“When I have a little money, I buy books;
and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”
-Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus
Well, I read even more books this year than last year. I have to admit, my head was spinning a lot of the time as I had stacks of five or six books that I was jumping between.
My goal for this year is to slow down a bit. Really focus on one or maybe two books at a time. Be a little less of a book glutton!
But I don't think there's a single book in this list that I regret taking the time to read, so it was a good year, spinning head and all.
Fiction for Me
Village Diary , Storm in the Village & The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read
I am still completely in love with Fairacre and feel the need to escape there for awhile at least every couple of months. You really should experience it for yourself!
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
This would be the book that accounts for the incredibly short list of fiction. I can read many books at a time, but only one of them can be fiction. And this one took up the better part of my spring and summer. But it was absolutely worth it! This book reminded me why I love classic works so much. The depth of story just cannot be matched. This was my first time reading Dickens and I was blown away. Seriously one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. A must read!
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel,
must be intolerably stupid.
Don't you love Jane?
Non-Fiction for Me
The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
I spent a year making my way through this one and found it to be the most helpful kind of encouraging. You can see more of my thoughts about it here.
This Momentary Marriage by John Piper
This was a quick read, and though there were a couple of points I'm not sure if I agreed with, overall this is an amazing discourse on biblical marriage. The evening after I started the book I unloaded on my husband all the things I'd already taken away, and then asked "Why didn't anyone ever tell us this?". Honestly, I said that to myself over and over through the entire book. It was a huge perspective-changer for me. Must read!
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim & Kathy Keller
Read this one right on the heels of John Piper's,and had doubts that I could be equally impressed. All of my doubts were blown away! I really liked reading these books side by side, because John Piper's was really excellent at explaining biblical theology regarding marriage, and then Tim Keller's made all of that theology completely practical. Again, must read!
The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
I love C.S. Lewis. I probably only really understand about half of what he says, but that's enough to get how brilliant he is. This was a mentally taxing read, BUT so worth it. His description of a society that abandons theism was an unnervingly accurate picture of life today. Definitely worth reading, but only when you're feeling like exercising your brain a bit.
Prayer – Does it Make any Difference? by Philip Yancey
This was looooong. I'm going to be honest and say I felt like it would never end. But I kept going because it was really good. A lot of food for thought.
The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
I loved this book. Are you surprised? The author chronicles her time of indulging all of her little girl obsessions with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Visiting all of her homesites. Churning butter. You can imagine. I will warn you there's some not so "pretty" information that comes out here or there about the real Ingalls and Wilder families. Messes with your Michael Landon fantasies a bit. But such a fun book! I couldn't put it down.
Disability & the Gospel by Michael S. Beates
I bought this book because of my sweet cousin, who has lived with life-long disabilities. I was eager to see some light shed on a topic that is just plain hard. And after reading it, I would say, I think it's something everyone who embraces the gospel should read. So, so good.
Little House on the Freeway by Tim Kimmel
The title is dumb, the cover doesn't match the writing at all, and the author has a tendency to encourage some things that I think are based more on personal preference than biblical conviction, BUT this book was amazing! The dear husband and I read it at the same time, and both couldn't believe how much it was so much more than we expected. I would say it's less poetic but equally as insightful as The Rest of God. (And you know how much I love that book!)
Overcoming Fear, Worry & Anxiety by Elise Fitzpatrick
All of you out there who think you're not a worrier, I'm calling you out of your denial! This is a great book. Very helpful if you're the worrisome type. Completely Bible based, I had a hard time initially as the author delved into the reality that worry is a sin. I found myself feeling defensive and hostile towards what she had to say. But as I continued to read and consider what she was saying it ended up being very helpful.
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen LeBillon
This book was fascinating. I had no idea that something as seemingly ordinary as eating could be so drastically different from culture to culture. This was another can't-put-it-down, read it in less than a week book. Though I wasn't persuaded that the French do it all perfectly when it comes to food, I found there were some very helpful perspectives to consider, and have actually been working to incorporate a few changes.
