2022 Reading Notes

Moms have brains and need brains, and brains need to be fed just like bodies. That’s why it’s important we read. Mothering and homemaking are not jobs for slackers. It’s not mindless work. When our minds are active and exercised, we can apply more of ourselves to our work with creativity and intelligence, deriving more satisfaction from our work the more cultivated our attention and intelligence is. Being smarter and more well read will not make us less content with our work, but more.

I started the 5×5 Reading Challenge three years ago with Scholé Sisters in order to intentionally read books in categories I tend to collect but not read. By choosing 5 categories and 5 books for each category, we read both broadly and deeply without getting overly ambitious. Click here to join the 5×5 Reading Challenge any time! The categories you see listed are my 5 chosen categories, plus extra are books beyond my 5×5 I’m reading.

Yes, audio books count as reading just as much as reading a paperback, and books read with or to the children or in our homeschool also count.

NB: The numbers given on the list of finished books indicate order and total books I’ve finished this year.

Currently Reading

last updated May 14, 2022

  • The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk – Audible – Anti-Marxist category
    I heard of this book from some other ladies reading similar books and added it to my listening queue. Kirk writing of Burke is good stuff so far.
  • Foundations of Christian Education: Addresses to Christian Teachers, Louis Berkhof and Cornelius Van Til – paperback – Education category
    I’ve owned this book for a long time, but after hearing about Berkhof and Van Til in Frame’s History of Western Philosophy and Theology, I was motivated to tolle lege.
  • Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster – harback – self-discipline category
    I’ve heard this book references many times over the years, so with a category like “self-discipline” happening this year, it seemed like one I should read for myself.
  • Guilt, Grace, Gratitude, George Bethune – hardback – theology category
    Rev. Bethune was a nineteeth-century American pastor in the Dutch reformed tradition, and these volumes gather his sermons through the Heidelberg catechism together.
  • Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle – paperback – Philosophy category
    I started this in 2020, set it aside, and am only now picking it back up. I am in book 3 and reading a section during my morning reading time.
  • Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, Werner Jaeger – hardback – won’t finish this year
    Another neglected friend I’m picking back up. I started reading this with Brandy Vencel 3 years ago and only got to chapter 8 in volume 1 (of 3). I added it to my morning stack and plan to start back up again and read a chapter a week.
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin – hardback – homeschool read-along, won’t finish this year. It’s on pause now for the summer, but we’ll pick it back up again in the fall.
    I’m reading this with my 8th grader, taking 3 years to read it together; I read it over 2 years with my previous high schooler.
  • Commentary on the Whole Bible, Matthew Henry – hardback – won’t finish this year
    My goal is to finish it before I’m 50; I finished Job and am now reading Matthew.

Finished in May

16. Christianity and Liberalism, J. Gresham Machen

Audible audiobook – Anti-Marxist category
I listened to this 5 hour audio in a day during a drive to and from Kennewick. It was refreshing to ruminate in the most valuable truths rather than in the mindset of those who deny them. Machan saw what was what 100 years ago, but his voice went unheeded and here we are. Liberalism, he demonstrates, is a different religion altogether from Christianity, and ought to be banished from the church. Because liberals tend to wrap their beliefs in Christian verbiage to deceive and destroy the church from within, we have to know and firmly hold the truth of Scripture about Christ, sin, and salvation. It was such a good book. Highly recommended. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Finished in April

15. Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman

Audible – Marxism category
The audio version is read by the author, so there’s the bonus of the British accent. Wow. If you want to understand the twisted way modern transgender thought makes sense or at least how it came to be and appeared to happen so quickly, this is your book. Trueman approaches it as a historian, elaborating the godless philosophies that have shaped the West dispassionately. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

14. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

Audible & paperback – Marxist category (or fiction)
I read this for a local book club. The hero is spoken of like he’s an animal and his turning-point is rage. His redemption comes by stealing and destroying.⭐️⭐️

13. That Hideous Strength: A Deeper Look at How the West Was Lost, Melvin Tinker

Paperback – Marxism category
I heard about this book on the podcast Mortification of Spin and was intrigued and delighted by Tinker’s succinct demonstration that cultural Marxism is, by its own definition, anti-gospel and therefore the battle ground of spiritual warfare today. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Discuss this book with me in the Excellent Marxmanship study inside Sistership!

12. A History of Western Philosophy and Theology, John Frame

Audible – Philosophy category
I am absolutely loving this book! It has the best summaries and evaluations of the major philosophers, starting with the pre-Socratics, that I have read yet, and I’ve read half a dozen. It is a lot more approachable than I was expecting. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

11. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, Matt Perman

hardback – Self-discipline category – This is a reread for me and has replaced GTD as my favorite go-to book on productivity. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

10. A Christian Manifesto, Francis Schaeffer

paperback – Anti-Marxist category
Schaeffer cuts right to the chase. In the early 80’s he foresaw the “open window” for the religious right was not likely to last long and explains why Christians must be ready and willing to take up civil disobedience against political powers that take god-like prerogatives to their office. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Finished in March

The Greek WayThe Greek WayThe Greek Way

 

The Rector of Justin: A NovelThe Rector of Justin: A NovelThe Rector of Justin: A NovelLimitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional LifeLimitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional LifeLimitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life

 

9. The Greek Way, Edith Hamilton

Audible – History category – Edith Hamilton’s classic is surprisingly refreshing! She has no qualms about being judgy against the Egyptians because of their religion and priests. She cuts right to the chase about the stark differences between the Greek outlook and every other preceding it. It’s an enjoyable listen, particularly because it’s also my favorite reader, Nadia May. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

8. Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life, Jim Kwik – extra

Audio. I listened to this non-fiction self-help book at 2.2 speed and it sounded as other books do at 1.5. He was not saying anything so profound or complex as to require speaking so slowly. Between that and adding in basically a podcast recording between each chapter, one senses he was simply bulking up the audiobook to make it appear worth a credit. There were a few good tips in the book, but they weren’t ones you can’t find elsewhere and I found his personal story wrung out by the end of the book and the superhero motif overblown.

