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    Books & Reading, Mother's Education

    The Summer 2020 Mother Culture Reading List! (Plus a Summer Reading Habit Tracker!)

    June 1, 2020 by Brandy Vencel

    Every year at this time, I put out a couple reading lists. This year, I’m doing the Mother Culture Reading List first. If you aren’t familiar with the term “mother culture,” I’m actually referring to an article that appeared in Charlotte Mason’s Parents’ Review Magazine way back in 1892.

    The Mother Culture article does a couple important things.

    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.

    I love this for its depth and its simple practicality.

    The purpose of my lists is to offer an example to get your ideas flowing. Some people like to use books off of my lists; others find that these books make them remember other books, and those are the ones they end up reading. No matter. My point is to simply encourage you to feed your soul with good books.

    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.

    These lists include book I have read as well as books I own and plan to read (but haven’t yet). I stay away from recommending books I’m not actually familiar with, even when they’re famous.

    On to the list!

    For the Stiff Stack

    What makes a book “stiff”? The most obvious quality would be reading level — a stiff book is the most difficult to read. Beyond this, the subject might be heavy or require a high level of attention. Sometimes, 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.

    The End of Economic Man by Peter Drucker

    Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

    Struck Down but Not Destroyed by Pierce Taylor Hibbs

    Moderately Easy Books

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

    Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto

    Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

    In Vital Harmony by Karen Glass

    How to Think by Alan Jacobs


    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.

    The Chosen by Chaim Potok

    The Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour

    Waverly by Sir Walter Scott

    Grab Your Mother Culture Habit Tracker Collection!

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

    • The Mother Culture Habit Tracker! This is the habit tracker that started it all. ♥
    • A mother’s habit tracker for general habit 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!
    • Two general student habit trackers (one more boyish and one more girly).

    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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  • Reply Carrie D June 10, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    I really enjoyed Waverley! I read it last year, because it read somewhere that was what Charlotte Mason liked to read. Like Dickens, it took a bit to get the characters established, but the story was good. And funny. . .I definitely chuckled more than I thought I would.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 11, 2020 at 3:12 pm

      Funny — that is exactly how I got into reading Scott, too. I figured if she saw something in him, there was something worth noticing. I read Ivanhoe first and loved it. Now I’m attached and looking to buy new titles whenever I run across one. 🙂

  • Reply Cyn June 1, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    Thank you for the suggestions Brandy! I look forward to your lists every year.

  • Reply Sunflower June 1, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children (Kindle Edition) by Samuel L. Blumenfeld, Alex Newman
    Learning from the Left: Children’s Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States by Julia L. Mickenberg

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 1, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      Interesting! I have never heard of either of these books. I’ll look them up. Thanks!

  • Reply Lucy barr-hamilton June 1, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you! I’ve not participated before but if I can’t read more books THIS summer, when can I?! We’ve 4 more weeks of AO to complete the year and don’t ususlly start back until September. All our holiday plans for visiting family in other parts of the country are on hold and the cottage in the lake district is looking unlikely…. all corona-related. England is easing restrictions but I’m not sure we’ll be risking our health any time soon. SO I can plan to read more books instead. Shopping the shelves for novels, Waverley or King Arthur (and looking out for l’amour books when second hand shops are open again! ), and in vital harmony is on the list any way. On stiff books, I’ve just ordered Plantinga (as you’ve not really read a blog post until you’ve ordered a book).

    Do you have any posts where you have recommend books for kids’ summer reading challenge?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 1, 2020 at 2:15 pm

      Ooh! Kids books! I will say that one of my favorite lists to shop from is the 1000 Good Books List. I have used that list to build our family library and while I can’t vouch for every single book on the list (because we don’t own and haven’t read them all), I have never been disappointed by one we acquired. ♥

      You remind me that I should post some of my kids’ lists sometime. A couple of them like to do lists with stars for their favorites.

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