Take Flight! A Sisterchicks Devotional by Robin Jones Gunn & Cindy Hannan
This is classic Robin Jones Gunn. Light, uplifting, and always with a sweet focus on Jesus. It was a nice book to pull out on days when I felt mentally drained, or on drab days when I needed something to help shift my focus to the bright side of life.
Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull
I've said this before: I'm not a fan of parenting books. I had too many people preach them to me as if they were God's inspired word early in our parenting days, and after feeling guilt-driven by them for awhile, I finally decided I wanted nothing to do with them. But I found myself compelled to read this one when I found out it was written by Elisabeth Elliot's grandfather; and that people are still talking about it.
If you can get past the more formal feel of the writer's style, and not take offense at some things that were clearly just a product of the time the book was written (the 1890's), this book is incredible. This is the first time I've read a "how to" style parenting book and not been weighed down by guilt. Rather I found myself stirred by conviction and drawn to seek God more and love my children more. What could be better than that?
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn
I didn't love this one. It had some good things to offer for sure, but some of it I wasn't so into. However, it's super short, and worth reading just to make you think a little deeper on the subject of giving.
Running Scared – Fear, Worry & the God of Rest by Edward T. Welch
Again, I know I'm not the only person alive who can be a worrier. So for those of you who worry too, this is another great book. The thing I loved so much about this book was that every time I read something and started thinking "Well yeah, but….." , the author followed up by writing "I know you're thinking, but….." . And then answered whatever my objection was. Very wise man. After reading this and also watching him speak online at a conference, I'm definitely an Ed Welch fan.
A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children
is not a good children's story in the slightest.
Sarah Plain & Tall and Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan
I love these stories. And I love that Hallmark made them into movies that so faithfully represent the books. They all make me cry at one point or another. The author does an amazing job of capturing the beauty of life in both the happy and the hard.
Betsy & Tacy go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace
I told you last year that we love Betsy, Tacy & Tib. This book was no exception. So fun. So enjoyable. And also so good at weaving in some of the hard realities of life while still making sure we don't lose sight of the good. *LOVE*
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
This was me taking a little step outside of my preferred genres. It took me a little while to warm up to it, but once the story got going, I realized why it's such a big deal. It was a fun story to share with the girls. After we finished it we watched an old black and white movie of it, and made our own "Borrower" clothespin dolls. All the girls had fun acting out their dolls being terrorized by "human beans".
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard & Flora Atwater
This book is so FUN. Ridiculous. Completely unrealistic. But so so fun! Captivated the whole family.
Treasures from Grandma by Arleta Richardson
Like Betsy & Tacy, Grandma's Attic has also become a family favorite to return to over and over again. This book did not disappoint.
Bambi – A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten
If you're looking for the Disney Bambi you've always known and loved, you won't want to read this. Disney definitely sweetened things up a bit when they adapted this. We had little girls crying over the animal brutality. But it is a perfect "living book", giving a lot of real knowledge about animal life via an artfully crafted story. I had a love/hate relationship with this book pretty much the whole time we were reading it, until the end. At the end I loved it! So, worth reading.
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
I wanted to fall in love with this. It fits all the criteria for books I tend to adore. And the stories were good, and the characters lovable. But it just draaagged sooooo sloooooowww the whole time, it was rough. My husband was listening in and he agreed, so… Sorry.
Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
A wonderful story. Brought to life our studies of the Grand Canyon in a fabulous way. I never would have imagined I could be emotionally stirred by the story of a donkey.
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Ok, this is where I admit that sometimes I think E.B. White is a little out there. Charlotte's Web is just so sweet you can't help but love it, but Stuart Little is kind of creepy to me. Humans should not be giving birth to mice.
So when I picked up this book about a trumpeter swan that plays the trumpet I expected more ridiculousness that we would just read because it's one of those acclaimed children's books. I was surprised to find myself totally captivated by this story and loving it from start to finish. Equally as charming as Charlotte's Web.
