8 Jan 2013

What we're reading in January

It's a new year, and that brings with it a whole bunch of delicious new reads.  Boring, I guess, but a whole lot safer as a topic for a blogpost than yesterday's aborted attempt exploring Americans and Guns, which I deleted when I realised that it is really hard to be nice about a topic that you just can't understand.  So while the contents of my book bag are not likely to get any of you all that terribly excited, I am likely to have a few more readers left at the end of the day, and that can only be a good thing.

So moving right along.  You know that each December we go a bit batty around here about Christmas, and we read lots of books with a Festive theme, all of which are timed to end on or about the 25th December, for obvious reasons.  That means that our reading in January is all new and exciting.  I love it when we have a whole pile of lovely new books to dive into.

We read the books in our book bag as family read alouds as we travel to and from Melbourne on the weekends.  The whole round trip from the country to the city to Geelong for church on Sunday and back to the country takes just over seven hours, and so that makes for a whole lot of time to churn through the pages.  We usually have four or five books on the go at a time, and I read two or three chapters of each on the way down and the same on the way back.  This is when we cover most of the AO Free Reading selections, as well as a few of our own choosing. 

Right now the selection includes: 

Tales from the Arabian Nights, which I've been meaning to read for ages and hadn't got around to.  Imagine a childhood without the swashbuckling tales of Sinbad, Aladdin and Ali Baba.  I blogged about this one and showed you the illustrations here

Sun on the Stubble by Colin Thiele is one of our Australianised AO6 reads, and is about rural life of a family during the Great Depression, our time period this term.  As with all of Thiele's books, this one is an absolute delight, and the introductory chapter about that possum had us all in stitches.  Including the driver who almost needed to pull over to the side of the road to avoid an accident he was laughing so hard.  Living, ourselves, in rural Australia, there is much with which we are very familiar here, not the least those pesky possums.

The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin Wiker is a fascinating modern living science book telling the history of the discovery of the elements in friendly engaging style.  All of the greats of chemistry as here, and so far we are, all three science boffins, enjoying it very much.  Wiker says it's suitable for middle school age, becoming more complex as the book progresses.  So far Jemimah is having no problems.  Today we visited the rocks and minerals gallery at the Melbourne Museum (I'm sure the gallery has a posher name than that, but I can't find it), and enjoyed identifying some of the elements and ores and compounds types that we have already read about.
Books dealing with science as with history, say, should be of a literary character, and we should probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the text-books which swell publishers' lists and nearly all the chalk expended so freely on our blackboards.

Charlotte Mason Towards a Philosophy of Education p218
The next book is one of Miss Mason's beloved Waverley Novels, Rob Roy by master of the historical novel, Sir Walter Scott. Being avid Caledonophiles in our family, this it a must read, and so far we're enjoying it, although its rich prose and description makes it a more difficult read than the other books in our stack.

Which brings us to number five,Louisa May Alcott's  Little Women.  Yes, we're still ploughing our way through this book after stalling at Chapter 8.  We're finally past the halfway mark and Jemimah has begun to enjoy it, but despite having loved this book in past readings, I am finding it pious and sanctimonious. (Is that a tautology? I think it might be.)  It makes me sad when an old favourite evokes this type of feeling - sort of like an old friend has let you down, but I shall struggle though and not allow my biases to be viewed by my family.

Okay then, that's the book bag done.  Shall I continue?

Our bedtime read aloud is the fourth in the Borrowers Series by Mary Norton, The Borrowers Aloft.  We've had a bit of a break from these, but now that we're back in the land of the little people we are thrilled by them once more. In this book the Clock family has finally found itself an ideal home in a miniature village built as a hobby by the retired Mr Potts, railway worker.  There is something whimsically charming about the idea of little people living in a perfectly scaled little village, and I think this book is the most magical of the whole series. 

For school we're reading The Hobbit.  What can I say that hasn't been said? We love it.  Our Aussie selection is Nowhere to Hide by Mavis Thorpe Clarke.  I'll blog about this separately, but it's good.  Jemimah is reading The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum about the Nazi occupation of Holland.  I think I've told you that I continue having Jemimah read aloud to me even though her reading level is significantly higher than her age level because I believe that reading aloud is a skill in its own right.  It gives us an opportunity to work on enunciation and style and to learn about things like the pronunciation of Dutch and German names, for example.  I love being able to read aloud in a  professional manner, and I hope my daughter will too.

In her free time she is reading the second Ruby Redfort book by Lauren Child, Take Your Last Breath. I haven't read these, but Miss 10 says they're pretty cool.  They certainly hold her attention anyhow.

In his free time hubby is reading the new Kay Scarpetta mystery, The Bone Bed.  I haven't asked him what he thinks, but we both like Patricia Cornwell's books despite the personal lives of some of her characters.

