Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Books of 2012

As you know if you've poked around on this blog at all, we are a reading family.  As the end of the year approached, I thought I'd post my list of the best books I have read over the past year.  In no particular order, but organized roughly into categories.   Enjoy!

North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell):  If you are a fan of Jane Austen, you will probably like Elizabeth Gaskell too.  North and South has some similar plot elements to Pride and Prejudice, but superimposes them on top of a setting during the Industrial Revolution, which adds the tension between 'workers' and 'masters' on top of the relationship between the two main characters.

Joy in the Ordinary (Theresa Fisher): A light reading "Christian fiction" kind of book, but written about a Catholic family.  Sweet story, and interesting insights into Catholic culture.

In the Days of Queen Victoria (Eva March Tappan):  Fascinating look at the life of Queen Victoria.  I found it interesting that she didn't particularly aspire to be Queen, but when that role fell to her she took her responsibility very, very seriously.  A good lesson in taking on whole-heartedly even those tasks we don't really WANT to do.

The Little Duke (Charlotte Yonge):  I pre-read this as it is one of the more difficult books used in the AO Year 2 curriculum. It is about Richard, Duke of Normandy (who later became the grandfather to William the Conqueror, I believe).  I found myself riveted - full of intrigue, drama, and the tension between revenge and forgiveness.

Unknown to History: A Story of the Captivity of Mary, Queen of Scots (Charlotte Yonge): Another fascinating historical novel by the same author as The Little Duke - about a girl adoped as an infant after having been the only person to survive a shipwreck and later discovers she is the long-lost daughter of Mary Queen of Scots.  This is a free-read in AO Year 3.

Educational Philosopy
Uncovering the Logic of English (Denise Eide): Very interesting look at the structure of the English langauge - which isn't as 'irregular' as we give it credit for.  I am in the throes of teaching reading and spelling, so found this fascinating.

Home Education (Charlotte Mason):  This took me a LONG time to read, but the effort was so well worth it.    Charlotte Mason had a lot of insight into children and how they learn.  I'm now reading her Philosophy of Education, which is equally good.  I started to blog about some of my insights from reading her series, but got sidetracked by life.  I do hope to get back to it next year, however, so stay tuned.

The Writer's Jungle (Julie Bogart): While not explicitly Charlotte Mason, this 'teaching writing' handbook is in accord with many of her ideas.   Charlotte Mason style language arts instruction is one of the things that I've had a hard time wrapping my mind around (very different from how you and I were taught), so I appreciate materials like this that sort of flesh out for me what this might look like in real life.  While I may not follow her program explicitly, I will can see myself using it as a helpful reference as we continue to work through the various stages of the writing process.

Loving the Little Years (Rachel Jankovic): Yes, this was on last year's list too.  I re-read it this year.  It was still good.  The greatest insight I gained this go around is that our children are people, not an organizational project.  Having systems and routines in place to keep your home running are good and important, but not at the expense of the little hearts that have been entrusted to us.

Christian Living
Redefining Home (Carrie Ann Hudson):  While I didn't appreciate the corny poetry the author felt the need to include, so many of her insights about living in a culture other than your own - including langauge learning - really resonated with me. 

Grace for the Good Girl (Emily Freeman): Another book that really resonates with me, as I seek to understand what kind of difference God's grace really ought to make in the way I live my life.  I am very much a "Christian good girl".

If I can, I'll see if I can get Michelle to do a list of her favorites too!   And what about you?  What was the best book that you read this year?

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