Trying to find where to head with the theme for this month – love.
Seems sort of cliche for the month, doesn’t it? And we don’t really do Valentine’s Day in our family. Never have, really, as it seems to be more of the infatuation sort of “love” that is focused on for the holiday. But we do want to acknowledge that love is important and part of what we need in life. Really, though, we need to be focusing on God’s love and that is where I hope to show my heart to my girls.
With that in mind, I have been wanting to approach the CS Lewis book The Four Loves once more. We listened to it a few years ago on audio, with Lewis doing the reading but I would like to see if I can find it in print for a reasonable price.
The next one I have on my reading list this month is a daily devotional called My Mother’s Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family, and Faith by Ramona Richards. I have read this one before and really like it. The quilt has always represented a showcase of love in my mind as I saw my great-grandmother and grandmother work so hard on them during their lives. So, this one is a sweet devotional focused around the quilt.
The last book I have in my stack for this theme is another read-through of Keep A Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot. This lady stands as an embodiment of showing the love of God to others throughout her lifetime and her writings bring that through well. I have read this one out loud with my girls before and I want to read it on my own now. I enjoy the writing of Elisabeth Elliot and if you have read her writings, you should. Through The Gates of Splendor is an amazing look at the work of herself and others in the jungles of Central America.
I am sure I will find others to pick up along the theme during the weeks of February and there are tons of children’s books that fall here but these are where my mind is at this time of the month, so here you go.
For the winter challenge, I chose some books that had wintery themes or scenes in them. Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, in particular. Their books are fiction but tell of real life that they experienced in one way or another.
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a semi-autobiographical account of a winter that was harsh and hard. They, and many others in the area, almost did not survive it. From the stories of bravery to the recounting of the daily grind stuck in a small room while preserving heat and food as much as possible, the family must survive. They depend on Ma and Pa and each others as they all try to work together and encourage one another through the long days and dark nights of blizzard after blizzard after blizzard. I had forgotten some of the parts of this story and it really helped me appreciate my blessings and material possessions even more. Those were some tough folks who settled the prairie!
Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane was joy to reread and was a short read. She follows in the footsteps of her mother well. This book tells the story of two young (teenagers, really) pioneers as they journey west and settle into a dugout. After what promises to be a prosperous yield of crop, the prairie does what it does best – throw up obstacles. Between the locusts and the lack of jobs, leaving the area is the only option. But if they leave their homestead, others will move onto it while they are away for the winter and take it from them. What to do? One leaves and one stays. This is the tale of their lives.
These were the two main ones that I read, though I did also pick up Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink. I had a book from childhood, Caddie Woodlawn, that was a favorite. A couple of years ago, I saw Winter Cottage at a used book sale and grabbed it but hadn’t read it. I did this month and really fell in love. A family of a father and two daughters are trying hard just to survive. Their car breaks down on a trip through the woods and they take shelter from the weather in a winter cabin. They don’t know the owners but need something and so choose this option. This is the story of their time at the winter cabin and the adventures. While I don’t love the taking over of a house that isn’t their, I adored the way this story took unexpected turns and showed that open hearts and honest hearts can go a long way towards making wrongs right.
Be sure to visit the other members of the Online Book Club to see what they are doing this month for the theme of Winter.
Well, I have enjoyed some down time to read this month and ended up reading a total of 35 books. This does include the 24 books that were holiday themed and we used a nightly read alouds. We celebrate many things with books and Christmas is no different. Books galore! There were, of course, books given as gifts as well. 🙂
Other than the 24 books that we read, most of which were picture books, I read 10 of my own. These included the books I mentioned in the opening post for the December Online Book Club. I thoroughly enjoyed The Christmas Cake and The Gift of the Magi. The Birds’ Christmas Carol was odd but enjoyable. These three short stories were quick and easy reads. I also read A Christmas Carol, the Charles Dickens’ classic. I had never read the original before and I enjoyed it a lot. It wasn’t really that long so it didn’t take but a few days’ worth of reading time.
In addition to these books, focused around Celebrations, I read several others sent to me by a friend. You can find reviews of them on the A Net In Time blog, which I am linking on each title. I thoroughly enjoyed The Jane Austen Society and Miss Austen. Another that I just was thrilled with as The Porcupine Year. This was a middle school level book but I loved it an am looking for the other two related to it at the library. A Place At The Table and All of Me were also in the box of books I received. I flew through both of these. I wouldn’t say I loved them but they were still enjoyable and had excellent story lines. Oh, yeah, almost forgot, the picture book We Believe In You was in there, along with My Friendship Journal, which the girls grabbed immediately.
The other one on my list for the month was in conjunction with a unit study with Miss J on The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. She thought she didn’t like the book. She found out she was wrong and begged for more each time we had to stop. A win!
So, as you can see it was a strong month for books. The theme of celebration for the online book club really got me considering and reading a few books that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I enjoyed the month.
Don’t forget to check in with the other participants to see what they read this month. Also, head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to see what others wrote about for the blogging/social media challenge on Turning The Page. Happy New Year!
So, what to do for December for the Book Club? I know – we are already over a week into December. The theme is celebrations and I have tried to focus that down and bit and have been completely unsuccessful. So you know what? I’m going to share a number of books that we read this month. For years, we have wrapped 24 children’s books about the holidays and unwrapped one each night. I’ll share those with you at the end of the month or you can follow along day-by-day on the Instagram or Facebook page. I post those (almost) daily.
For myself, I am reading a number of holiday short stories and books that I have downloaded to my Kindle. Again, I did this years ago but have never ready them. So I am doing that this year. I started Dicken’s A Christmas Carol last night. Previous to that I had looked up some of the short stories like The Gift of the Magi, The Birds’ Christmas Carol, and The Christmas Cake. I will be reading others. Most of these are free to download since they are in the public domain. An excellent way to do some enjoyable holiday readying.
The other thing I am doing this month is reading with my youngest. We are going to work hard on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe next week as part of our holiday studies. Something different. And of course, we will include some baking of some sort.
What are you reading and doing this month for celebrations?
I read the short writings from Beth Moore in November as part of the online book club’s theme of “thankful.” I chose these two books of musings for a couple of reasons – one, I had them but had not read them; two, focusing on the gift of love from God – Jesus Christ – is cause for thankfulness to me. I found that I really enjoyed most of both of these books.
Both of the books are similar in form and format. I have them both in ebook form on my Kindle. They are both mostly poetry with some anecdotes or other background writings included. They are fairly short. They can direct your mind to consider God’s love and gift in a new or different way.
If poetry is not your thing, you probably won’t get as much enjoyment out of these two books. If, however, you find poetry interesting and bringing a fresh perspective to thoughts, concepts, and ideas, these books will be right up your alley.
I found that the writings that took a fresh, human perspective on things – though not necessarily following the biblical accounts of history – really brought some new ideas to mind. The writing on Mary and newborn Jesus really brought home just how terrifying and difficult that time must have been for Mary. The interaction between Mary and Elizabeth made me consider the trying situation they were both in and the comfort they would have been for each other.
Poetry is used to emphasize ideas and one of my favorites follows. It is from Further Still, pp 131-132.
You are the Poet, I am the poem. You gather my lines from sunshine and storm
Glimpses of faith, steadfast and still To harrowing falls and stubborn self-will
Dance down Jerusalem streets To despair beneath the weeping tree
Sometimes pleasure – sometimes pain Sometimes they blend ’til they seem the same
Each passage of life a poignant phrase Challenging sense in a senseless maze
Alas, and at the end of time Rhythm will come and words will rhyme.
Paper yellowed, wrestled, and worn Still You are my Poet … and I am Your poem.
There were several favorites in Things Pondered. These include Seasons (p 108) and My Every One (p 135-136). Heroes was a stunning look at “heroes” of the Bible but the focus was on who was their hero. Time and again I found myself considering how wonderful each of the poems were.
As I find I have to do with writing from those who are Christian and part of a denomination, I need to warn of a place to be wary. There is a part where what denominations refer to as “the sinner’s prayer” is discussed. While much of the writing about this is in line with God’s word, the Bible includes much more in the plan of salvation than just saying a prayer in your heart. Please read and study the Bible with someone who understands that the plan of salvation is not found in a single, independent verse of the Bible. It is covered in many place and includes hearing the word of God, believing that word and that Jesus is the son of God, repenting of your sins (and this includes changing your ways), confessing your belief out loud to others, and being baptized for the remission of your sins. This is how you come into contact with the blood of Jesus, which is the only thing that can save your from your sins and the consequences of that sin. I would be happy to chat with you about this if you would like to. Please contact me.
These books are both very good. They are not study tools for the Bible, which sort of surprised me since I got them at a time when Beth Moore was sharing all of her Bible studies. But, they can bring a different perspective, causing you to pull out your Bible and read what God actually says in the historical account that fueled the poetry and stories written down by Beth Moore. I did enjoy these and there is much to be gleaned from them if you “pick out the meat and ignore the bones.”
Don’t forget to visit the others who are participating in the online book club. You can find them at the following blogs:
I have joined in with some online friends for a book club. We are doing it simply. Hopkins Homeschool is heading it up. Each month, she will announce a theme. We will pick a book based on that theme. Read your book, or books, during the month. That’s it.
I, and some other bloggers, are going to post at the beginning of the month about our choices. Then, at the end of the month, we’ll come back and write about what we did, the book(s) we or our family read, and anything we might have done to make it special. The bloggers joining in are:
For the theme of Thankful, I chose to find a book that will encourage me to be thankful. When I was looking around what I had, I found two books of poetry by Beth Moore. I had never read them before and opened one up. I was immediately struck by the poetry and the vingettes she writes. I decided that these two books would be the start of my thankful books for November.
The two books are:
Things Pondered: From the Heart of a Lesser Woman
Further Still: a collection of poetry and vignettes
I am looking forward to reading about what the others are doing this month. If you would like to join in, just leave me a comment below or on social media about what you are reading under the theme of thankful this month.
This month I took a literary trip to Britain. Not in person but rather through a fun travel writer from America who has adopted Great Britain and has lived there for quite a while.
Bill Bryson decided he was going to visit the farthest south and farthest north parts of the isle and then write about it in The Road To Little Dribbling. It is a follow up to a previous book that he wrote some 25ish years ago titled Notes From A Small Island.
This was a very enjoyable read about the large and small of England and its neighbors. From the coastal villages to the bustling towns, Mr. Bryson writes candidly about his adventures. There are many laugh-out-loud times in the book and he makes the land sound stunningly beautiful.
Mr. Bryson is not your common travel writer. He does more than just tell you about what you will see at a place. He gives you the background, the little-known history, the cost, the good and the irritating. He has convinced me that I never want to drive in England and that trains are an interesting option for travel. He walks everywhere, it seems, and sees many off-the-beaten-path places to share with his reader.
Mr. Bryson created a “line” to follow for this book and calls it the “Bryson Line”, running from Bognor Regis in the south all the way up to Cape Wrath in the north. He gets there, not in a straight line as his “Bryson Line” might indicate but rather with some back and forth, up and down, hitting unique and out-of-the-way places alongside those that everyone wants to know about.
When you have gotten into The Road to Little Dribbling, you will find yourself immersed in Britain and its history. Smiling through the reading, you enjoy your visit through the eyes and walks of Mr. Bryson. This is one I definitely recommend. (Do note, there is a bit of language here and there but it is not common and I found it easy enough to just glide right over.)
Blowing through a book in under two days and laughing out loud while reading are not my norm these days. But, oh, this book was such a joy to read. Lauren Graham has been a favorite since we discovered the TV show Gilmore Girls. We loved the first few years of it and her character was quirky and fun. Turns out, she writes just like that – quirky and fun.
Reading Talking As Fast As I Can really gave me a sense of talking with a good friend, laughing and sharing inside jokes, which she does a great job of including the reader in. (See her part on “medical, medical”, page 45, for a good example.) Her story includes you in her childhood and brings you up through the end of the Gilmore Girls, part II. I know that’s not what they called it but “reboot” seems a strange word for it since we all knew it wasn’t a starting of the series again. Anyhow, reading this makes you feel a part of her life, like a friend might be. Fun, quirky Lauren just keeps on being herself and brings you along for the ride.
