In Common: Surprised By Joy

My 2016 reading plan has gone off the rails, thanks  to  my return to work. Even with working part-time, I am struggling to keep up with my self-imposed pace.

But that’s okay. My reading list should work for me, and not the other way around. I have been reevaluating my list, and have been deciding which titles are must-haves for the year, and which ones can be postponed.

My current Read pile includes a couple of titles I’ve been working on slowly since January, as well as a few new ones that I’ve just added.

During this season of life, I am finding myself drawn to books that focus on educational philosophy, parenting, and Christian faith.

One book that I am wrapping up this week (finally!) is C.S. Lewis Surprised By  Joy.

While I have been exploring the writings of C.S. Lewis, it has been incredible to read about his childhood and early life experiences. So often, we have a one-dimensional view of authors; we only know them through their writings.

C.S. Lewis is of course known for his writings on Christian apologetics, but to read about his transformation into an atheist and eventual discovery of true Christian faith is quite moving.

Lewis shared about his time living with and being tutored by a family friend Mr. Kirkpatrick, or Old Knock as he was sometimes called. He wrote of his time reading and studying Homer in Greek.

In our homeschool, we are just getting started with Latin, which I am quite excited about since I studied Latin all through high school.  We have also learned the Hebrew alphabet and are still in the early stages of learning vocabulary and basic grammar.

This passage, from Lewis’ time with Old Knock, really struck me as we work on learning new languages.

The great gain was that I very soon became able to understand a great deal without (even mentally) translating it; I was beginning to think in Greek. That is the great Rubicon to cross in learning any language. Those in whom the Greek word lives only while they are hunting for it in the lexicon, and who then substitute the English word for it, are not reading the Greek at all; they are only solving a puzzle. The very formula, “Naus means a ship,” is wrong. Naus and ship both mean a thing, they do not mean one another. Behind Naus, as behind navis or naca, we want to have a picture of a dark, slender mass with sail or oars, climbing the ridges, with no officious English word intruding.

As I find myself getting stressed out because I have less time available for personal scholarship right now, I am reminded of another passage, again from Lewis’ time with Old Knock. Reflecting on the ideal day of study and reflection, what he terms “settled, calm, Epicurean life.” This ideal schedule, defined by set study times and minimal interactions and distractions, sound wonderful to someone seeking a scholarly life. But as Lewis points out:

It is no doubt for my own good that I have been so generally prevented from leading it, for it is a life almost entirely selfish. Selfish, not self-centered: for in such a life my mind would be directed toward a thousand things, not one of which is myself.

These words will serve as a comfort as I try to find that perfect balance between family, faith, work and personal scholarship.

In Common: The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

IMG_3016

This week my daughter and I finished up our current read aloud, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic.

This was a truly epic story.

It was chock full of heroes, life lessons, moral messages, and good old fashioned adventure!

Though the story focuses on the adventures that Persimmony experiences as she struggles to save her island and its inhabitants from a sleeping giant as well as themselves, there are several supporting characters that have adventures of their own and moral lessons to share.

It it so easy to see our own character flaws and weaknesses in the characters of the story, and learn from their experiences

And… it was just a FUN read! We have been in hysterics the whole week as we’ve been reading. And my daughter and I have been having a blast perfecting our thinking pose:

King Lucas was in the middle of a philosophy lesson. At the moment, Professor Quibble was busy getting into the correct posture, which he had to get exactly right in order to concentrate as a philosopher needed to do. First he bent one knee upward and rested the foot on his other leg. Then he held the bridge of his nose delicately between his thumb and forefinger and raised the other arm upward in a graceful curve like a half moon. “Now, where were we? Oh yes. We were about to discuss the most ancient philosophical question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

 

Save

Save

In Common: Sleeping Giants

IMG_2964I’ve been juggling several books – education philosophy books, history books, parenting and theology books.

I haven’t sat down with a Sci-Fi book, just for fun, in months.

I’ve just joined the Litsy online community, and my first day there a post about a new book, Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, came across my feed.

I saw several posts about this book and my interest was piqued. I placed an order that night and my book arrived just a couple of days ago.

This book focuses on a presumed alien artifact that was unearthed almost two decades ago, and how the person who accidentally discovered it comes full circle to be the lead investigator in its origins and meaning.

I.am.hooked.

I am really enjoying this book and I am especially glad it’s the first in a series!

I tend to fall in love with characters and storylines and hate when they end after only one book.

Written as a collection of interview transcripts, journal entries, newspaper articles and mission logs, this format just works. And it is a creative way to tell the story from multiple points of view.

An excerpt from an interview with the main character, Dr. Rose Franklin:

And you now know what it is we are looking for?

– I haven’t the faintest idea. But I think that’s a good thing. I think those who looked at it before failed because they knew too many things, or so they thought.