7. The Rector of Justin, Louis Auchincloss – fiction category

Paperback. This novel is mentioned in Norms and Nobility, which is how it made it onto my TBR pile. Although the setting is in education, the theme really is leadership, righteous ambition, pride, and personality. The narrator’s favorite novel, referenced throughout, is Clarissa, an epistolary novel where you see the same event from multiple perspectives. Likewise, other people’s notes are inserted, unamended, and so we observe a life and a life work unfold from a variety of perspectives. No one person has the whole story and no one person’s perspectives is fully true – even (or especially, perhaps) the main character’s view of his own self and life work. Still, it remains a hopeful novel, even amidst its realism.

Finished in February

The Communist Manifesto: A 1888 Translation Edition (The Political Philosophy of Karl Marx And Friedrich Engels)The Communist Manifesto: A 1888 Translation Edition (The Political Philosophy of Karl Marx And Friedrich Engels)The Rule of Saint Augustine: with Commentary by Hugh of St. VictorThe Rule of Saint Augustine: with Commentary by Hugh of St. VictorMarxism: Philosophy and EconomicsMarxism: Philosophy and Economics

 

6.
  • Marxism, Thomas Sowell – Marxism category
  • Audible. Sowell begins by saying that not all that claims to be Marxist or explain Marxism is based upon Marx’s writings; his book uses substantial quotes from Marx and Engels to demonstrate what they actually believed as opposed to how their thoughts were later developed and applied. The book primarily is an explication of Marx’s thought, not a commentary upon it or an analysis of it. It was dense and difficult to absorb by audio, but a helpful addition to my understanding of Marx’s theories.

    5. The Rule of St. Augustine with commentary by Hugh of St. Victor – self-discipline category

    Paperback. Augustine’s rule is for a convent and is very basic and brief. Following the rule, Hugh’s commentary restates the rules almost sentence by sentence, drawing out the reasoning and benefit of following the rule in a monastic setting.

    4. The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx – Marxism category

    Paperback. Marx makes some pretty fundamentally flawed assumptions and then does not propose but presumes as inevitable a sweeping overturn of society. All history is the story of class struggle. Get rid of all classes but one and give them equal part of all things (and one another), and world peace and equality (not prosperity; prosperity is so bougie – they created prosperity so that the one world workers can now live off of it. Thank you. Go away.). When you deny God and sin, you have to resort to crazy ideas to make things work without acknowledging either. There is a God and sin, thus communism cannot work. Study this with me inside Sistership!

    Finished in January

    Leave It to PsmithLeave It to PsmithLord Emsworth Acts for the BestLord Emsworth Acts for the BestA Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn

     

    1. Leave it to Psmith, P.G. Wodehouse – fiction category

    Audiobook. Reread. We listened to this title in the car on a trip back and forth from Kennewick to Moscow while moving. This title is Wodehouse’s best and one not to miss.

    2. Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best, P.G. Wodehouse – extra

    Audiobook. Reread. We listened to this title in the car on a couple trips back and forth from Kennewick to Moscow while moving. Martin Jarvis is definitely our favorite Wodehouse reader.

    3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith – fiction category

    Audiobook. I enjoyed this well-told coming-of-age story about the pluck and grit of immigrants, even as it diminishes through the generations as those immigrants do succeed in building a better life for their families against hard odds.

    Books begun but not finished in 2022

    • Ordering Your Private World, Gordon Macdonald – hardback – Self-discipline category (reread)
      I last read this about 15 years ago. What strikes me now is how little Scripture and the gospel seems to factor into his description of a pastor’s life. I remember thinking it was great 15 years ago; we’ll see when we get to the practical part. His theoretical basis is weak and self-focused. I would prefer more principles and fewer anecdotes. Update: Halfway through the book I realized this wasn’t the book I was thinking of when I pulled it off the shelf. I’m not finishing it. It’s shallow while thinking itself deep; it’s not worth my time.

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    4 Comments

    1. I started reading Matthew Henry as a devotional every morning when I was about 16. I have barely missed a day since, I’d guess less than 50 days in the intervening years (God is so good; habits die hard). I’m 40 this year and still have a handful of books of the Bible left to go through but I’m still going strong. And even in the most boring section of Numbers, he has shown some truth that I could latch on to and apply to my life. God’s Word is so beautiful.

    2. I look forward to sharing Calvin’s Institutes with my children. I read them in my early 20s and really enjoyed them.
      Gordon MacDonald…I haven’t read this one but it’s on my shelf for “someday”. I have read Who Stole My Church? and wrote in review “the whole thing was an appeal to the emotions. There is very little solid Biblical or even just logical argument about worship for anyone who would like to think things through.” I don’t know if the same is true for his other books, but that one was a disappointment for sure.

      1. That’s not surprising. I am not finished yet, but now I’m wondering if it was a different book I was remembering being good on this topic! In reading it, I am positive I would never attend his church – feel good and not reliant on Scripture sums it up. I probably should have gone with rereading Matt Perman instead.

        Calvin is so great! I’ve enjoyed reading it spread out across several years and now on repeat. :)

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