gate promising both a “welle of grace” and a stream that “ledeth to the sorweful were/ Ther as a fissh in prison is al drye” (reminiscent of the famous grimly inscribed gates in Dante’s Inferno). After some deliberation at the gate, the narrator enters and passes through Venus’s dark temple with its friezes of doomed lovers and out into the bright sunlight. Here Nature is convening a parliament at which the birds will all choose their mates. The three tercel (male) eagles make their case for the hand of a formel (female) eagle until the birds of the lower estates begin to protest and launch into a comic parliamentary debate, which Nature herself finally ends.
Where I was required to read it: Chaucer Survey, 2016 (and yes, we read this and other works by Chaucer in the original Middle English)
R – (The) Road by Cormac McCarthy
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
Where I was required to read it: Western Civ, 2015
I – (The) Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde’s madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades.
Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gwendolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack’s ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend the “rivals” to fight for Ernest’s undivided attention and the “Ernests” to claim their beloveds pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!
Where I was required to read it: 12th grade English, Western Civ (2013 & 2015)
L – Life on Mission by Dustin Willis
Life on Mission is a thorough yet simple guide for everyday missionaries—electricians, lawyers, church planters, students, etc.—that equips them with truths and practices for living out the gospel within their own community. Adaptable to any context, Life on Mission functions great as both an individual and small-group study.
Threaded with engaging stories and probing reflection questions, Life on Mission will help you and your community take bold steps to living life on mission.
Where I was required to read it: while preparing for an internship with NAMB (2016)
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Can you #SpelltheMonthinBooks? What books are you using?
If you make a post, please link to it in the comments so that others can see it! If you post it to Instagram (or any other social media), feel free to use the hashtag and tag me (@reviewsfromthestacks).
Until the next chapter,