Some of my favorite parts were, um, all of it. Seriously. I read the whole thing in about a day and love it. Want to know about funky things on Gilmore Girls? She gives you a season by season breakdown of the show, including how it is so different from today’s world to fun things that happened or people that came by. Want to know about the second Gilmore Girls? She kept a diary and gives you many days worth of insider information on the filming and the people.
Through out, you get a good feel for the quirky side of Lauren Graham. She talks about the difficulty of being an actor and the joys it brings to her life. She shares about the struggles and the ease. She brings us to see how she stumbled into writing and shows us just how blessed we are by her free time. (We got some good books out of her having some free time!) There are even tips in there for writers that I can see implementing for myself when I would like to accomplish some things that just aren’t getting done.
If you are looking for an enjoyable read, this is it. I can’t recommend it enough. There is little, if any, language in it. (I truly can’t remember any at all but I could have skipped over something and not remember it.) It is fun and funny. What a pleasure it was to read and I am looking for her novel and the printing of the graduation speech she gave.
This month’s selection is by Michael J Tougias and Casey Sherman. It is titled The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue.
I had read a review of this book on A Net In Time and immediately went to the library site and put it on hold. It sounded fascinating and I was not disappointed.
In 1952, there were many large oil tankers that had been produced during WWII still a float on the sea. Often, they were now de-commissioned from the armed services and being used by commercial groups. This was not unusual and the men on them served their companies well.
In the winter of 1952, mid-February, New England was slammed by a nor-easter. It was a terrific storm and wrecked havoc all up and down the sea coast. However, it was on the water where the worst was happening.
In the early hours, an oil tanker sent up a distress call. They were floundering and knew they were unlikely to survive the storm. Their hull was cracking, quite literally. Manufactured quickly during the war, the materials used were not quality and they were breaking apart. While the Coast Guard sent boats to their rescue, it was hard going. The Coast Guard typically used smaller vessels to head out to sea to help and these small vessels were having to battle waves that were 70 and 80 feet high, much taller than their small ships. However, they set out to help the oil tanker.
The Coast Guard, however, was in for a huge surprise. While looking for the oil tanker, a plane noticed an oil tanker broken in half. Yet, it didn’t appear to be the one he was looking for. Sure enough, a second oil tanker had broken in half during the storm before they were able to get a distress call off. By luck, they were found and additional rescue boats were sent their way.
The Finest Hours details the rescue of the men on the two oil tankers and the lives of the men who set out to rescue them, knowing they were likely to not return home. These were definitely “the finest hours” of the Coast Guard rescue teams.
Based on a true story, this one is worth reading. It is captivating and invigorating. It was one I could not put down and read into the night to find out what happened. As you might imagine with this type of storm and this many people involved, not everyone survived. Without the Coast Guard, though, it is likely none of the men would have survived. This is a story of possibility because of the men who went out in those small Coast Guard boats.
If you want to know about the end of WWII, this is the book you need to read. The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World is written by author A. J. Baime covers just four months but it is perhaps the most important four months in the 20th century.
Harry Truman was elected vice-president without any expectation that he would ever end up as president. The whole country was shocked by the sudden death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in April of 1945. Now President Truman had been kept completely out of the loop about everything – the economics of the country, the war, the agreements made with other Allied leaders, the secret development of the atomic bomb, and more. He had a lot of catching up to do and few thought he could do it. He was a calm and quiet man. Many thought he had no power to make decisions.
This book will take you through the four most important months of WWII. President Truman acted quickly and decisively, keeping close to him those who he knew could give him sound advice and help get him up to speed. Chronicling Truman’s political history and the bits of his personal life that affects his choices as president, we travel through the end of the war and on into his continued presidency.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in charming biographies, political history, war history, or US history. Reading this taught me much about this background of the war, the Cold War, presidential history, and more. It was interesting and informative.
Do you know of any additional biographies of President Truman? I found him to be an interesting man who I would enjoy learning even more about. Feel free to leave me a comment about any additional resource you might know of about President Truman.