I have just finished reading the most fascinating true story, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. I first heard Rosaria's story from Ken Smith when he and his wife Floy stayed with us back in 2009, and it is truly inspiring.  Rosaria was living a very good life as a tenured Professor in a large American university.  She was well respected and highly motivated.  But God has much greater plans for Rosaria than that.  This is a brutally honest, rather confronting book, and I absolutely recommend it to all of you, especially those of you who might like to learn more about our denomination, the Reformed Presbyterian Church. 

Have a listen to Rosaria's testimony in this interview with Tim Challies and David Murray.  I think you'll be blown away.  I was. Rosaria is also a Classical homeschooler and adoptive mother of bi-racial kids if that interests you.

My current read is Patricia St John's autobiography, Patricia St John Tells Her Own Story.  I haven't read enough yet to comment, but my aunts whose opinion I respect liked it.  I'm also reading Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke.  It comes very highly recommended, but so far I don't like it much.  Reinke spends far too much time telling my why I should read, and as someone who reads voraciously anyway, I just can't connect.   Maybe as I get into it and he tells my what I should read I'll enjoy it more.  I'll let you know.

And that, I think is that.  Except for Bible.  A new year and a new reading plan.  I'm reading through the Bible again in 2013 using Discipleship Journal's Book-at-a-Time Reading Plan.  I like that there are catch-up days to keep me on track.  I need that. Hubby is using Discipleship Journal's Bible Reading Plan.  I used this a couple of years ago.  It's good.  Jemimah is using The Child's Story Bible Reader for a second year.  Don't you love it when the whole family spends private time with our Heavenly Father?  So wonderful.  I'm sure all of us have better days when we begin with quiet time.  For family devotions at dinner we're reading through The Gospel of Mark.  During school Jemimah and I are exploring the Westminster Shorter Catechism using Starr Meade's Training Hearts Teaching Minds.  It's a good opportunity to go over our catechism memorisation while we're at it.  It's good.

And that, she says, is that.  If you've read through to the end you deserve a medal.  Nothing too controversial in that lot, I hope.

What are you reading?  Do tell.


  1. Why do you seem to have so many more hours in your day????!!!!

  2. I like The Borrowers Aloft too, especially their final escape.

  3. LOL - I'm with Ruby. Liked your reading list. Nice.

  4. wow what a line up! my Mariah has joined our library reading challenge for the summer hols but her list is not that impressive.
    Have added your husband's book to my list to read, I enjoy mystery and crime mysteries particularly, not sure why.
    Do know what you mean about writing a more controversial post, I have so much to say about certain issues, and then think well I might offend someone inadvertently, my current rant for example could be basic manners, etc

  5. Jeanne, please call me! I can't get through on your phone.

  6. Hi Jeanne, Happy New Year. I was wondering, in respect to your daughters reading, do you work out her reading list on a month by month basis, or do you plan the whole year? Do you have a minimum number that you aim to read each month? Also when compiling the list do you break up your list into certain sections when working on it, ie classics, Australian, etc. so as to include a wider section? My apologies for the questions it's just that I am doing my girls book lists 2013 and your advice would be much appreciated.

    1. I don't really have a reading list for Jemimah. I do expect her to be reading a book at all times, but she is welcome to select what she reads from the books we have available. We have a free reading list for school that we try to get through by the end of the year. She reads some of these and I read some as read alouds. That list has a number of Aussie books as well as books from the time period we are studying. I rely pretty heavily on the AO list with a few adaptations and some books that I feel are must reads for my daughter.

  7. Will my medal be pinned on in person? I hope so. I always find what you and yours are reading completely fascinating.

    As to your non-published post, I haven't left you yet. I love freedom of speech as much as I love the freedom to bear arms.

    I'm still finishing up my Bible reading...my other current read (on my own) is "Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus" by Kyle Idleman, CM's Vol. 3, and David Kahn's "Seizing the Enigma." I'm still trying to figure out what my "light read" will be.

  8. sounds like a very interesting pile of books. happy reading.

  9. I'm with Ruby and Deborah:) and yes I would love my medal too:)

  10. I'm stuck in Alcott's Jack and Jill--all your comments on Little Women ring true here. I love Little Women though. Glad someone enjoys the Hobbit--I've never succeeded with it.

    Now, about this seven hour trip to Church.....???

    1. It is a round trip, remember. 2 1/2 hours to Melbourne, 1 to Geelong, 3 1/2 back home.

  11. Hello again, friend! Love to see what you are reading. I'm making notes. My girls loved The Hobbit, too! Right now, I'm reading Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone and really enjoying it. I also found his book The Woman in White mesmerizing. Very hard to put down, both of them!

  12. And that my friends must be where they trump us on available reading time :-)


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