As I’ve done in previous years, I am posting my favorite 5 books read in 2019. My reading list was much smaller than in 2018. There are a few reasons for this: my schedule became more full with an afternoon co-op added to my weekly commitments as well as two days of therapy; I had less time and was more tired; I also began a lot of books that I didn’t finish, some of those which I have no intention of finishing. Reading was happening but nothing that I could check off a list. The demands of the schedule aside, I also didn’t prioritize reading as much as I could have. I plan to rectify this in 2020 and prioritize reading more. To help me do this, I am participating in the Scholé Sisters 5×5 reading challenge. You should join me! Even though I didn’t read as many books, I did read a few really good books. Incidentally, my top 5 are chosen from each of my reading categories for this year’s Scholé Sisters reading challenge, except for my last category, Education/Philosophy. Here they are:

Top 5 Books of 2019

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
(Category: Christian)

None_Like_HimChoosing one Theology/Christian book was very difficult. I read some really wonderful books in this category. But in the end, None Like Him had the most impact on me. In it, Wilkin teaches the incommunicable attributes of God. She shows the ways that God is not like us and we are NOT like Him, yet TRY to be like Him in ways that are actually sinful. For example, God is self-sufficient; we are not. We are supposed to be dependent on Him and not usurp His authority by relying on ourselves. We want to be in control instead of realizing that God is the one in control. I was very convicted that I often have a self-sufficient attitude toward my parenting and homeschooling. I don’t depend on God, instead, I try to do the work of God. As a result, I go out of my mind with stress thinking that every success and failure, weakness and strength of my children is a direct result of my work in parenting/homeschooling. As if I can change the hearts of my children. Excellent, biblically solid book. I highly recommend.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
(Category: Literature)

Oliver_TwistA Dickens novel has made it to my Top 5 two years in a row. I think he is becoming one of my fave’s (although I didn’t love Pickwick Papers). Oliver Twist was a re-read for me. It is scheduled for Ambleside Online Year 5 so I read it aloud to E-Age 11. I love reading this aloud and sharing the experience with my kids. It is delightful to put into my voice the sarcasm that Dickens uses as he “praises” the “worthy” attributes of Mr. Bumble, who is far from praiseworthy. My children always understand what is really meant. They never like the book at first but by the end are begging me to read it. The beginning is sad and frustrating as we encounter Oliver being mistreated by person after person and in circumstances no child should have to endure. But that’s the point. Dickens was shining a spotlight on societal problems as only literature can do. It may seem depressing to some, but if there is ever a book to cultivate compassion, it’s this one. And it all works out justly in the end, except maybe for poor Nancy.

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman (Category: Science)

Phineas_GageWhen I think of science books, the word “riveting” doesn’t usually come to mind. But this book I could not put down. It is scheduled by Ambleside Online for Year 8 science. My intention was to skim through it quickly to make plans for any LABS or notebooking I wanted A-Ag-13 to do, but once I started reading it, I had to read it properly for myself. It was so engaging. It tells the story of a man, Phineas Gage, who in 1848 had an accident where an iron bar shot through his brain. Surprisingly, it didn’t kill him. He literally had a hole in his head and yet was walking and talking. They discovered through studying Gage’s injury and observing his behavior, that his personality changed as a result of his injuries. It was the first scientific evidence of the brain’s structure and that certain areas of the brain were responsible for certain behaviors and functions. Science is not my best subject but I learned so much about the brain from this book and it was enjoyable to read. Fleischman weaves current knowledge of brain science in and around telling the history of the discipline and the story of Phineas. It is extremely well written. A wonderful example of a living science book.

Abigail Adams: Witness To a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober
(Category: History)

Abigail_AdamsThis biography of Abigail Adams, wife to the second president of the United States, John Adams, is scheduled by Ambleside Online for Year 4. This was a re-read for me as I read it aloud to G-Age-10. It is an eyewitness account of the Revolutionary War between America and England and the birth of a nation. There is so much to admire about Abigail Adams. She was a pious, sacrificial, opinionated, self-educated, hardworking woman. In a time when it wasn’t thought proper for women to get an education, she did everything she could to cultivate her own mind and understand literature, art, history, and politics. She was John Adams’s most reliable source of news about the state of the war as it was fought on her doorstep while John was away at congress in Philadelphia. What stood out the most to me in this book was the devotion that John and Abigail kept for one another through their letters, even though they spent much of their married life apart. Also, their views on the raising and educating of their children as they discussed and even argued about them through their letters across the ocean when John was serving in France. A wonderful, personal account of life during this pivotal time in America’s History.

Atomic Habits by James Clear
(Category: Self Help/Productivity)

Atomic_HabitsI listened to this one on audiobook early in the year and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is an extremely practical book about establishing tiny, doable habits that over time develop into big changes. Change is cumulative. Clear outlines Four Laws of Behavior Change for developing good habits and breaking down bad habits. It is filled with practical examples of how to put into practice the ideas he teaches in the book. I have implemented many of the ideas he discussed and it has made a big difference to actually establishing the habits I want to establish. Even though it’s been many months since I read this, I remember being struck with how beautifully his ideas dovetailed with what Charlotte Mason says about habit training. His section at the beginning about the relationship between habits and how we identify ourselves was fascinating to think about. I think I need to flip through this one again for a refresher. It was very good.

Books I Read 2019

Non-Fiction

1. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
2. The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
3. In The Year of Our Lord by Sinclair Ferguson
4. None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
5. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
6. Life of a Spider by Jean-Henri Fabre
7. Wonder Book of Chemistry by Jean-Henri Fabre
8. Eric Sloane’s Weather Book by Eric Sloane
9. How The Heather Looks by Joan Badger
10. Christopher Columbus, Mariner by Samuel Eliot
11. Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman
12. Voyage of The Armada: The Spanish Story by David Howarth
13. Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl

Fiction

14. Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain (Historical Fiction)
15. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (Historical Fiction)
16. The Once and Future King by T.H. White (books 1&2)
17. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
18. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

School Book Re-reads Aloud To Children

19. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
20. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
21. Abraham Lincoln’s World by Genevieve Foster
22. Carry A Big Stick by George Grant
23. Great Inventors and Their Inventions by Frank Bachman
24. George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster
25. Abigail Adams: Witness To A Revolution by Natalie S. Bober
26. The Ocean of Truth by Joyce McPherson
27. Madam How and Lady Why by Charles Kingsley
28. The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsey
29. The Muddleheaded Wombat by Ruth Park
30. The Complete Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs

Audiobooks

31. Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery (narrated by Mary Sarah)
32. Echo by Pam Munez Ryan
33. Atomic Habits by James Clear
34. Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens