Books & Reading, Educational Philosophy, Home Education, Mother's Education

The Summer 2019 Mother Culture Reading List! (Plus a Summer Reading Habit Tracker!)

May 28, 2019 by Brandy Vencel

Woohoo! This is always my favorite book list of the year. I feel like I’ve spent time preparing a dessert bar for everyone, and now I get to watch you enjoy it.

As a refresher (or introduction for you newbies), the term “mother culture” is a reference to an article that appeared in Parents’ Review Magazine in 1892. This article does a couple important things.

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First, it reminds us that books are a way to wisdom — that a solid reading life is imperative if Mom is going to gain the maturity she needs to be a good mom to her older children.

Second, it gives us a way — a simple habit-based approach — to help us build reading into the busyness.

The habit involves three simple steps:

  1. Always have three books available to yourself: a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel.
  2. Read for 30 minutes per day.
  3. When you go to read, pick up the book you feel fit for.

Easy peasy!

The purpose of my list, then, is to offer a banquet of book ideas to get you started. All of these books are either from my shelves (meaning I’ve either read them or plan to soon). I never recommend books I wouldn’t pay for myself.

My list is divided into the same categories found in the Mother Culture article, but remember that one man’s stiff book might be another’s moderately easy book (and vice versa) — make sure you categorize your reading stack in a way that makes sense for you.

On to the list!

For the Stiff Stack

What makes a book “stiff”? The most obvious quality would be reading level — we’d expect a stiff book to be the most difficult to read on our stack. But beyond this, the subject might be heavy or require a high level of attention. The book itself might be easy for you to read and understand, but hard for you to work through because it touches an emotional spot in your soul or it confronts a place in your life where you need to repent and grow.

Just remember: the stiff stack is for the most taxing books. If a book is taxing for you, put it in the stiff stack.

Cassiodorus: Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning and On the Soul translated by James W. Halporn and Mark Vessey

Body & Soul: Human Nature & the Crisis in Ethics by J.P. Moreland and Scott Rae

The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek

Moderately Easy Books

Keep in mind that your moderately easy books should still be good books. They are still teeming with ideas that grow your mind and expand your soul. They just aren’t as difficult to read as your stiff books. They might be more light-hearted (they might even make you giggle). Lots of times, these books are also more modern — one reason they’re easier to read is because they are written in your own time.

Simple & Direct by Jacques Barzun

Novels

Do these really need introduction? If anything says summer to my soul, it is a good novel. Click here for advice on choosing and reading a novel. Please remember that stories are powerful things. It’s important to fill your mind with good thoughts. This doesn’t mean your books can’t contain evil — they should, in my opinion. But tempting you to approve of evil is altogether different, so guard your heart as you choose wisely.

Christy by Catherine Marshall

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Linnets and Valerians by Elizabethe Goudge

Grab Your Mother Culture Habit Tracker Collection!

When you sign up for this freebie, you’re getting a boatload of summer reading goodness!

  • Three Mother Culture Habit Tracker Options! This is the habit tracker that started it all. ♥
    • Beautiful, summery paper versions as usual.
    • All in editable PDF form for those of you who prefer digital tracking.
  • Three Gorgeous Student Reading Tracker Options!
    • Whether your children are little or big, boys or girls, you’ll surely find a version they will like for their very own.
    • Helps you get them started on reading habits!

Fill out the form below to get yours via email. Also, share what you’re doing on Instagram — post photos of your habit tracker and books! — using the hashtag #motherculturehabit.

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12 Comments

  • Reply There's No Substitute for Reading (Get Your Fall 2019 Mother Culture Habit Trackers!) | Afterthoughts September 3, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    […] publish extensive lists each summer. (Click here to find the latest.) For today, I’ll just share one book from each of the categories that I’m reading right […]

  • Reply Kansas Mom June 2, 2019 at 9:43 am

    My meaty read for the summer is The World Beyond Your Head by Matthew Crawford. I’m only 50 pages in, but it’s wonderful so far.

    I read A Mathematician’s Lament a few years ago. My library didn’t have a copy, but you can find it online for free through the Mathematical Association of America website I think.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 2, 2019 at 8:20 pm

      Ooh! Thank you for the recommendation. I just found a review of that book and it sounds amazing. I put it on my Wish List. 🙂

  • Reply Julie Zilkie May 29, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    So, will you review these for us when you are done? I would love that!!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 29, 2019 at 8:28 pm

      I *try* to remember to at least do small reviews in Thoughtworthy on Fridays. I just finished Christy this week, so I’ll probably mention that this Friday. 🙂

  • Reply Are You Starving? The Why and How of Nurturing the Mother's Mind with Brandy Vencel - cindy rinna May 29, 2019 at 10:16 am

    […] Mother Culture Summer Reading […]

  • Reply Tanya Stone May 29, 2019 at 8:22 am

    I’m just curious. Would you consider it still Mother Culture if the books I “choose” are from my children’s reading list for next year? Pre-reading and Mother Culture all rolled into one? Honestly, between a book discussion club, my local CM group, AND pre-reading, my ability to add more to my list is very limited. I do currently have a biography (Mariner by Malcolm Guite), a classic (Talisman by Sir Walter Scott), and modern fiction (a book my sister wrote that I’ve been bad and haven’t read yet lol) going at the moment. I try to pick at least one of those up a day on top of everything else. So, just curious. 😉

    • Reply Tanya Stone May 29, 2019 at 8:25 am

      Oh and I love anything by Ray Bradbury! Fahrenheit is great. A perfect summer book is “Dandelion Wine”. Such a beautiful story. I’ve been meaning to read “Christy” since I was a teen lol. One of these days. It IS on the shelf. 😉

  • Reply Sharron May 28, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    I read “Christy” last year and really liked it. Of course then I got really curious about the tv show from the 80s/90s so we had to get those from the library. They stayed fairly close to the book and my 13 yo loved them! I’m going to see if my library has “A Mathmatician’s Lament.” I need all the help I can get in that department!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 28, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      Oh! That’s good to know that the Christy show is true to the story — I had wondered about that.

      The author of A Mathematician’s Lament has a couple other books, I noticed. I’m thinking about checking them out to see if they’d work for Circle Time.

  • Reply Elaine May 28, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    I’m excited to see Linnets and Valerians on your list. I picked it up off the free table because it’s by Gouge even though I don’t know anything about it.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 29, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      Ooh! Free copies are always fun. ♥ I don’t remember now why I bought the book, or why I had it on my list, but I’m finally reading it this summer. I love what I’ve read from Goudge, but I haven’t read much, so looking forward to this one.

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