What my kids are into

I’ve been sharing what I’m into for almost two years now. This is the first time I’m sharing what my kids are into. They’ve been nerding out on some very specific things lately that I thought would be fun to share:

Harry Potter

I brought the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone audiobook along for our Florida road trip, hoping we could enjoy it together. That was wishful thinking: Silas and Lucy started complaining about it immediately. We only made it through one chapter.

But Sarah was hooked, and has been listening to it ever since. She always invited me to listen to it with her, and that offer is hard to resist. (Jim Dale is such a great narrator.)

I just picked up Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at the library yesterday and she’s already two discs in. She’s nine, so pretty soon we’ll confront the how-far-do-we-go-with-this question, because she might not be ready for book 4 and she’s definitely not ready for books 5-7. But right now she’s just loving it.

Matt Christopher

Jack and Sarah have been plowing through Matt Christopher’s sports novels ever since  I noticed Play Ball! from his Little League series while bookstore browsing early this summer. Based on the cover—which was really quite nice—I assumed these were low-quality, mass-market paperbacks designed to appeal to baseball-obsessed kids. It turns out Christopher was a prolific writer who published nearly 100 books in 75 years, mostly about sports. (For the past 15 years, books continue to be published posthumously under his name, but the quality, thankfully, has remained high.)

He’s written books about almost every sport you can think of, but for now, my kids just want to read the baseball books. Worth a look if you have a sports-obsessed kid in your life from about age 7 to 12 or so.

What my kids are into | Modern Mrs Darcy


While everyone else is playing legos, Sarah’s building and re-building her Roominate kit (while listening to Harry Potter, of course). It’s an open-ended building toy that’s designed to encourage STEM play for girls. (Much like Goldieblox, which Sarah and I weren’t crazy about.) Much like legos, the Roominate pieces are taking over my office. (See Silas above.)

What my kids are into | Modern Mrs Darcy


We’ve been into legos for a long time, but our obsession has reached a whole new level since we saw The Lego Movie. Jack is into realism these days: bowling alleys, gyms, jetliners. Silas builds spaceships. Lucy has been working on a gigantic park for weeks. Every day she tweaks it a bit. Yesterday she added a coffee shop to it, just for me. Sweet girl.

Also discovered: these Michael Hickox stop-motion LEGO videos. They are great.

What my kids are into | Modern Mrs Darcy

The boys are still Star Wars obsessed. A reader (bless you, Samantha!) sent us a great package of Jedi Academy books, a comic, postcards, and those terrific bookmarks (may the books be with you; read: it is your destiny) to fuel the fire. (My girls claim to be uninterested, but I did catch Sarah reading Jedi Academy this week.)

That’s it for us. I’d love to hear what the young people in your life are into these days.

A bookish giveaway: Dear Mr. Knightley and Lizzy & Jane


Pay attention, readers: I’ve got a very special giveaway for you today.

Harper Collins Christian Publishing is giving away three sets of Katherine Reay’s novels: three lucky readers will win a copy of Reay’s first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, (published in late 2013) AND an advanced review copy of her forthcoming Lizzy & Jane, which doesn’t hit stores till October 28.

Reay’s books aren’t fanfiction, but she manages to weave a little Jane Austen into her heartfelt, contemporary novels. They’re easy reading, but have a lot of emotional heft. (Think Brené Brown, but fiction.)

Dear Mr. Knightley is actually patterned after Jean Webster’s 1912 classic Daddy-Long-Legs, and Reay’s contemporary version features a heroine who borrows a voice from her favorite literature when she can’t find her own.

Lizzy & Jane tells the complicated story of two sisters named after the eldest Bennet daughters, but their lives aren’t exactly Austen-ish: Jane is social media manager in Seattle; Lizzy is a top chef in New York.

(Have I ever told you that my parents almost named me Elizabeth?)

You can read my full review (of sorts) of Dear Mr. Knightley here, and Lizzy & Jane makes a twitterature appearance here. You can also read the first chapter of Dear Mr. Knightley on the publisher’s website, for free.

