“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 August 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

City of God, by Augustine

read by David McCallion
written in AD 413
Theology. 5×5 Pick.
first started in 2017, stopped halfway through, resumed in August 2020

Normal book pile

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
restarted in August 2020 for Scholé Sisters Book Club
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.

Christ: The Meaning of History, by Hendricks Berkhof

Theology. 5×5 pick.
published in 1966
started in June 2020

On Christian Teaching, by Augustine

translated by R.H.P. Green
written in AD 397
Education. 5×5 pick.
started in July 2020

On the Road with Saint Augustine, by James K.A. Smith

published 2019
Whim, with reference to Loving Well 2020.
started in July 2020

Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative, by Sam Storms

published in 2015
Theology. 5×5 pick
started in July 2020

Co-Reading (it’s like prereading, but last minute)

6 Easy Pieces: The Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher, by Richard Feynman

published in 1963

Science.
started in August 2020
reading with my 10th grader

Ourselves, by Charlotte Mason,
modernized by Leslie Laurio

Self Knowledge.
started in August 2020
reading with my 7th grade daughter over the next two years

A Little History of Science, by William Bynum

published 2013
Science.
started in July 2020
reading with my 7th & 5th grade kids

Long-Term, Slow-Reading Pile

Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Matthew Henry.

first published in 1714; my edition published 2008
Theology.
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
Philosophy. 5×5 pick.
started in February 2019

Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture by Werner Jaeger

published in 1967
Education.
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
Education. 5×5 pick.
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.

Star ratings are on a 5-star scale and awarded based on how well I thought the book achieved its intentions and lived up to its potential.

“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
History. 5×5 pick.
started in January 2020; finished May 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. 5×5 pick.
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.

This difficult man [Socrates], who kept asking questions and would rather die than stop thinking about how things really are, has been an inspiration for philosophers ever since.” (p. 8)

“God may be incomprehensible, but he is not unknowable. Any doubt is removed the moment God opens his mouth.” (p. 25)

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

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

The more we know and understand God, the more informed and sincere will be our praise.

Barrett does an excellent job explaining the attributes of God in the classical sense and terminology for a modern lay reader. Better still, he does so without straying into abstraction and theory, but grounds it all in doxology.

Many of his personal anecdotes seemed to be an interruption to the flow of thought, and the predictability with which they came and the sometimes tenuous connection made me lament once more modern nonfiction style, but the clarity of the meat of his writing made the dashes of personal sauce tolerable.

This would make a good read with a high schooler for theology, especially when paired with Packer’s Knowing God.

Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger

published 2002
Fiction. 5×5 pick.
started in March 2020; finished in March 2020

One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

translated by Max Hayward
published in 1962
Fiction. 5×5 pick.
started in February 2020; finished in February 2020

Kenilworth, by Sir Walter Scott

written in 1821
Fiction. 5×5 pick.
started in January 2020; finished in February 2020

The Golf Omnibus, by PG Wodehouse

published in 1973
Fiction. Date-night read-aloud.
started in March 2020; finished in August 2020.

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.

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

published 2019
Whim. Christian Living & Thinking.
started in February 2020, finished August 2020