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    Books & Reading

    Favorite Books from 2014

    January 7, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]2[/dropcap]014 was, for me, another year of reading slowly. It was the first year in a long time that I always read with a notebook by my side, that I stopped to savor a phrase, to copy it down in my commonplace.

    To make it mine.

    It was also another year of taking my eldest’s school reading list and reading it for me. I used to see pre-reading as reading it for him. I did it so that our conversations could be better and I was able to hold him accountable for his reading. But now, we’re in AO Year Seven and the reading list is fit to challenge adults. I’m still reading for him, but I’m also reading for me.

    When you think of it, it’s rather a remarkable thing about an Ambleside Online education that seventh grade has the power to improve an adult.


    Favorite Books 2014


    I used to write posts like these and name every single book I read in a year {see Exhibit A}, but now I choose only my favorite books. Admittedly, it is harder to choose favorites now that I read slowly. In reading slowly, I also have to be picky. I will not have time to read every new book that tempts me with a shiny cover and impressive back matter. But still, the cream rises to the top, does it not?

    I’m limiting myself to two or three from each category.


    Favorite Fiction/Literature Books


    Ben Hur, a favorite from 2014

    Ben Hur by Lew Wallace


    Persuasaion, a 2014 favorite

    Persuasion by Jane Austen


    Favorite Read-Aloud Books


    The Namesake, a 2014 favorite

    The Namesake: A Story of King Alfred by C. Walter Hodges


    The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, a 2014 favorite

    The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander


    The Christmas Mystery, a 2014 favorite

    The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder*

    *Yes, I did edit out a bit of bad doctrine, but still a fantastic book.


    Favorite Non-Fiction Books


    The Death of Christian Culture, a 2014 favorite

    The Death of Christian Culture by John Senior


    Consider This, a 2014 favorite

    Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass**

    ** I read a pre-publication version of this book, and it was oh so excellent. Early in 2015, I plan to read my paperback copy. {I have a feeling this will be up for Book of the Year next year!}


    2014 Book of the Year


    The Story of Charlotte Mason, my 2014 Book of the Year

    The Story of Charlotte Mason by Essex Cholmondeley

    I feel like I understand Charlotte Mason so. much. better. for having read her biography. And unlike other biographies I’ve read, I plan to read it again and again. It’s an expensive book, yes. In fact, it can’t even always be found. But if you ever get a chance to get your hands on a copy, I highly, highly recommend it.


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  • Reply Stephanie January 8, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Where did you find your copy of The Story of Charlotte Mason by Essex Cholmondeley? I am finding it very difficult to track it down at a reasonable price. I got it through inter library loan, but I couldn’t read through it and take notes before it was due back. I wish someone would reprint it!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 9, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Do you ever shop on Abe Books? That is where I buy a lot of my books — often they are cheaper than Amazon for used books. There is a want list function at the bottom of the page that says “create a want.” If you follow the directions, they will email you every time a new copy of a book you want is listed on their site.

      Sometimes I wait a year or more for my target price, but it is how I’ve gotten expensive out of print books I want more affordably. 🙂

  • Reply Kristen @ Dem Golden Apples January 8, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    I love your book lists!

    And I was thinking about how much I am learning from AO books in just Years 1 and 2! I am glad I will be reading them again and again as each child advances in years. I feel like I am back in school, too, but loving it this time and really learning.

  • Reply Karen @ The Simply Blog January 8, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I’ve not read Persuasion, but I have seen two different movies of the novel. My favorite is the one by Masterpiece Theatre starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 8, 2015 at 9:13 am

      Ooh! I was wondering which version would be a good one to watch soon. Thank you, Karen!

  • Reply Jen Snow January 7, 2015 at 10:02 am

    So true about AO being an education for Mom too. We just started year 3…glad to hear it was a favorite.

    Good list too! The Story of CM was one of my top 5 favorites this year too. And Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen. 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 8, 2015 at 9:15 am

      I think P&P is still my favorite, but I think Persuasion might be the first one I read with my girls. The simplicity of the plot is not only a beautiful thing, but easier to follow for a newbie, I think. 🙂

      I’m reading Northanger Abbey right now, and it is definitely not my favorite. She adds in these comments about herself — about being a writer — and when she does that, it takes you out of the story for a moment. I find it interesting to read what she thinks about writing, but it just isn’t the same as being entirely immersed in the plot.

  • Reply Celeste January 7, 2015 at 9:19 am

    “When you think of it, it’s rather a remarkable thing about an Ambleside Online education that seventh grade has the power to improve an adult.” << I was actually thinking the same thing about AO Year 3! LOL

    Really, though, my pre-reading for the kids this year has been such a delight. I stayed up late one night finishing up The Children of the New Forest, and when I came downstairs I had to guiltily admit to Gianna and Vincent that I had read ahead and finished the book–which they had begged to do but I had, of course, nixed. 😉 And the Little White Horse and At the Back of the North Wind, and and and…

    Totally off-topic, but I noticed that when I highlight text on your page (to copy and paste), it highlights in pink. Pretty!! 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 7, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Ha! I didn’t even notice the pink highlighting.

      And I’ve snuck an extra bit of a book before, too!

      I have to agree with you on Y3. That is one of my favorite years!

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