Day 6: Belong #write31days2018

Ever since I was a little girl, I have struggled with finding where I belong. It’s not that I didn’t have a loving family or good friends. But I have always felt like I was a little different and didn’t quite belong to my peer group. Even as an adult l struggle to find a place where I feel like I am really more than just a curious outsider that the “in crowd” tolerates having around. 

The difference is that now I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. Especially in this age of online comparison in which people see carefully curated images of others’ lives, I know that many moms like myself feel like they are missing in-person community to which they can really belong and be truly themselves.

So this month I finally decided to do something that is way out of my comfort zone. I am starting a little book study group of homeschooling mom to study through some of Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles together.

I am hoping that this group will become more than just a book club, that it will become a little tribe of likeminded women who belong together, who support each other and lift each other up when we fall. I want this to be a welcome place for other moms to be honest with each other and to encourage one another, because we all need to belong somewhere.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

The Reading Report, Vol. 14: When You’re Not in Love with a Book

Ever start reading a book that comes highly recommended only to have it fall sort of flat for you? It happens to all of us once in a while, doesn’t it? I am currently reading a book that is well-liked by many people, but I just can’t decide how I feel about it. I am nearly halfway through, so it is not that I haven’t given this book enough time. The confusing thing is that I love the overall style of the writing, especially the descriptive passages that have an almost poetic feel. But I don’t care much for the characters so far, and I am having trouble resonating with the story for some reason. At the same time, I do want to know what is going to happen to these characters. It is a complicated feeling!

I’m curious to know what you do when you come across this situation in your reading life. When do you decide to give up on a book that you just aren’t loving? What makes you finish a book even when it isn’t your cup of tea? I would love to hear how you deal with books you don’t just love? In other news, here are the books I have finished since last month and what I am currently reading:

Finished Books:

I finished reading, or I should say listening to, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. It was not the most riveting detective story ever, but considering that it is known as the original detective novel, I suppose that makes sense. It was longer than I anticipated, and the epistolary format seemed a bit cumbersome at times. However, I did enjoy the story and character development. And the solution to the mystery did have some unexpected twists!

I also finished Richard Adams’ Watership Down and absolutely fell in love with it! Who knew a book about rabbits could be so captivating?! I don’t know quite how to write about it, honestly. Adams succeeded in addressing so many deep themes in this fantastic adventure that I still find myself mulling over the ideas presented. I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t yet!

Currently Reading:

Crossing to Safety: This is the book I’m struggling with right now. I am going to finish it, though, and I will let you all know how I feel about it when I’m all done!

Age of Innocence: I haven’t really spent much time with this book yet, but it is not my first Edith Wharton. I expect to be fully engaged in this story once I have time to read past the first couple of chapters.

King Lear: The CiRCE Close Reads Podcast Network just started a new podcast called The Play’s the Thing. It is dedicated to slowly reading and discussing all of Shakespeare’s plays! The first one on the docket is King Lear. I knew virtually nothing about this play until I started, but I am enjoying it so far, although it sounds odd to say I am “enjoying” reading a tragedy!

Up Next:

I only have one more book (after Age of Innocence) to complete on my Back to the Classics Challenge list, and that is The Spiritual Life. When that is all done, my plan to is to compile a list of books that I already own to read. I am looking forward to finishing my B2tC list so I can give myself more permission to read whatever I want whenever I want to read it!

P. S.–Later this week I am going to a local library book sale, so I will probably be posting on Instagram about my finds, and maybe share about them in next month’s Reading Report. Be sure to follow me so you don’t miss seeing what I bring home!

The Reading Report, Vol. 13: Summer Reading Edition

summer reading

Wow, I can hardly believe it has been over a year since I started “The Reading Report” as a regular installment each month. I have so enjoyed keeping track of my reading and discussing books here on the blog. I hope you have found a few new titles to interest you, as well! For this July edition, I am going to share a quick recap of my summer reading so far, plus, what is up next on my list.

