The fuller life gets, or the older I get, the faster the years fly by, so incredibly I close the 2017 chapter so shortly after having lived 2016. Here are the books I completed in November and December. I am sorry I didn’t post November’s sooner but let the holiday season take precedent over publishing my list.
Also, I spent the last eight weeks of this year rereading Charlotte Mason’s entire series straight through, which I have not done for three years. Throughout this year I have posted the volume I had just completed reading, either personally or for my CM discussion group’s assignment, so have actually read most of these volumes twice this year. I have not stopped finding treasure in them. I thought this nugget of advice on reading toward the end of the last volume fitting for a year-end list of books completed:
“Let Dr. Arnold, advise us:––‘Adjust your proposed great amount of reading to your time and inclination; but whether that amount be large or small let it be varied in its kind and widely varied. If I have a confident opinion on any one point connected with the improvement of the human mind it is on this.’ Here we get support for a varied and liberal curriculum; and, as a matter of fact, we find that the pupil who studies a number of subjects knows them as well as he who studies a few knows those few.
“Children should read books, not about books and about authors; this sort of reading may be left for the spare hours of the dilettante.” (Towards a Philosophy of Education, p. 341)
Openness Unhindered by Rosaria Butterfield. This sequel to Confessions of an Unlikely Convert was not only convincing regarding right attitudes, behavior, and lifestyles because of her thorough and solid Biblical exposition, but because of her willingness to be honest about her own past and present repentance and victory over sin. She challenges many current opinions about sexual orientation in the church and the world in a humble, but firm and direct confrontation of myths and prejudices. This is necessary reading for Christians and non-Christians alike living in the twenty-first century.
Home Education by Charlotte Mason. This first volume is the foundation for all the others and contains the necessary ideas to understand and practice a Mason method of education. I tell moms this is “our training manual.”
Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason. This second book, consisting of articles published in the Parents Review, is packed with practical counsel for families that goes deeper than school lessons and straight to the heart of how we relate to one another in the family.
School Education by Charlotte Mason. This volume further unfolds the principles and methods and was “must reading” for teachers in the P.N.E.U. I always think, “My favorite” when I finish it.
Ourselves by Charlotte Mason. Her fourth volume was written for young people to understand who they are as persons, but has shed more light for me about what it means to be born a person than any other book next to the Bible itself. I read it devotionaly, constantly.
Formation of Character by Charlotte Mason. If you want to know how all her ideas about habit training work out in every-day families, this book is full of examples from fictional families of all kinds with all kinds of common conflicts and consternations about raising children and getting along with one another.
Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason. This is the frosting on the cake of Mason’s life work to alter the course of education. It makes most sense if read after the other volumes and, like all finishing touches, is best understood as a satisfying crowning chapter to all that has gone before.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. My book club read this together in November and it was my second time reading this melodramatic novel. It is fascinating and disturbing, but makes an unforgettable impression about the reality of letting your fantasies of vengeance take hold in your mind and heart. I agree with the position of including this novel in the arena of most influential novels of western literature.
The Heart of the Family by Elizabeth Goudge. Again, I have read this before, but wanted to finish out this trilogy before the end of the year. I read these books out of order the first time around and found reading them in order best, a story that is a powerful life lesson in the perseverance and hope we find in family commitment and connection. Have I mentioned many times before, that this is my favorite women’s author and that her prose is absolutely beautiful?
The Portable Milton by John Milton. It took me ten months, but my year and life have been enriched greatly from reading the prose and poetry of this literary giant. We are studying the time period in which he lived for school this year, and this was my foray into his writings beyond Paradise Lost. What a thinker, and how much we have to learn about mind and heart from reading this giant of minds.
Changing the Subject by Sven Birkerts. I applauded this essayist’s Gutenberg Elegies earlier this year, but had to return to read a more recent collection just to see what he was thinking 20 years later. He is saying so much of what you have read on Living Books Library about the fate of reading in an electronic age, but in vastly superior style and masterful argument.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling. I determined to read this series again after a 10 year interlude. It is my end-of-the-exhausting-day reading and intrigues and inspires in a most delightful way.
After You Believe by N. T. Wright. I have wanted to read this theologian’s popular works for years and this was my first satisfying introduction. If you want to understand what Charlotte Mason is saying about habits and the outcome of education being character, here is a supplement that will cement your understanding. If you want to live a more consistent and effective life as a Christian, this book will give you the perspective and practical instruction to do so.
Happy New Year,