May has been a much more productive reading month for me than June was. I only finished three books in April, but I finished seven in May. Five of those seven were nonfiction, making this a huge month for nonfiction for me. So, here’s what I read and what I thought.
Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree
A group of moms in my local homeschool support group was reading this book, so I read it, and then never got to attend any of the meetings where they discussed the book! I am glad to have read the book, however, because it really hits on a weak area of my life. I am often so prone to give criticism and correction that I never actually balance it out with affirmation. No wonder my eleven year old daughter sometimes seems to tune out everything I say.
The main thing I learned from Crabtree’s book is that I need to be giving affirmation to others without an agenda. I don’t need to hold back on affirmation because of my fears that my children won’t correct what they’re doing “wrong.” Affirmation forms the basis of a loving relationship, and there are many relationships where I owe a huge debt from my (very human) tendency to see the wrong and just expect the right thing.
I would like to say that reading this has made me better at giving affirmation. I wouldn’t be wrong to say that. Yet, it’s so easy to slide back into a pattern of focusing on the critical that I haven’t made as much headway as I would like, and I owe some relationships a considerable debt.
The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch
Andy Crouch writes this book to help bring some technology sanity to families. Crouch sets down ten rules that his family has tried to bring to technology usage in their families, and how they’ve done in implementing them.
I have to admit that as I was reading this, I often felt like a pagan. My kids have had way more technology exposure at younger ages than his children ever had. We just never clearly thought about boundaries and many times our technology rules at home are reactionary.
However, in principle I strongly agree with Crouch. Our connections with people are of primary importance, and many times our technology and how we use it limits and undermines our attempts to make connections. Going to weddings and funerals, making connections with other people, and making sure we express loves to others in our lives will be what matters in the end. However, that’s not how we act. Instead, we settle for entertainment, for distance with each other in our separate screens, and then wonder why we don’t have strong relationships or deep connections.
I’m still struggling with what the balance is, but I’m attempting to put away screens as much as possible and be present with my family. It’s a struggle because my technology addiction is too strong, but I’m working on it.
Dragon Kiss by E.D. Baker
This book is the seventh book of the Tales of the Frog Princess series. In it, the ice dragon, Auden, has fallen in love with a young witch. This witch sometimes turns into a dragon and he met and fell in love with her when she was in dragon form, in case that helps you make sense of that. Auden wants to be worthy of marriage to this young witch (who is also a princess), so he goes to the dragon council to learn how to turn into a human. Auden has go undergo several trials, but in the end, he learns the secret of turning into a human and is able to ask for Princess Millie’s hand in marriage.
This is a series my daughter Emalee has been reading through this year, and she likes for me to read them too so that we can talk about them. So, that’s my reason for reading this one. I really liked Auden, but found that he is much too good and likable for the temperamental and irritating Princess Millie.
This is, of course, children’s literature. I’d say upper elementary to middle school for this series, and both Emalee and I are finding that we’re losing interest in the series. Perhaps we’re going to take a break from it for now, but I hate to not read any more, especially when I’ve only got two books left in the series.
Know and Tell by Karen Glass
I attend a Charlotte Mason book club, and this was their reading selection for May and June. I went ahead and read the whole book this month because it speaks to an issue that has been a struggle for us in our homeschool.
Narration is all fun and games when it’s only an oral exercise. However, once I began bridging my children/students to written narrations, it was not as intuitive as I thought it should be. In this book, Glass provides a bunch of tips and suggestions, sample narrations and philosophical help. This is very practical, and if you read it, you will find things that you will be able to put into practice in your homeschool today.
I also learned that I needed to just chill out and be patient with my young narrators. I needed to remember that they’re in the process of learning and that they may not be as fluent as I would like in written narration as quickly as I would like. I also learned how to gently help my children progress as writers.
Still Lives by Maria Hummel
Kim Lord is a very provocative artist, and her new exhibit, may be the most provocative of all. In the exhibit, Lord has painted herself as women from famous murder cases, but as the exhibit opened Lord has disappeared, and Maggie’s ex-boyfriend is now the primary suspect. Will Maggie find Lord’s abductor? Will the finger of blame be pointed at Maggie? Is Maggie in danger?
This was a Book of the Month selection, and it was one of the books that I added to my box. It’s actually the only of the May books I’ve read so far. This is a mystery that veers slightly on the psychological thriller side, but it was not truly a page turner. I found that I kind of slogged my way through it until the last 100 pages, when I became very interested in the story. I’m still not crazy about the red herrings Hummel throws around or the solution to the case. I did truly enjoy Maggie’s internal ramblings and her friendships, so that’s a plus, and helped me to enjoy the story, even when I might have abandoned it otherwise.
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
My love of Star Wars led me to this book. My boys have been reading the Jedi Academy and the Origami Yoda books, and that made me all nostalgic about Star Wars. This book contains pieces of Fisher’s diaries from the filming of the first movie, and her thoughts on her affair with Harrison Ford, both at the time that it happened and 40 years later.
I found this book to be so much fun to read because of the Star Wars connection. I also loved hearing about Fisher’s younger self, but found that just knowing that they did have an affair tainted things for me. Young and innocent but not innocent. It’s kind of sad.
Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly
A couple of months ago, I picked this book up at a used book sale because my Dad had read it a couple of years ago when we were at the beach and it sounded good. This book discusses the entire presidency with an emphasis on Kennedy’s murder, and because I didn’t know much about the Bay of Pigs or the Cuban Missile Crisis, I found the whole book interesting.
From the beginning, this book read more like entertainment or like a gossip column than actual history. However, I knew that it was actual history, so I found the book to be a lot of fun. The last fifty pages are so thrilling that they read like fiction. I’m definitely putting the other books in this series on my TBR list.
I only had one disappointment, and that was that O’Reilly did not speculate any further into the various controversies surrounding whether or not Oswald was a lone gunman. However, O’Reilly is right in saying that we will never know and putting the focus back on the fact that a man died–a man who was a father, a son and a husband. It made me feel coldhearted for all the youthful conspiracy theories I had carried for the assassination.
Well, that’s about all my reads for this month. Hoping for good reads in June!
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