The Reading Life – Hurricane Harvey to Now

April 29, 2018 at 3:35 am (Reviews, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It’s been 8 months since Hurricane Harvey swept the Gulf, the flood gates of Conroe were opened post-storm, and our house was overtaken by 13-14 inches of water. We’ve done a lot of moving around, renovation, and – of course – reading.

Martin Luther: The Great Reformer – J.A. Morrison

Studying Martin Luther with my first grader was pretty interesting. Knowing enough about your denomination to explain it to an inquisitive seven year old is harder than I thought it would be. There are many things we do that we might not know why we do until we really dive into the history behind them, and celebrating Reformation Day on October 31st was definitely more exciting after having gotten to know Martin Luther a little bit better. Morrison’s biography is designed for middle grade readers, so it’s actually great as a read aloud to an elementary age student. Morrison also included sheet music for a hymn written by Luther, which fell in nicely to our tin whistle practices during the holidays.

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) – Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas has become a guilty pleasure of mine. Assassins, fairies, War… yes, please. Naturally, there’s a romance because strong female leads can’t seem to exist without a love interest, but she rarely gets graphic enough to make me blush. The series is slated for young adult, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable handing them to anyone under sixteen.

Jorie and the Gold Key – A.H. Richardson

We are loving the Jorie series. So far we have read Jorie and the Magic Stones and its sequel Jorie and the Magic Key. Kids who are into Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or the Wrinkle in Time series should enjoy Richardson’s fun little saga. The books remind me most of The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles. We can’t wait to read the next installment.

Tales of Pixie Hollow – Kiki Thorpe, Laura Driscoll

Kiddo is a huge Tinker Bell fan, and these stories never let her down. They are a fairly easy going chapter book series, tie into the well beloved movies (available on Netflix), and are beautifully illustrated in the typical Disney style. We will eventually read them all, but this year have only tackled the first 9 or so.

Will I Ever Be Free of You? – Karyl McBride

As its subtitle states, this book is a self help title to aid in navigating a divorce from a narcissist. I needed it, found it helpful, and am glad I read it.

1066: The Year of the Conquest – David Howarth

I absolutely love history books the length of a a novella. Dive in, get to the heart of the information, and move on. Howarth does this nicely with 1066, it is short and sweet, but an extremely detailed account of one year in history that changed everything. It should be on every high school student’s required reading list.

Nooks & Crannies – Jessica Lawson

Could a young adult novel be more fun and reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes?! I adored this. So did kiddo. We definitely both got a little more than choked up at the end and we look forward to more books from Lawson, she is both clever and gifted – like her main character.

Peter the Great – Diane Stanley

This children’s picture book is a great addition to any homeschool mom’s library, especially for history lovers. We read it for fun, and now that we are studying Peter the Great in our actual history lessons we are pretty impressed with how thoroughly Stanley wrote the great Czar’s story. Her entire account is quite memorable and we’re pleased to own a copy.

The History of the Medieval World – Susan Wise Bauer

As I teach my kiddo, I’m trying to keep up in my own studies as well. After all, Education is a lifetime pursuit. Bauer presents the history of the world fabulously for young students in her Story of the World series, but is also very efficient at the task for adults. I plan to use these books as core history “textbooks” when kiddo is high school aged, but for the most part they give me a glimpse into what I want to study in detail, pointing me to people and places I may never have known existed. They are great starting places for adult history students.

Twenty Shakespeare Children’s Stories: The Complete Collection Box Set – Shakespeare

Kiddo and sort of went on a Shakespeare binge this winter. We read all the stories, both in these chapter books designed for early readers, and in beautifully illustrated picture books. I highly recommend this set to keep on hand so that the stories of Hamlet and Macbeth, the confusion of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and the tragedy of Othello may always be a part of childhood memories.

Story of the World #2: The Middle Ages – Susan Wise Bauer

I honestly don’t know how I would homeschool without these books. Although we are currently a part of Classical Conversations, we look to Susan Wise Bauer for our day to day homeschooling structure. We love learning chronologically through history and kiddo is enthralled with these books. We recently acquired the entire set on audio as well and can’t wait to repeat each title as we repeat each “cycle” as per the Classical model.

