One of my goals for 2014 was to read 40 books. Thanks to several read-alouds with the kids, I was able to meet that goal but just barely. This week I hope to share my goals for 2015, which will include my new reading goal, but today, I want to share some of the best books I read this year. (For all the books I read this year, check out my “Books I’ve Read in 2014” board.)
If you need some book suggestions, here are my 8 favorite books I read in 2014. I hope they will spark in you a desire to make reading –whether a physical book, an eBook, a book on the Kindle or iPad, even audio books — a priority in 2015.
1. For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home & School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
This summer I started reading more about Charlotte Mason’s teaching philosophy so as to incorporate more of her ideas into our homeschool especially her emphasis on developing within children a deeper love of God. Macaulay’s book literally reshaped our approach to schooling and life. It’s not just a book for homeschoolers. This book is one I intend to reread every year for inspiration and focus. If you’re familiar with Francis & Edith Schaeffer, Susan is their daughter and an equally talented writer. (Another book I highly recommend is Edith Schaeffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking.)
2. Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, & the Joys of Motherhood by Rachel Jankovic
A friend loaned this book to me earlier in the year, at a time when I really needed to grow in love for my children. Jankovic, the mother of six, has so much wisdom and offers great advice in a humorous, practical, thoughtful way. This book will give you a lot to think about, and it will challenge you in ways you’d never imagine. I for one will never look at biscuits the same way again! Also by Jankovic: Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches.
3. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
I’ve always been intimidated by Tozer. He’s one of those theologians I thought I’d read when I was older, wiser, and much more mature in the faith. So, I was pleasantly surprised as I read this book to discover how approachable Tozer is. I’ve read since that Tozer wrote his books as if writing a sermon, and you really can read his books and feel like he is talking to you. His prayers themselves will bring you to your knees. What I love about this book is how Tozer convicts Christians to be more than just Christians in name; we need to know God. From The Pursuit of God: “We have almost forgotten that God is a Person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can.” To know a person, we must spend time with her. The same can be said of our relationship with God.
4. Don’t Make Me Count to Three: A Mom’s Guide to Heart-Oriented Discipline by Ginger Plowman
I don’t know why it took me so long to find this book, but I’m so glad I found and read it! This book has challenged me to get to the heart of my child instead of focusing solely on outward behavior. When my child disobeys or doesn’t obey promptly (Plowman calls this disobedience), there’s an underlying heart issue going on that needs attention. I love how Plowman uses scripture to encourage and to teach children what God expects from them. Practical but foundational, after the Bible, this book is my go-to source for parenting. I highly recommend this companion pamphlet of scriptures to point you to pertinent verses for the sins with which your children are grappling.
5. Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
Pocketful of Pinecones is a warm narrative in diary form in which a homeschool mother named Carol shares her fears and concerns as well as her triumphs, including what she and her children learn from their nature walks. Carol reads Charlotte Mason’s Home Education to aid her in her homeschooling and readers can see how she thoughtfully puts Mason’s teachings into practice. I kept this book by my nightstand and read one chapter a night. The chapters are short but filled with useful information for the homeschool mom wanting to learn more about how to do nature study with her children.
6. Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt
Honestly, I had never heard of Hildegard von Bingen until we started using Ambleside Online as part of our homeschool curriculum and discovered that she was the composer of the term. In an effort to learn more about the medieval abbess and musician, I found this book at the library and became engrossed. It’s historical fiction but from the research I’ve done, the novel seems pretty historically accurate. If you like history, especially early church history, you will love this book. I was intrigued that so many rich young women chose the church and celibacy over marriage because of the educational opportunities the church afforded. While Hildegard felt abandoned by her mother for committing her to the church because of her visions, she was probably spared a worse outcome for her life given her circumstances.
7. Persuasion by Jane Austen
Persuasion is the last novel written by Austen but published after her death. It tells the story of Anne Elliott, an unmarried woman who, 8 years earlier, had turned down the only man she’d ever loved, (Captain) Frederick Wentworth, having been persuaded to do so by her older friend Lady Russell. While this novel is a little rough around the edges (I don’t think Austen had a chance to polish it up before her death), nevertheless, the love story is beautiful — on parallel, in my opinion, with Pride & Prejudice.
8. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
The girls and I read this book aloud together back in November, and I was as eager as they were to see what happened next! Not to be confused with the Disney version, Collodi’s original tale is much darker and filled with lessons the poor puppet must learn the hard way. Pinocchio desires more than anything to become a real boy, but the wooden puppet continually makes poor choices and disobeys those he should listen to. I wanted to wring his neck a hundred times; yet, Pinocchio, despite his follies, has a heart of gold that you can’t help but love.
Those are my favorite books of 2014. I’d love to hear YOUR favorites! I might just add them to my 2015 book list 🙂
What are some of the BEST books you read in 2014?