My summer reading time has been pretty high due to long drives to family and my new habit of walking in the driveway and reading at the same time. Since I have collected a rather long list of finished books from the past month and a half, I’m not going to try your patience with long descriptions of what I thought of each book. Instead, I will just tell you how much I liked or disliked it, and a few words that sum up the book or my feelings about it. All the Kids’ Read Alouds are books we loved and highly recommend, so I won’t bother with further comments on those. Here we go…

Finished books:

Persuasion by Jane Austen: Loved it (of course), Jane Austen (enough said!)
The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse: Liked it, British humor
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Shaffer and Barrows: Loved it, Post WWII but light and fun
Utopia by Thomas More: Disliked it, Important book but heavy on the socialism
The Wreath by Sigrid Undset: Liked it, Excellent writing but sad story
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams: Liked it, Another sad story but excellent play
One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler: Loved it, Truly funny with an important message

Kids’ Read Alouds:
The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis
Poppy by Avi

Currently Reading:

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins: This is one of my Back to the Classics reads. It is kind of long, and so far the story is a bit slow moving, but there are several interesting characters and a mystery being set up. I think I will enjoy it more and more as I go.

What Should I Read Next?

Since I just finished the two main books I was focussing on reading last night, I haven’t really had time to choose what to really dig into next. I have several unfinished non-fiction books that I really would like to work on, but I don’t know which one most piques my interest right now. For fiction, I am trying to decide between Watership Down and All the Pretty Horses since I acquired both at recent library sales.

Now, how about you? Are you doing a lot of summer reading, either for enjoyment or pre-reading for homeschool? Tell me all about it in the comments!

The Reading Report, Vol. 11: April Edition

I’m baaaack! I really hated to take over a week-long hiatus from the blog, but we just had a lot of real life going on that interrupted my writing life. I finally feel like I’m getting some ideas on what to write again, so hopefully, I will be back with more regular posts in the coming weeks.

The good news is that my plan for “spring cleaning” my reading life last month worked out really well, and I have several finished titles to discuss today. I also have started (or re-started) a few books that are giving me a lot to think about! So, let’s talk books, shall we?

What I Finished Reading:

True Grit: This was my first time reading a western novel, and I LOVED it! It was the most recent pick for the Circe Close Reads podcast, so I knew it would be good. I just didn’t know what to expect. I was most surprised by how much I laughed while reading this book. The adventure part of the story was fast-paced and made for a quick read. Be warned…there are snakes, gunshot wounds, spiders, bats and skeletons! But the story is so well-crafted, that I think it is totally worth the any discomfort caused by those little details!

Hello Mornings: If you are needing a fresh start or just a little “kick in the pants” to get into a good morning routine that will set your day off in the right direction, I can recommend Kat Lee’s book, Hello Mornings! Her personal stories and encouraging and touching, and her writing style is candid and uplifting. The practical suggestions and questions for reflection throughout will help you take action to make your mornings count. Even though I have a pretty workable morning routine already, it was good to think about how I can up my game and add more healthy habits to certain areas of my morning and the rest of my day!

Dr. Dolittle: This was a free-read that my son and I read together last month. I was a big fan of the Dr. Dolittle musical with Rex Harrison when I was young, so I really was looking forward to reading the book. It was a delightful tale, as I expected. My son loves stories about animals, as well as adventures and fantasy, so this book fit the bill quite nicely.

Full: Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction: I amazed myself by actually completed two non-fiction (self-help, no less) books in one month! Granted, I had been working my way through them both for longer than that, but I am proud that I am improving in my ability to stick to this genre of book and finish! Asheritah Ciuciu did such an amazing job writing a book on such a challenging topic as food fixation, and her personal story makes everything she says so relatable. I think this book would be great for a small group or for accountability partners to go through together. It contains so many practical, Biblical ideas for changing the way we think about food and for pointing our attention back to Jesus.

White Fang: Yes, I actually finished the RIGHT book this time! And in the end, I am glad I read Call of the Wild first, and then this one so soon after. It gave me a chance to compare the stories of the two dogs who are the main characters. Jack London is such a great writer, and I found the way he crafted the two plots to work in opposite directions of each other truly fascinating. Again, I must warn more sensitive souls that these books contain some pretty hard to read descriptions of cruelty to dogs, both by men and other dogs. However, no matter how bad things look, there is redemption in the end.

