Saturday, January 26, 2008

This week I finished reading two of the books I listed for the Dewey 300s in my reading challenge: 373.24 Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Simmons and 371.04 Morning by Morning by Paula Penn-Nabrit. I really enjoyed reading these books although they were very different in content and style.

Climbing Parnassus focuses on why a classical education was the primary educational model for centuries and why it should still be important today. I initially read it because I have been reading other books about classical education and this was recommended. Many of the other books were good about some of the "how-to", but this book emphasized the why. Simmons also differs from the common history-based classical education frequently espoused today in that he emphasizes that the languages are at the center. Among the emphasized points was that previous generations of classically educated people had a common core of knowledge and language to draw upon. Their understanding of morality, justice, liberty, and freedom came from reading the Greek and Roman classics (in the original) and they could banter the exact translation and meaning of certain items. Simmons also emphasized that this classical education and requirements to compose in Latin is a main component of the great literature produced in previous generations. My interest in learning Latin has been rekindled although will most likely not be acted on right away. I figure I have a few years to get up to speed on Latin before I need to teach my children Latin--they need to gain further competency in English first.

The second book I read, Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy Leauge by Paula Penn-Nabrit, was primarily the story of one family's experience. However, it was different from many of the other books I have recently read about education. Many authors write glowing reports and emphasize everyone else should do exactly what we did. This author, on the other hand, was very honest in stating this was our experience and what we learned, but it isn't for everyone. While reading the book, several times I felt like I was sitting at the table having a frank discussion with the author. This family came to home schooling after bad experiences in their private school. An emphasis was placed on how they desired to provide a holistic upbringing for their children encompassing not only education, but physical fitness, spirituality, arts, and community service, and how they accomplished their goals. This book provided a lot of food for thought for all parents regardless of the educational choices they make for their families.

Monday, January 21, 2008

This week life finally began to fall into a pattern again. In the evenings I really enjoy spending time reading to the children, but Christmas break had resulted in a too relaxed atmosphere largely from watching too many movies. This past week though we started making headway both on our for fun read-aloud and our non-fiction items. We also had better mornings although those can certainly be improved upon.

My own reading improved as I finished the first book for my reading challenge. Northfield by Johnny D. Boggs took top billing in the western category. This novel about the James-Younger gang's debacle of a Minnesota bank robbery piqued my interest in learning more about the main characters. Boggs employed an unique writing style where each chapter was told in the voice of a different person which both gave multiple perspectives on the events and carried the plot forward.

The biggest excitement for the week came when I received permission to take a course this semester. This feat was not easily accomplished and requires extra diligence on my part so that I may hope to take additional courses. So I have added weekly class preparation to my reading repertoire; however, every course I take forms a needed stone in the pathway to my future goals. On that note, studying beckons.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Book about Other Continents and Cultures (Books Around the World/African Reading Challenge)

Left to Tell: One Woman's Story of Surviving the Rwandan Holocaust.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah (memoir, Sierra Leone)

Joki-by Njeri Mbuti

The Mzungu Boy by Meja Mwangi (JUV)

Reading Lolita in Tehran

The Kite Runners

A Thousand Splendid Suns

The Bookseller of Kabul

Empress Orchid by Anchee Minn

The Last Empress by Anchee Minn

Sold by Patricia McCormick

The god of Small Things Arundhati Roy

That is the last of my lists. Well, I think I'd better get started reading.

Books about world religions

Neighboring Faiths

Tapestry of Faiths

Buddhism: A Short Introduction

Hinduism: A Short Introduction

Islam: The Straight Path

Inside the Community: Understanding Muslims Through Their Traditions

Miriam's Tambourine

Passing Over Easter (Finished)

Shinto: The Kami Way

The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam by Sidney Harrison Griffith

Peace Be Upon You: Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish co-existence in the Middle East by Zachary Karabell

Books previously purchased and not yet read (there are boxes and shelves of these)

Preacher's Wife

Tortured for Christ

He Leadeth Me

Monganga Paul

Cat who talked to Ghosts (Finished)

Cat Who Knew a Cardinal

Cat Who Lived High

Roger Caras' Treasury of Great Cat Stories

Chronicles of Narnia (all 7-I plan on reading these aloud to my children over the summer.)

One book from each of the 10 Dewey sections

000 006.7 a book about blogging or 025.524 Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online;

100 One of the many philosophy books I have purchased but not yet read.

200 One of the many books that I am surrounded with on a daily basis both at home and at work.

300 373.24 Climbing Parnassus, 371.04 Morning by Morning, 372.357 Pocketful of Pinecones (Finished all three)

400 480.7107 The Grammar of Our Civility: Classical Education in America (Finished)

500 509 Story of Science by Joy Hakim (all volumes available to date)

600 649.68 M381Yc When Children Love to Learn; any other parenting titles I choose to read this year (Finished)

700 783 Story of Christian Music; something about art

800 Roger Caras' Treasury of Great Cat Stories; Immortal Poems of the English Language; also some works on creative writing

900 909 The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon


Cat who talked to Ghosts (Finished)

Cat Who Knew a Cardinal

Cat Who Lived High

The Maltese Falcon

1 Agatha Christie

1 Susanna Gregory

1 Peter Tremayne

1 G. K. Chesterton (Father Brown)

1 Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael)