The Five Love Languages of Children – Gary Chapman

If you have a kiddo and have never read up on love languages, this book is very helpful. I had read The Five Love Languages about twenty years ago and didn’t find the information for children all that unique, but it did help me relate to my child a little better and ask more pointed questions to ensure I wasn’t missing or misinterpreting how she receives love.

Adjustment Team – Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick just never gets old, and I love re-reading this old short, especially when I’m gearing up to re-watch the Matt Damon and Emily Blunt version titled Adjustment Bureau.

Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life – Alison Weir

Alison Weir is one of my favorite biographers, and she didn’t fail me with this history of Eleanor’s time. There’s little known about Eleanor, so the biography is heavy with information about her family and the political world. It took me longer to read than her books usually do, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

The Double Life of Pocahontas – Jean Fritz

Jean Fritz is another must have for teachers and homeschool parents. We loved learning about the real Pocahontas and comparing her true life stories to those portrayed by Disney. Reality versus fantasy is always a riveting discussion topic in our house and Pocahontas offers a foundation for digging for truth in the half truths of legends.

Bloomin’ Tales: Legends of Seven Favorite Texas Wildflowers – Cherie Coburn

As a family, we tend to gravitate to legends, folklore, and fairy tales in our down time. We also spend half our time outside as eager amateur Naturalists and gardeners. Also, we’re Texas girls. Of course we love this book, of course! We were sold from the second we saw the cover.

King of the Wind: The Story of the Goldolphin Arabian – Marguerite Henry

Kiddo has been horseback riding for over two years now. It is P.E., it is diligence, it is empathy, it has become a cornerstone for everything in our lives. Naturally, we felt the need to highlight this in our reading lives and stumbled across a unit study prepared by Beautiful Feet. We pieced the titles they include in their study and lined them up chronologically to coincide with our existing school schedule as best we could. It’s a little off every now and then, but we’re learning the history of horses and the practices of keeping them along with our study of people. We also covered a lot of geography with this particular book as the Goldolphin Arabian made his way from Morocco to England. This was a childhood favorite of mine and I was so pleased to share it with my kiddo as well. I cried at the end, just like every other time I’ve read it. Marguerite Henry truly had a gift.

Anthem – Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead is one of my favorite books ever. That being said, I didn’t care for Anthem. I found it contrived, a tad annoying, and though the message was well presented, I wanted my hour and a half back.

Mistborn Series – Brandon Sanderson

When I met Brandon Sanderson while working Kevin J. Anderson’s booth at DragonCon in Atlanta, most my coworkers back in Houston were a little perturbed that I had gotten to bask in the glory of the most amazing fantasy writer of our day. I hadn’t read any of his work yet, so I admit it seemed a tad unfair. I’m glad I hadn’t read his books when I worked with him during his signing, it would have rendered me completely inarticulate, because I love the Mistborn series so much now. Finally diving in and reading them on my vacation was the best birthday present I could have given myself this year. If you haven’t read these yet, stop what you’re doing, and order them now. They are truly amazing.

Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola Africa

How exciting it is to discover all these great female leaders of history. I was not familiar with Nzingha as a child and I’m excited that my kiddo has had the chance to discover her. We’re pretty smitten, and now when we’re practicing archery it’s not just Queen Susan from Narnia she pretends to be… sometimes she is Nzingha!

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell

Another childhood favorite. Another recommendation from Beautiful Feet. I cried over the last pages, Kiddo patted me. Oh goodness, sometimes I’m not sure who the books are for, but I am sure she is getting something out of them so I keep doing what I’m doing.

The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms – Amy Stewart

I have always enjoyed finding earthworms in my garden. My daughter and I tend to play with the worms and name them, both in the garden and when we go fishing. Amy Stewart propelled this love for the little Annelids further by being such a warm writer. I can’t wait to start my very own earthworm farm.

Madeleine Takes Command – Ethel C. Brill

Have I mentioned how much I love homeschooling? My kiddo is getting a rich and well rounded education and I’m learning so much too! Madeleine de Vercheres lived in Canada in the late 1600’s. This historical novel brings to life the events that made Madeleine famous: at fourteen she was left in command of Fort Vercheres, where her parents were stationed, and thwarted an attack by the native Iroquois.

