Books Read: July-August 2020

Dear Reader,

I have been slacking off in my reports on what I have read so this time you get two months (plus one extra book) in one chunk.

July 2020

The Power of Play by David Elkind — A modern, secular scholar’s take on early childhood and the role of play. Though we would start with different presuppositions, I like a lot of what Elkind has to say and find some of his ideas reminiscent of Charlotte Mason’s. See this post for more.

The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy — Sometimes you just feel the need for Russian literature. That’s how I felt this month but I didn’t want to take on one of the longer books (and have already read Crime and Punishment which is fairly short many times). This short work by Tolstoy (so well-known for lengthy tomes) was perfect. It is an engaging story of  a man who discovers he is dying and focuses on what he thinks and feels. I am sure there could be a lot of deep spiritual meaning there as well (and there is a clear spiritual turning point towards the end). It could make you think or you could take it as it is, a poignant story about the death of an individual. I enjoyed this one. 

Theories of Childhood by Carol Garhart Mooney — In my effort to become more informed on theories of child development, I picked up this slim volume. It is intended for those who work with young children to give them a brief introduction to some popular theories and how they can be applied practically in a daycare or preschool setting. It is very clearly written and easy to understand and makes a great introduction even if you are not in the business (so to speak). 

Giants in the Nursery by David Elkind — Another good review of the major thinkers in developmental psychology. 


The Household and the War for the Cosmos and Man of the House by C.R. Wiley — A friend asked me to read Man of the House. I walked away from it a little confused as to some of Wiley’s ideas and so decided I had to read the book to which it is actually an addendum: The Household and the War for the Cosmos. The short story on these is that though they are by a pastor, I find them not inherently Christian and really more about a particular economic point of view than anything else. The long story can be found in my review (coming soon). 

A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley — It seemed like a good time for some dystopia. It is not my favorite genre but I have read Animal Farm and 1984 and Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451.  Of all of these, I found A Brave New World to be probably the least interesting and well-written. Animal Farm is my favorite because it is clever and funny but also partly because it is the cleanest. Which brings up one big criticism: why does sex have to be such a big part of all dystopias? There are probably good reasons rooted deep in the human psyche but it breeds an explicitness I just don’t enjoy much. Mostly, however, I just didn’t find that Brave New World had a whole lot to say. 

Scale How Meditations by Charlotte Mason (ed. Benjamin Bernier) — I have a couple of posts coming on on this volume of theology from Charlotte Mason. These are her meditations on the first part of the Gospel of John. I read them because I had made statements about her theology and was eager to know how on target I was (turns out to be fairly similar to what I had derived from her other writings). Overall I find her to be Arminian and there are parts of her theology. Especially her soteriology, which I don’t agree with. But her faith shines through and it is hard to doubt her true belief and some passages are simply wonderful. 

September (a partial month but I couldn’t wait to tell you about this one)

Know and Tell by Karen Glass — This book is so good I have nothing at all bad to say about it (and that is pretty rare for me). Karen Glass is a familiar name in Charlotte Mason homeschooling circles and I have not always agreed with her positions but this book on narration is wonderful. I think this is going to be my go-to must-read book for anyone considering homeschooling, whether CM or not, or at all interested in education. She gives the reasons for narration and how and why it works and lots of practical advice on how to do it, whether you are starting from the beginning or jumping in with an older child. Though what she describes is similar to what we have done in high school, I really wish I had had her advice on how to transition to other forms of writing in high school much earlier one. One note: I got the Kindle edition (cheaply) but it only works on some devices. I had to read it on my phone but couldn’t get it on my Kindle or laptop. 

What have you been reading?


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