Archive for Reading

Summer Reading, 2016 Edition


What are you reading this summer? I have been reveling in our break from homeschooling, and I’m pretty ambitious this year.  In between the bouts of hard-core parenting, I’ve been letting the kids run around outside with the neighbors, eating popsicles, while I lose myself in books, just making sure to invite people over for dinner every weekend so we have to force ourselves to clean up the chaos at least once a week.  I sat outside in a deck chair with a mystery novel all afternoon the other day while about 10 kids dug in the sandbox.  Lots of quick historical fiction/detective novels on my nook for research purposes (I’ll tell you more about that later), but here is my “serious reading stack” on my nightstand.  At least half of these will be making that 5000 mile road trip with me this summer…

  • The Bird in the Tree, Pilgrim’s Inn, and The Heart of the Family by Elizabeth Goudge  Have you discovered Elizabeth Goudge?  She’s one of my favorites, and this year, my mom and I agreed to read the Eliot Family Trilogy together again.  We love Elizabeth Goudge for her beautiful prose and her insight into the inner lives of everyday people.  You can see the effects of grace on a person’s life (and all the lives they touch).  Her books are slow, but I savor them.  I often reread and recommend The Dean’s Watch and The Scent of Water, both of which have beautiful portrayals of self-sacrificing love.  Since I haven’t read about the Eliots since being married myself, I’m interested to see what I think of Goudge’s take on love/marriage/commitment/family/loyalty with the Eliot family this time around.
  • Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child by Anthony Esolen  After our scintillating E2S Group Read of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, this was an auto-buy for me.  And I’m looking forward to discussing it with Anna, Bethany, and Christina when our families have a little reunion in a few weeks!
  • Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton  I’ve had this book recommended to me by multiple people, and last week, I saw it on a friend’s shelf and commented on it.  She foisted it on me and insisted that I read it because it had so radically affected her mindset.  All too often, we think that we can just throw money at a problem and pat ourselves on the back for doing our part in mercy ministry.  The reality is always more complicated than that, of course.
  • Um, I am embarrassed to admit this, but in our move, I lost my personal Bible for several months.  It had gotten shoved into a box that I then shoved into a kitchen cabinet and forgot about, so I spent all spring stealing my kids’ Bible or using my phone to do my devotions and CBS homework.  I do still think that the YouVersion Bible App is pretty decent (particularly if you want accountability to do a read-through-the-Bible type reading plan like I do), but I have enjoyed actually holding my own Bible again since rediscovering it!
  • Union With Christ by Rankin Wilbourne  Rankin is our pastor, and we are so blessed to sit under his teaching and now to get to read his first book!  I can listen to one of his sermons 3 or 4 times and learn more each time, so this one was another auto-buy for me.  Rankin has such a heart for our spiritual growth and for helping believers enjoy and know God, and I feel like this whole topic is something that often eludes me in my personal spiritual walk.
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson  I think I’ve mentioned that this is the best work of fiction I’ve read since graduating from college with a degree in English Literature.  And I’m rereading it this summer along with my girlfriends to discuss at our aforementioned reunion!  I was afraid that it wouldn’t hold up to my memories the second time around, but I’m marking it up, weeping, and savoring it just as much.
  • Jane Austen’s Minor Works (particularly “Lady Susan”)  Did you see Love and Friendship?  I did, twice.  If you haven’t seen it yet and are even remotely a Jane Austen fan, Kate Beckinsdale is amazing as Austen’s most devious protagonist, and the costumes are glorious.  I purposefully did not reread “Lady Susan” before watching the movie based upon it because I didn’t want to be nitpicking every little change.  But as soon as we got home from the movies, I grabbed this off the shelf for a reread and am treating myself to a couple letters a night.  Teenage Austen is of course not as refined as mature, published Austen, but she is wickedly funny and so, so insightful about human nature.  C.S. Lewis said he pretty much always had an Austen novel going on his nightstand, and I think that’s a wise and appropriate thing to do.=)
  • Home by Marilynne Robinson  Okay, you may remember that this was on last year’s list.  I’ve heard it’s more of a downer than Lila and Gilead, and after I broke my foot last summer, I really just wanted cheerful/escapist stuff.  I pre-read a lot of children’s fantasy for my son and reread a bunch of Georgette Heyer to cheer myself up.  But my mom read Home this spring and brought me her copy all the way from Missouri so I’d be sure to read it and discuss it with her.  (She was tired of calling me up to read me a beautiful line and having me not able to reciprocate.  My mom is the coolest.)  Since I’m revisiting the world of Gilead, Iowa for the reunion, anyway, I’m going to buckle down and tackle Home for real this summer.
  • The League and the Lantern by Brian Wells  Okay, this one was given to us by one of my husband’s colleagues.  Apparently the author is trying to do a Christian take on the whole middle-school fantasy/adventure phenomenon (a la Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, et al).  Since our 9 year old is all about this genre right now, I’m interested to see how this holds up to N.D. Wilson (whose 100 Cupboards and Ashtown Burials series are well-written but too scary for my son just yet) or Andrew Peterson (whose Wingfeather Saga is so compelling–and the writing really does get better with each book).

