Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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 (You know this one is #1 for me, but it's out of print now.  It should be available soon!)

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

So, what have you been reading?


Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Books - 2014

I salute you!  There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take Peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy. Take Joy! 

And so, at this Christmas time,  I greet you, with  the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

                                                         -Fra Giovanni
                                                          A.D. 1513

And so begins one of my favorite Christmas books, Take Joy by Tasha Tudor. It is a lovely prayer written by a true Renaissance man, Fra Giovanni, to his patron Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve, 1513.* (Here is a beautiful calligraphy rendition of it!)

 Sandy shared this title with me, Once in the Year by Elizabeth Yates.It is illustrated so sweetly by Nora Unwin and is about the faith of a family along with the legends that surround Christmas.

Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco brings tears to our eyes every time, no matter how often we read it!  

If you are looking for some wonderful titles to read for Christmas, here are my past posts on Christmas books.

2010 - What to Read For Christmas
2010 - Good King Wenceslas
2010 - Canticle of the Bees
2011 - Full Hearts
2013 - Christmas Books!

I wish you the anticipation of Advent and the astonishing Joy of Christmas,


*Here is the full letter - 

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.  There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. 
Take heaven! 
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.
Take peace! 
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. 
Take joy!
There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.  And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!
Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.
Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Advent and Awakening

We shared a lesson on the poet Eleanor Farjeon at our Awakening session yesterday.  We finished the gathering by joining together and singing her hymn, People Look East, a wonderful Advent song.

The slides at the beginning of this post were edited by my dd, Katie.  She also took the pics from the Awakening session yesterday.  Love that girl.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gratitude - Be on the Watch and Make a Full Return

Idealized painting by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914
A kindness is like a flower that has bloomed upon you unawares, and to be on the watch for such flowers adds very much to our joy in other people, as well as to the happy sense of being loved and cared for. - Charlotte Mason, Vol. 4 p. 108
It is interesting to see that Mason was instructing students along the lines of an attitude of gratitude over 100 years ago. If you look at Ourselves, one of her sections is called "Love's Lords In Waiting: Gratitude." And since it is the season for Thanksgiving, I thought I would share some more book recommendations, paintings, and some of CM's own words.
Whatever the season, Mason wisely tells us that:
Gratitude spreads his feast of joy and thanksgiving for gifts that come to him without any special thought of him on the part of the giver, who indeed may himself have gone from the world hundreds of years ago.  Thus he says his grace for a delightful or helpful book, for a great picture, for a glorious day, for the face of a little child, for happy work, for pleasant places.(p. 110)
Never mind the students, are we practicing this? It can be awfully hard sometimes. It's a proactive choice to be on the watch for kindness and beauty where ever we may be and in whatever circumstances.

I have recommended this book in the past for Thanksgiving reading and here are three more gems from our collection. 

The first is Pilgrim Thanksgiving by Wilma Pitchford Hays, a favorite writer of holiday books.
Here is an excerpt:
Then across from her she saw Richard Moore. His head was bowed. His hands were folded properly.  There was a thankful look on his face. Damaris knew that Richard was an orphan who lived with Elder Brewster and helped with the work in return for his living. His two sisters and his little brother had died in the sickness of the first long winter.  Yet he was grateful, now, for food and good crops and friends.
Another good one is Naughty Little Pilgrim about "the most troublesome family", the Billingtons, who came over on the Mayflower.

Finally, Edna Miller gives us Mousekin's Thanksgiving which is simple and sweet with her beautiful pictures.

And here is a picture by an artist I look forward to getting to know better, Henry Ossawa Tanner.  It's called The Thankful Poor and is from 1894. 

Life would be dull and bare of flowers if we were not continually getting more than we can pay for either by money or our own good offices; but a grateful heart makes a full return, because it rejoices not only in the gift but in the giver. - Charlotte Mason, Vol. 4, p. 109

With Affection and Regard,

Ephesians 5:30
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God."