Saturday, May 31, 2014

What We're Reading: End of May Edition

I am even more enamored with my reading plan now than I was at the beginning of the month.  I'm in week twelve and I love how reading in this fashion slows me down, helps me to make more connections between the books I read, helps me to remember what I read better, and helps me to think more deeply about my reading.  I highly recommend it to anyone who reads for reasons other than passing the time or momentary amusement.

My Current Reads

Bible:  1 Thessalonians - I'm on the 18th time through and still enjoying how the Bible seeps into me through this focused re-reading.

Fiction:  Waverly - I'm at a strange part of this book where the story of Waverly has broken off, and there is a series of short partial stories about unconnected characters at different points in time.  I'm quite perplexed, and I don't see these chapters in the Gutenberg version of the book.  It started just after Chapter VI in the second part in the Amazon version of the book.  I skipped way ahead and found that the book does return to the Waverly narrative, but I can't figure out why these fragments are included in the book I'm reading!

Poetry:  First Fig and Other Fruits - I have a great affection for Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry.  I'm not entirely sure I can describe why.  I should probably be moving on to reading some of the poetry we'll read next school year, but I think I'll let myself finish this volume first.

Spiritual Reading:  Learning the Virtues by Fr. Romano Guardini - I'm almost done with this one, and while I think it has bore fruit, I wouldn't particularly recommend it.  I certainly wouldn't consider it and essential read for the spiritual life.  I did enjoy how his chapter on recollection felt like it belonged in Laurie Bestvater's The Living Page.  I love connections like that!

General Non-fiction:  I finished The Willpower Instinct and I've moved to Teaching from Rest.  The Willpower Instinct was worth reading and it is a book that I wish I could recommend to other people.  I haven't, namely for two reasons.  I really don't like how she frames much of her research and how she develops her narrative through the book.  However, the research is fascinating and her willpower challenges are helpful and useful.  My other problem is:  how do you recommend a book about willpower to someone without sounding a little mean?  I can't just go up to someone and say, "oh, I've noticed you seem a little deficient in willpower, and some of these studies and examples reminded me of you, so I really think you would benefit from this book."

Sarah MacKenzie's Teaching from Rest is fantastic, as is the first of the four audio talks.  I'm looking forward to listening to them all and finishing the book, but I'm also trying not to gorge.  One of the things I also appreciate about it is that it is a book that any Christian homeschooler can read and learn and grow from, no matter what her homeschool looks like.  It isn't just for classical homeschoolers or Charlotte Mason homeschoolers or homeschoolers of any other stripe.  If you believe in God and you homeschool, this book is for you and I think you will benefit from it.

Self-education:  Abolition of Man

Chesterton:  I finished Trees of Pride (I particularly liked the twist at the end) and now I'm reading Manalive.

History:  The Shadow of His Wings - I abandoned Killing Jesus; the writing was just too horrible to continue.  I switched over to The Shadow of His Wings, a book Jen Fulwiler recommended on her blog awhile back.  It is absolutely fascinating, and full of amazing anecdotes.  It is the story of a German seminarian who is drafted into the German army in WWII, and how he remains firm in his faith and leads others to faith despite being in the SS and surrounded by Nazis.

Charlotte Mason:  Volume 3, School Education - I'm enjoying all the connections between the first part of this book and Abolition of Man.  Mason and Lewis are seeing many of the same problems, and for the same reasons.  As I read both of these I feel like I'm sitting in on a discussion about authority  between two great minds.

Other Reading:  I also read Jennifer Fulwiler's Something Other Than God.  I really enjoyed this book.  As an atheist convert myself, it was a great reminder of both how I got to be a faithful Catholic, and how glad I am to be here.  It was also very well written, and not your typical blog to book deal sort of book at all.  I'm glad I snuck a little time in on Saturday nights when I had finished my other reading to go ahead and read it.

Emma's (Age 12) Current Reads
Emma is currently reading A Tale of Two Cities and loving it.  It makes my heart glad to see her pick up Dickens on her own and enjoy it.  She's also been working through the Letzenstein Series from Bethlehem Books.  A few of her re-reads include Laddie:  A True Blue Story and The Brothers Lionheart ("Mom, I just love this book!")  In her school reading she recently finished The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and is now reading Animal Farm (along with a number of other books, of course)

Gregory's (Age 8) Current Reads
Gregory recently finished The Telmaj, a sci-fi book written by a homeschooling mother. She's a good writer and a good storyteller and Emma and I have read and enjoyed it too.  He's currently reading the second book, A Smijj of Adventure.  Emma has read that one too, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

Nathan (Age 5) and Justin (Age 2)
Justin is still enamored with Snowmen at Work and Snowmen at Night.  I read one or both of these books almost daily.  Another favorite is Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?  The other day he came up to me clutching it and said, "Mommy, me love this book!"  Nathan's really enjoying a couple of our family read-alouds, The Winged Watchman and Enemy Brothers.  I'm reading him picture books too, but not as many as Justin.  Nathan has a tendency to ask me to read to him when everyone else is engaged in something and no one wants to play with him, and I'm either in the midsts of something I can't abruptly drop, or about to start making dinner.  Nathan has become my dinner making buddy as of late though, and is getting quite helpful in the kitchen.

I could, and probably should, make these posts shorter...  but not only do I love to read, I love to think and reflect on what we're reading too.  And I know I'll enjoy looking back on this post a lot more if I'm long winded.


  1. Oh I don't think you should make it shorter at all. :) I really enjoy hearing your thoughts on these books!

    Had to laugh at your willpower comment--definitely a difficult one to suggest to its target audience. ;) And I loved seeing your reading categories in action! I definitely need to incorporate this into my own reading life once things settle down a bit. I usually always have a few things going (something CM, something religious, and then another book, occasionally both a fiction and non-fiction book), but your more methodical studying here really appeals to me.

    1. Thanks, Celeste! I'm looking forward to writing up the June edition later this week. I have kids in swim lessons right now and it is amazing how this one additional thing is killing my ability to get up early. I'm not even in the pool and it is wiping me out!