January in Books

It was a good reading month. Not terribly surprising as this was my month of rest and reflection. I also had the wonderful excuse of sitting and rocking an infant which meant that most evenings found me holding Elliott and reading. It was lovely, I tell you. Just lovely. I’m thankful I can read one-handed. Other things don’t work quite so well while nursing. :-)


Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky gives an overview of what our children need to know to face the future. This is not a book about knowing how to read or learn, but rather an approach to teaching our children transferable skills that will equip them no matter what they do in their future. I didn’t feel that the delivery was excellent, but the content was good enough that it was a worth while  read. While Galinsky did include some practical tips, she spent more time proving why these were important skills. Most things you might be doing naturally, but there were a few things that I hadn’t thought about or wasn’t doing anything specifically to teach it. I’m always thankful for the reminders to keep me on track. The seven skills: 1) Focus and self-control; 2) Perspective taking; 3) Communicating; 4) Making Connections; 5) Critical Thinking; 6) Taking on Challenges; and 7) Self-directed Learning.

Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori McWilliam Pickert was an inspiring read. What I loved about Lori‘s approach is that it could be applicable and adapted no matter what philosophy of education you have. As you work with them, you can see how a child can take his own interests and go deeper and deeper. This book is an overview and I still wonder how I can practically set this into motion on a very small scale, but the book inspired me in a period when I’ve been lacking inspiration and for that it gets a huge thumbs up. I’m still deciding what to call my philosophy of education (it’s very eclectic), but I don’t see myself doing this 100% (i.e. unschooling). It gave me lots of inspiration and has already affected how I do things with the kids. I underlined a lot and plan to incorporate it in some way. I’ll let you know how in the future.

Theology/Christian Living

The Reason for God: Belief in Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller caused me to think about some of my long-held beliefs that, I’m ashamed to say, I have given little thought to why I believe them. In laying out the common arguments against believing in God and then answering them biblically, Keller gives both the skeptic and the long time believer an opportunity to wrestle with some important truths. It is good for someone like me who has grown up in a Christian home to take time to step back and answer the question of why I believe what I believe. I love Keller’s writing. He’s accessible, but he always makes me think.



 Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman is a look at how the Gospel affects our lives as homemakers. Furman knows her theology well, and it is obvious that it has taken deep root in her life. I appreciated that. I thought she held back quite a bit on giving application which surprised me considering the title of the book. It is, however, always beneficial to reflect on the truths of the gospel. Her style isn’t as easygoing as some, but I look forward to seeing how she expands her thoughts in her next book.



Culture/Time Management/Health/Fiction

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson is a humorous look at the island and people of Great Britain. Bryson’s humor is crude and sarcastic. I actually don’t like his humor. I’m not a sarcastic person (at all), and I found this just plain annoying at times. At other times, I actually laughed out loud. I mainly enjoyed this book because  I am living in this island now, and so many of the things he described  I could totally relate with, having experienced it. But the real reason I enjoyed it was because it reminded me to look at the little things that make a culture different. He is keenly observant and watches people carefully. Everybody knows people drink tea in Britain, but he observes things like how they interact in the checkout line in the grocery store, on the bus, in everyday life. He made me want to start observing more carefully what makes people tick here that is different from my own culture. Culture is fascinating and therefore made his style worth wading through. (I know many who really love his style, so let me know if that is you in the comments!)

 Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life by Crystal Paine is a great January read. If you are interested in how setting goals and routines can affect your day to day life, Crystal is your woman. She is extremely good at this. I found this particularly inspiring as I look ahead at this year. After our last year, I am a little tempted to just take a year to relax and not worry about too many goals. I still don’t want to overwhelm myself with expecting too much from myself, but I am reminded that some goals actually allow us to enjoy life more. I would caution that it is okay if you want to live a more low-key life. I think this book is valuable for anyone, but it could (depending on your personality) make you feel like you should be able to run a family, a home business, homeschool, etc, etc, and some people just don’t want to do all that. It’s okay. You don’t have to. :-)  Much of what is in this book is already on her blog, but I still enjoyed having it in book format as it is inspiring to read it all in one place.

Sugar-Detox Challenge by Donielle Baker is a really short ebook. I got this free at some point, and since I’m planning my own sugar detox here soon, I thought it would be a good read. It’s very short and not very in depth, but she did have some good menu plans and some thoughts on how to curb your families sugar intake. It was okay.




I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith is a charming novel that I somehow never knew about until a friend recommended it to me. The characters are so real and believable that you feel like you are right in their living room with them. It takes place in post WWII England and the added spin that Americans are also part of the story made it extra interesting. I loved how she included little comments like, “The Americans drop the ‘h’ in herb” showing the difference between the British and Americans. This is my life right now,  little differences that remind me every day that I’m not British. It was fun to read these in a novel. Nice, easy read for those late night feedings when my brain was tired. Enjoyed it.


What have you read recently? Do you have any recommendations for me?



  1. I LOVE I Capture the Castle. It is one of my favourite novels. I just fit inside Cassandra’s head like I am right there and you feel part of the story and you feel her angst. I love the quirkiness and eccentricity of her father and step-mother {her “communing” with nature!}.

    I’m reading Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, which is fantastic, but I’m going through it slowly because I like to write things down so I can remember them. I am also reading a biography on Georgette Heyer, which I am also loving.

    Bravo on all your reading!

    • I loved it too and I think it’s one to remember to give my daughter when she’s a teen. I loved Cassandra, but I really thought all the characters were completely believable which is why I enjoyed it!
      I remember going through SD in a Sunday school class, but it’s been years.

  2. You find such interesting books to read! Just requested several of these from the library.

  3. Love your list! I’ve posted my reading individually, but am planning on posting a roundup post for January, too. Hope it really was a restful month–what a wonderful way to enjoy a new baby! :)

    I am reading “Goodbye Survival Mode,” and may read “Glimpses of Grace” soon, too.

  4. johanna, you read my book! :)

    just wanted to make sure you knew that i have a forum that is full of additional advice, personal answers to questions, and all kinds of resources. it is really a friendly, supportive community, and i respond personally to pretty much every post. :)

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