1 Dorothy Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey)

1 Emily Brightwell (Mrs. Jeffries)

Fantasies (Mythopaeic Awards Challenge)

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess

Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley

A Knot in the Grain by Robin McKinley

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

Deerskin by Robin McKinley

Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip

Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip

Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Northfield by Johnny D. Boggs (Finished)
The Virginian by Owen Wister
To the Last Man by Zane Grey

The Light of Western Stars by Zane Grey

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

Buffalo Wagons by Elmer Kelton

1 Max Brand

1 Louis L'Amour

After nearly two weeks of contemplating just what titles I plan to read for the Reading Challenges, I have posted my list. I had never planned an entire year's worth of reading in this manner before. In some categories it was difficult to list specific titles, but in other categories it was difficult to narrow the field to just a few items. I found myself finding many books that sounded too good to pass up. That led me to list more than eight titles in several categories. I figure this gives me some leeway in case a book doesn't fit as well as expected. In total 65 book are listed, not including the Chronicles of Narnia. I doubt I will get to them all, but it was a good exercise to construct a list.

  1. Biographies/Memoirs (In Their Shoes Challenge)

Preacher's Wife

Tortured for Christ

The Narnian

Walking from East to West

The Hiding Place

Son of a Shaman

He Leadeth Me

Monganga Paul

Autobiography of George Muller

Here I Stand: a Life of Martin Luther

(several of the books listed in category 8 Books Around the World are also memoirs.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Book Review

This weekend I finished reading Flirting With Monasticism: Finding God on Ancient Paths by Karen Sloan (IVP, 2006). The had been sitting on my "to read" pile through I-Share for quite some time. The looming date finally spurred me to read it. In brief, this book recounts the story of a Protestant girl (technically a Presbyterian minister by trade but not by practice) and her friendship with a young man who is entering the Dominican order and how she is lead to learn more about the Dominicans and incorporate various monastic or Catholic spiritual practices into her life. This book read quickly and was an interesting story. However, I was not satisfied with it. I must admit that it did not live up to the high expectations I generally have of IVP books. This book was not from their academic line, but wasn't even on the par with other books in their popular line. The author takes a girl next door tone and resorts to several passages where she uses "Me: Them:" to reproduce dialogue. I expected to have more research and how-to's in addition to the story line which precipitated the writing. I was hoping the book would knock my socks off and I could then recommend it for adding to the library where I work. I will not make such a recommendation and must confess this is the first IVP book in which I have been disappointed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Reading Challenges Part 2

I accidentally posted before I finished so here is the rest.

Along the way I discovered several other reading challenges including In Their Shoes Reading Challenge (reading biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs),the Book Awards Reading Challenge (reading books that have won awards), the Themed Reading Challenge (4 books about any theme between January and June), To Be Read Challenge, Book Around the World, Africa Reading Challenge, and others.

Here is my list of eight genres for now:
  1. Biographies (to meet In Their Shoes Challenge as well)
  2. Mysteries
  3. Fantasies (Mythopaeic Awards Challenge)
  4. Westerns
  5. Books about world religions (can be fiction or non-fiction but primarily non-fiction)
  6. Books previously purchased and not yet read (there are boxes and shelves of these)
  7. One book from each of the 10 Dewey sections (will overlap with other sections)
  8. Books about other continents and cultures (Books Around the World/African Reading Challenge).
Numbers 2, 3, and 4 will cover Book Awards Challenge as well. Many categories will overlap and YA or children's literature can be included as well. More specific lists will be added in the next week or two although I reserve the right to edit and change the lists as needed.
Earlier in December I learned of the 888 reading challenge. This sounds really neat and most of my reading the past six months plus has focused on parenting and education issues. While I will continue to read in those areas I want to branch out in my reading a bit as well.

New Year's

That grand day of the year when everyone resolves to do this, that, and the other has arrived. This ritual has been a source of much contemplation the past few days as I have tried to figure out what I would like to do that stretches but does not set up certain failure. My list includes the ubiquitous exercising more, being more faithful in my devotional life, better parenting, keeping a cleaner/more organized home, etc. James Emery White's recent post added to this mix as I contemplated things to stop doing such as less time spent on the computer.

Well today, I received inspiration from Dear Abby's annual New Year's column. Her column emphasizes "just today" I'll do this. Focusing on today instead of yesterday, last year, or next week resonated with me. However, as I pondered this idea and implementing it, "just today" morphed into "one thing." So for 2008 "What one thing today?" is my constant question. What one thing can I do to benefit my health? To strengthen my walk with God? To be a better parent, wife, employee? Stay tuned for more details on how this continues and what other incentives or tools I add.

Christmas musings

It's been enjoyable being home for Christmas break. Visiting with family was nice on Christmas day itself. The little ones enjoy opening their presents a bit at a time and seem to enjoy the things I purchased. A few have not been instant favorites although some have been a bigger hit than I anticipated. The best part of break has been sleeping in as late as we want and doing pretty much nothing. Of course, that means I did not finish the books I wanted to read or other productive things. But I figure, it's vacation--I'll have opportunity to be productive later.