My year of reading

IMAG5844 My desk is piled with books, poetry my latest deep interest.  We have several sets of bookshelves, and not just for the copious reading from The Daughter’s Literature based curriculum, but also for our growing collection of history, literature, apologetics and  nature writing.

The fact is, when I began homeschooling 4 years ago, I discovered how very poorly read I was (am).  I had read little of literary value or significance since high school, and my (public) high school education offered only the merest sampling of classics.  College reading was content based, and hardly literature, with the notable exception of British lit  (a great class taught by a dry-witted RAF veteran).

When I graduated I’m sad to say that I became a statistic – I required nothing more thoughtful of myself than pot-boiler serial mysteries, Ludlum, and the occasional career read.  Career reading tends to be very “now” oriented, churned out and disposable.  Who goes back to read a management or advertising or design book from ten years ago?

Being off my feet the last few months of my last pregnancy, and then staying home with my youngest I began reading a great deal; largely books with attractive covers from the local bookstore, pot-boiler best-seller stuff.  Yes.  It pains me to admit this.

At some point, about the time The Daughter was learning to read,  and by strange coincidence about the time my daily  Bible reading got more serious,  I couldn’t help but acknowledge that the books I was reading did not meet the Whatever Requirements; and I was spending too much time in the world of story.   For two years,  I fasted from all fiction; reading only the Bible, picture books with The Daughter, and non-fiction chosen to help me examine my life as a Christian.   Maybe those titles will be a future post.

I regret the years of “twaddle.”  Yet to set a goal of catching up (at a feverish pace, given my years on this good earth) is useless.  For one thing I would be revisiting the sin of mis-appropriated time.  So, I simply surround myself with good books, keep a few going in different genre, and try to stay on top of The Daughter’s Ambleside Online list.  This is the first year that I kept a list of sorts, but I think I will continue.  It’s encouraging.


My 2013 Reading:

Victory of Reason, Rodney  Stark
Saving Leonardo, Nancy Pearcey
Quo Vadis, Henryk Sienkiewicz
Reading Between the Lines, Gene Edward Veith
The Hidden Art of Homemaking
,  Edith Schaefer
Ivanhoe, Robert Scott (AO)
The Tempest, William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night, Williams Shakespeare (AO)
KonTiki, Thor Heyerdahl (AO)
How Christianity Changed The World, Alvin Schmidt

Oak: The Framework of Civilization, William Bryant Logan – Oak has traveled with us through every stage of human history.  Our last names, our language, our inventiveness and many aspects of our cultural heritage are linked to God’s providence of this startlingly diverse tree.  I highly recommend this fascinating, beautifully written book.
God’s Battalions,  Rodney Stark –  Illuminating to say the least.
A Naturalist’s Guide to the Virginia Coast, Curtis Badger – I got tired of the poor online reading quality of the 1905  Nature Reads on the AO list,  many of which seem to primarily cover New England.  So, I went looking for a book by someone passionate about where we actually live.  Found it!
Pride and Prejudice ,  Jane Austen – Well, I had to catch up with The Daughter, who purchased an Austen collection with Papa Gene’s B&N Gift Card and proceeded to read through the entire collection.
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
Persuasion,  Jane Austen – This is my personal favorite.
The Virginian, Owen Wister

Wordsmithy, Douglas Wilson – quick read, good points, summarized, borrow from the Library.
God Rest Ye Merry, Douglas Wilson
The Song of Roland, Translated by Dorothy Sayers (AO)
Beowulf, Translated by Seamus Heaney (AO)
Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight, Translated by Simon Armitage (AO)
For the Children’s Sake, Susan Schaeffer Macauley
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us, Christine Pohl
The Living Page:  Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason, Laurie Bestvater

The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien  – This was my third time through the series.  The first time I read the series, I was somewhere in my teens and skipped the “hard” parts.  The second time I read the series was just prior to the movie release and I rushed through from plot point to plot point in shameful fashion.  This third time was the best (so far!).  I read slowly.  Almost in time to the actual journey, just under a year for all four books.  I read mostly in the evenings before I went to bed, and listened to the songs and poems on by the Tolkein Ensemble on Spotify.  What a difference it makes to read and savor!


I am carrying forward a few books as well:
Desiring God, John Piper – I have camped on this book for a while.  It has been transformative for me, having come from a very works based denomination, and I’m unwilling to let go of it until I’m sure it’s sunk in.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard – I have hiked through the first few chapters now several times.  Because the region she is writing about is so deeply familiar to me it is quite simply like being there.

10 thoughts on “My year of reading

  1. Oh, goody! A new list of books to tackle! I commend you for keeping a list. I need to do that. I am a sucker for crime thrillers but I do try to balance them with other offerings. (Recently finished a non-fiction book about lives of serfs in middle-age Europe–many political parallels and lessons there!)
    Of your list here, I have read some of them. (Like you, I’m a many-times-over Hobbit & LOTR reader). I remember Beowulf from HS and it was a painful experience at the time. I don’t know if I would want to tackle it again!

    1. Balance is everything! Would love the title of your serf book!

      I did not read Beowulf in high school – but Seamus Heaney’s smooth Irish brogue made it very listenable! We used his translation, and followed the book while he read. We found ourselves speaking in short alliterative phrases for a while!

  2. I haven’t kept a list like my organized, dedicated, beautiful wife, but I also read the two Rodney Stark books: The Victory of Reason and God’s Battalions. Great history books, clearing up much misinformation on Medieval Europe and The Crusades, respectively. Other books I can recall: The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes, Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, How Literature Works by John Sutherland, Mistborn and The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis, and The Pirates in an Adventure with The Romantics! (As well as rereading several Calvin and Hobbes and Far Side collections!) I’m carrying over Coolidge by Amity Shlaes and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and I’m really looking forward to tackling The Last Lion by William Manchester, the first in a series of biographies of Winston Churchill, and a thoughtful Christmas gift from my wife!

    Mr. Garner

  3. Oh! That’s a brilliant list! 🙂 And I’m very happy to see Jane Austen there. I did an Austen Marathon a while back, and it was worth it. 🙂 Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are her most amusing reads, I dare say. Good luck with your year in reading!

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