On My Nightstand: August Reading

I can’t believe it is already September! August was definitely a full month for us and I’m really looking forward to the fall season. Pumpkin Latte, anyone? Here’s what I read this past month.

Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth. Because I think about simplifying a lot, I really thought I would enjoy this book. I was pretty disappointed, though. There are definitely some practical tips you can get from the book, but I thought her tone could have been a little softer. More importantly, though, her use of Scripture and lack of clarity on the gospel was concerning. I would rather read a completely secular book, than a book that throws in verses simply to support one’s own view. You can read my more lengthy review for The Gospel Coalition here.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell was recommended to me by one of my lovely readers here on the blog. (I really do take your suggestions, so keep giving them!) This was an excellent book which I highly recommend. Gladwell proves that no story of success is lived in a vacuum. While the media might like to promote the rags to riches idea of success, it rarely is true. From an educational standpoint you will learn a lot. I found it beneficial even as we decide what we are going to do with our kids for schooling. It will also give you perspective when you hear “success” stories in the news. There is most definitely more to the story. His engaging writing style makes this a really easy to read book. You’ll also learn a lot of interesting facts from Canada’s hockey players, to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, to pilots of planes that have crashed. He aptly shows how things like home, culture, and even date of birth all contribute to making the person who he is. He was amazingly able to emphasize all of this while still not negating the crucial part of the individuals hard work and initiative.

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul both gave me a sense of awe and completely amazement at my God, and a sense of fear at God’s holiness. Both fear and awe are something we Christians should have for God’s holiness. I came away with a higher view of God, and a greater sense of my own sin which God, in His grace, has forgiven.

Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes. I have long been interested in what is driving the secular homemaking culture. I am fairly knowledgeable about the push for homemaking from the Christian worldview, but I was curious about what has been this drive in the non-Christian realm. The first part of the book is a history of homemaking. I found her take on the feminist movement to be both interesting and enlightening. While we have different worldviews, I appreciated her research on the subject and I learned a lot. The second half of the book followed 20 different “radical homemakers.” These ranged from people really living “off the grid” to people simply trying to regain some of the domestic life that the previous generation had left behind. These examples provided both a helpful analysis of why people have chosen this lifestyle as well as a variety of ways that it plays out in people’s homes. All in all, an interesting and helpful read.

When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. This is a compilation of several different teachers and how they are implementing Charlotte Mason’s Educational Philosophy today. This will give you at least an overview of Mason’s general philosophy, but I think it is especially helpful in giving you some real examples of exactly how they do it. At the end of the book, there is a brief chapter for every subject, with examples on how to to teach it at various ages. I definitely gleaned some helpful ideas for teaching my own kids.

How Children Learn by John Holt. This book is considered a classic in childhood development and a “must-read” for educators. Holt is considered the father of the unschooling movement, and has been instrumental in changing people’s thoughts on how children learn. As such, I came in with high hopes. I am not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t exactly this. This book is written almost as a journal of observation of children. Literally dates with notes written down with his observations. It is not a thorough analysis of how children learn. From how kids play, to how they begin talking and reading, to how they learn in the classroom, Holt observes what children do and learn. Some of it seemed fairly basic. Any semi-observant parent or teacher would observe the same things. While I did come away with a lot of little nuggets of helpful thoughts, I struggled with the format. It was sometimes hard to follow and things seemed unrelated. I would have liked a more logical layout with some scientific data to support observation. He has written other books, so it is possible that I would find that in those. Despite the fact that I didn’t really care for the format, this was not a waste of my time as it did make me think about how kids learn best.

What have you been reading lately? Please share in the comments!

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  1. “He was amazingly able to emphasize all of this while still not negating the crucial part of the individuals hard work and initiative.” This sentence alone makes me want to read this book.

    I’m in the middle of reading Holt’s book. I too was expecting something drastically different and am not a fan of the format. (Which is probably why it’s taking me so long to read it). It is helpful though.

  2. Thank you for the reviews. I am going to order When Children Love to Learn!

  3. I liked Outliers a lot. I just read “The Talent Code” and found it so interesting!

  4. Kristi Lee says:

    I’m always looking for new books to read too, so these posts are helpful! Adam just finished Outliers and really liked it too!


  1. […] when I read Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes (August reading), I was intrigued by her thoughts on one thing that spurred on the feminist movement: the lack of […]

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