Book Highlights for 2014

Books Read in 2014

I like to reflect on the best titles of each year, and to look at a new year of reading inspired from my friend’s titles and what they write about their best.

Nancy Kelly is one of my inspirations, read her best titles at Sage Parnassus. My Ambleside Online friends, the bookclubs there and the titles mentioned and discussed, are another valued source of titles for my never ending always changing to read list. And lastly, serendipity is my best friend.

My favorite five:

Consider This, Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition  (And I have to add that I read it in conjunction with Karen Glass’ edited Vol. 6, and that added to the experience).


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter This is a riveting story, with characters you will never forget. After I read it, and after Heather read it, we both kept remembering something in it. For weeks, and even now, something makes us think of someone or some idea in the novel.

Robinson Crusoe. I read this aloud to my family. It was my fourth grader’s literature read for the first term. This book is the perfect mix of adventure and reflection. The language is beautiful, the story compelling.
Poet’s Choice, edited by Paul EngleApart from all the poetry that we read thanks to our wonderful curriculum, Ambleside Online, I always try to read poetry. It is difficult. Poetry requires a mood, one has to read a poem twice or thrice to get something from it (in truth, that happens with books, music, opera, ballets, paintings, etc.) What I liked about this book, it’s that it has something written by the poet about the poem he selected, and that helped me a lot to appreciate the poems. Some wrote extensively, some were very concise. Some poems I could not stomach, ;), and I realized why when reading the words of the poet. This was more contemporary poetry, and I am realizing I need the foundation I am getting along with my daughters, since contemporary poets have the older ones as reference.
The Imitation of Christ. For long I thought this was an impossibly difficult book that, as written by a priest, had nothing to offer me. I was wrong. I read the book in small portions each morning for a few months. Every time it had an encouraging thought that exhorted me to imitate Christ. It was the last section that I did not profit from, when it talks about communion as it is understood specifically by Catholics, but the book was always encouraging, specially those points I disagree with Kempis’ doctrine, because they make me think deeper about my beliefs and their foundation.
This copy you see it’s exactly the one I have and read. Translations are very important. I do not know how other translations fare, but mine was very accessible and enjoyable. I will not go into scholar discussions about how translations twist or bend the thoughts in the original language. I’ll only say that I believe to read is to interpret, and I feel happy when I can read an author in its original language, and I feel happy when I can read an author or a book in a translated version. I read to gain ideas, as Kempis says, to fill my gaps, to improve. And every time I can reach a book, thanks to the translation or thanks to a book club, or some preparing work on my side, I feel blessed and elated.
It was hard to pick only five, I think  My Name is Asher Lev, surely After You, Marco Polo, Jean ShorMy Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr, The Royal Road to Romance, by Richard Halliburton ,The Giver Quartet, Speculationand in truth, all the books were worth reading and favorites in their genre and place they take in my life as a reader.
The Law and our two original Shakespeare plays were deeply satisfying reads. I am looking forward to Richard II, our third Shakespeare. It is great to always remember to read varied genres such as science, biography, historical fiction, history, politics…
It was also a great year for two titans I had not read their fiction for children, that’s Narnia and The Hobbit. We will continue with Lord of the Rings, and the other half of the Narnia. I also took to Lewis and enjoyed several of his fiction for grown ups, and his Surprised by Joy, realizing that I like his non fiction more.
I enjoyed the books we read together in our AO bookclub, those were The Iliad, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Deadliest Monster, and we have a few we will resume in 2015, The Odyssey, The Everlasting Man among them, plus the new reading together of many of the titles for years 7 and then 8 of the curriculum.
The list for 2015 I will leave for another post, but it’s already looking nicely populated, and it contains wonderful new authors and challenges I have always desired to read and never thought I was ready to pursue until now.
I am venturing also on a different volume than 1 and 6 of Mason’s volumes, I am currently on vol 5 and seeing a different side of Charlotte Mason intermingled with the Mason I know.
The Complete List

1. Catching Fire
2. The Perfect Score
3. Vanity Fair. 
4. Speculation, by Edmund Jorgensen. Very intriguing and fulfilling book.
5. My Reading Life, by Pat Conroy. Nice book about a writer who was also a hungry reader.
6. The Mockingjay. Last of the Hunger Games Trilogy. I truly enjoyed it. Very nice ending.
7. The Moonstone
8. The Living Page, Laurie Bestvater
9. Jamaica Inn, du Maurier
10. Drawn by Memory, by Ernest Shepard.
11. Julian Hawthorne, The Life of a Prodigal Son, by Gary Scharnhorst.
12. The Rosemary Tree, Elizabeth Goudge
13. The Home Maker, Dorothy Fisher Canfield
14. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
15. Hannah Coulter, Wendel Berry 
16. After You, Marco Polo, Jean Shor 
17. Waverley, the novel, by Sir Walter Scott 
18. The Adoration of Janna Fox
19. The Iliad, Homer
20. Gilead. A satisfying read, thought provoking and tender.
21. A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr
22. The Royal Road to Romance, by Richard Halliburton 
23. The Eyre Affair, by Fforde
24. Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome  
25. The Drama of the Gifted Child, by Alice Miller (I re-read this book) 
26- Volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education, Divulged by Karen Glass
27. Consider This, Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition 
28. My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin 
29. Their Eyes Were Watching God 
30. Unwind, a YA novel by Neal Shusterman 
31. The Headmistress, by Angela Thirkell 
32. The Wreath, Sigrid Unset 
33. Biography of a Germ 
34. The Magic Barrel, Bernard Malamud 
35. The King’s General 
36. Poet’s Choice, edited by Paul Engle  
37. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter 
38. That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis 
39. My Name is Asher Lev
40. The Giver
41. Gathering Blue
42. Messenger
43. Son 
44. The Road 
45. Surprised by Joy 
46. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
47. Escape from Reason 
48. Other Copenhagues, and Other Stories, by Jorgensen
49. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
50. Murder in the Orient Express, Christie 
51. The Imitation of Christ, Thomas A. Kempis 
52. Till We Have Faces
53. La mujer the papel (An Unnecessary Woman)
54. The Deadliest Monster, Jeff Baldwin 
55. The Law, Bastiat
56. The Woman in White

With the Girls

1. The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge
2. Just David, Eleanor H. Porter
3. Seven Little Australians, Ethel Turner
4. American Tall Tales, Adrien Stoutenberg, Richard M. Powers
5. The Heroes, Kingsley
6. Marco Polo, Komroff
7. Pilgrims Progress, Bunyan. 

8. The Magic Pudding, Norman Lindsay
9. Haiwatha, Longfellow
10. Children of the New Forest, Frederick Marryat.
11. James Harriot Treasure Collection Book
12.  Just So Stories, Kipling
13. Jungle Book, Kipling
14. Secrets of the Woods, by Richard Lang

15. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
16. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
17. Tanglewood’s Secret, by Patricia St. John 
18. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
19. Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis 
20. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis 
21. Hamlet 
22. Robinson Crusoe
23. Understood Betsy
24. Poor Richard, by Daughterty
25. Midsummer Night’s Dream
26. The Hobbit, Tolkien
27. The Children of Green Knowe

Essays/ Short Stories:

1. A Modest Proposal (wow, I don’t know what to say, just read it, it is a mere 23 pages or so),
2. A Tale of a Tub (ingeniously funny), and
3. The Battle of the Books, where at least, some of the authors mentioned ring a bell, and which was a good read, but definitely, A Modest Proposal was the most strange and captivating satire of these three by Jonathan Swift.
4. 50 Great Essays
5. A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor


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