Reader's Journal 2014

People are naturally divided into those who read and think and those who do not read or think; and the business of schools is to see that all their scholars shall belong to the former class; it is worth while to remember that thinking is inseparable from reading which is concerned with the content of a passage and not merely with the printed matter. - Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, p. 31
It's time for one of my favorite posts - the Reader's Journal! I will be busy with life over the holidays and thought some of you might want some recommendations before Christmas.  I will highlight my top picks at the top and then just list the rest.  These do not include the Bible, many books I read for our school, or Charlotte Mason's 6 volumes.  If you please, let me know what your thoughts are about some of these or link to  your own list down in the comments.

1. Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More— Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist
by Karen Swallow Prior
 Karen is the author of another favorite book of mine,Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me.  But this book is very different. Hannah More, someone I had never even heard of, is now one of my heroines. From a not-very-convicted youth to a firebrand for abolition and truth.  She worked with William Wilberforce, was an original Bluestocking, started Sunday Schools, rubbed shoulders among the most important writers and actors of her day, and so much more. Karen's passion and precision for her subject matter simply glow.

2.Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children
 by Sarah Clarkson
I really didn't expect to like this book.  I am always reading books about books and I thought that this would be more of the same.  I was  pleasantly surprised. What I liked was that Sarah shows us what stories did to help her with life, how they comforted her, how they formed her moral imagination.  I felt like I was reading about my own children as they have told me many of the same things.  This will be one of my recommendations to new moms and teachers who need to understand what stories can do for you.  Her book lists are excellent and manageable and I applaud her restraint in listing only the best.  Her thoughts on Wendell Berry and his ideas on fidelity and assent are worth the price of this little gem.

3.Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
by Tony Reinke
I know, I know - another book about books and reading.  This one is for those who might find How to Read a Book and other tomes in that genre a bit too heavy.  Tony is urging everyone to read and tells us why it is so important.  He quotes from Adler, Ryken, Socrates and others.  As I read it, I kept thinking about  some teenagers that I would like to discuss some of his points about reading and choice of reading material. I found his chapter on why he doesn't use an e-reader very interesting.

4. The Tall Woman
by Wilma Dykeman
I was in the Knoxville airport and was looking for something to read.  Maybe something regional?  I picked up this book and was captivated. It takes place in the Appalachians during the Civil War and beyond.  Great story and great writing.

5.The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book
 by Wendy Welch
Who wouldn't love a story about an attempt to start and sustain a little bookstore?  Interesting book recommendations at the end.

6.A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside
by Susan Branch
I read this before I went to Ambleside this past spring.  I'm not a huge fan of her style, but I loved this!  I then read it again after I went and enjoyed it even more, having been to the places she talked about.

7.Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination
 by Vigen Guroian
Since the CM philosophy uses many classic stories to awaken a child's moral imagination, I knew I would like this one.  Plus, Vigen will be a keynote speaker at the CMI conference this year. Woot!

8.Lila: A Novel
by Marilynne Robinson
I'm still thinking about this one.   Her characters are so deep and spiritual without being typically religious and they rarely act like I think they will.  Don't devour this one, it's a beautiful, strange, slow read. Lila is obsessed with Ezekiel 16, copying it over and over again - made me think about how the physical act of writing can help us understand things and may comfort us.  Here is an excellent book review of Lila.

1. Ambleside Remembered - People & Places, Past and Present by Rose Steele
2. A Fine Romance - Falling in Love with the English Countryside by Susan Branch
3. A Passionate Sisterhood - Women of the Wordsworth Circle by Kathleen Jones
4. Tending the Heart of Virtue -How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination by Vigen Guroian
5. William Wordsworth by Natalie Bober
6. Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read
7. The Armitts - Sophia and her sisters by Barbara Crossley
8. The Eternal Argument by Robin Finley
9. The Illumined Heart by Frederica Mathewes-Green
10. The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman
11. Inheriting Paradise by Guroian
12. Education for the Kingdom by Benjamin E. Bernier
13. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
14. The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch
15. Monk Habits for Everyday People by Okholm
16. Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan
17, Friends at Thrush Green by Miss Read
18. Celebrations at Thrush Green by Miss Read
19. The Silver Answer by Burnett
20. Lila by Marilynne Robinson
21. Consider This by Karen Glass
22. When Life Comes Undone by T.J. Addington
23. Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior
24. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
25. Lit! by Reinke
26. Above All by Brennan Manning
27. Cotton in My Sack by Lenski
28. Watt Matthews of Lambshead by Laura Wilson
29. Caught up in a Story by Sarah Clarkson
30. Goodnight, Sugar Pie by Winsett
31. Essays on the Life and Work of Charlotte Mason

Lists from the past:
Reader's Journal 2012
Reader's Journal 2013

So, what have you been reading?



