On our bookshelf – July 2018
I love to read, and one habit I am working on is that of keeping track of what I’ve read, along with a short summary for posterity’s sake. A blog seems like a great place to store this information, so here is what is on our bookshelf this month. (Links to the books on Amazon are affiliate links!)
School Education by Charlotte Mason
I am on track to read all of Charlotte Mason’s volumes before my eldest starts school. To stay on track, that means reading volumes 3 and 4 this summer, starting with School Education. The first four chapters particularly are phenomenal, covering docility, authority, the rights of children as persons, and masterly inactivity. Miss Mason’s discussion on how authority behaves has been particularly paradigm shifting for me (I’ve even put up a post about the second chapter recently). Who knew one had so much to learn from Queen Elizabeth I?
Leisure, the Basis of Culture by Joseph Pieper
One that is recommended by lots of Charlotte Mason moms. I read this last summer, and I know I did not take in enough of it. One chapter in to rereading it and Pieper has already shown me how limiting it is for man to see work as his chief end. I struggle with this personally – the idea is thick in our culture. There is a pervasive lie that says that we have to be productive (materially) in order to have worth and significance. It is hard to make choices to prioritize growing ourselves as persons when the world is screaming at you to make money and spend it.
Mr. Poppers Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater
One thing I love about the kids getting just a touch older is launching into chapter books. I pulled down my old copy of Mr. Popper’s Penguins and we are having a lot of fun reading it. What an idea to have a penguin arrive direct from the South Pole to live as a family pet (what child wouldn’t want an exotic animal appear on their doorstep?). The Atwaters’ descriptions of how Captain Cook walks, plays, and explores the house really brings this story to life. And I have to say – the boys really love my penguin sounds!
A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley
I took the MOOC Learning how to Learn on Coursera last spring, and since then I’ve been wanting to read the corresponding book. I think I liked the MOOC just a touch more than the book (they both cover nearly the same content), simply because Barbara Oakley made such good use of the medium. They are each an excellent and, importantly, practical resource for figuring out how your brain takes in and stores new information. If I had read this in high school, or at least before I went to university, it would have completely transformed my experience – and I’d probably remember a lot more math now!
Twelve Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke
One of those books that gives you a stab of conviction on every page. I’ve known for a while that I don’t have a particularly healthy relationship with my phone. Even without social media available on it, I very quickly go from checking the time, to checking my email, to reading an article, to ignoring all the work I have to do around the house and all the better ways I could be spending my time. It’s thoroughly researched, Christ-centered, and well-written. As a result, I’ve bought a watch so I can check the time and not get sucked in!
Robin Hood by Enid Blyton
I had a feeling that my four year old would enjoy Robin Hood. There were a few recommended, and the Howard Pyle option is meant to be wonderful, but it’s an Ambleside Online book and seems a touch too advanced for my young man. I saw a suggestion for Enid Blyton’s version. I’m on the fence about Enid Blyton. I think that some of her work is a bit twaddley. Her Robin Hood, however, is really well written, and is perfect for a pre-school age child. It has just enough of the old English style to give the right tone to the book, without making it unintelligible to little ones. On a related note, my boys are now stealing my hair ties in order to shoot arrows.
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
This book showed up in a list from The Atlantic called ‘Five Books to Make you Less Stupid about the Civil War‘. I took US History in high school, but I’m certainly not smart about the Civil War. In fact, I think there is a good chance that I was actually taught some false history around the Civil War. Particularly in light of the political climate in the US, I feel the need to rectify this part of my education. The book is a bit thick, and I haven’t quite been in the right mood to start it yet, but I’m looking forward to learning more about this part of my country’s history (and the review on The Atlantic says it’s ‘brisk in pace’ so…). I know the moment will come to pick it up.
The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth
We’ve started this as a family, but we somehow ended up on hiatus from it. I read this one as a child, and I loved the idea of a chicken laying and hatching a dinosaur egg. I don’t remember the ending anymore, so it will be a surprise for me, too!