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    Books & Reading, Mother's Education, Other Thoughts

    Have a Spring Reading Fling!

    March 15, 2021 by Brandy Vencel

    It was unseasonably cold last week, and it’s dreary and raining today, but I still insist that spring is in the air. After all, the almond bloom is all but finished. That’s a sure sign of spring! Spring is all about freshness and new life and you know what will give new life to your reading? Brand new reading habit trackers! There’s a Mother Culture Habit Tracker (more about that below) and a regular habit tracker for Mom, plus coordinating trackers for boys and girls and even a reading tracker for your littlest beginners.

    Aren’t they pretty?

    Do you know what Mother Culture is?

    In Parents’ Review magazine (which Charlotte Mason edited), a woman known only as A. explained a strategy called Mother Culture that she thought kept a woman on the path of growth and maturity in the midst of busy motherhood. (You can read more about this article here.) Here’s the basic gist of the plan:

    • Always have three books available to yourself: a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel.
    • Read for 30 minutes per day.
    • When you go to read, pick up the book you feel fit for.
    • Use my Mother Culture Habit Tracker (free download below!) to keep yourself accountable. ♥

    How to use the Mother Culture Habit Tracker:

    It used to be that all we did was make the Mother Culture Habit Tracker. Even though we now put out a whole collection, it’s important to focus from time to time on the main tracker, which is the reason why we’re doing this in the first place.

    The tracker is designed to support designing and executing your Mother Culture habit. On the left you’ll see blank lines in the three different categories: stiff, moderately easy, and novel. This is where you put the titles of the books you are reading or plan to read for spring. In each date box, you track whether or not you read. If you read, you don’t just check the box — write in an S, ME, or N (for stiff, moderately easy, and novel) so that you’re tracking not only the habit, but what you were reading. This will help you see if you’re spending too much time in any one category.

    Need some book titles to get you going?

    I publish extensive lists each summer. (Click here to find the latest.) Today I’ll just share one book from each of the categories that I’m reading right now:

    Stiff Book

    The Didascalicon of Hugh of Saint Victor

    I’m about halfway through this one and loving every moment. It is so interesting to see how a medieval scholar thought about all the arts — not just the liberal arts, but even common arts like cooking and farming. Hugh goes into great detail about what each art is and how it connects with other arts. He has given me much food for thought and I have drawn a lot of charts based upon what he says.

    Moderately Easy Book

    The Vitamin Cure for Women by Helen Saul Case

    This book is by no means a work of art. The conversational style often falls flat and is even painful at times. But it’s got a lot of helpful information packed into it. I’ve been asked a number of times how to “learn more about vitamins” — how to “study health stuff.” My answer is read. Read all sorts of books on these things, but most especially read books from the orthomolecular approach. (Disclaimer: I completely disagree with their almost-vegetarian emphasis in diet. This does not mean, however, that they do not Know Things when it comes to selecting vitamins.)


    In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenistyn

    I haven’t read much of this yet, so I cannot give you a review. Even though it is fiction, many say it’s partly autobiographical. The notes on what “uncensored” means were enlightening. Solzhenitsyn apparently thought that if he removed a number of chapters (I think it was 19), he’d be more likely to be able to have it published in the USSR. But those chapters contained things like Christianity and espionage, not vulgar filth. I look forward to reading this in the fullness of its original glory.

    Get your spring Mother Culture and Student Reading Habit Trackers!

    If you resolved to form a Mother Culture habit in 2021, this is a great way to hold yourself accountable. And if you didn’t, well … there is no time like the present! These printable PDFs include instructions on how to use them. There are pretty options for Mom … and great options for the students who wish to join in the fun and build habits of their own. There is nothing like modeling to inspire the little ones.

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

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  • Reply Tiffany March 18, 2021 at 9:51 am

    The Didascalicon looks interesting. I am currently reading The Discarded Image by Lewis and doing some other prep reading before tackling the Divine Comedy for the first time. Is this approachable on its own or is there something you would suggest reading in advance?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 26, 2021 at 10:48 am

      I feel like it’s approachable on its own, but in the Introduction, the translator keeps referencing three works: Consolation of Philosophy (Boethius), Institutes of Learning (Cassiodorus), and On Christian Doctrine (Augustine) and I (not on purpose) had read two of those before starting this one. I wonder if I feel like it’s approachable because I have read those? I can’t know for sure, but my hunch is that someone who hadn’t read any of those would still get a lot out of it.

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