Bark of the Bog Owl: The first book of the “Wilderking Trilogy”, Bark of the Bog Owl is a middle-grade fantasy novel that I think the whole family will enjoy. The story is a retelling of the life of the young King David, but set in a mythical world that resembles a medieval twist on the American southern landscape. (Sounds intriguing, no?!) My husband happens to work with the author of these books, Dr. Jonathon Rogers, and he was so kind to gift us with the whole set! I decided to pre-read this one to see if it would be a good family read aloud now or if we should wait a while. I am glad to report that we will definitely be adding it to our schedule sooner rather that later!

What I’m Reading Now:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: I picked this one back up, this time in hard copy format, rather than the e-book I started out with. While I know this is an important book for me to read and understand, I can’t really say I’m enjoying reading about the buying and selling of humans.

Parenting Scripts: I’ve mentioned this new book by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake before, and I am looking forward to digging into it again (and finishing it this time)! The great thing is that I’ll be reading this in community this time because Amber and Wendy are hosting a book club on their private facebook page. I can hardly wait to create some better strategies and habits for dealing with parenting challenges!

Switch on Your Brain: I recently heard about the author of this book, Dr. Caroline Leaf, and listened to a couple of podcasts she did on the affects of social media on our brains. I was so excited and curious about her work, that I got my hands on the first book of hers I found. And I’m loving it so far! This one has so much Scripture and science woven in together, and she also includes a 21-Day Brain Detox at the end of the book, which sounds fascinating! I’ll definitely let you know what I learn.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: I just started this today as my new audio book. It’s a little slow here at the beginning, but judging from my past experience with Jules Verne books, I think the action will pick up later on.

That’s a Wrap!

Kudos to you if you actually read this whole post! I realize I had a lot to say about all my books this month. I guess I’m making up for lost writing time, ha! But now it’s your turn to tell me what you are reading. Have you finished any new books lately?

The Reading Report, Vol. 10: A Little Spring Cleaning

We woke up to a light coating of very wet snow on the grass and trees yesterday, all glittering in the sunshine and making the woods look like a fairy world. But by mid-day, the snow had melted completely, as I expected since it is nearly spring in Middle Tennessee! I know a lot of people start talking about spring cleaning this time of year, and we get to itching to air out the house after being shut up for so long. I participated in a local consignment sale over the weekend and hauled out a bunch of the kids outgrown clothes from last year. Of course, I also brought home a fresh batch up new-to-us duds for this spring and summer.

It would also happen that I noticed this week that my reading life has gotten a bit messy lately. I have started a lot of books already this year, but I haven’t finished nearly so many. My mental  book lists are in quite a jumble! Even though my physical book shelves may appear pretty tidy, I feel like my reading life is in desperate need of a good decluttering session. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I get overeager to read “all the things.” Then I get overwhelmed with decision fatigue every time I sit down to read because I can’t figure out just which book I should pick up and keep reading. I know some people can have up to 10 books going at the same time, but I don’t think I am one of those people.

In order to clean up my reading life, I am going to shelve a bunch of the books I have started, just for the time being, and focus on just a few at a time. My approach to doing this needs to be balanced so that I always have some different types of reading material to choose from. My goal is to have only 3-4 books in progress at the same time. I aim to keep at least 2 fiction books on the docket at all times, one print and one audio. I also always need to be working through just 1 non-fiction devotional or self-help book. (This is the most challenging genre for me to actually finish, so just reading one at a time will help me stay on task.) Since I am continuously reading something aloud with my son, usually a new book for us both, I count it as part of my personal reading, as well.

Books I’m Keeping on My Active List:

True Grit–this is the newest selection for the Close Reads podcast. I am halfway through this book already, and I have relished it so far. It is not only a quick-moving book, but it is surprisingly humorous. I have also been intrigued by the many references to Scripture and bits of moral commentary.