The Earth Moves: Galileo and the Roman Inquisition – Dan Hofstadter

As kiddo was learning about Galileo and we began basic astronomy lessons, I wanted a deeper insight into the war between the Catholic church and the heliocentric view. I like these Great Discoveries books, and Hofstadter delivered exactly what was promised on the jacket blurbs, however it took me longer than anticipated to finish such a short book. It is well written, just too easy to put down. I’m still glad I read it, am happy to own it, and look forward to picking it apart with Kiddo when she is older.

Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers – Ralph Moody

A good friend recommended I read this out loud to Kiddo and I am so glad I listened. This is a new favorite, a must read for all, and we’re currently saving up to buy the complete series! I don’t know how I didn’t discover Ralph Moody sooner. Moody rivals Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mark Twain in my heart.

Niels Stensen: The Scientist Who Was Beatified – Hans Kermit

I constantly marvel at people who cannot understand my fascination for science as a field of study and my Christian faith. To me, those who think the two cannot coexist have not studied one or the other sufficiently. Niels Stensen is a comfort, an inspiration, and I’m certain if I had ever met the man in person I’d have been madly intrigued.

I Hope This Reaches Her in Time – R.H. Sin

Sometimes I am too tired to do much, but not ready for sleep. That’s when I read poetry, those moments between awake and dreamland. This particular collection is for Lang Leav and Rupi Kaur lovers.

If you wish to browse or order any of these books through Amazon, please click through my link here: https://amzn.to/2r72WPI

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Homeschooling Agendas

April 18, 2013 at 10:11 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Lessons LearnedTitle: Lessons Learned

Author: Andrea Schwartz

Genre: Homeschooling, Education, Christianity

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On one hand everything she said I agree with.  On the other hand, the way she said it often made me cringe and think of severely right-winged “Jesus-freaks.”  The DC Talk fan in me thinks Andrea Schwartz shouldn’t and wouldn’t mind being called that.  The fellow Christian in me tells me it’s a little unfair to call her that when I agree with her points and conclusions.  The public-school educated child wants to scratch my eyes out and scream, “Really!? Did you have to use the phrase God-hater that way?”

Homeschooling for many is merely an educational choice… the public school system is broken and parents no longer feel comfortable counting on the state to properly equip their child with the realities of the world.  Children are being herded from class to class like cattle.  Fine teachers are being stretched too thin and don’t have the time, energy, or resources to give each student the educational nurturing they deserve.  Everything has become about teaching a test, obeying dress codes, and keeping everyone happy and supposedly safe, rather than about creating an environment of true scholarship.

For others, and possibly what it is misguidedly known for… it’s for freaks who don’t get along with the rest of society.  Potential crazies, kids that don’t groom properly, weirdos… I hope that stigma can be put to rest as I found just as many people who fit this description in public school as I did outside of it.  If your parents are socially awkward you will probably have a lot of socially awkward tendencies whether you spend 8 hours a day with them or without them.  I went to public school my whole life and I will totally admit to being a little bit strange.  I live inside my head a lot, and there are plenty of social cues that I completely miss.  Some kids I’ve seen were far more socially awkward under the pressures of a school environment where they are forced to try to fit in with a thousand people their own age, when in the real world they get along better in a more diverse setting where they are not expected to be like everyone else.

Then, there’s the other group, the Religious group… For many parents, choosing to homeschool your child is a calling from God.  We have been given this precious child to train up in the ways they should go and we want to ensure that we do that the best we can every step of the way.  Submitting them to 8 hours of frustration, government indoctrination, and poor education is not high on the list of things we believe God wants for our children.

In our household, we’re one and three.  Yes, I believe passionately about being good stewards of our minds.  I desire to eagerly pursue all the most riveting aspects of educating my daughter that I can.  I am completely caught up in the idea of combining a classical styled education with a tiny twinge of unschooling so that my kid gets the most thorough and engaging education available… custom tailored to her little brain and the way it works.  I want to give her the education I didn’t get.  I want her start out ahead in life, prepared for anything!  But I also believe this passion for education was given to me by God.  I believe that it is God who calls us to be good stewards of our minds.  I believe that having the freedom to not be politically correct in our studies and studying from the Bible throughout our day will only prepare her more, provide her with a firmer foundation.

