My Year of Reading 2018 – The Year I Blogged a Little.
I didn’t blog much in 2018. The end of 2018 was during the first half of my daughter’s senior year so we were visiting schools and stressing over transcripts. I had fallen out of the habit of writing on a schedule and pushing myself to publish. So, once again, I didn’t write a My Year of Reading post for 2018 in 2018, or 2019 for that matter.
So, I’m “catching up” with this post. (My Year of Reading 2017 is Here.) Thanks to Goodreads Garner’s Year in Books, my Commonplace Book, and my 2018 Planner, I’m reminded of the great books that I read in 2018. Here are a few of the standouts:
Healing Your Church Hurt ~ by Stephen Mansfield ~ I hate to start with a potentially depressing topic, but this is actually a really helpful book. You can read my Goodreads review for more information on this one, but it’s definitely one of the more important books I read in 2018. I have several pages of notes from this book. This quote about forgiveness was a game changer for me because it shifts the work of forgiveness from denying anger and emotion, to giving it to Christ, over and over if necessary, until it’s healed.
“The more you rehearse the wrongs against you and the more you stay in that trap, the more the syringes of bitterness release their toxins into your soul…If forgiveness is nothing more than a rearranging of our feelings, we have no defense against this. But if forgiveness is a formal process of sending sins and wrongs away from us and placing them upon Jesus on the cross, we have a barrier between us and the darkness that tries to come back in.”
Two Part Invention ~ by Madeleine L’Engle ~ I found this book in Whistle Stop Books on the way to visiting our son at his summer job with Appalachian Service Project. (I’ve also written about this book in another post.) I read the first of the series, A Circle of Quiet, as a pre-read for my daughter’s Christian Literature curriculum. Over the next year I read all of the books in her Crosswicks Journal series. A friend was reading The Irrational Season at the same time. L’engle’s writing is engaging and poignant.
Let Me Be a Woman ~ by Elisabeth Elliot ~ I recently recommended this book to a friend for her daughter who is getting married. I told her that I wish that I had read this book earlier in my life. I probably would have rejected it in my twenties (Thanks JMU Women’s Studies). Now, after a career in marketing, two children with whom I was blessed in my 30’s, nine years of homeschool all during 35 years of marriage, I can see and value the godly wisdom in this book. (I wrote about this book in another post.)
Parents and Children ~ by Charlotte Mason ~ This is Volume 2 of the inspired 19th Century British Educator’s 6 volume series which sets out her philosophy on education. If you want to know more about Charlotte Mason, and her books, I suggest you start with Ambleside Online. AO is the online CM curriculum that we more or less followed from 7th grade through high school.
The Benedict Option ~ by Rod Dreher ~ I get it. Until recently, we lived in a liberal neighborhood, in a liberal city, where churches sacrifice gospel integrity to appear woke. It was quite difficult to find like-minded, trustworthy friends and prayerful companions. The author puts forth strategies to reinvigorate orthodoxy and to nurture fellowship and support within faith communities as a bulwark against the increasing hostility exhibited towards (genuine) Christianity by wider society.
Chronicles of Narnia ~ by C.S. Lewis ~ I didn’t read these books as a child. It wasn’t until my children were in school and the movies came out that I became aware of them. We bought a large book that included all of the stories for the kids, but I never read it. One of my recurring reading goals is to read those great children’s classics that I missed when I was young. Chronicles of Narnia was at the top of my list, so I took that great big book off the shelf and started reading it. 🙂 I found myself marvelling over and over at Lewis’s ability to draw out and illustrate Christian doctrine using characters from an imaginary world.
Mark of the Lion series ~ by Francine Rivers ~ When I first read this series in 2004, it was my first exposure to the Christian Fiction genre, and left me ruined for what is typically found in the fiction shelves at Christian book stores. I pulled off the shelf to re-read during 2018. The series begins with the fall of Jerusalem told through the eyes of Hadassah, a young Jewish-Christian girl who manages to survive the grueling forced march then crowded ship transport to Rome where she is sold to a prominent and very pagan Roman family. Her story becomes slowly intertwined with that of Atreides, a Germanic warrior prince, humiliated by his defeat in battle and captivity, who is sold to fight in the arena as a gladiator. Hadassah’s commitment to Christ is, truly, inspiring. Atreides’ despairing commitment to a useless idol is painful. In order, A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure as the Dawn
Deep Work ~ by Cal Newport ~ If your attention span seems shorter, it’s harder to concentrate on a demanding book, and expressing yourself concisely and succinctly takes longer, this book might help you. Newport’s reporting in this book rhymes with Charlotte Mason and her Habit of Attention and her concept of will. His four suggestions to help your brain with deep work include 1. Work Deeply (with no distraction, and deep focus on only one thing at a time.) 2. Embrace Boredom. 3. Quit Social Media. 4. Drain the Shallows. (This has to do with scheduling your day in blocks and being very intentional about every minute of your day.) This is another book that yielded pages of notes. Highly recommended. (Then read Digital Minimalism!)
Northanger Abbey ~ by Jane Austen ~ Jane Austen is one of the many gifts I received by homeschooling. Like the Chronicles of Narnia, somehow I made it much too far into adulthood before enjoying her astute and amusing character studies. Her books are both literature and free reads on the Ambleside Online list so my daughter and I just dived in. Now, she is a great favorite and I have read and re-read Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and my favorite, Persuasion. An illuminating Hillsdale course focusing on Northanger Abbey coincided with my receiving the beautiful Penguin Cloth Bound Box Set which includes all the novels. I enjoyed this novel, and who doesn’t know someone like Catherine Morland? Someone who is quite sweet, overly imaginative, and needs to learn that trust and friendship grow slowly.
Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France ~ By Caroline Moorehead ~ I can not remember why I read this book. I usually make a note about where I heard of a book, but didn’t this time. In any case, it was an extremely worthwhile, if demanding read; non-fiction, quite a few names to keep track of, and lots of geography. That said, it added a great deal to my limited knowledge of the resistance among the ordinary French people during the German occupation of WWII and specifically the largely Huguenot village of Le Chambon. This remote village coordinated and worked together to save Jewish people, and many Jewish children from the horrific appeasement of the Vichy government to their Nazi occupiers and oppressors. Not one person in the village broke the code of silence to protect the Jews. Can you imagine? Not one Karen. It gives me hope.
‘Tis the season for Book Lists and Book Challenges!
There are several great book challenges that I consider every year. One ~ The Unread Shelf. ~ focuses on the books you’ve bought, but haven’t read yet. Anyone? Blog author Whitney offers some tips on how to get started, and how to avoid buying more books until you’ve read the ones you have. Another book challenge, Back to the Classics, focuses on classic books that you’ve always wanted to read, but haven’t, for whatever reason. This challenge has three levels and a drawing for a prize. I like the idea of being more intentional in my reading choices, and participating in a challenge helps an impulsive reader like me make choices and focus. If you are participating in a book challenge I would love to hear about it! Please leave a comment!
Thanks for following along! If you’ve read one of these books, leave a comment and let me know what you thought about it!