To enter, just leave a comment. Giveaway ends Sunday, August 24 at midnight Eastern time.

The fine print: Entrants must be 18 or older, U.S. only. (I’m sorry! I’d gladly pay to ship outside the border if you won, but it’s a legal thing.) Three winners will be chosen via random.org, and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. Employees and contractors of Harper Collins Christian Publishing are ineligible. (Sorry!) 

On history, real and imagined.

twitterature: short and sweet reviews of what I've been reading lately | Modern Mrs Darcy

This month’s twitterature post is sponsored by HarperCollins Christian Publishing.  

Welcome to twitterature, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately on the 15th of every month. I’ve been plugging away at my summer reading list, but I let a few books cut in line this month. (I just couldn’t wait to dive in!)


by Leif Enger

Peace Like a RiverThe description on this debut novel didn’t capture my fancy, but so many of you gushed about this book that I gave it a try anyway. (For that reason, I’m not saying a word about the plot!) I’m so glad I heeded your advice, and I totally understand how this book makes so many MMD readers’ Best Book I Ever Read list. For fans of Wendell Berry, Wallace Stegner, Barbara Kingsolver.


by Lydia Netzer

How to Tell Toledo from the Night SkyI stumbled across Netzer’s new novel at the bookstore, and—unlike Enger’s novel—the jacket description made me want to dive in immediately! Perhaps my high expectations doomed me to disappointment. While there were themes I appreciated (destiny, free will, soul mates), there was a lot that made me squirmy. (Opaque writing and so much sex.)


by Bruce Wydick

The Taste of Many MountainsThree grad students trace the path of a cup of coffee from the poverty-enmeshed Guatemalan village where the beans are grown to the San Francisco café where they’re ultimately consumed. The author, who frequently works with Compassion International and the World Bank, engages the fair-trade vs. free-trade debate, and I was surprised by his conclusions. Part economic treatise, part coming-of-age novel. An interesting read for econ junkies and coffee fanatics, aimed at the late teen crowd.


by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of RivalsI’ve been meaning to read this book for years, and now that I’ve finished (all 800+ pages!) I’m eager to dive into the author’s histories about the Kennedys and the Roosevelts. The first 100 pages were slow-going, because I knew so little about Lincoln’s political rivals. Once I got oriented, it was smooth sailing. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about Lincoln and the Civil War.

Two confessions: I do wish it was shorter, and I cried like a baby at the end. “Now he belongs to the ages.”


by Stephen King

11/22/63If you don’t read horror either, don’t worry: this novel isn’t typical King (even though it may still give you the heebie-jeebies as you ponder what if). The 800 pages of this time-traveling spin on the JFK assassination fly by. Truly. I finished this and handed it straight off to my husband, telling him he had to read it. (That’s high praise.) Creative, imaginative, entertaining.

What have you been reading lately?

Talking back.

survey says

If you’re reading via email or a feed reader, you may need to click over to the blog for this one. (Thank you!)

Every year or so, we do this little reader survey to take the temperature of the blog. I did the first survey because I felt like I should … but then I had so much fun reading through your responses, I couldn’t wait to do it again.

I’m so glad it’s time for Annual Survey #3! 

The first few questions are easy-breezy, check-the-box demographic questions that will bore you, but only for about 6 seconds. I’m asking because anybody who wants to know anything about this blog wants to know who’s reading it, and you are the ones who can best answer that question.

After that, I ask you questions that I’m straight-up curious about, and questions that will help me make sure the site is easy for you to visit.

The whole thing should take you 5 minutes or less.

Additionally, this blog is getting a makeover this fall. It won’t look a lot different, but it will be a lot more user-friendly. If there’s a feature you want to see on this blog (better archives searching, easy-access book lists, more category delineations) now is the time to tell me. Your responses will shape this site, so tell me what would make it easy for you to use.

The survey will be open for one week. When we’re all done, I’ll share some of the interesting answers here.

Thanks so much for your input! I appreciate it–and you!–so much.

(If the embedded survey gives you any trouble, please answer it here.)