April Books

May 2nd, 2011 by Rachel

13. Anne of Windy Poplars – continuing in reading all of the Anne of Green Gables series, I think they get progressively better, or does that just mean I am getting older?

14. True Grit – Our book club read this last month, but I didn’t get to go, so I have no idea why it was picked or what was discussed, though I did enjoy reading it. I have not seen the new version of the movie, but the old movie follows the book very well. Random fact about me: I have yet to see a John Wayne movie that I didn’t enjoy.

15. The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent – my sister-in-law recommended this book, and I could not put it down. This book is a fictional look at the Salem Witch Trials, told from the point of view of Martha Carrier’s daughter.

16. Unplanned by Abby Johnson – this book tells the author’s story of volunteering at the Planned Parenthood here in Bryan as a college student (coincidentally the same year I started volunteering at Hope Pregnancy Center). Years later, she became the executive director there, and, while assisting with an ultrasound-guided abortion, had a complete change of heart, gave her life to God and joined with the Coalition for Life, a pro-life organization here in town. Instead she learned how to abort a baby naturally. It was fun to read about people I had met before and places I had been. I really enjoyed this book and her honesty, and I highly recommend it.

17. Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl by Dannah Gresh – I read about this book on a friend’s blog and heard another lady at church talking about it recently. Since the branding of our children and relentless marketing to them is often on my mind, I thought this would be a good read. I thought it was encouraging and full of practical advice. While it is written to moms of girls ages 8-12, I thought it was helpful to read even now and again later.

18. Anne’s House of Dreams – again, I think this one was my favorite. This one made me cry several times.

March Books

March 31st, 2011 by Rachel

8. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – last book in the Hunger Games series I was reading again. It isn’t my favorite book in the series, but I still really enjoyed reading them again.

9. Sold by Patricia McCormick – This book is written for young adults, though the material had me crying and upset for days–and I have learned a lot about this subject over the years. So, that said, it was a difficult read, but I’m glad that I did. Written in free verse, this fictional story tells the all too common story of a 12 year old Nepali girl, living in a rural mountain village with her mother, baby brother and gambling step-father. Her step-father sells her to pay some of his debts, and she believes she will be working as a maid in the city. However, she is transported into the red light district of New Dehli and enslaved in a brothel. I read this book during a naptime, and sat and cried for awhile when I was through. Having been to Nepal, I could picture these poor girls, making it even more real.

10. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson – Whew! This was another extremely heavy book, studying the “Great Migration” of over 6 million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to the North and Midwest. The author includes a lot of history as she weaves the tale of three different real-life characters settling in new lands and starting new lives, often with the cloud of racism still hanging over them. It was hard to read about the atrocities that happened not even 50 years ago in our country and to consider how those events and the migration have shaped our country today. I would recommend this book, though it was quite long and it took me a good 5 weeks to finish.

11. Anne of the Island by Lucy Maude Montgomery – It was nice to read something light after the previous two books! I think this was one of my favorite “Anne” books so far.

12. Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstrock – the idea of Montessori learning activities for toddlers and preschoolers has appealed to me since I first learned about the approach a couple years ago. Now that we are doing more and more “school” with Bud, I would like to assemble some learning activities that Sugar can do somewhat independently during that time next year. This book was very helpful in providing a wealth of ideas for simple activities that I can create this summer with minimal cost. The author details the activities, the materials needed, how to demonstrate them and what they are learning. This book was a great find.

February Books

February 28th, 2011 by Rachel

I actually caught up on reading this month since I wasn’t feeling as terrible as in January, though I’m surprised I read so much. Granted, it was all fairly light reading, but it was enjoyable.

2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – This is the best book I’ve read in a long time. I could not put it down and highly recommend it. The waiting list for it at our library is 20 people long, it’s that good. This work of nonfiction tells the story of a man named Louis Zamperini, a one time Olympic athlete and World War II soldier. His life story is amazing, but I don’t want to spoil it for you (I did that enough already for people who talked to me right after I finished it). The best part of the book was the ending, making it a million times better than I anticipated. Go get it!

3. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery – an all-time favorite that is even better as an adult.

4. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – this was our book club’s February book. I don’t recommend it, though the discussion at book club was at least on topic for a good while.

5. Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maude Montgomery

6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I recommended this series to a young lady in our church, and we were discussing them a bit and I realized how many details I missed in flying through the books the first time, so I opted to re-read them. It was still great the second time around, though not nearly so gut-wrenching.

7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – this one was great again, too.

Read-aloud with Bud this month was On the Banks of Plumb Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We are slowly making our way through the series this year.

