My goal for this year is to read 50-75 books. That's approximately 1 book per week.
Because homeschooling takes up a large chunk of time between August and May of every year, I tend to do at least half of my reading in the summer.
I've read eleven books since the school year ended in late May and will (hopefully) breeze through another ten to twenty by the end of the summer.
When I chose these books for my summer reading list, I wasn't particularly looking at genre. When I stacked up the books, however, I was surprised to find that twenty of the books were non-fiction. Only three were in the fiction category. I tend to "alternate" pretty regularly between non-fiction and fiction titles (typically reading at a 2:1 ratio, two non-fiction books for every fiction book), but I apparently feel drawn to non-fiction titles this summer.
Quite by accident, thirteen of the books are written by men and fourteen are written by women - a surprisingly even divide.
You'll probably notice that almost 23% of the books on my summer reading list are related to education, schools, or the teaching of reading. Although I am not a teacher in the formal sense, I do homeschool my four children part-time (they attend a UMS school, which includes campus days and at-home days). Aside from wanting to continually improve as a teacher, I also care deeply about helping others (especially children!) grow as readers.
I have marked the books I have ALREADY FINISHED with three asterisks (***). Feel free to hop over to my goodreads account to read my full reviews.
The other books are titles that are on my TO-READ list for this summer. Again, watch my goodreads account for comments as I complete each book.
If you don't see one of these books on my goodreads account by about mid-September, you can safely assume that I started the book and decided not to finish it. I am a firm believer in dropping books that don't align with my interests, season of life, or moral code. There are too many wonderful books in the world to be derailed by inappropriate, dull, or lackluster books. I probably drop about one in every twenty books I start, but that figure varies widely.
I've listed the books in alphabetical order by title.
BELONGING AND BECOMING: CREATING A THRIVING FAMILY CULTURE by Mark & Lisa Scandrette
Written by the parents of three children (who are now adults), this book's mission is to help families create a vision that is "creative, intentional, soulful, and globally aware." Many reviewers have described this book as "practical" and I'm looking forward to gleaning ideas from the pages.
BEYOND THE CASTLE: A GUIDE TO DISCOVERING YOUR HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Jody Jean Dryer
I've been captivated by the culture and customer service at Disney Parks for most of my life so this book piqued my interest because it is written by a woman who spent 30 years working at Disney. She even met her husband at a Disney company Christmas party! Roy Disney (the grandnephew of Walt Disney) and Michael Eisner (former CEO of The Walt Disney Company) both wrote endorsements for this book.
***DARING TO HOPE: FINDING GOD'S GOODNESS IN THE BROKEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL by Katie Davis Majors
My good friend Dayna recommended this book to me on a recent run and it did not disappoint. As I put it in my goodreads review, "DARING TO HOPE is a breathtaking and thought-provoking account of how to honor God + love others well through seasons of grief, suffering, and uncertainty." I am fairly certain that this book will land a spot in my "best books of 2018" list, which will be published in December. (Incidentally, my 11-year-old daughter is now reading "Kisses From Katie" - Katie's 1st book, which was published in 2012)
DEAR MR. KNIGHTLEY: A NOVEL by Katherine Reay
I can't remember where I heard about this book, but the premise sounds like it's right up my alley. A 23-year-old orphan is put through journalism school by a mysterious anonymous benefactor. The one condition? She must write him letters about her experience in the program.
DISRUPTING THINKING: WHY HOW WE READ MATTERS by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst
As mentioned above, I've been on an education/literacy reading spree lately and am soaking up all of the latest research on how we teach children to read, how to develop lifelong learners, how to build schools that are the most effective, and how to spark (rather than diminish) children's curiosity. Looking forward to this newly released title!
***DUMBING US DOWN: THE HIDDEN CURRICULUM OF COMPULSORY EDUCATION by John Taylor Gatto
Originally published in 1992, "Dumbing Us Down" is a thought-provoking manifesto from a veteran teacher of 30 years. The book consists of 3 speeches and 3 essays by the author. An insightful read for any teacher, school administrator, education policy maker, or parent. Lots to discuss & debate!
***EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON: AND OTHER LIES I'VE LOVED by Kate Bowler
I agree with Bill Gates that this book was "heartbreaking" and my soul ached for the author, but the premise was odd (much of the book is about the "prosperity" movement within some church groups). If you are looking for a book on suffering, I would suggest Katie Majors' book instead.
FACTFULNESS: TEN REASONS WE'RE WRONG ABOUT THE WORLD AND WHY THINGS ARE BETTER THAN YOU THINK by Hans Rosling
In a world where anyone is an expert and news is spread at the click of a button, how does one decipher fact from fiction? What is the best way to determine the truth and to act accordingly? The late Hans Rosling has written a bestseller about how to think through current events with levelheadedness.
FROM STRIVING TO THRIVING: HOW TO GROW CONFIDENT READERS by Annie Ward & Stephanie Harvey
Another in a long line of books about reading that I am reading! ;) I'll be curious to see if and how this might translate to the homeschool classroom.