Any more recommendations for me?  We’re hitting the road in just over two weeks, so things I can download to my nook are preferable.  I still have 7 weeks before we have to start up school again, so I’m going to relish my vacation by reading as much as possible!


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Hidden Art Friday

blueberry pickingpot pie and blueberry crisp

Earlier this week, when I should have been folding laundry and packing, I edited pictures from our annual blueberry picking trip, instead.  Because just surfing the web = unproductive laziness, but editing pictures for an E2S blog post = productivity.  My friend Sarah and I picked the perfect day to visit the blueberry farm–an overcast morning, with enough June gloom to keep things cool.  My kids picked about three pounds, we ate quite a few, and I used the rest in a blueberry crisp to go with a clear-out-the-fridge turkey pot pie.  I’ve made both so frequently that I totally made up the proportions of fillings and crusts as I went along, with the result that my pot pie crust was too thick and crumbly (note the gravy coming up and over it…sigh) and our crisp was a bit on the tart side.  Another half cup of sugar would not have gone amiss.  But vanilla ice cream has a way of fixing any fruit dessert mishaps.

I meant to do a post on summer reading programs again this year, but I ran out of time.  I’ll just mention that Barnes and Noble has a great one where 1-6 graders read 8 books, fill out a little journal entry on each, and get a free book when they bring their completed journal into any store!  T has his sights on Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, a book I discovered and enjoyed last summer.

And No Time For Flashcards has fun summer reading printable calendars, if you’re looking for some inspiration.

Remember, if you want to get our reading recommendations while we’re on vacation, like us on facebook, where we’ll be sharing some of our favorite posts from the archives all summer long!

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Anna’s Summer Reading

As Emily mentioned on Monday, we’re doing our summer reading lists this week. Mine is always a little tricky, because, like Emily, we spend the summer traveling. So not only do I have to choose wisely because car space is limited, but I have to try to judge what I’m really going to enjoy, and how much I’m going to get through in the summer. Up to this point, I haven’t gotten those two factors exactly honed, and end up either running out before summer’s over, or buying books on amazon to bring home (which my husband hates!). So, this year, the pile looks like this:


For myself, I’ll be tackling Female Piety by John Angell James, Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen (I know, two really heavy books), Truman by David McCullough, and Hannah Fowler by Janice Holt Giles. I’m hoping that this is the right mix for me for the summer. If not, I’ve got a few options on my kindle: James Fenimore Cooper, Chesterton’s Father Brown, and Louisa May Alcott.

For the kids, we’ll be reading through a few things. In the morning, at breakfast, we’ll be slowly going through The Story of Britain. I haven’t looked at this book much, but the chapters are short and easily read during breakfast, and the illustrations are beautiful. I’m always a sucker for pictures. We’ll be continuing our reading of the Ralph Moody books with The Fields of Home. We love this series so much, I can’t recommend it highly enough. My son will be busy this summer with old friends, so the girls and I will be reading some by ourselves, including Little Women and finishing up the All-Of-A-Kind-Family series, which we love. And, last but not least, our memory work for the summer will be tackling the first part of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, so I’ve brought along the Puritan Paperbacks explanation. I doubt I’ll be reading this to the kids–probably just reading it to myself to understand the questions and answers better.

I’d love to hear what’s at the top of your reading list for the summer!


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Summer Reading

Happy Monday, everyone!  With the school year wrapping up, it’s time for Anna and me to take a week talking about our summer reading plans.  My list actually looks very different now than it was last week, because just a few days ago, my two year old pulled apart my nook (totally destroying it), so I won’t be able to load up on ebooks before our trip home to the midwest next month.  I was right in the middle of one of my favorite new children’s series, too!  Super bummer.

So what will I be reading?  A few books that have been on my to-read shelf for a while.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series–I was halfway through book 3 when my nook was destroyed, and my library doesn’t have book 5 yet, but my husband and I love this series so much that we may just invest in our own copies of the whole set.  They’re sort of Jane Eyre meets Lemony Snicket, full of hilarious aphorisms like “If it were easy to resist, it would not be called chocolate cake.”  I find them irresistible!

Home by Marilynne Robinson.  I read Lila and Gilead this past year, and they were two of the most beautiful books I’ve read in the past decade.  I’m excited about visiting this world again!

Who Killed Homer by Victor Davis Hansen.  We consider ourselves classical homeschoolers, but I often get to focused on the details that I need to stop back and take a look at the overall picture of classical education.

The Forgotten Man by Amity Schlaes.  I actually had this on my list last year, and I never got around to it.  It has been sitting on my nightstand ever since, and reading about the Great Depression seems quite applicable to today, right?

and I’ll be rereading The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot, one of my favorite pictures of family life from one of my favorite role models.


With the kids, we’ll be going through the whole Little House series since we got E her own set for her birthday last week.  My son and I are planning to read Treasure Island together this summer, and we checked out Pippi Longstocking for a family read-aloud.


In a few weeks, I’ll pull together links to the summer reading programs we like to do (I try to pick ones that give free books as prizes).  In the meantime, what are you hoping to read this summer?


*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  When you purchase books through our links, we get a tiny percentage that we use for the blog!*

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