Yes, I'm reading something else along with The Lord of the Rings. I generally have one book going upstairs and one on the main floor. The Book Chewers are discussing Anne of Green Gables this month, and they inspired me to reread this beloved book for the first time in many years.
When I was probably seven or eight, one of my mom's friends introduced us to the Anne books. She couldn't believe Mom had never read them, and neither can I! I guess they had never crossed her path before then. She began reading them, then read them aloud to me and my dad and my younger brother. It wasn't long before we discovered the wonderful 1985 movie version. And for the next few birthdays and Christmases, I got Anne book after Anne book as presents, until I had all eight. I still have them, and my battered and well-loved copy is what I reread just now. It features a picture from the 1985 movie of Anne (Megan Follows) waiting at the Bright River train station for Matthew Cuthbert to pick her up and bring her home, right at the beginning of the story.
In case you aren't familiar with this story (and if you're not, how much you miss!), allow me to elaborate a bit. Matthew Cuthbert and his sister Marilla are both unmarried and getting older, probably in their sixties (I can't remember if it specifies). They decide to adopt an orphan boy to help around their farm, Green Gables, near the small town of Avonlea on Canada's Prince Edward Island. Only, thanks to a message mix-up, they get a little girl. An eleven-year-old redhead named Anne (with an 'e') Shirley who chatters incessantly and has one of the most powerful imaginations of any child in fiction. By the time timid, girl-shy Matthew has driven her home, he wants her to stay. It takes quite a while before stern Marilla understands why.
If you like books with a central plot that drives relentlessly toward a goal (and I love books like that), this may not be the book for you. It's mostly made up of escapade after escapade where Anne does something heedless, thoughtless, or overly imaginative and learns a lesson. She grows from eleven to sixteen over the course of the book, making many friends and a couple enemies along the way. It's the epitome of slice-of-life style. And I love it dearly, having been fast friends with the characters for twenty-five years now.
Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof (p. 1).
Particularly Good Bits:
Here sat Marilla Cuthbert, when she sat at all, always slightly distrustful of sunshine, which seemed to her too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which was meant to be taken seriously; and here she sat now, knitting, and the table behind her was laid for supper (p. 4).
Mrs. Rachel felt that she had received a severe mental jolt. She thought in exclamation points (p. 5).
Here and there a wild plum leaned out from the bank like a white-clad girl tiptoeing to her own reflection (p. 19).
"Don't you just love poetry that gives you a crinkly feeling up and down your back?" (p. 41)
Mrs. Rachel was one of those delightful and popular people who pride themselves on speaking their mind without fear or favor (p. 64).
If this was a movie, I would rate it: G for glorious. Perfectly fine for all ages.