Get the exclusive (almost) Weekly Digest.

    Books & Reading, Mother's Education

    Spring Reading Recommendations (Plus: Reading Trackers are Here!)

    March 28, 2024 by Brandy Vencel

    I know it’s embarrassingly late (March is almost over, after all), but I decided to post this anyway because I figured that you enjoy some reading inspiration, no matter when it’s given. Personally, what with a long-distance move in January and a child getting married in May, I’ve decided to read more fiction than usual. I find it comforting and calming (well, as long as I choose titles that have that effect on me).

    That doesn’t mean I’m neglecting other categories, but sometimes all my fiction reading is what I read aloud to my children. This year, I’m reading fiction for myself. I even made it a 5×5 category for myself.

    Get Your Mother Culture Habit Tracker Now!

    What are we tracking?

    What exactly are we tracking with these Mother Culture Habit Trackers? Since we can’t track nebulous things like “personal growth” or “feeding the soul with ideas,” we choose instead to track habits that lead to these sorts of ends. We define Mother Culture here according to the original article in The Parents’ Review: 30 minutes per day of reading. Maintain a stack of books (at least one of each) in three categories: stiff, moderately easy, and novel. When it’s time to read, pick up the book you feel fit for.

    It’s that simple!

    Need book ideas? Here is a recommendation for each category to get you started:

    Stiff Book:

    Pax by Tom Holland is the stiff book I’m reading right now. My mother-in-law was kind enough to give it to me for Christmas. After all these years of teaching Plutarch, I find I’ve fallen in love with the history of Rome and Greece. Holland does not disappoint! This book covers later history — it begins in 69 AD.

    Moderately Easy Book:

    Drive by Daniel Pink was the first book I finished this year. It was an easy but interesting read and definitely gave me some food for thought on motivation — specifically on how I go about motivating my teenagers.


    The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton was the first novel I finished this year. I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is the first time I’ve read any of Crichton’s earlier work. It was interesting to see how his style changed. Written in 1969, the book is completely devoid of preaching — something the Jurassic Park books are brimming with! It made me wonder if that was something he did only with the character of Ian Malcolm, or whether it runs deeper. Perhaps he tired of people unable to infer the lesson!

    I will have to read more to find out.

    Either way … I wish you happy spring reading, friends! ♥

    Books & Reading

    The Official 2023 Afterthoughts Read Aloud List

    February 5, 2024 by Brandy Vencel

    I usually publish this annual post in January. Alas, it is February. How long do you think I can blame the lateness of my posts on my recent move to Texas?? I think I will try to milk this as long as possible! This post contains what it sounds like: a list of the books we read aloud in 2023. Please note that “we” means myself, my husband, and the three children we still have at home. At the beginning Continue Reading…

    Books & Reading, Mother's Education

    The 2024 Afterthoughts Book Awards

    January 26, 2024 by Brandy Vencel

    This past year was wild. I’m surprised I finished as many books as I did! (As usual, the book awards only includes books I read on my own. I’ll create another list that contains all our read alouds from this year, so stay tuned.) Somehow, in the midst of scoping out a new town in a new state, selling a house, and buying a house, I still got through 23 books. (Thank the Lord for audio books!). Reading keeps me Continue Reading…

    Books & Reading, Mother's Education

    The Fall 2023 Mother Culture Reading List (Plus Fall Reading Habit Trackers!!)

    September 20, 2023 by Brandy Vencel

    I don’t know about you, but I always have to figure out how to fit in my reading this time of year. It’s not that I can’t do it — it’s just that I can’t do it the way I’ve been doing it when there were no school lessons and very little football practice. This time of year isn’t actually busier, but it’s different, and I have to strategize with my calendar to make things work. A habit tracker helps Continue Reading…