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I feel like there's really no explanation needed here. As are all of the Little House books, this one is wonderful. And if you don't know what it's about I'm so so sorry for you. You should read it.
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
I thought my fictional girl hall of fame was full and complete. Then I met Elizabeth Ann. A.K.A.Betsy. And I had to make room for one more. I loved this book. Our girls loved it. Incredible, valuable life lessons wrapped up in a beautiful story with characters that you just can't get enough of. This one is going to be on repeat many many times in our home.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
I know I told you last year. Now I'm telling you again. You've GOT to read this book. This was our fourth Christmas season reading it. I thought for sure the magic would have faded by now. But it hadn't. Not one bit. You've got eleven months to track down a copy of your own.
The Nickel-Plated Beauty by Patricia Beatty
This was a hand me down from my own childhood, and I remembered nothing about the story except that my mom read it aloud to us at some point. So I thought we should give it a try. It is long. The anticipation of how it will turn out is exhausting. But everyone, even the dear husband agreed, that it had the best kind of ending.
Oh my goodness! That was a lot of books!
If you're still reading I just want to note one thing: though I do love owning books, I certainly did not buy all of these. I am a die-hard devotee of our local library, and I strongly recommend you becoming the same. The library is a wonderful place!
Now I want to hear your recommendations. What books have you read that I need to know about?
**Also just to note: these are all just my personal thoughts on our reading experiences. No affiliate links or paid endorsements here.
One of the things that is fast becoming a favorite of mine is sewing for my girls.
I like being able to create exactly what I want for them, as opposed to scouring the stores and settling on something that's okay, but not what I'd hoped for.
I love giving them something that is uniquely theirs, that can hopefully be theirs to treasure in years to come.
And I think that the creativity and focus of purpose that sewing allows is a bit therapeutic for me.
So today, I'm sharing with you three of my favorite things when it comes to sewing. The ones that are fast becoming my standby/go-to projects.
The first is this felt crown tutorial.
I made my first "birthday crown" in September 2009, and it has become a much anticipated part of our birthday mornings around here.
The thing I love about this tutorial is the simplicity of it. After making several I've gotten to the point wear I can do the actual sewing of the crown (minus the decorative embelishments) in about 15 minutes.
I also love the room for creativity in making these. Here are a couple I've made.
This one was for my niece's first birthday "poodle" party.
This is Miss E's for her "Fancy" party last year.
I go back to this basic pattern every time and am always so happy with the results!
Okay, second is a newer discovery, but I already know I'm in love.
I've been following the blog of The Handmade Dress for a couple of years now, but have only recently jumped into trying out her patterns.
My first experience was the Miss Mary pattern, for my Miss A's 9th birthday.
I need to take a full length shot of this one, but as you can see it's a beautiful yet simple "big girl" dress.
The website says the patterns will take you about two hours from start to finish. This one took me four hours, but now that I know what I'm doing, I'm sure I could do it in two next time.
The patterns are easy to follow and require very basic sewing knowledge. It was exactly what I had hoped for when I ordered it.
And favorite sewing resource number three….
Well, you remember these girls.
I know I told you before how much I loved this pattern from Wee Wonderfuls.
Well, the love has continued as I've been able to pull out the pattern again to clothe our little "girls" in dresses to match their owners.
My girls have long been fascinated with the American girls and how you can dress them just like you. So we've found our own version of that and they couldn't be more thrilled. I've found that they are not concerned at all if the actual pattern of the dress is identical, as long as the fabric is the same.
There you have my three favorite things when it comes to sewing lately.
I pulled out all three last weekend and in a single day whipped up Miss I's entire birthday loot.
The prized birthday crown (made extra fast and simple this time by the use of printed felt), a little dress for Josie and a matchy Miss Madeline for the birthday girl.
The Miss Madeline pattern actually did only take me two hours, start to finish on my very first try, so I will definitely be going back to this one.
I hope you're inspired to try all these things out. You won't be disappointed!
**disclosure: these endorsements are my own, not solicited or compensated in any way.