At the beginning of the year, I wrote a little about plans for completing the #vtReadingChallenge, and I have not updated at all on my reading. I’ve skipped around on the list, only counted part of my books that I’ve read this year toward the challenge, and slowly, but surely begun to fill my list up. I am actually pleased to say that I have finished the Light Reader List (and almost finished the Avid Reader List). I thought that, as I get each list completely read, I would make a post about my book selections, why I selected them, and give you a snippet of my thoughts about the book.
So, in that spirit, here goes the list for the first thirteen books that make up the Light Reader list:
1. A Biography–The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
This was a beautiful book about Henry VIII’s martial life, and how his religion was impacted by his marital struggles (and vice versa). The book gives the majority of its space to Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, but I did not feel shortchanged by the amount of time spent on the other wives. I really hadn’t known much about them or about Lady Jane Grey, and I am looking forward to spending even more time in this historical period.
2. A Classic Novel–Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Because we homeschool, I decided to put a few of our homeschooling books on this year’s challenge list. Charlotte’s Web is a classic story of friendship and allows children to explore what friendship is and what loss looks like in a safe forum. My seven year old told me that Wilbur was a “crybaby,” but this really was a magical read. We even had a fun themed movie night to celebrate finishing the story. It’s my third time reading this book, and it’s the first time that I did not cry. (If you’re doing Ambleside Online, this is a year one extra reading book.)
3. A Book About History–An Island Story by H.E. Marshall
This is another book we’ve been reading through our homeschool. It is a book of British history, from the earliest of times until the reign of Queen Victoria. It’s organized in story format, and the history itself is traced through the reign of the various kings of Britain. As I write this, I’m only a little more than halfway through it with the children, but we are all enjoying the book, and it’s amazing how much history my children have been absorbing through it. (This on Ambleside Online’s list as the history spine for years one through three.)
4. A Book Targeted At Your Gender–Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman
This is a book aimed at mothers. In fact, Furman is attempting to relate to Moms who are still in the early years that are so much work and exhaustion. This was an uncomfortable book to read as I was challenged to confront my own selfishness. I would find that she would often speak directly to my sinful desire to satisfy my own needs and to see my children as interruptions. It was an excellent reminder to me of the importance of my job and the ever creeping presence of my own sin.
5. A Book About Theology–Predestination by Peter J. Thuesen
This may be, so far, the most informative book I’ve read this year. I’ve spent way too much time over the past couple of years pondering where I was a Calvinist or an Arminian. Way too much time and angst!! So much so that I even told my doctor of the struggle that I’ve had with it. (He’s a very soothing and calming Calvinist by the way. Exactly what I need in my life for a doctor right now.)
Thuesen here rights a fairly evenhanded and unbiased history of the doctrine of predestination and how the doctrine has developed in American history. For the record, both Calvinism and Arminianism are rely heavily on predestination, and the differences between the two philosophies are very minimal. In fact, upon reading Thuesen’s book, I realized that the contentiousness between the two groups has highlighted terribly small doctrinal differences, especially in the currently embattled Baptist denomination.
This is a truly excellent read, and will most likely make my top ten books that I’ve read this year.
6. A Book With At Least 400 Pages–A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
This is the first book I finished this year, and it completed my journey with Song of Ice and Fire. I really loved the books, and I found them far more interesting that the television show. I really hope that I there will be more books in this series to read because there are some plot lines in the book that aren’t in the movie, and this book has a shattering finish.
7. A Book Your Pastor Recommends–And Then They Prayed by Barry Loudermilk
This is a book written by my local congressman. He occasionally attends the church that we are currently going to, and my pastor recommended the book. This book is okay, but I found a historical error in it in the form of a misattributed quote in the first chapter. That always ruins a book for me. I also felt like he was reaching a little for some of his prayers that changed history, so I would call this book so-so.
8. A Book About Christian Living–Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman
This one is a curious one for me. There was a lot of good advice in here on ways to practically love others. However, her exegesis of scripture was very loose, and she makes some errors here in theology. I can’t actually recommend this book because of the theological error in it. That makes me sad because I used to really love her books.
9. A Book More Than 100 Years Old–50 Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin
I decided to use one of the children’s school books for this book in the challenge. This tells 50 stories from history that everyone should know. Some of them are more legends than history, such as Alfred and the Cakes and George Washington and the cherry tree, but they are all good wholesome stories that help your children to become better people as they find heroes to look up to.
10. A Book Published in 2017–The Unholy Trinity by Matt Walsh
This book is by popular blogger, Matt Walsh, who is quite a firebrand. I enjoy reading his blog and Facebook posts, so knew I wanted to pick up the book. He believes that the current culture war is a part of a larger spiritual struggle. I’m part of the choir here. However, I hated that he didn’t use any references and didn’t have a bibliography. It’s hard to recommend a book when things the author is not willing to show substantiation for his claims.
11. A Book for Children or Teens–Hatched by Bruce Coville
I read this book solely because Emalee read it and loved it. It’s a cute story of a griffin coming to the human world and making friends with a young boy. Through this they discover that there’s a network of little elves all underfoot inside the human world and that network is in danger. This is a cute read.
12. A Book of Your Choice–Education: Does God Have an Opinion? by Israel Wayne
This is another book that I read that I was convinced of the argument before I ever even picked up the book. This is an excellent read if you want to see a Biblical argument for a Christian education–specifically a home education. Although I already agreed with the book on many levels, I found that it clarified that the reason I am homeschooling is because of my obedience to God. Any rewards to be claimed from homeschooling are just a benefit after my own obedience. I also found myself happier with the ideas of how all knowledge comes from God and how each subject area relates back to God. It was a very good refresher and addition to the philosophy of education that I have already been developing.
13. A Book About A Current Issue–A Heart for Freedom by Chai Ling
I read this thinking it would seriously discuss women’s rights in China and forced abortions. Instead, I found it was mostly just an overblown, overly emotional memoir of one of the leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests. I found that I didn’t trust Chai as a narrator and I found her gospel presentation to be theologically incorrect.
So, those are the first thirteen books of the reading challenge. I’ll be back soon with the next thirteen books!