  1. I *WAS* just thinking about my list, Nancy. I will have to put up what I read...it has A LOT of twaddle, I'm afraid. I'm using end of pg and nursing as an excuse. :) Don't you just love how I feel like I have to explain my twaddle? :D

    1. You do not need to explain your twaddle! I can't wait to see your list now!!

  2. Btw...I'm reading Tending a Heart of Virtue right now and really enjoying it! Fierce Convictions and The Little Book Store titles sound intriguing to me!!! THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!! :D

    1. What are friends for? Merry Christmas!

  3. There is a good review in the current Books & Culture on LILA. I got to page 200 and had to return it to the library. Now
    waiting to get it back. Thanks for the heads up on Hannah More. I have a first edittion of one of her books. * Hannah More that is.

    1. WOW! That's exciting, Bonnie. Which title?

  4. Just ordered it. A friend had emailed me Eric Metaxas' review of it on Breakpoint a few weeks ago, Forgot about the title and love the title. Excited to read about it. At The King's College ( NYC ) are two cases of first editions of Wilberforce and the Clapham Society. Here is a modern day Clapham Society in Tenn: http://franklinresolves.com/franklin-resolves.htm

    1. I knew I had heard of something recently! Yes, thank you for sharing that. You know, my only complaint is the Metaxas endorsement overload. Back cover, front cover, front flap, and he wrote the intro. It was a bit much. But I got over it.

  5. Lit is one I'm going to bookmark. I've had How to Read a Book for a few years and I've avoided it. I found it easier to get into something like Crime & Punishment! Have a great Christmas, Nancy.

    1. Well, I do think that How to Read serves a different purpose and Lit! only touches on things, so do keep that in mind. Oh, yes, you have a blessed Christmas, too, Carol!

  6. Hey, that's so neat that you liked Tony Reinke's book! I have not read it, but we knew him from church in Omaha - he and his wife lead a fellowship group for us young singles. What a neat connection - it's so good to have "good book" connections ;) Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Small world, isn't it? You will enjoy it, I think!

  7. Nancy... it was such a lovely surprise to read your words at my blog. I am leaving the link here for you, and I have yours, :)


    Have a wonderful 2015.

    Love you much!

  8. Thanks for sharing your list Nancy. I just checked Tending the Heart of Virtue out from the library and can't wait to get started! After a full year, I finally finished Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. I'm looking forward to kicking off the new year with a new reading plan. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Consider This. I'm currently reading it. I'm also curious, do you read more than one book at a time or do you finish one before starting another?

    You can see my reading list here....



    1. If the book has captivated me, I read one at a time. If it is just so-so, I can have up to 4 going at a time. I have books in all my nooks, upstairs books (in bed) and downstairs books. You get the picture! And thank you so much for linking your list. Also, the Scarlet Letter was so interesting to me as an adult. I'm afraid its story and lessons were lost on this teenager. Well, except for the big, red, obvious one.
      Happy New Year, Melissa!

  9. Nancy, thanks so much for sharing your Reader's Journal again this year. I have learned about great books from your posts the past several years. This year, the Appalachian books were of interest to recommend to my mom, who enjoys stories about that region. I've also just finished a book about the efforts to abolish the slave trade in Georgian England and so the mention of Hannah More jumped out at me. She sounds like a fascinating woman and I'm on the waiting list for "Fierce Convictions" when it comes in to our local library.

    My reading list for 2014 is on Goodreads:


    I enjoy your blog. It's inspiring and uplifting. Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you! And thank you for linking to your interesting list. Happy New Year to you, too!

  10. Here's my list :) http://theycallmemommywithapileofbooks.blogspot.com/2014/12/2014-reading-log-ramblings.html