Sunday, January 24, 2016

So...I'm back. (And 2015 in Books)

I know, I know I said I wasn't going to blog anymore.   And honestly, I have no aspirations of blogging regularly.  That's just not something I see happening in my current life situation. 
But then my very-dear-real-life-sister-friend starting asking about what she needed to know to get started with Ambleside Online Year 1 because she was feeling overwhelmed by it.  She lives on the opposite side of the country from me, so it's not like we can just sit down over coffee while I tell her what I've learned from two trips (soon to be three) through Year 1.   Nope…I'd have to write her a bunch of emails to answer her questions.  And I got to thinking that if I took the time to write all my thoughts out for her, it really wouldn't take that much longer to tidy them up for publication here, in case they might be useful to others out there too?  And if I'm going to re-activate this space to publish that little series, then really it wouldn't hurt to pop in here now and again with some book thoughts or nature photos or whatnot – right?
So here I am.  I don't know how often we'll be able to visit in this space, since my commitment to my real-life day-to-day relationships still trump my online relationships – and my husband has promised to hold me accountable to that.  But be looking for that 'getting started with AO Year 1" series soon, and in the meantime I leave you with my top reads of 2015.  I originally posted this to Facebook, but I'm reposting it here for posterity alongside my top reads of 2011, 2012, 2013 Part 1 and Part 2, and 2014 (wow – have I been writing in this space for that long?!)
I read 49 books in 2015, not counting the Bible, books I started and didn't finish (not too many), or books read to the children for school or otherwise. These are my top 5 picks, in no particular order:

1. Ourselves by Charlotte Mason
CM was such a wise, insightful lady. This book is different from the typical discussion of educational philosophy in her other books - it was written to students to help them develop wisdom and character.  I took a lot from it, but know I didn't scratch the surface. Look forward to revisiting it someday.

2. The Abolition of Man by CS Lewis
Worth the effort. So many pieces fell into place for me in terms of WHY Charlotte Mason's ideas and the classical liberal arts tradition are important and worth the effort to try and use in our homeschool.  I wrote about some of my "aha" moments here.

3. With by Skye Jethani
Paradigm shifter. This book helped both my husband and I realize just why we got so burned out on overseas ministry and helped point us in the right direction to put the pieces back together.

4. The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge
I actually read about 4 Elizabeth Goudge novels this year and she is my favorite new-to-me author. This particular one was my favorite of the 4. He makes all things new.

5. A Passion for the Impossible by Miriam Rockness
This is the biography of Lilias Trotter, British artist and  missionary to Algeria. What a testimony and encouragement, especially in terms of the fact that we are facing some pretty 'impossible' circumstances ourselves right now.
Honorable mentions, since picking just 5 is hard: I also loved Ivanhoe (Scott) and Beowulf (Seamus Heaney's translation) both books I read with the AO Book Discussion ladies. I especially surprised myself with how much I enjoyed Beowulf. Also read the newest Mitford book, Come Rain or Come Shine, which is certainly "comfort food" reading, rather than great literature...but I loved that too, and it did give me some good food for thought.  A trip to Mitford is always worthwhile.
And while I mostly ditch books that I don't like, one book that I finished to the end this year and still didn't like was Far from the Madding Crowd (Hardy). Can people be more infuriating that the people in this book?! Yeesh.
So what about you? What did you read? What were your top and bottom picks?  I'm always up for talking books….


  1. What a great idea, friend! I am confident that chronicling this and making it available will be a great blessing to many. And it will be nice to "see" you here as you create these posts.

    For the record I completely understand your choice to step away. I love my online friends dearly - many of whom have become in real life friends, thankfully! - but I already spend too much time online. Adding a blog into the mix would put me further over that "healthy balance" line.

    I have yet to read any Goudge but have been meaning to. Someday, when I get through the current stack, perhaps. Ivanhoe makes my cut for 2015, though. I loved it!! Other faves included Charlotte Yonge's The Heir of Redclyffe, Robert Carlson's Truth on Trial, and The Liberal Arts Tradition. I quickly read through Leif Enger's Peace Like a River at the end of the year and very much enjoyed it.

    The first book I have completed in 2016 happens to be Ourselves. I didn't enjoy it initially as much as I like CM's other volumes, but I did end up loving it in the end.

    1. Yay! I got a comment. :D I know, I wrestle so much with the online time thing. I still haven't really worked out a good 'balance' for that since we came back to the States. We'll see how this goes. The Forum of course is my top priority for my online time, largely because so many of those people are my real-life friends too.

      Charlotte Yonge....I need to give her another try. I think I tried The Daisy Chain a couple years ago but couldn't get into it. Maybe when my stack is down a bit...:P I liked the Liberal Arts Tradition too. I read that right after CM Volume 3 and loved all the connections I saw.

      Thanks for stopping by friend!

  2. I am so excited you are back here! I had been reading your blog for about a year and a half before you stopped and I have missed your thoughtful, humble blog posts. I am looking forward to your new series. I am sure I will learn a lot from your insights as always.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Tania. It feels good to be back...I missed it more than I thought I would. :)

  3. I look forward to your new series! (no pressure, though, of course!) I will be starting year 1 for the second time later this year. My top books of 2015 would be Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and Nurture by Nature by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger. I didn't read enough (fourth baby at the beginning of the year...) but I have my goals set for this year and I am on track so far!