Booking It: April Update

  • [pinit]

Lately our homeschool has been studying the pre-Civil War era, full of all sorts of teachable moments for me as a mom. I am honored to walk through history with my children and to answer their questions. I sigh with gratitude that they see the injustices of this time period.

They also gain perspective on their lives today. The other afternoon one of the recurring themes revolved around learning, books, and reading.

The kids were stunned to hear that Abraham Lincoln’s education amounted to about one year’s worth of instruction. That books were scarce in the US territories is something they can’t quite grasp as they live in a home filled with books and regularly visit a library loaded with 1000′s more.

That it was illegal to teach slaves to read and write hammered home what a tremendous blessing literacy is, one that young wilderness boys craved and one that lawmakers tried to deprive their fellow man from acquiring.

Reading is a necessary skill in this world. Reading is powerful. Reading is freedom.

And it’s one that I take for granted all too often. And one that I don’t use often enough. Being able to report two books read this past month has me a bit embarrassed.  Certainly, it exceeds my original reading goal for the year. But, I guess I’m rethinking how I spend my time, and maybe I could read a few more good books. Here’s to changing that next month!

In the meantime, I’ll tell you about the books I did read.

Walking through History with my Children

Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China is one of a series of books by Janet and Geoff Benge that recount the life stories of Christian Heroes. So far this year we’ve read about George Mueller, Adoniram Judson, and William Carey. I don’t think I’ve finished a single of these read alouds without bawling my eyes out. The stories of these men, the hardships they faced, the love they had for God is moving and inspiring.

It was wonderful to read this particular book and learn how Hudson Taylor went against the grain of his contemporaries in missions. He wore Chinese clothes, ate Chinese food, and even grew his hair long  and died it black in order to assimilate into Chines culture . He was intent on sharing the gospel instead of prompting the Chinese to confuse his English culture with Christianity.

My three older boys listen to these books as I read aloud and we experience the adventure together. And often, one of them gets to practice his oral reading when Mama is too weepy. We are in the midst of another one, this time about William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. It’s amazing how fun biographies can be!

A Few Words for Food

The other book that I read this month has provided me with a lot to chew on, literally. As you know, I’m a foodie, so anything culinary-minded appeals to my tastes. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan explores the information we’ve been fed about health, nutrition, and food. Pollan makes the case that we’ve moved away from real food and real meals, replacing them with “nutritionism,” adding nutrients to food products in the hopes that we can make something better than the raw materials that have typically made up the human diet.

It’s an extremely thought-provoking book, demonstrating the spin that marketers and legislators have put on the status of America’s health and the food we should or shouldn’t eat.

I was already in the process of rethinking some of the ways that I shop, cook, and eat. This book kind of confirmed a lot of what I was already thinking.

While I haven’t read extensively on this subject, I felt that for the most part, Pollan did an effective job of supporting his arguments. His chapter on the evolution of food was lacking in scientific evidence, however, something that stood out glaringly in comparison to the preceeding and following chapters which were heavily footnoted.

It was a fair amount of work to get through the middle of the book. But, once I got to the last third and his “algorithm for eating,” I felt I was tracking with him pretty well.

His overall message: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Makes a lot of sense to me. While I don’t agree with everything he says, I enjoyed the book and felt like I learned a lot about food and US culture. I was also encouraged to keep on with our family’s food goals for the year.

So…. read any good books lately?

Share what you’ve read this past month on your blog and bring the post link back here. Or, just tell us about your latest reads in the comments. I’ve just started a new book based on your recommendations (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) and I’m already hooked! Can’t wait to tell you about it next month.

Feel free to use the button above in your post and please link back to www.lifeasmom.com so that your readers can know where the bookworms are congregating.

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Comments

  1. I keep looking at “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” book, but haven’t picked a copy up yet. It’s in the Amazon shopping cart, so perhaps it will make it to my Christmas wish list! I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts about it. As for the food book – well, hubby and I have been doing the South Beach eating style for the last 3.5 months and by cutting out a lot of processed foods and sticking with meats and produce, we not only feel better, but we have been able to shed 30+ lbs. between the two of us! I’m not sure I will ever desire to go back to the old ways of eating – I have more energy now and no more sugar crashes. That’s a lovely side-effect! :-) The garden should really help the diet AND our budget this summer! Blessings!