Andrea Schwartz comes off as believing God first and education second.  I believe that to be an honorable and good philosophy.  But I believe that by putting God first, your education will be enhanced, not placed on the back burner as some would suppose.  How fascinating will it be to read the Bible, Augustine’s Confessions, and Homer during our Ancient History studies… I can’t wait.

Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer explain this all best in The Well Trained Mind:

“People of faith have influenced history at every turn. Until the student is willing to examine honestly and soberly the claims of relivion in the history of mankind, this study will be incomplete.

In the effort to offend none, the public schools have managed to offend practically everyone – either by leaving religion and ethics out of curricula altogether or by teaching them in a way that satisfies neither believers nor skeptics.  In sympathy, we’ll say that the public schools are in an impossible situation.  They are legally bound to avoid the appearance of promoting one religion over another.  And in a mixed classroom, how can you take one religion seriously without antagonizing those who don’t share it? […]

When you’re instructing your own child, you have two tasks with regard to religion: to teach your own convictions with honesty and diligence, and to study the ways in which other faiths have changed the human landscape.”

Susan Wise Bauer and her mother then spell out very elegantly how to do this: including religious works in the study of primary sources, researching the beliefs of all the major faiths, seek out biographies of those who have changed others’ belief systems, and keep a watchful eye for any logical fallacies, chronological snobbery, and so on.

I am a huge Susan Wise Bauer fan, her books are what I am using to map my own child’s education.  I recommend Susan Wise Bauer for any homeschooling parent of any religion.

As for Andrea Schwartz… her stuff is really great if you are a Christian parent who homeschools or is thinking of homeschooling.  I have a huge problem with her description of her son’s experiences in community college, they seem unusually extreme.  But then again, I live in Texas and they are in California, a lot changes culturally from state to state.  Regardless of the fact that her complaints about public school differ from my own, Schwartz reminds you to stay the course and remember the number one goal of making a disciple of your child, a well-educated disciple, but a disciple none-the-less.  We are not just teaching our children their math, science, and history.  We are not just teaching our children the pleasure of research and reading.  We are not just teaching our children how to learn.  We are teaching our children how to live, how to walk wisely, and how to make logical choices while still keeping the faith.

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Falling in love with History…

April 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

ancient bauerTitle: The History of the Ancient World

Author: Susan Wise Bauer

Publisher: Norton

Genre: History

Length: 868 pages

I enjoyed history in school, but only when it was taught by certain teachers.  I distinctly remember thoroughly loving Coach Masters, my World History teacher in high school.  In hindsight, I’m not sure if it was because he was so awesome, or because it was the first time someone actually presented me with history I could be passionate about – not just enjoy in passing.  Masters made you dive in with all you had and really learn it; it wasn’t just dates and factoids, it was people, their dreams, their loves, and their wars.

As an adult, reading history has become a little more specific.  I tend to read a lot of Ancient and Medieval history most, they are kind of my go to topics.  There is so much that was skipped over in school and it is so riveting! So naturally, when I decided to homeschool my daughter I started collecting the Susan Wise Bauer history books – they are fascinating overviews of history as well as wonderful teaching tools.

Reading Susan Wise Bauer reminds me of that history class with Coach Masters.  She gets personal.

It took me a full year to read The History of the Ancient World, mostly because I made a promise to do at a snail’s pace.  I plan to use it as a loose textbook for kiddo’s high school years and I wanted to make sure that you could pause, go read other things, and come back to it.  Is it reasonable to assign this for a year in addition to x number of other books? Yes, oh, well then lovely.

The book is wonderful and impressive.  Bauer makes history accessible and easy to understand in a world filled with dull and extensive flow charts  that will make even the most knowledgeable scholars heads spin.

My absolute favorite is a lengthy footnote on the Borg (from Star Trek) and how similar the mentality of the Borg was to a tribe of people sweeping the land in the very earliest parts of history.  ‘See?’ she practically says, ‘It’s good to be a sci-fi nerd.’

My only lament – and this may simply be a first edition issue – is that toward the end I began to find typos (I think).  There’s an amputed that should be amputated.  I honestly thought maybe it was a variance of the word I had never seen used and had to look it up.  There’s a died that should have been die.  These two things tripped me up for a second, but I found it a little refreshing.  Having just written a book myself it was good to know that someone I esteem so highly also makes errors when writing her books.

