Author: daisyeyes

2018 Reading in Review


I feel like I started out 2018 super strong with my reading life and goals. While my list of books to read was pretty dang long, I felt pretty confident I could get through most of the list. Then entered the Fall and I started teaching a class and my reading life just plummeted.  I ended up having to focus all my extra time on preparing for this class and trying my best to keep up with my own kid’s pre-reading that I couldn’t stay on top of my list – nor could I stay on top of posting where I was at with reading!

That said, I’m hopeful that 2019 will prove to be a little different. I’d love to start posting here again more regularly and I’m working on a list for next year that will be possibly a little more realistic. But…I’m not teaching anyone next year except for my own children so I’m super hopeful!

Here’s what I read this past year – along with those I abandoned (books with an * were for a book club)

Abandoned Books

  • Billy Budd (this was for my son’s CC class – what a doozy)
  • The Great Divorce* (weird, totally weird)
  • The Fledgling (a read aloud my daughter and I started – another weird one)
  • Across Five Aprils (we started this as a family and then life…)
  • Fanny Crosby (this was a pre-read for my daughter and we both abandoned it)
  • Orthodoxy – (My brain…just can’t. Although I’m hoping to keep trying)
  • The Mill on the Floss (I actually really liked this one. It’s a huge book and I had to return it to the library and never picked it up again)
  • Tending the Heart of Virtue – (another one I didn’t have time to finish before I had to return it to the library)

Finished Fiction

  • A Wind in the Door – L’Engle
  • The Princess & the Goblin* – MacDonald
  • Pride and Prejudice* – Austen
  • Alias Grace*  – Atwood
  • The Book of Three* – Alexander
  • Caddie Woodlawn – Brink
  • David Copperfield* – Dickens
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins – O’Dell
  • Before We Were Yours – Wingate
  • The Inimitable Jeeves* – Wodehouse
  • Gilead – Robinson
  • Father and I Were Ranchers: Little Britches – Moody
  • Station Eleven* – St. John Mandel
  • Glass Houses – Penny
  • The Penderwicks – Birdsall
  • Pachinko – Jin Lee
  • A Gentleman in Moscow – Towles
  • In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex* – Philbrick
  • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures – DiCamillo
  • Jayber Crow – Berry
  • Hannah Coulter – Berry
  • Tanglewood Tales – Hawthorne
  • This Must be the Place – O’Farrell
  • Where the Red Fern Grows – Rawls
  • The Phantom Tollbooth – Juster
  • Murder on the Orient Express – Christie

Finished Non-Fiction

  • Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life – Harrison-Warren
  • A Touch of the Infinite: Studies in Music Appreciation – Hoyt
  • Uncommon Type: Some Stories – Hanks
  • 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You* – Reinke
  • Know and Tell: The Art of Narration – Glass
  • Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything – Bogel
  • The Hiding Place – Ten Boom
  • On Writing: A Memoir of Craft – King
  • The Question: Teaching your Child the Essentials of Classical Education – Bortins
  • The Self-Driven Child – Stixrud
  • Educated* – Westover
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas* – Standiford
  • The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms… – Guthrie
  • Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark – Karwoski
  • Beauty in the Word – Caldecott

In Review

If I look at all the books I had on my original list, I pretty much read 80% of the fiction and read almost none of the Personal Growth. I abandoned a lot, which is a new thing for me to finally admit. I found this list to be a helpful one to turn to when I realized I was short a book to read and wasn’t sure where to go next.

The hardest book I tried to read was Orthodoxy. I really want to pick it up again this year and push through it. I read snippets from it all the time and they are so good! But this book just hurt my brain. I wanted so hard to understand it and just have it sink in so deep.

For fiction, the hardest books I read were a cross between Gilead and Jayber Crow. In both books, I just couldn’t enjoy the voice of the narrator. Gilead I couldn’t identify with at all; although listening to the Close Reads Podcast discussion helped a ton. Jayber Crow, I wanted to love, oh how I wanted to love it because everyone loves it, but honestly Hannah Coulter is my Port William favorite. I think maybe if I had read Jayber first I might have enjoyed it more; but Wendell’s voice as Hannah was much more relatable to me.

My favorite books of the year were:

  • David Copperfield – because Dickens has become my complete favorite classic author
  • Flora and Ulysses – hands down most enjoyable children’s book we read this year
  • Know and Tell – best book on narration and just teaching-wise I’ve read
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary – just super good for your heart and soul

Currently…

I’m still working on my final list for next year, but here’s what I’m reading as we close out 2018:

  • Half a Yellow Sun – Adichie
  • Man, The Dwelling Place of God – Tozer
  • The Tech-Wise Family – Crouch
  • The Children’s Homer – Colum
  • The Swiss Family Robinson – Wyss

Reading: July 2018

Currently

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by J. Birdsall
This is our latest read aloud, which in the summer has been time spent few and far between. I’m anxious to get back into our not summer family rhythm so we can get back to reading aloud more. This comes highly recommended by many friends and so far, so good.

