“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored.”

Anne Lamott

What I’m Currently Reading

Updated May 2020.

I generally have a pile of books I am reading through very slowly (as in, over the course of years), an audio book or two, and a shorter stack of books I’m reading at a “normal” pace.

I participate in an annual reading challenge that I helped design: The Scholé Sisters 5×5 Challenge. This challenge encourages us to dig in deeply to significant topics while also reading broad and eclectic in our reading.

Audio books

Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties, by Paul Johnson

read by Nadia May
published in 2006
History. 5×5 Pick.
started in March 2020

Normal book pile

None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God, by Matthew Barrett

published 2019
Theology. 5×5 pick. Recommended by Brandy Vencel.
started in April 2020

Mere Discipleship: Growing in Wisdom & Hope, by Alistair McGrath

published 2019
Whim. Might not finish.
started in February 2020.

Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation, by Josef Pieper

Philosophy. Whim. Loving Well 2020.
started in May 2020

The Liberal Arts Tradition, by Kevin Clark & Ravi Jain

revised edition; published in 2019
Education. 5×5 Pick. Book club study.
started in March 2020
purchase through Classical Academic Press

In Vital Harmony: Charlotte Mason and the Natural Laws of Education, by Karen Glass

published 2019
Education. 5×5 Pick. Book club study.
started in February 2020

The Theology of Reading: A Hermeneutic of Love, by Alan Jacobs

published 2001
Reading. Research for Loving Well 2020 Retreat talk.
started in May 2020.

Early Christianity and Greek Paideia, by Werner Jaeger

published 1961
Whim. Education.
started in February 2019.

Long-Term, Slow-Reading Pile

Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Matthew Henry.

first published in 1714; my edition published 2008
started in September 2018; my goal is to read the whole thing before I’m 50 (in 2032).

Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin

translated by Ford Lewis Battles
first published in 1536; my edition published 1960
Theology. Reading & discussing with my high schoolers.
started in July 2019

Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle

translated by C.D.C. Reeve
originally published in 340 BC; my edition published 2014
started in February 2019

Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture by Werner Jaeger

published in 1967
started in 2018, slowly reading and recording conversations about each chapter with Brandy Vencel & Abby Wahl for Scholé Sisters.

The Great Tradition: Classic readings on what it means to be an educated human being, edited by Richard Gamble

published in 2009
started in 2014, reread several selections multiple times, but not finished

Books Finished in 2020

These are grouped by my 5×5 Challenge categories. Visit Scholé Sisters to learn more about the 5×5 Reading Challenge, get the printable reading guide, and find accountability for broad reading.

“History, too, can be misunderstood – even misrepresented – and disaster can follow from that. Bad history is a dangerous master. But we have never needed sound history more.”

p. 513

A Short History of the World, by J.M. Roberts

published in 1993
started in January 2020

A comprehensive, liberal summary of world history from evolutionary fictions to the end of the Cold War.

It was good to read a secular, liberal history of the world. His dogma wasn’t too overpowering, but it was very evident in his presentation of imagination as prehistory, skepticism of biblical accounts, and fear of overpopulation.

The first 40 pages are pure speculation and hard to stomach while not being bored. You wouldn’t miss much to skip them and start when history actually starts with written documentation.

His overview is a good set of selections that gives the broad sweep of the main movements without getting bogged down in details.

His writing style is clear and lucid, though he very rarely shows deep insight or startling expression. It’s not a book for the commonplace, but it will be handy for referring to again in the future for a sketch of historical context.

There’s great reference material at the beginning and end that will keep this edition a handy source in the future.

A Little History of Philosophy, by Nigel Warburton

Published in 2012
Philosophy. Started in April 2020, finished in June 2020.

An engaging romp through the history of philosophical thought, with even-handed though secular treatment of 40 major contributors to philosophy, from Plato to Singer.

Each summary includes a narrative look at the philosopher as a man as well as what he thought and how others responded to him. The summaries were better written than those in Sophie’s World, and I would recommend this as a philosophical overview for students or adults over that novel any day of the week.

Olive, by Barbara Braendlein

Published in 2020
Fiction. Started in June 2020; finished June 2020

Read this. Give it to your kids to read. It’s a delightful story of a special needs girl who doesn’t want your pity, but to show you how to love life, fight for it, and be happy. Mothers will find it a convicting reminder of how we are the atmosphere of our homes and children will be shown the world from a different set of eyes.

I can’t quite place my finger on why, but it reminded me of Little House in the Big Woods. Perhaps it was how the family came together and provided a loving, healthy, warm environment despite hard things. Perhaps it was how the childlike joy of life was pervasive, even though we might assume life was hard and therefore always sad.