Call of the Wild— I chose this book largely because I got it free on audio and had never read it before. I have to admit, I was not prepared for the vivid descriptions of mistreatment of dogs that make up a large part of the storyline. It has not been an easy listen, although it is an excellent piece of literature and a compelling story. Painful but powerful…I think that is how I would describe this book.

Hello Mornings–I am determined to finish this book by the end of the month! It was the selection for the February focus in the Cultivating the Lovely Podcast Patreon group, but I didn’t get started until halfway through the month. I am enjoying and gleaning some good insights, but it is just slow going for me because of the genre.

Dr. Dolittle–this is our new family read aloud. I am sure it won’t take us very long as the book is not thick, and the story is a fun one!

Books I’m Shelving for Now:

The Wreath–I was borrowing this from the library and hadn’t gotten far enough in before the due date to merit renewing it. It’s on my B2tC Challenge list, so I will get back to it sooner or later!

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (and the Key)–another B2tC Challenge book that I started with good intention. But this one is a painful read for me, and I can’t have more than one of those going at the same time. Maybe I will pick it back up when I finish one of my other fiction books.

Full–I do want to finish this book very soon. I only wish I had started it at the beginning of the 40 Day Sugar Fast because once that was over, I lost motivation to read the book, too!

Utopia–Another B2tC title that I started and couldn’t get into right away. I have had this book sitting on my bookshelf since college days and have never read the whole thing. I WILL finish it this year if it’s the last things I do, ha!

Better Together–I did read the first several chapters of Pam Barnhill’s new book, and I am really enjoying it so much! I just can’t read everything at once, and since I am pretty content with our current Morning Time and school schedule at the moment, I decided to put this on hold for the time being. I may come back to it during break week, though, just for a fresh bit of inspiration during my planning for the next term. (I do highly recommend you get your hands on this book before March 31, 2018 so you can get the fun exclusive bonuses Pam is offering! Just order through my Amazon affiliate link, then go to the Better Together book page and fill out the form at the bottom of the page to claim your bonus!)

The Spiritual Life–I started this yesterday on one of our long drives to and from church because I had forgotten to bring a book or knitting along for the ride. It is another of my B2tC titles, and I am looking forward to reading this as a devotional supplement, once I get finished with my other books in that genre.

Books I’ve Finished Lately:

Frankenstein–Having finished this book, my reaction was mixed. I was glad to have read it and gotten rid of all my pop-culture saturated ideas about what it would be like. I did find it a captivating and suspenseful read. There were some very thought-provoking ideas presented throughout the book. However, I also felt that I had to have a willing suspension of disbelief about the way Frankenstein acted throughout much of the story. Perhaps he really was a genius, but he did not display a lot of common sense or ability to foresee the consequences of his actions. His failure to take proper responsibility for the creature he had made really, really bothered me. But I guess that was part of the point of the story.

Farmer Boy–My son and I just finished this one together, and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole book. Even the 2 year old found it enjoyable when she happened to be around. Of course, all the descriptions of food make this a book you don’t want to read when you are hungry! But as a model of a hard-working boy who not only did his work but grew to love it, Farmer Boy is pretty hard to beat!

Babe, the Gallant Pig–this was a quick, fun little book to read on a quiet afternoon! I’ve loved the film version of Babe since it came out waaaay back in 1995 (honestly, how did that get to be so long ago!?), but I somehow missed the fact that there was a book until just recently. My son read it on his own and thought it was great, too. My one word of caution, however, if you are thinking of handing this over to your independent readers….the author uses the “technical term” for a female dog throughout to refer to the mother collie. I did not know this until after my son read the book, and I was reading it myself. He did not mention it, and having not come across this word in daily life, it is probable he just skimmed over it. However, if I had it to do over again, I would probably do this one as a family read-aloud and edit that out as I read!

Well, I think that’s about it for this round of the Reading Report! How is your reading life these days? Do you have any readerly spring cleaning to do? Or is your booklist already nice and tidy? I’d love for you to leave a comment and tell me what you’ve been reading lately!