Do you love book lists? My friend Beki has been posting her reading lists each year and they inspire me like no other. Plus, I read two books about the value of reading to kids: The Read-Aloud Handbook and Honey for a Child’s Heart. As a result, I think I read more in 2018 than I have in years, and it feels so good.
Reading is a discipline. I find that if I have a spare five or ten minutes, I often fritter away the time doing who-knows-what on my phone. But I’ve been trying to be more intentional about “redeeming” those pockets of time to use for quality, edifying reading—especially before bed. So if you’re looking for a good book or just curious to know what books have been on my nightstand, this post is for you! I’ll split the lists into books I read for myself and then read-alouds with the kids. I share in the hope that you, too, will be spurred on to more good reading in 2019! And frankly, reviewing this list is fun for me because it’s a sort of roadmap of where my brain was in 2018.
A couple of notes before the lists . . .
An alternative title for this post could have been: “Elizabeth Goudge, where have you been all my life?” because GUYS. Her writing is just the best. It’s the perfect mixture of gorgeous language, great characters, and solid plot. Her books have true depth to them, and they are clean! So many points awarded there.
Also, as I am a lover of fiction and would consume only novels, I tried to include a healthy dose of nonfiction to keep things balanced and I am so glad I did.
Books for Me
· Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Solidly good, not at all what I expected. Some relational stuff and language that left me with a yucky taste/I had to skip. Makes me want to learn music!
· The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson. Lots of food for thought but I could have used a little more meat.
· Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. Reading about reading. What could be better???
· The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. I am excited for the day when the girls can read this. A developed fairy-tale-like story with the loveliest language.
· The Bird in the Tree (Eliot Family Trilogy Book 1) by Elizabeth Goudge. Loved this tremendously. An amazing sense of place. Themes of loyalty, duty, faithfulness, truth over feeling, and faith.
· The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. This book was hugely influential. Such a great theology of beauty and creativity—why they are important! And lots of practical ideas. My copy is totally marked up with notes and underlining.
· Pilgrim’s Inn (Eliot Family Trilogy Book 2) by Elizabeth Goudge. Almost unutterable beauty. Characters, story . . . loveliness. The houses have such a strong presence in her books. I want a home of refuge like Damerosehay and The Herb of Grace. Probably one of my top books ever. (Note: I’ve also seen this book called The Herb of Grace.)
· How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen. A total outlier in my book reading this year, but a very worthwhile one. Ben really wanted me to read this, and I did so begrudgingly so that I could get back to reading the books I wanted to read. I was wrong. This book was amazing. Challenging, totally relevant to where I am right now. Being a better wife, mom. Intentionally setting our family culture. Thinking about what I want my kids to learn and then reverse engineering situations where they can learn those things. I would recommend this book to almost anybody. A lot of business examples, but I found that if I really applied myself I could understand them. I was tempted to give up because some of it was over my head, but I forced myself to keep trying. I am so glad I did. I was slightly annoyed because I ended this book feeling like I have a to-do list: spending some time thinking about the type of woman I want to be. But is that really such a bad thing? :)
· L’Abri by Edith Schaeffer. I can’t even tell how much this book affected me. I teared up so many times during the telling of this tremendous story of God‘s faithfulness to this family and their work. I’m so glad I read Hidden Art first, because I could picture Edith beautifying the lovely chalets she talked about in this book. I left this book with a desire to be faithful where God has me. To open up my home and practice hospitality. And to rely on him more in prayer. And now I would like to read some of Francis Schaeffer’s books.
· The Heart of the Family (Eliot Family Trilogy Book 3) by Elizabeth Goudge. Not as enjoyable as the first two. The plot was more internal, and that made it more abstract. But a good ending to the trilogy, still.
· For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. Mostly about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. Good stuff—I borrowed this from the library but it is probably worth owning.
· The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield. This book was insanely challenging. You can’t put it down and be unchanged. My life is not to be lived for my comfort but for the blessing of others.
· Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge. Absolutely epic—close to 600 pages and totally worth it. What a wonderful, cathartic ending. Took me about two months to read. Again, Goudge does beautiful things with nature. A main theme is that love is sacrificial. Love gives up something for another. And this definitely ties into the gospel.
· Encouragement: How Words Change Lives by Gordon Cheng.
· Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. Whoowee. This book was fascinating because it corroborated so much of what we know to be true about nature because God made it! Nature is important. I am motivated to spend more time outside with the kids exploring, trying to encourage that sense of wonder. Admittedly, I skimmed some of the last chapters because my library loan was about to end... :)
· “Leaf by Niggle” by J. R. R. Tolkien. An interesting short story.
· Shaping of a Christian Family: How My Parents Nurtured My Faith by Elisabeth Elliot.
Read-Alouds or Audiobooks with the Kids
· Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. Audiobook. I am familiar with the story but I’m not sure I’ve actually read the entire book! This one made me cry. Friendship, life, death, spring, country living! I especially loved the author reading it and the voice he used for Templeton.
· Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. The girls and I had some good laughs. “Pluttification!”
· The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. An absolute classic. Gave me goosebumps.
· Clementine and the Family Meeting by Sara Pennypacker. Audiobook. This line stuck with me: fair doesn’t mean everyone gets the same, but everyone gets what they need.
· A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond. Sweet, funny, and totally benign.
· Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis. Audiobook. I liked it better than I remember liking it.
· More About Paddington by Michael Bond.
· Paddington Takes the Test by Michael Bond. Audiobook.
· The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.
· Pippi Goes on Board by Astrid Lindgren. For Halloween, my three kids dressed up as Pippi, Mr. Nilsson, and the horse on the porch. :)
· Betsy’s Play School by Carolyn Haywood.
· Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald. So much fun!
· James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. A classic from childhood, and certainly my girls’ first taste of dark humor. Yikes!
· Esio Trot by Roald Dahl.
· Betsy and the Boys by Carolyn Haywood. Sweet book!
· Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald.
· The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh.
· Primrose Day by Carolyn Haywood.
· Penny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood.
· Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic by Betty MacDonald.
· Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
· Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet by Opal Wheeler.
· Meet Kirsten, An American Girl by Janet Shaw.
Have you read any of Carolyn Haywood’s books? I discovered her on a book list and I find her stories to be delightful—admittedly a little slow, but very gentle and nostalgic stories about children and their relationships with each other. In addition to chapter books, we’ve found some favorite picture-book authors/illustrators, including Robert McCloskey, Patricia Polacco, Leo Politi, and Barbara Cooney.
OK guys! Have you read any of these books? Any authors you love? Any recommendations for me? Sound off!