50 Books in 2010 Recap

January 7th, 2011 by Rachel

I really enjoyed the challenge of reading 50 books in 2010, and actually ended up reading 54 books. My goal was that at least half of the books be non-fiction, and I read 32 non-fiction and 22 fiction books. Some of my favorites included:

Best Fiction: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Best Series: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (if you haven’t read those, get busy!)

Best Nonfiction: There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene

Best Homeschooling-related: The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer

Best Birth/Breastfeeding-related:
Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abbi Epstein (not because I learned a ton, but because I think this book fills a very-needed niche in the birth-book world)

Best Memoir: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls & Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent (I couldn’t decide between them)

Given me the most terrible dreams:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (don’t read it or see the movie if you are a parent)

I haven’t set a goal of reading for 2011. I have several books that I have started and on my list to read, but most of them are a bit more difficult, so I’m not sure if I’ll make it to 50 or not. I do think this year was profitable in getting me to read more, watch TV much less, and watch almost no movies. However, sewing and crafting seemed to fall by the wayside, and I would enjoy doing that a little more and finding a bit more balance there.

December Books

December 30th, 2010 by Rachel

52. Peace Child by Don Richardson – I read this book in college and loved it. Thomas and I were talking about it recently, and we decided to read it again. I love the message of this book–that the gospel transcends all cultural boundaries and that redemptive analogies abound in cultures. Richardson and his wife move to the jungles of New Guinea, along with their seven-month old son (!!!) to live among a stone-age cannibalistic tribe, sharing the gospel with them. It is a fascinating book and I highly recommend it. The sequel of this book is in my “to read” pile.

53. Faithful Place by Tana French – Amazon had quite a few recommendations for me the other day that looked really appealing, so I requested several books at once at our local library. This was the first one that became available. I didn’t really know what to expect, but this book was hard to put down. The language was far worse than my normal books, so I’m not sure if I can recommend it on that point.

54. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosney – I saw this book at B&N, read the back and waited a couple months to get a turn to read it from the library. It was worth the wait! I could not put this book down. This story is a fictional account of Jewish arrests and deporations to Aushwitz that took place in Paris during the German occupation of the summer of 1942. The book alternates between the story of a Jewish French girl named Sarah and her family during that summer, and a modern day American living in Paris who uncovers the story of Sarah. I think I read it in less than two days, it was that good.

November Books

December 5th, 2010 by Rachel

46. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis – this book is a very in-depth look at the financial crisis of 2008, from the perspective of mortgage-backed security brokers and other Wall Street Insiders. I learned a lot reading this book, but it was quite the chore for me to get through. Thomas, on the other hand, could not put it down and read it in a few days.

47. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart – I needed something lighthearted after reading The Big Short, so I opted for this book, which had been sitting on my bookshelf for two years. I got it in one of my book club’s book swaps, and had forgotten about it. This book is juvenile fiction, somewhat similar to Harry Potter, but without all the sorcery and magic stuff. It is about four children who become secret agents and save the world from a sinister madman trying to wipe out everyone’s memories and take over the world. It was entertaining, and I might read the next books in the series. I would consider this an appropriate read-aloud book for Bud in a few years.

48. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – This was my book club’s November book, but I was waiting for a copy from the library and I had to teach a breastfeeding class the night they met, so I did not get to participate in the discussion. However, this was a fascinating book to read. Henrietta Lacks was a 31year old black mother of five children when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. Without her knowledge, doctors at Johns Hopkins took tissue samples from her that cervix that began the first viable cell-line known as HeLa. This cell line aided many medical discoveries from the polio vaccine to AIDS research. However, all the time that HeLa was central to medical research, her family lived completely unaware of what was going on. The book tells her family’s story as well as a great history lesson on medicine, race relations, and doctor-patient relationships.

49. The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman – This was our December book of the month, and while it was easy to read, I do not recommend it. The theme of this book is that friendships make the tough times bearable, told around an annual cookie swap held by 12 women each year. The characters were not that endearing, but there were quite a few interesting cookie recipes thrown into the book that made me really wanting a cookie while I was reading, but I was all out of my paleo-friendly chocolate treats this weekend.

50. Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castlemann – I picked up this little gem in our church’s library, and it was a great book to read. We are part of a local body that does not have a children’s church or nursery to drop our children off while we attend the worship service. This book gave a lot of practical advice on leading your children to worship and not just sit quietly through a service. I highly recommend this book!

51. And the Word Came with Power by Joanne Shelter and Patricia Purvis – A friend loaned me this book that tells the story of a young, single woman who moved to the Philippines in the 60s. She went through Wycliffe Bible Translators and lived among a primitive tribe, telling the good news of Jesus, and translating the Bible into their language. It was an incredible story of the gospel’s power to transform lives.