Sometimes we need to step back from our weightier reading selections and just enjoy some fiction. This is my book treat!

Save

Save

In Common: The Heirloom Life Gardener

At any given moment, I am cycling through a tall stack of books – books on parenting, history, education, theology, even fiction when I can squeeze it in.

I love the idea of sharing short excerpts of what I am am currently reading. Look for these updates each week as the feature In Common.

This week I am excited to share a new book that arrived just days ago.

IMG_2909

If you garden at all you may be familiar with Baker Creek Seed Company. They specialize in heirloom varieties of everything imaginable (or least it seems that way).

Flipping through their catalog is one of the best ways to pass the colder months while you dream of a spring garden.

Don't let the abundance of awesome pictures fool you. This is not a coffee table book. It is packed full of information!
Don’t let the abundance of awesome pictures fool you. This is not a coffee table book. It is packed full of information!

The Heirloom Life Gardener: The Baker Creek Way of Growing Your Own Food Easily and Naturally is a wonderful book published in 2011, and tells the history of Baker Creek Seed Company and of its founder, Jere Gettle.

The motivating story of how someone grew up with a passion for seeds and heirlooms and has turned it into his mission.
The motivating story of how someone grew up with a passion for seeds and heirlooms and has turned it into his mission.

But it’s so much more than a history of the company. It’s a plea for the return to a more natural way of gardening, before the richness of heirloom varieties are lost to the forward march of agroindustry, GMOs and monoculture.

You don't have to live on 174 acres in the Ozarks to grow your own food! Gettle includes ideas and suggestions for growing your own food and supporting local agriculture even if you live in a city.
You don’t have to live on 174 acres in the Ozarks to grow your own food! Gettle includes ideas and suggestions for growing your own food and supporting local agriculture even if you live in a city.

This book is a wonderful introduction to planting, growing, harvesting and seed-saving. An A to Z Growing Guide, including many heirloom varieties (many you’ve probably never seen or heard of before!), rounds out this fascinating and colorful book.

Prepare to be amazed. This guide includes crops you are familiar along with many heirloom varieties you've probably never seen before.
Prepare to be amazed. This guide includes crops you are familiar along with many heirloom varieties you’ve probably never seen before.

Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 3: Seeds in America:

A hundred years ago, children spent time in a garden while they were growing up. If you wanted to eat lunch, you often needed to work in the garden. Hundreds of schoolschildren visit Baker Creek each year to take tours of our Bakersville pioneer village. Many of them have never planted seeds or even seen a garden up close. I love watching them giggle when they see our big old turkeys wobbling around – because although these kids may have eaten a fair share of turkey sandwiches in their life, this is the first time they’re getting to see where the turkey comes from. When they see our gardens, they are excited. Wow, they say, I can actually grow my own food? I can plant a garden all by myself? The idea of getting something to eat anywhere outside of a supermarket, convenience store, or fast-food restaurant is fascinating to them. Their eyes nearly pop out of their heads when they see what we’re growing and realize what it is possible to do on a farm.

I am at once encouraged to hear about children’s excitement when seeing gardens for the first time and saddened about their ignorance of something as simple as the source of their food. This book is motivation to not only garden for the sake of gardening but also to play a part in the preservation of our future food supply.

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Marginalia: The Complete Poems of Robert Frost

In some circles, old books have been relegated to the scrap pile – good for nothing more than stylish decor for bookshelves (seriously, this is a thing…) or for crafting material. While I would certainly agree that there are some books that are worth little more than tinder, regardless of age or condition, I believe that older books can and do hold immense value.

Older books are often fine examples of the craftsmanship that was commonplace long ago. It just wasn’t as common to find quality literature in cheaper paperback form, like is the case today.

Older books also have HISTORY. I just love the idea of a book having been read, studied, and loved so many years ago. I know I have so many books in my personal library that are, to me, treasures, and I imagine someone long ago cherishing these older books in just the same way.

To truly make a book yours, to have a conversation with the author, often requires jotting down notes, writing commentary, underlining, referencing other works.

Part of the pleasure in discovering older books while booking (yeah, that’s a word now) is finding a previous owner’s notes. I am still kicking myself for not grabbing a pocket edition Shakespeare play (A Midsummer’s Night Dream if I recall) that was filled with ancient pencil notes throughout.

I love my copy of The Poetry of Robert Frost (left) – it’s paperback and has a 1979 publication date. But I recently found an somewhat older hardback, with a most recent copyright of 1964. This was a well-loved copy, with extensive notes throughout.

IMG_2717

IMG_0576

A minor detail, but one that adds that “something” in a hardback.

IMG_0577

IMG_0578 The introduction, entitled The Figure a Poem Makes, and signed R.F. The previous owner’s notation drew me immediately to the paragraph on the left. “It should be of the pleasure of a poem itself to tell how it can. The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” sigh.

