First of all, please forgive me for not getting this up until now. I see that last year I promised to post this list on Dec. 1st so that some might purchase them for Christmas gifts. I have it noted on my calendar for next year!
I read a book about 15 years ago titled Nothing Remains the Same – Rereading and Remembering by Wendy Lesser. It was about books that she had read as a young woman and then her experience with them 20 or so years later. While I didn’t read it this year, I plan to enjoy it once again (!) as I have been revisiting a few favorites and noticing how I have changed as I interact with the titles as a more mature person. Have you experienced this? This year I read aloud Peace Like a River by Leif Enger to my teens. This was my second time through it. I liked it the first time but I loved it this time. I can’t wait to read Virgil Wander this year. I also reread City of Bells. How can Elizabeth Goudge get better with each reading? Perhaps I am paying more attention.
So here is my list with the top five recommendations listed first! Please link to your list if you have one and let me know if you have any thoughts about these. This is a record of the books I read mainly at night when I retire for the day. It does not include the books I read for our school nor does it include the dozens of books I read only portions of. The Bible, devotionals, Charlotte Mason’s 6 volume series, and research stuff – none of that is included here. An “*” means I highly recommend the title.
1. Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell – In Ourselves, Part II, Charlotte Mason devotes 8 pages (!!!) to this story as it relates to what she calls “The Final Unchastity”. Does she devote that much time over consecutive pages for any other title? Having enjoyed Gaskell’s North and South, I knew I would like the writing style. So, go read Ourselves, Part II, Chapter VI The Rulings of Conscience In the House of the Body: Chastity (Part 3.) That should whet your appetite for this novel. Mr. Benson was the most intriguing character to me and my commonplace book was greatly enlarged. The book reflects Victorian sentiments about sin and the “fallen woman”. If I had a book discussion with teens going on right now, we would definitely read this book. The Penguin Classics edition has very helpful notes.
2. On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior – I enjoy all of Karen’s books – both Fierce Convictions and Booked have been on my lists! Here’s why I like On Reading Well so much. The following quote is about Charlotte Mason and part of her process in choosing examples for her books.
Ourselves was largely written abroad, dictated to Miss Kitching.
‘We must find an instance of that,’ Miss Mason would say, and
an example of behaviour would come either from her or from
Miss Kitching, both delving into the realms of literature and
p. 88 The Story of Charlotte Mason by Essex Cholmondeley
And without going into too much detail (in my talks on Ourselves we really explore this concept), these examples from literature were one part of Mason’s ideas on moral education/character development. I feel that much of what Karen so skillfully does in this book is to delve into the realms of literature and history to inspire us about character. Each chapter was a delicious journey and will make you want to read (or reread) all the books mentioned.
3. Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson – Hannah lovingly shares the theology of humility through beautiful gardening metaphors. I love her personal stories about her life at a small church in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I also love reading about humility.
4. Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais by Suzanne Fagence Cooper – I dabble in reading about the Pre-Raphaelites. I enjoy their art. While in the Lake District this past year and visiting the Ruskin Museum, I picked up this title. It is a bizarre true tale and well-told in this book. (The movie only skims the surface.)
5. Prairie Fires – The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser – all LIW geeks should read this one. Full of the historical background and cultural influences that surrounded LIW’s life. The author brings her own bias, however. Nary a mention of LIW’s faith and its influence but when you reach the end, you read about her Bible that was covered in notes and thoughts. Knowing all she lived through, in particular her rocky relationship with her daughter, one wishes we could dig into Laura’s thoughts about God and the universe.
6. The Jumping Off Place by Marian Hurd McNeely*
7. spill simmer falter wither by Sara Baume
8. The Great Good Thing by Andrew Klavan*
9. American Phoenix – John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence by Jane Hampton Cook
10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows*
11. Home by Marilynne Robinson
12. Lizzie Siddal – The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel by Lucinda Hawksley
13. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
14. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
15. The Philosophy of Art in the 21st Century by James Stroud
16. Made for More by Hannah Anderson*
17. The Dragon’s Trail – The Biography of Raphael’s Masterpiece by Joanna Pitman*
18. 24/6 – a prescription for a healthier, happier life by Matthew Sleeth, MD*
19. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
20. City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge*
Past lists of reading goodness:
How about you? Have read any of these? Do you have your own list? Share it here or link to your post!
Teaching from peace,