Glass Houses by L. Penny
This is only my second Louise Penny mystery and I’m still struggling to get into it. I love a good mystery and I really love mystery series. People rave about Louise Penny so I’m hoping that the more I read the more I will love her too.

A bunch of astronomy books
I’m teaching an 8th grade homeschool class this year and we do a history of astronomy in the Fall semester so I’m cruising through a bunch of different astronomy books.

The Great Divorce by CS Lewis
This is for my August book club meeting and I’m trying to stay with it, but it’s just strange. I love CS Lewis and I love a good allegory, but this one has been a little bit hard to figure out. Probably because I’m reading so many other things!

Educated by T. Westover
I started listening to this on audio and had to return it and I’m like number 100 in line for the book at the library. I loved the interview on NPR I heard with her, I loved as much as I was able to listen to and I’m almost tempted to just buy the book so I can finally finish it!

Finished

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by S. King
Awesome book. I loved this book as much as people said I would. It’s a fabulous book for write wannabes like me and it was such an amazing insight into King’s process. He’s totally strange, but yet he seems like such an ordinary family guy. He loves his wife and his kids and while what he writes about is often bizarre, his process is totally normal. Highly recommend!

Gilead by M. Robinson
I really wanted to like this book. I know people who love it, but it was so draggy and so somber. It often put me to sleep at night and it was almost drudgery to get through. There were parts I should have totally written down in my commomplace because they were so good, but overall I don’t know. I have one more episode to listen to of Close Reads as they talk about this and listening to the podcast has helped me process the book. Otherwise I would totally not like it.

The Fledgling by J. Langton
Actually we didn’t finish this book, but abandoned it. There’s only a handful of books that we’ve started to read aloud together and then quit and this one added to the list. It’s a super strange book and we really couldn’t figure out the whole point. A girl and a goose who flies. I don’t know. It was weird.

 

What’s Next

Goodness – who knows. I need to keep some good “easy” reads for my afternoon tea time, but I’ve also go so many things I need to read for my class. Not to mention that we’ve started homeschool so I’ve got tons of pre-reading I need to stay on top of too. I’m not going to make the next couple of book club meetings, so I’m not sure that I’ll stay on top of those readings. Who knows!

Reading: June/July 2018

I totally missed writing about my June books, but it’s no big deal because I really didn’t get much read. I feel like my life has been lived in 45 minute increments in between being the taxi for my kids this summer and just life in general. I’m really hoping July becomes a month of rest so I can catch up on some reading goals and do very little prep for the upcoming school year. I need a vacation!

Finished

Little Britches: Father and I were Ranchers by R. Moody
This was a pre-read for my upcoming Challenge B class and I really loved it. It was a sweet book and a great story; although the ending was a bit sad. Not without hope, but sad nonetheless. I’m interested in reading more of the series at some point.

The Inimitable Jeeves by PG Wodehouse
I’ve seen Wodehouse and Jeeves mentioned all over different groups I’m in so I took the plunge and read one. It was good and funny and I’ll file Wodehouse away as a great “recoup” read (as in after reading a heavy book). As a totally Anglophile, I’ll take any book with it’s dry English humor and enjoy it.

Fanny Crosby
This was a biography that we started for school and actually both of us abandoned it. Mallory got further along than me, but overall it was kind of ehh.

Hannah Coulter by Berry
This was a re-read for me as the Close Reads podcast from Circe was going through it. I really enjoyed it more the second time than the first.

Currently Reading

Gilead by M. Robinson
This one was mentioned on the podcast a bunch while I was reading Hannah Coulter and I kept hearing about it from a bunch of other places so I had filed it away as a to-read. I walked into the library one day and low and behold it was sitting on the top shelf with all the new books just waiting for me. I’m listening to the Close Reads podcast discussion while I’m reading it and it’s helping me get through it. The form is crazy different (like letters or journal entries) and while I know the story is going somewhere – it’s pretty melancholy. I’m not sure what I think about it.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I’m on the tail end of this book and I’ve loved it all (minus the sections about grammar – ugg) but I love that I’ve been completely surprised by his voice as just a regular guy. He loves his wife, completely respects her opinion and he loves his family. That was refreshing and enjoyable to read in this day and age. And it was totally interesting to get behind the scenes of his crazy imagination. Overall, I appreciate his honesty. As someone who feels like I’ve got “that story” buried deep in my psyche it was just so refreshing to read about his process and just the real life of trying to get the words out onto a page.

The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Literature by N. Guthrie
I needed desperately some sort of Bible study to do and after digging around on the web I came across Guthrie’s studies and figured I would give one a whirl. Low and behold the book arrived and I realized I did this study years ago. At the time, I really didn’t like it at all, but it’s funny how God can bring you into and through places and when you arrive on the other side the things that really didn’t hit you at one point do at the other.