October Books

November 1st, 2010 by Rachel

42. Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls – this true-life novel, based on family interviews and historical accounts, was written by the author of the Glass Castle about her grandmother, the Texas land-owner who helps her family out on numerous occasions during Walls’ childhood. While this book was different than the Glass Castle, and not quite as good, the story was captivating and I enjoyed reading it.

43. Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky – this book was recommended by a friend in my book club. It was entertaining as it tells the fictional account of three teenage girls’ pregnancy pact and the results of their pact on their families and town. I don’t highly recommend it unless you are really looking for something to read while your husband is out of town.

44. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan – Our fellowship has been going through this during our “family Bible study” time. I was really challenged by it, and I recommend it.

45. A Thousand Miles of Miracle by A.E. Glover – I found this book in our church’s library and could not put it down. This books tells the story of three English missionaries, along with two small children, during the Boxer Uprising in China in 1900. They continually escape death as they seek to flee China and the angry mobs, and the Lord’s provision them was amazing. I was very challenged by this book and I highly recommend it.

September Books

October 1st, 2010 by Rachel

38. Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent – This book tells Peggy Vincent’s story from a nursing student in the 60s during the twilight sleep era of childbirth into a career as a midwife attending homebirths through the 80s and 90s. Full of birth stories, well written, and insightful, I could not put this book down. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in childbirth.

39. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – Whew! What a page turner. This was the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy and it certainly did not disappoint.

40. The Doula Book by Klaus, Kennell and Klaus – I read this book as part of my labor doula training. It was helpful, but a bit hard to read, though I’m not sure why. It provides a great review of research regarding doula-attended births, but may be a bit much for expectant parents to read, though it was not nearly so “hands-on” and practical as a book like The Birth Partner.

41. Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling in Southern Appalachia by Dennis Covington – This was a very strange book to pick up, but it piqued my interest when seeing it on my friend, Megan’s, 50 books in a year list. It was a fascinating book, and I had way too many snake dreams while reading it.

August Books

September 3rd, 2010 by Rachel

33. Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Deibler Rose — this is one of my all-time favorite books, not quite as great as the Hiding Place, but I still learn so much from it every time I read it. I highly recommend it.

34. For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macauley — I read this book in preparation for homeschooling, while also trying vary my sources. This author advocates Charlotte Mason’s theories of education, and while I won’t follow her method completely, I found this book to be inspirational. The main idea of this book is educating the whole child–their nature as a child of God and that being the umbrella of education. This is something repeatedly stressed at the Classical Conversations Parent Practicum we attended earlier this summer, and one worth reminding myself of often.

35. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – the sequel to The Hunger Games that I read last month. This book was just as riveting and an excellent sequel. I am counting down the days until the final book is out at the end of the month–and hoping our library gets some copies of it as soon as possible. (Still on hold and waiting for #3!)

36. The VBAC Companion by Diana Korte – I read this as a requirement for the labor doula certification I am pursuing. Yes, another certification!

37. The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Blank – this collection of short stories was our book club book of the month. I enjoyed it, though it was not a normal book I would pick up. I laughed out loud several times as I was reading it; a great read while the hubs was away on a work trip.

July Books

August 1st, 2010 by Rachel

28. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield — This was my book club’s June book, and I highly recommend it. There are so many parallels and references to Jane Eyre, which is also one of my favorite books. The story was so intriguing, and I could not put it down. It gave our book club plenty to discuss, perhaps the longest we have discussed our book selection.

29. The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education by Leigh Bortins — I read this to learn more about the Classical Method of homeschooling, which is what we will be following. We will be participating in our local Classical Conversations group, and the author of this book is the founder and president of Classical Conversations. This book was very practical and inspiring.

30. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins — I could not put this book down. This was one of those books that you read while cooking, while the kids are making mayhem of the house, while you should be sleeping… it was that good. While written toward teenagers with teenage protagonists, there is minimal romance and even less cheesiness. This futuristic novel examines the affects of war on society, and while it is disturbing and scary, I recommend it.

31. Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. by Kevin DeYoung — Another great book that a friend from church loaned us. I wish that someone had made me read this book when I was in college, wasting endless hours worrying and planning about my future. Now that I am a little older and little wiser and resting in God’s grace and sovereignty, it was not quite so earth-shattering as it would have been, but still very impactful. If you are a college student or even in high school, or plagued with indecision and not sure about God’s will for your life, you should read this book.

32. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss — I read the unabridged version aloud to Bud this month, and I am going to count it as a book I read because we spent so much time reading it. This was a great book, quite adventurous, though the unabridged version was a little lengthy and required me to “translate” some of it down for him to understand.