Another year has finished and so it is time to post my annual reading list, which I have done for several years after being inspired by Nancy Kelly at Sage Parnassus.
But before I do that, I want to say that I haven't blogged much this year for (what should be) obvious reasons, and honestly my reading was spotty as well, but after spending the majority of this year absolutely consumed by my husband's cancer, we got the great news on December 27th that his PET scan is clear and that there's no detectable cancer in his body! Hallelujah. Amen. Although we're not nearly out of the woods yet--he has to return every 2 months to Chapel Hill, get regular chest CT scans, etc. until he's in full remission, particularly since his cancer was an aggressive, recurring one--this is a huge first hurdle. In fact, today is his first day back at work in 6 months. Thank you for praying for him--I know several people have mentioned that they have. What a year it has been.
As for books, I read my Bible and my favorite devotional (Streams in the Desert) more than ever this year, and spent a lot of time journaling during our months living in North Carolina. I also read Susan's website a lot--something about her writing is quite comforting to me, as I think we're kindred spirits, and I copied down entire passages in my journals some nights. I'd stay up late, sitting on the floor near the bed where my daughter slept, alternating praying and thinking and reading and writing. It's just one of those things that pulled me through the hard, hard times.
The books that are italicized in the list below are books I haven't yet finished, but plan to finish this year. The books with an asterisk are the ones I recommend. I also have read parts of many, many more books than this--as usual.
I also kept my reading very, very light this year, as you can see: no heavy lifting here! I attribute this to our unusual, difficult season of life, when I needed to be able to dip in and out of books very easily. But I really liked some of the books I read!
Same Kind of Different as Me (Ron Hall and Denver Moore)
Okay, I loved this one. I read it very early in the year and just devoured the unusual friendship that developed between the author, his wife, and Denver. Some of the stories of Denver's early life were so wrenching that they made me feel physical pain. I loved Debbie's spirit and her vision for serving others and serving God. The entire story was touching, unlikely, and engaging. I will definitely re-read this book!
Free to Learn (Peter Gray)
I was intrigued by this book, which examines how children naturally learn and encourages parents to let children learn at their own pace and by their own direction. Peter Gray and I do not share the same opinions or worldview, and I have to confess that I could never send one of my children to the school he loves (Sudbury Valley), but his argument is compelling. I agree with his assertion that adults in our culture tend to not trust children to learn on their own, and so we set up elaborate systems of "education" while ignoring their basic needs to play and explore the world. And I'm not just talking about preschoolers! Older children need this freedom, too. There were several sections where I stopped reading and immediately read a passage to my husband, marveling at how true and ironic it was (such as the anecdote of the teacher who, seeing a group of students in science experimenting with the materials she gave them for completing a project, told them that it was time for science right now and they could play later...clearly missing the point that scientific discovery is, at its root, about play and experimentation.....sigh).
The Louise Parker Method: Lean for Life (Louise Parker)
A book on diet and exercise makes my top recommendations? Well, yes. This book deserves its own post later this year--I'll likely do that. But for now I will say that it was life-changing. Fitness and nutrition are little pet hobbies of mine that I've had for years, but this book put it all together for me and sort of handed me the golden key, and I've lost nearly 30 pounds this year as a result. (And within just a few weeks of starting the exercises, my chronic, life-long back pain due to severe scoliosis was gone...even before I lost weight!). Louise is wonderfully witty and full of common sense. Ironically most people think I lost all this weight due to stress because of my husband's illness. NOT SO. I lost weight because I read this book in February and took it to heart, and worked hard to change my habits. And I was able to maintain my habits through the hardest year of my life, so I know it is effective and sustainable.
The Joyful Homeschooler (Mary Hood)
I can't remember how I learned about this book, but I highly recommend it to any homeschooling mother. It's an older book, but contains lots of wisdom on keeping schooling simple and relaxed, yet pleasant, effective, and joyful. She discusses schooling little kids on up through high schoolers, and reading the book during a hard time (when my "homeschooling" was extraordinarily streamlined out of sheer necessity) helped me feel calm and relaxed throughout the fall this year.
Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas (Bill McKibben)
Well, our Christmas was *not* a hundred-dollar holiday, but I enjoyed reading this short book during Advent, and thinking about how I can change things in the future. For the past few years I've found myself feeling stressed over Christmas, even though I get most of my shopping and decorating done before Advent even begins, and even though I try to be really organized. I haven't figured out why it is so stressful for me and what I can do about it, but reading this book was part of pursuing the mystery. I definitely believe that less stuff and more time together is a worthy goal, and I plan to re-read this book earlier in the year in 2019 to think more deeply about how I can make our Christmas more joyful and less stressful. (Anyone with tips on that--please share them!)
The full list is as follows:
1. Pride and Prejudice--Jane Austen
2. Addicted to Mediocrity--Franky Schaeffer
3. Getting Involved with God--Ellen Davis
4. Same Kind of Different as Me--Ron Hall and Denver Moore*
5. According to the Pattern--Grace Livingston Hill
6. The Blue Zones--Dan Buettner*(really recommend this! a fun and interesting look at the cultures where people live the longest, and great analysis of what common traits these longevity-studded cultures share)
7. Home Wisdom-Jon Vara
8. What Falls from the Sky-Esther Emery
9. Homeschooling for Excellence--David & Micki Colfax (a quick re-read one night)
10. A Return to Modesty-Wendy Shallit (a book I read as a college student and am re-reading now)
11. Out of a Far Country--Christopher and Angela Yuan*
12. Lean for Life--Louise Parker*
13. Managers of their Schools--Teri Maxwell
14. The Irrational Season--Madeleine L'Engle
15. Ourselves--Charlotte Mason
16. Free to Learn—Peter Gray*
17. The War of Art--Steven Pressfield (re-read)
18. The Joyful Homeschooler--Mary Hood*
19. The Relaxed Home School--Mary Hood*
20. Educating Children at Home--Alan Thomas* (another interesting book about how children learn naturally!)
21. Clean and Lean Diet--James Duigan (not recommended, because he calls certain foods "bad" and advocates "cheat meals"--setting up an unhealthy relationship with food, in my opinion!)
22. The Abs Diet- David Zinczenko
23. What is Unschooling?--Pam Laricchia
24. Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas--Bill McKibben*
25. Christmas at Fairacre--Miss Read (I began reading this during Advent and got so distracted and busy that I failed to finish it. I think this says something about what needs to change in my life! I will finish it this year.)
My past lists are here:
And see what Nancy has on her list this year here!
Happy New Year, and happy reading! I've already started my list for 2019.....