But then there was the bit that tripped me up a LOT.  During the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s death there are two spellings for what I’m 99% positive is supposed to be one person.  Welcome to the great Cassander vs. Cassender dilemma…

The first time I saw this, I thought: Is there one person or two? Am I really ignorant with poor reading comprehension and these are two distinct people? There’s no way I can be the only person to find the longest running series of typos ever… But for pages on end Bauer switched from Cassander to Cassender.

If it is a typo, I get it.  In my novella I couldn’t keep my fingers from typing Lilly Hollow to save my life, when the name of my imaginary town is Lily Hollow.  It drove me absolutely crazy going through and fixing them all.  If there is a typo found in my novella post publication, I would bet money that it will be in the form of an extra L.

With Cassander and Cassender there are soooooo many times that it is written as both.  Part of me is still convinced that there is a strong possibility that I am just that dumb.  I will be seeking out a second edition just to figure it out.  The ancient world is full of mystery and excitement and long winded Chinese dynasties and Egyptians going crazy with who they marry and who they kill, but the acting king(s) of Macedonia post Alexander the Great is the guy(s?) that throws me for a loop.

All in all, though, I STILL think this is a must have in any historian’s or homeschooler’s library.  It was worth every penny and I think that this one – for once – is one I actually paid full price for at Barnes & Noble.  Bauer will remind you that there is so much to discover and be passionate about in history, because there’s just so much of it in general… you may even fall in love.

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My Classical Re-Education Part 2

February 14, 2013 at 5:56 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , )

Kiddo and I started the year reading The Confessions over breakfast… we got caught up in The Magic Tree House Adventures and that got put on the back burner, but I intend on putting a good dent in this list this year, so we need to get back on it. Feel free to join me.

well

The Story of Me: Autobiography and Memoir

PART TWO of The Well-Educated Mind

Augustine – The Confessions
Margery Kempe – The Book of Margery Kempe
Michael de Montaigne – Essays
Teresa of Avila – The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself
Rene Descartes – Meditations
John Bunyan – Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
Mary Rowlandson – The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration
Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Confessions
Benjamin Franklin – The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Henry David Thoreau – Walden
Harriet Jacobs – Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself
Frederick Douglas – Life and Times of Frederick Douglas
Booker T. Washington – Up from Slavery
Friederick Nietzche – Ecce Homo
Adolf Hitler – Mein Kampf
Mohandas Gandhi – An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth
Gertrude Stein – The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Thomas Merton – The Seven Storey Mountain
C.S. Lewis – Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
Malcolm X – The Autobiography of Malcolm X
May Sarton – Journal of a Solitude
Aleksandr I. Solzhenistyn – The Gulag Archipelago
Richard Rodriguez – Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez
Jill Ker Conway – The Road from Coorain
Elie Wiesel – All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs

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Blasted Book Bouncing

September 3, 2012 at 3:42 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have a tendency to bounce from book to book.  I read a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Many times I sit and read one book in one sitting, but all the books that don’t get read with such vigor are subject to months on end of a chapter here and a chapter there.

Today, I polished off Cassandra Clare’s City of Lost Souls, and while the kiddo napped sat down with a pile of my ‘bouncing’ books.  I started by picking up Susan Wise Bauer’s The History of the Ancient World.  I read a few chapters of this throughout the week, and plan to have it completed by the end of the year so that I can spend 2013 reading the sequel The History of the Medieval World.  Bauer provides excellent histories, educational guides, and other lovely lists, and at any given time there is something written by her sitting on my coffee table with a bookmark or post it note precariously shoved in its pages.

After 30 minutes or so with Bauer, I meandered over to my lit crit shelf and plucked up a copy of The Bookaholics’ Guide to Book Blogs.  As I am a book blogger, you can only guess why this one moved me at the bookstore.  Today of all days, I chose to read it because the bookmark for The History of the Ancient World was in fact the Half Price Books receipt that I received upon its purchase.  My slightly unfocused brain had begun to peruse the receipt when I decided I was done with history for the day and spotted a ‘Bookaholics’ Guide to Book’ item for which I paid 80 cents.  Of course, this piqued my interest and was the initial cause for drifting over to the lit crit shelf.

