My Year of Reading 2019
This is the year that my daughter graduated (in May), the year we packed up, repaired, painted, listed and sold our beloved Craftsman Bungalow (April through October) and the year which, in a moment of extraordinary optimism, I agreed to pick up and teach three abandoned classes at Young Musicians of Virginia (the music enrichment program in which our daughter thrived during her homeschool high school years). So, once again, I did not write a My Year of Reading post for 2019.
Like 2017 and 2018, I’m “catching up” with this post. (My Year of Reading 2017 is Here) (My Year of Reading 2018 is Here) Thanks to Goodreads, my Commonplace Book, and my 2019 Planner, I’m reminded of the great books that I read in 2019.
Here are a few of the standouts:
Elizabeth Goudge Books ~ Thanks to a fun Instagram Reading Group, and the recommendations of some friends in the Charlotte Mason homeschool community, I was introduced to this Christian British author and found her writing to be a tall, refreshing glass of water. The characters are well drawn, the settings beautiful, and the Spirit is present in a living, non-didactic way. Because I’m on a budget I look for good used copies, and found The Cathedral Trilogy which included the IG group read The Dean’s Watch, as well as City of Bells, and Towers in the Mist. I also read The Herb of Grace, and my favorite so far, The Scent of Water, which was deeply restorative to my soul.
The Gospel Comes with a House Key ~ by Rosaria Butterfield ~ In one of Rosaria’s previous books The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert she expresses her genuine love for hospitality. She discusses how meals and conversation and warm acceptance serve as a vital part of building and supporting relationships within the gay and lesbian community. She compares the success of LGBT community building to that of Christ’s church and suggests that improvement in the hospitality practices among Christians should be a bigger priority of evangelism and discipleship.
This idea strikes me as truthful, and yet convicting. Our family stoicly endured our “home group” hospitality responsibilities. The ACNA church plant we attended for four years had two rather large groups. Our group consisted of seven couples, a few unattached males and occasional guests. There were 6 (tired and cranky) kids under the age of 7. Our daughter was the only teen, and ipso facto the baby sitter. Whoever hosted not only had to prep the house for company, but also provide dinner for this rather large group, and the rotation was every five weeks. The evening was long on socializing and short on the Gospel. I was homeschooling a busy high school student, our oldest was in college, and I found these “home group” dinners absolutely exhausting, utterly uninspired, and for our budget at the time, an expensive burden. We had very little in common with the other members and often felt we had stumbled into someone’s dinner party (even when it was at our house :D). And yet, at the time, I felt guilty at my lack of joy.
I read The Gospel Comes with a House Key, hoping for some practical and spiritual guidance. Rosaria’s view of hospitality could not be more different from the way the erstwhile “Home Group” operated. But as I consider how to employ her type of hospitality it occurs to me that a pastor’s wife is the head of the inner circle of the church with resources (help with the cooking and cleaning) and an automatic participant list. Still, I recommend this book as nourishing food for thought. 🙂
Anatomy of the Soul ~ This book was suggested by an IG group that I found called #thepresenceproject that encouraged building spiritual practices that deepen our awareness of the Presence of God in our lives. The book explains how our brains process memory and emotion, and builds neural connections and how this process affects our relationships with ourselves and others. Written with a solid Christian worldview.
The Spiritual World of The Hobbit ~ One of the abandoned classes that I adopted at YMV was called Fundamentals of Writing. I added a book list to the class and found Bell’s book to be very helpful in fleshing out the Christian literary elements of The Hobbit which greatly enriched our class experience.
“Addiction originally meant a different kind of strong connection: in ancient Rome, being addicted meant you had just been sentenced to slavery.” Adam Alter
Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked ~ by Adam Alter ~ One of Cal Newport’s books quoted this book, so I checked it out from the library, devoured it, (it’s quite digestible) and proceeded to recommend it to the parents of my students. Our phones are changing us; we are behaviorally addicted to our phones, and we should be aware of how this happened, and why, and how much it is affecting our lives, our families and communities, and what to do about it. Social media is carefully designed to keep the user engaged. “…the problem isn’t that people lack willpower; it’s that there are a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job it is to break down the self-regulation you have.”
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World ~ Cal Newport ~ I am a big fan of Newport’s book Deep Work in which he discusses the power of concentration, and controlling attention for increased productivity. In Digital Minimalism he pulls on a wealth of research to show how digital tech has resulted in behavioral addictions, and what these addictions are costing us in time, relationships and privacy, and then coaches us in strategies to take back control of our lives. I’ve joined the attention resistance and have found it amazingly freeing! 🙂
This is fun: Are you practically an English scholar?
Thanks for following along! If you’ve read one of these books, leave a comment and let me know what you thought about it!
I am a big fan of American Impressionism! The image at the top of this post is entitled Isle of Shoals, painted by Frederick Childe Hassam. He visited Isle of Shoals, which is located off the coast of Maine, often and has several paintings featuring the gorgeous setting.