Books of the Month: August

I went back to school this month. Because of that little lifestyle change, I only made it through four books. They were good though. For at least three out of the four, I think I’m a better human for having read them. 

  • Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola, education 

One of my classroom moms this past year also happened to be a former teacher at my school. On the drive back from a field trip, we got to talking about her teaching days and she mentioned that this book was invaluable to her in implementing Charlotte Mason’s ideas in her classroom. She gave it to me as an end-of-year gift, and I dove in this summer. It kind of rocked my world. I found myself feverishly underlining long passages and feeling (almost) anxious to get back to school. Every time the author quoted a passage from one of Charlotte Mason’s own books, I nodded along and searched for someone to share the information with. It’s nearly 400 pages, so there are quite a lot of ideas to mull over for a while and consider how to put them into practice with my children. If you homeschool your children, or think you might possibly in the future, I think this is a must-read. 

  • Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition, Karen Glass, education 

This was our required summer reading this year for our school faculty. As a teacher in a school that is both classical and founded on Charlotte Mason’s principles, this was a fascinating read. There were lots of ideas that I want to continue to think about and implement in my classroom. I grew in my understanding of what classical education really is, and some of my own ideas of education were challenged. I’m learning to recognize the ways in which I am a product of my own environment and education, and to consider where my ideas come from and whether they are valid or not. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about either classical education or Charlotte Mason, and especially to people who want to teach or homeschool. 

  • Emma, Jane Austen, fiction

I have been attempting to enjoy Jane Austen for ten years, and I have finally managed it. In high school we read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, but I was nowhere near ready for them. I tried again a few times since then in college and after, and got a bit closer each time, but never quite reached the level of enjoyment (although I love the movies). Out of a desire to be a better person, as one who appreciates Jane Austen must be, I decided to try again with Emma. It took me quite a while to become involved in the story and keep all the characters straight, but about halfway through the story I was hooked. I laughed out loud several times and frequently expressed my stress to David about the love entanglements I foresaw. The characters jumped to life and I loved the delicate, meaningful language. I read somewhere that Jane Austen feared that in Emma she had created a heroine nobody but herself could love – but not to worry, Jane, if I may presume the intimacy to call you by your Christian name, I love her too. 

  • Alex & Eliza: A Love Story, Melissa de la Cruz, historical fiction

Like the rest of the world, I’m obsessed with Hamilton. I also love historical fiction, so this seemed like a perfect book for me. The problem is that because I love Hamilton so much, I’ve done quite a bit of research of my own out of curiosity about the accuracy of the musical. This is a thickly embellished account, somewhat silly and the general historical accuracy is suspect at best. I don’t mind a bit of filling in the gaps or changing minor details for narrative’s sake, but this is essentially a made-up story about real people. I’ll stick to my Hamilton soundtrack, where at least there are fun raps to learn. 

Reading Challenge Progress: 54/50 books completed. 

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One thought on “Books of the Month: August

  1. I too slowed down on my reading this month, but I don’t really have any reason why, as I didn’t go back to school!

    1) Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America, Amy Ettinger – This is a nonfiction book ALL about ice cream. The author is a self-proclaimed ice cream fanatic and each chapter she explores a different delicious creamy treat. With each “topic” (artisan ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, soda shoppes, custard, etc), she goes into the history of it and travels to different parts of the country. As an ice cream lover, I adored this book. I learned so much about the history of ice cream and how it is made. I learned about courses you can take about making ice cream at Penn State (now on my bucket list). The only down side is that I wanted to eat ice cream approximately the whole time I was reading this book.
    2) Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld – I am not as refined as you, and prefer my Jane Austin in modern day terms 😉 I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. I actually ended up requesting more of her books from the library.
    3) What She Knew, Gilly Macmillan – This was a great read. This book is set in the UK! It alternates points of view between the mother of a boy who went missing and one of the detectives working on his case. It is definitely a page turner and I didn’t want to stop reading.
    4) Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult – I haven’t read anything by this author in quite a long time, and I LOVED this book. It is so relevant to our society today, and the ending was so surprising to me. This was probably my favorite book this month.
    5) The Man of My Dreams, Curtis Sittenfeld – This author creates main characters that are almost hard to like. They are not idealistic characters, rather more like people you would encounter in everyday life. Despite not always loving her main characters, I think that Sittenfeld is a compelling author, and I am always intrigued by her books.
    6) Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld – This was probably my least favorite of her books so far, but it was still OK. It follows a girl through four years of high school at a boarding school. I felt that there wasn’t the typical “rising action, climax, falling action, resolution” pattern to this novel, and it was more of just a narrative of her time at school. I probably wouldn’t recommend this book.

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