  2. Have you read Hudson Taylor’s autobiography “To China With Love”? I think actually it’s been republished simply titled “Hudson Taylor” (I liked the original title better!)….but it’s an amazing book, from his own words.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Alicia, that sounds like a great book. My husband had heard about a good bio on him, but couldn’t remember the title. There are so many and few and at the library. I didn’t want to buy one unless I knew it was good. Thanks for the rec!

  3. I love those books from YWAM. I have the whole missionary set. I can’t wait to read them with my son someday!

  4. Based on one of your reader’s comments from your last “Booking It” Post, I am reading “Sarah’s Quilt.” It is the sequel to a book by Nancy Turner called “These Is My Words” which is based on the auther’s great-grandmother’s diary about traveling to the Arizona Territory in the late 1800′s. I finished that book in about 3 days and am now on “Sarah’s Quilt.” There is a third and final book in the series, too.

    As I read about Sarah’s struggles against life on the frontier- childbirth, lack of healthcare, unfriendly Indians and Whites alike, I realize how incredibly easy my life is – I can’t believe I ever complained about waiting for an hour to get my daughter antibiotics for scarlet fever when her daughter died from it. Or that I take for granted walking down the street safely, while she has to keep a gun in her apron pocket against unfriendly visitors. Or that she lost a child in childbirth while I had my top-notch doctors around. Life was very differrent and very hard in those days! Makes me now appreciate what I have.

  5. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying Guernsey! I’m in awe of all this non-fiction. I’ve never been a big non-fiction reader. For the most part, it takes me a lot to get through! I think I need to try a little harder though.

  6. I was just looking at the Pollan book the other day and thinking I should give it a try again — I started and couldn’t finish.

  7. Thanks for the review on the Christian Heroes books! Those look very interesting. I’ll have to start collecting them to read with my kiddos when they’re just a bit older.

    Enjoy Guernsey! It will definitely make you appreciate the gift of books.

  8. I’m actually reading “In Defense of Food” right now, so thanks for your review on it! And, as a side note, my husband I are pastors with The Salvation Army, so I think it’s neat that your son is reading about William Booth – an interesting character for sure! :) Happy reading!

  9. I think it was Mark Twain that said, “The man that doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t.” That thought often comes to mind when I think about my reading plan!

  10. It’s not a book, but since you’re reading about food, you might be interested in the movie Food, Inc. I rented it from Netflix. It has changed my way of thinking entirely. I will babystep my way through changes that I feel need to be made.

    I keep reading how canola oil is horrible, but coconut oil is fabulous. I just can’t imagine anything that is solid at room temperature is good for you. I’d like some scientific evidence to back that up as well.

    I’ll have to see if we have In Denfense of Food at the library.

    • @Johnlyn Broeder,
      I also suggest watching Food, Inc. Very thought provoking!

      And Johnlyn, I get what you mean about coconut oil- just remember that it is naturally solid at room temp, which makes all the difference (and does start to soften/liquify above 75 deg F). If you’re conscientious about hydrogenated oils then this seems counterintuitive since things like Crisco are absolutely horrible for you. I bought a jar of coconut oil a few months back to use in place of Crisco and it is AWESOME!

  11. I loved Guerney PPP & Literary Society. There is a BBC Miniseries called ‘Islands At War’ that is about life on a German occupied Channel Island during the war. Wonderful, look for it at the library.

  12. I’m really sorry but link #17 is accidentally linked to the wrong post on my blog. #18 is the correct one. My mistake and I hope it’s not too big of a problem. :)

  13. I’m currently reading In Defense of Food. I actually was about to quit (just stopped being enjoyable), but you’ve encouraged me to stick it out. I’m learning quite a bit, but I am often skeptical about his lack of references in many places. But I figured it’s a good starting point. I think I’m moving on to Nina Plack’s writings next.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I was right there with you. I don’t think the guy has it all right, but I felt like it got me thinking and confirmed some ideas I already had. And that middle section seems glaringly void of references which made it hard to muddle through, just taking his word on things involving science and the theory of evolution.

  14. I’m in the midst of The Girl Who Played with Fire, which is a sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Surely not everyone’s cup of team, but the plot is really riveting.

    I am going to start The Maze Runner with my kids during April vacation as a read aloud so looking forward to that!

  15. I just posted my update… although a little late! :) Thanks for hosting this fun challenge!

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