Summer has been a crazy whirlwind and our schedules have been nuts. We’ve pretty much not been reading aloud at all so these books are still on our reading shelf, but are collecting dust:
Across Five Aprils
The Fledgling
Orthodoxy (although this one is collecting dust because I’m still struggling with it)

Coming Up

Once I finish Stephen King’s book, I’m going to finally read The Read Aloud Family and I need to start on The Great Divorce (Lewis) for my August book club. Fiction wise, I picked up a newer Louise Penny mystery and also The Light Keeper’s Daughter from the library. I also need to read a few others before I start teaching this Fall and I’m sure I’ve got a million things to pre-read for my kid’s own schooling. The list is forever long. Jaybar Crow is also on my list but I don’t know if I’m going to get to it before the Fall.

Quilt: Fancy Forest WIP

I’ve been working for months and months on this quilt and I’m 5 blocks away from finishing it.  The pattern is Elizabeth Hartman’s’ Fancy Forest. I had it on my wish list to sew for ages and a couple of Christmas’ ago I broke down and bought myself the pattern. And then it just sat there. Last year at some point I decided I was going to finally start working on it and bought all the solids. All the prints are from my own stash of scraps.

I’ve already learned so much working on it, but I’m so ready to start putting it all together! The biggest lesson came yesterday when my new 1/4″ foot came for my sewing machine and here I am on the last group of blocks with this amazing tool I should have purchased a million years ago! That and realizing that it’s better to stand and piece this versus sitting and standing every two seconds have been my biggest lessons.

It’s not perfect by any means and I’m working out how to piece and cut and do it all as close to perfect as possible. But I love it and I’m so proud of it.

Reading: April 2018

The angels erupted in song yesterday when I finally put down the book David Copperfield and rejoiced that nearly 900 pages later I was finished. Whew. It was a doozy of a book and the longest one I’ve read in years. I’m so happy to have finished it (and for the most part enjoyed it), but I’m super thrilled to be moving on.

Finished

The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom
Seriously, the best book I’ve read in a while. This one has been on my “to-read” list for years and when it ended up as one of my book club books AND a book that I’m teaching this coming year I was beyond thrilled. It’s an amazing read for the mere story of it, but also for the conviction of it. When I start to look around and become annoyed or dismayed at my life – all I need to do is remember hers. This one is worthy of it’s own review post.

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
This was good; not my absolute favorite but I’m not a personality guru either. I really enjoyed the first few chapters, but when she started in on all the different personality tests etc, it didn’t quite hold my interest. It is a great compilation of all the different personality type discussions going on and I do believe in at least being familiar with all the typings as being a helpful thing when trying to deal with people (especially those in your family).

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
To begin with, this is Dickens so it’s crazy wordy. I will say, compared the other Dickens I’ve read this one was definitely more light-hearted. There were places throughout the book where I actually laughed and I did enjoy many of the characters. Dickens is amazing at his ability to create memorable characters and it’s where his love of descriptions is so helpful. By the time you are done with the book you definitely have a very vivid picture in your mind of who is who. I will say the character of David was somewhat annoying. I absolutely loved him as a child, but then it was like he never grew up. From his child-wife to the blindness he carried throughout the book for Agnes (come on already!) drove my absolutely bonkers…and his infatuation with Steerforth! I will say that Dickens did a fabulous job leading up that whole story with Steerforth. I knew from the beginning that at some point David was totally going to realize what sort of goody-too shoes he was.

Caddie Woodlawn (Caddie Woodlawn #1)
The chick and I read this aloud and overall it was pretty good. I feel like it is so much a copy of Little House that I had a hard time getting through that. I don’t know that either of us is a huge Pioneer literature fan so I don’t think we will be continuing on with the series. But it was a good read aloud.

Currently

The Fledgling (Hall Family Chronicles #4)
This is our current read aloud. I picked this up last year when I knew we were going to study birds and we finally started it. So far we are only like 10 pages in, so the jury is still out on how good it will be.

Before We Were Yours by Windgate
My mom passed this off to me a few days ago and knowing I needed something “easy” after Dickens I figured I would try this.

Across Five Aprils
We are attempting to do a family read aloud of this book. It’s been on the list all year and one that I wanted both kids to read. I’ve never read it and the reviews are always great.

Fanny Crosby
This is a pre-read for me as the chick is reading it for school. It’s a biography of her life. She was blind and ended up being this amazing hymn writer; she wrote Blessed Assurance for one.

Island of the Blue Dolphins
The chick is also reading this for school. It was one of my favorites as a child and I’m still enjoying it; she’s not. 🙁

Orthodoxy by Chesterton
This book is making my brain hurt.

What’s Next?

I’m going to re-read Hannah Coulter, because the Circe Close Reads podcast is getting ready to read it in May and I love Wendell Berry so win-win. A friend recommended PJ Wodehouse to me, so I reserved some of those books. Our next book club book is The Good Earth by Buck (I think) so I will need to get my hands on that. I’m also hoping to start reading Steven King’s memoir on writing.