The Bookaholics’ Guide is lovely and when I am finished reading it, I shall post a full review worthy of a book dedicated to praising book reviewers.  But for now, though entirely riveted and already 50 pages in – I am also distracted.  Why? Because while reading about all these wonderful blogs and their dedication to their reading and writing and reviewing, there is a portion entirely devoted to the discussion of how tragedies always seem to win over comedies.  That got my brain thinking back to the lovely Susan Wise Bauer and the list of novels she provides in The Well-Educated Mind, of which I am approximately six novels away from completing – Finally!

So of course, in my blasted book bouncing fashion, I pick up the book I am currently reading on the list: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.  I read Chapter One the other day and immediately texted my kindergarten best friend who was an African-American Studies major during her undergrad years, that so far I loved it.  (Because unfortunately, I hated reading Native Son by Richard Wright, despite the great skill involved in his story telling, and have been feeling incredibly guilty about it.)  Of course, in the midst of being made painfully aware of the sad fact that as a human race we are enraptured by tragedies, I became engrossed in Chapter Two of Invisible Man and nearly died of the overwhelming coincidence.

*SPOILERS*

If you have not read Invisible Man, I suggest you read no further.  Unless, you are of the variety of readers who don’t care about spoilers, and then I may cheerfully say, read on.

Chapter Two includes the lengthy tale of Jim Trueblood, a man who has fathered a child with his wife as well as his own grandchild with his daughter in roughly the same time period.  I have not yet read beyond Chapter Two, therefore cannot share with you the relevance to the Invisible Man’s story, or the book as a whole, but I can say that I felt ill after reading it.

Poor, oh poor Jim Trueblood (I say with intense sarcasm), who rolled over on his daughter while sleeping and having an odd dream, inserting his penis into her and *accidentally* fathered her child – to everyone’s horror.

Really?! Really!?

Of course, I must read on to discover the significance of it all.  But I really don’t want to.

1. If your daughter is that old, she should not be sleeping between her two parents.  I don’t care how poor you are.  Put the child on the other side of the mother.  That’s just common sense.  What teenaged daughter wants to sleep between her two parents anyway?

2. I don’t know if I’m supposed to believe Jim Trueblood at this point or not, but I’m with the protagonist on this one – why the hell did Jim Trueblood get a hundred-dollar bill for knocking up his own daughter!? Its absurd.  I have a hard time believing that people behave(d) this way.

3. I have a hard time buying this story in the light of the symbolism it supposedly represents: http://students.cis.uab.edu/archived/dlam/Jim%20Trueblood.html, but I look forward to seeing if the rest of the novel makes these proposals more clear.  I’ve a huge soft spot for The Great Gatsby and The Natural, so you can imagine how much I adore symbolism.

4. So far, the only African-American/ Black (depending on your version of what is politically correct) fiction that I have ever truly appreciated in my entire life has been the young adult Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry series by Mildred D. Taylor and ZZ Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, which also manages to be my all-time favorite collection of short stories ever.  (I am always on the look out for something spectacular, though, so please, leave suggestions in the comment area!)

You see, the thing is, I hate reading a book and feeling like the sole purpose is to make me pity the protagonist.  Mostly, because I think pity is the ultimate form of disrespect.  Why would I want to read a character that I have no respect for?  No matter how under the dog, one should not pity the protagonist nor hate them.  One shouldn’t see them as less than themselves.  I want to read about a fight for equality with some umph.  I want to see them prevail over adversity, not wallow in their plight.  The things I disliked about Native Son are the same things I disliked about Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, drastically different books that don’t belong anywhere near each other in a bookstore, but they managed to give me the same level of frustration.  One wallows in the errors of his situation and falls deeper and deeper into despair and ignorance, while the other wallows in the errors her life choices and falls deeper and deeper into entitlement.  Both seem to ask me to feel sorry for their nature.

These are the views the politically correct call me racist over, but I assure you that I have great respect for people of every color, culture, generation, and walk of life.  Sometimes, I wish they had a little more respect for themselves.  Just remember, never fight the good fight with a plea for pity – its a huge turn off.