IMG_0579

The previous owner went through and notated all poems that were included in another student addition.

IMG_0580

One poem that isn’t included in this collection is pointed out.

IMG_0581The previous owner, at several points, make notations like this, connecting words to reinforce the relationship between them.

IMG_0582I have had a harder time deciphering some of the other commentary found throughout. The script is a little too sloppy.

IMG_0583Notations in Two Witches: The Witch of Coos. An interesting reference to the 1946 two-act opera The Medium, written by Gian Carlo Menatti.

IMG_0584Here in A Star in a Stone Boat, heavy notations. Connections made between words, and several illegible comments. I wish I could make out what the owner had to say about this poem!

IMG_0585Even the year of publication for each collection was added in by the owner.

I have so enjoyed going through this copy of Robert Frost and seeing how well-loved it was. And I am even further motivated to keep my own marginalia neat enough for future readers!

Homeschool Reads – March Edition

I think our school motto could be summed up with “Read Good Books, Often.”

I purposely seek out quality literature that will not only be enjoyable to read, but will feed us intellectually and spiritually.

Our reading basket usually contains several books, and we rotate through two or three each day, reading at least one chapter in each. Here are the titles we are currently working through.

Classic Independent Read:

Heidi (Johanna Spyri)

Recommended Literature Read:

Breadcrumbs (Anna Ursu)

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness)

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (Jeanne Birdsall)

Spiritual Read:

Pilgrim’s Progress: One Man’s Search for Eternal Life–A Christian Allegory (John Bunyon)

Character Read:

The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Nature Study Read:

The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Thornton Burgess)

 

Back to the Classics Challenge 2016

I am really excited to participate in the Back to the Classics Challenge this year. This will be my first year!

There are twelve categories of classics, and minimally a person should plan to read six books, but all twelve is best. I am finalizing my 2016 Reading Plan (I’ll be sharing that soon!) and have enjoyed finding titles from these categories as well. Want to learn more about the challenge? Head over to Books and Chocolate.

Okay, onto my list!

I am feeling pretty good about my selections for the year, but I will say that there are two categories that I am still hemming and hawing on… the Reread from HS/College and the Collection of Short Stories. I’ve got two in mind for each, but I’ll make my final choice (or read both if time permits) as the year progresses and update my list.

19th Century
Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

20th Century
C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy

Woman Author
Louisa May Alcott’s Jo’s Boys

Classic in translation
Dietrich Bonheifer’s The Cost of Discipleship

Non-white author
Richard Wright’s Native Son

Adventure Classic
Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo

Fantasy, Sci-fi, Dystopian
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

Detective Novel
GK Chesterton’s Father Brown Mysteries

Name of Place in Title
Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Banned or censored
Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Reread a classic from HS/college
James Fennimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans or
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Volume of classic short stories
The Best Short Stories of O. Henry or
James Joyce’s Dubliners

After I read each selection, I’ll be posting my thoughts and insights here. I hope you will  follow my progress in the reading challenge!

Unintended Sin – Leviticus 4

‘If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, he is guilty.

Leviticus 4:27

Good Morning Girls started reading Leviticus this week. This book can be a little tough to read for many people because there is a lot of minutiae regarding the law and various offerings. I think there is a tendency to skim through when we read Leviticus, so I am really glad to be reading it intentionally, one chapter at a time to glean what I can from it.

Today in Leviticus 4, the Sin Offering was discussed. While there were plenty of details regarding the selecting and preparing the sacrifice, what stood out to me was the reason for the offering. An anointed priest, the whole of the Israelite community, a leader, or any member of the community – all were expected to offer a sin offering for their offense.

Here is what I found interesting – the sin could be unintentional and the person (or community) was still guilty and expected to offer this sin offering. Ignorance of God’s law, not knowing something was forbidden was not an excuse and did not give the people a pass. Ignorance of the law does not remove one from under the law or the consequences of violating the law.

In everyday terms, this would be like driving through a stop sign and either not seeing it, or not knowing (like you were in a foreign land) that the sign meant you were supposed to stop. You broke the law regardless and are responsible for making amends. On a more spiritual level, there are many people who are Christian but have very little knowledge of the Word of God. Not knowing the word of God doesn’t release us from the commands that are in the Word of God.

When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect.

Leviticus 4:23

There seems to be a resistance to correction in our society today. We are quick to take offense when something we are doing wrong is pointed out to us. Even within the Church, instead of taking the correction to heart and making amends, we become offended and turn things around on the person who has pointed out the offense. Not all correction is done with a malicious spirit. We should be open to correction, if it is done with good intentions and is scripturally sound.

Evernote helps you remember everything and get organized effortlessly. Download Evernote.