HOLY IS THE DAY: LIVING IN THE GIFT OF THE PRESENT by Carolyn Weber
Looking forward to Carolyn's take on how to live in the present - while parenting four children, writing, and managing a career. I have a feeling that this book will carry insights applicable to my life since I also am immersed in the above trifecta. P.S. Has anyone read "Surprised By Oxford" (the author's memoir, published in 2013)?
HOW TO PRAY: REFLECTIONS & ESSAYS by C.S. Lewis
Newly released this month by HarperOne, HOW TO PRAY is a compilation of C.S. Lewis' writings on the topic of prayer. This hardcover gift-worthy books includes excerpts from books, essays, letters, and articles published throughout Lewis' lifetime. Two other books are planned in this series - "How to Be A Christian" (August 2018) and "The Reading Life" (June 2019). I hope to read them all!
***INTERVIEWING YOUR DAUGHTER'S DATE: 30 MINUTES MAN-TO-MAN by Dennis Rainey
An important message in a short and easy-to-read format. After I flew though the book in one night, I put it on my husband's desk and he read the whole thing the following afternoon. Don't wait until your daughters are teenagers to read it! Excellent food-for-thought for dads (and moms!) with younger children too.
PASSPORT2PURITY by Dennis & Barbara Rainey
This audiobook comes highly recommended by several families that I admire. The idea is that you plan an overnight getaway with your 10 to 13-year-old and listen to this audiobook together along the way. There is also a corresponding journal and questions for conversation. Covered topics include peer pressure, body changes, sex, friendship, and dating. I'm not a fan of a "one-and-done" conversation approach so I do have some hesitations. On the other hand, more one-on-one time is always of benefit and it will be fun to discuss, critique, and engage with the material together.
***PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Lief Enger
PEACE LIKE A RIVER is a beautifully written piece of fiction. It could easily be part of an English Literature degree program because of the eloquent prose, exceptional imagery, and depth of characterization. This lesser-known novel has the ingredients of a "classic."
***RE-THINKING SCHOOL: HOW TO TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR CHILD'S EDUCATION by Susan Wise Bauer
Prolific author, professor, and homeschool curriculum writer Susan Wise Bauer has a brand new book out - but it's not about homeschooling! Instead, the author spends roughly 80% of the book outlining how parents can help their children thrive in traditional school settings. Topics include: learning disabilities, giftedness, homework, parent/teacher relationships, preparation for college, and much more.
***THE LIFEGIVING PARENT: GIVING YOUR CHILD A LIFE WORTH LIVING FOR CHRIST by Clay & Sally Clarkson
I really appreciate Clay & Sally Clarkson's wise and warm parenting style. They seem like the ideal kind of couple to mentor young parents through the first decade and beyond. While I had high hopes for this one (and I was in agreement with the authors' perspectives), the text was weak in the area of practical suggestions.
THE LIFE-GIVING TABLE: NURTURING FAITH THROUGH FEASTING by Sally Clarkson
I read The Lifegiving Home (also by Sally Clarkson) in Feb 2017 and found it to be both practical and encouraging. Part of the same series, this title specifically focuses on the healing and unifying nature of sharing meals as a family. I'm glad that the author included recipes as well! Being an energetic, gracious, and prepared cook is one of my life goals - especially being able to feed a crowd. Hoping this book provides some inspiration and practical hints to help me along the way!
***THE POWER OF MOMENTS: WHY CERTAIN EXPERIENCES HAVE EXTRAORDINARY IMPACT by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
What I was hoping for: a book about how to intentionally create memorable and magical moments with my spouse, my kids, my neighbors, and my friends. What it actually was about: creating "moments" in sales/business environments in order to close more deals and garner brand loyalty. Still interesting at parts, but I liked "Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Work and Life" (also by the Heath brothers) far better.
THE READ-ALOUD FAMILY: MAKING MEANINGFUL AND LASTING CONNECTIONS WITH YOUR KIDS by Sarah Mackenzie
I read "Teaching From Rest" (also by Sarah Mackenzie) in late May and appreciated the author's "short & sweet" style. Her new book is about one of my favorite things to do with my kids! I read aloud daily to my kids - with voices, under blankets, on the sofa, next to the fireplace! I probably don't "need" to read this book, but I'm looking forward to it just the same.
THE RENT COLLECTOR by Camron Wright
Set in a municipal waste dump in impoverished Cambodia, this highly-rated novel is about a couple and their chronically ill child. When it comes to fiction, I especially love to read books of places and time periods that are outside of my scope of knowledge. This one seems to fit the bill and I look forward to traveling across the world - sans passport - into the pages of this book.
YOURS, JACK by C.S. Lewis
What can I say? I really enjoy the writings of C.S. Lewis. This one is a compilation of letters to his friends and colleagues.
What are you reading this summer, friends? Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think? How many books are you planning to read this year? And, last but not least, are you on goodreads? I'd love to chat books with you there or on twitter.