Granted, I have only just finished Chapter Two… there is yet more to the story to discover.  I hope it lives up to its classic reputation.  I don’t want my distaste for unrelated titles to taint my views as I read this work.

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My Classical Re-Education

May 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm (Education) (, , , , , , )

As some of you may know, I am a sucker for the classics.  I’m also a sucker for lists.  In addition to that, I plan to homeschool my daughter.  What better books for me then are those of Susan Wise Bauer?

“Using the techniques and systems of classical education, this new guide will give you greater pleasure in what you read, and greater understanding of it.” – from Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Educated Mind

I am a college graduate who has had the pleasure of working for a bookstore for some years now and doesn’t want my “education” to end with a Bachelor’s degree in Business.  I want to go through Bauer’s list while I pay off my student loans before going back to school. Bauers covers five genres worth of lists of books that people need to read to be fully and classically educated.  Many of these a lot of us have already read, and many of these we’ve always heard referenced and talked about reading but have never actually done it.

Lately, in the blog world, I’ve been coming across a Classics Challenge, and was reminded of the fact that there may be others out there who would like access to this list and discussions where other people are reading these books.

For the last few years I have been leisurely strolling through her list provided in The Well Educated Mind: The Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. Because I’ve been reading through it in order at a snail’s pace, I’m still in the first list of books – novels.  (The other lists are included in the Shelfari group: http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions.)

I am also the admin of a Shelfari Discussion Group called Classical Re-Education and I post reviews and commentary on my reading in that group, links for each book discussion are provided.  Of course, I also share my reviews here on my blog.

Cervantes – Don Quixote

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/89445/Don-Quixote—Cervantes

Bunyan – Pilgrim’s Progress

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/90600/Pilgrim-s-Progress—Bunyan

Swift – Gulliver’s Travels

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/91884/Gulliver-s-Travels—Swift

Austen – Pride and Prejudice

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/96506/Pride-Prejudice—Jane-Austen

Dickens – Oliver Twist

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/98621/Oliver-Twist—Charles-Dickens

Bronte – Jane Eyre

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/102210/Jane-Eyre—Charlotte-Bronte

Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/104538/The-Scarlet-Letter—Nathaniel-Hawthorne

Melville – Moby Dick

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/105905/Moby-Dick—Melville

Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/121736/Uncle-Tom-s-Cabin—Stowe

Flaubert – Madame Bovary

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/148024/Madame-Bovary—Flaubert

Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/165633/Crime-and-Punishment—Dostoyevsky

Tolstoy – Anna Karenina

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/212374/Anna-Karenina—Tolstoy

Hardy – The Return of the Native

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/233628/The-Return-of-the-Native—Thomas-Hardy

James – The Portrait of a Lady

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/239963/Portrait-of-a-Lady—James

Twain – Huckleberry Finn

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/319203/Huckleberry-Finn—Mark-Twain

Crane – Red Badge of Courage

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/319206/Red-Badge-of-Courage—Crane

Conrad – Heart of Darkness

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/324295/Heart-of-Darkness—Conrad

Wharton – House of Mirth

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/324297/House-of-Mirth—Wharton

Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/324292/The-Great-Gatsby—Fitzgerald

Woolf – Mrs. Dalloway

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/420041/Mrs-Dalloway—Virginia-Woolf

Kafka – The Trial

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/435148/The-Trial—Kafka

Wright – Native Son

http://www.shelfari.com/groups/32384/discussions/443717/Native-Son—Wright

Camus – The Stranger

Orwell – 1984

Ellison – Invisible Man

https://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/blasted-book-bouncing/

Bellow – Sieze the Day

Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude

Calvino – If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

Morrison – Song of Solomon

Delillo – White Noise

Byatt – Possession

https://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/the-ultimate-possession-a-book-by-byatt/

As you can see, I just recently finished Kafka’s The Trial and will soon be starting The Native Son.  I’d love for others to join me.

Have you read any of these lately?  Which were your favorites? What would you add to the list if your goal was to walk people through the History of the Novel, as Bauer’s has done?

P.S. Susan Wise Bauer will be lecturing at the  Texas Home School Coalition Southwest Convention The Woodlands, Texas, Thursday-Saturday August 2-4.

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