January Reading Pile Update

I’m still getting lots of questions about the reading pile pictures I’ve been sharing on Instagram the last several months, so I thought I’d take some time here, at the end of the month, to go back through, tell you what I’ve actually finished and what I thought of them.


Book: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe // C. S. Lewis
Progress: Read aloud to the boys; finished
Thoughts: What can I say? This is one of my all-time favorite books, and I’m considering making reading it aloud an annual family Christmas tradition. If you’ve never read this book, please do so immediately.

Book: Not By Sight // John Bloom
Progress: Finished
Thoughts: It has short chapters, I read one or two in the mornings before the boys were up. I read the follow-up, Things Not Seen first, and loved it. This one totally lived up to my expectations. Highly recommend.

Book: The New Year’s Quilt // Jennifer Chiaverini
Progress: Finished
Thoughts: I learned about this series a little over a year ago from a dear friend, and have loved these stories about quilting, especially the ones that are historical fiction. This is the eleventh both in the series.

Book: The Unschooling Handbook // Mary Griffith
Progress: Finished
Thoughts: Totally disagreed with some of the principles in this book: I don’t think it’s right for parents to let kids have complete say over their curriculum. Sometimes, kids need to know something they may not want to learn, and I want my children to understand that doing things that are hard or not our favorites is a part of learning perseverance and self-discipline. But this book also speaks to the thousands of ways kids learn all kinds of things without our help, and how children are really learning all the time, that was encouraging and helpful.


Book: The Fellowship of the Ring // J. R R. Tolkien
Progress: Still reading (Still on chapter 1, actually)
Thoughts: The last time I read this I was in college. I’m really looking forward to rereading it, but it just keeps getting pushed to the bottom of my stack. I hope to get a little farther next month!

Book: Wingfeather Tales // Andrew Peterson
Progress: Finished
Thoughts: Such a delightful follow-up to the Wingefeather Saga! What I wasn’t expecting is that it’s a compilation of stories by multiple authors; I discovered a few new ones through this collection, and my reading list exploded.

Book: The Winding Ways Quilt // Jennifer Chiaverini
Progress: Finished
Thoughts: Devoured it. Can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

Book: Jane Steele // Lindsay Faye
Progress: Finished
Thoughts: Just (finally) finished my reread of Jane Eyre, and was excited to dive into the stack of adaptations that came out last year, this one included. It had some elements I’ve come to expect from most mainstream books (a little language, and some bits that touch on physical intimacy) but was much cleaner than some I’ve picked up unaware. If you can imagine Jane Eyre as a thriller, you’ll like this one.


Book: The Great Divorce // C. S. Lewis
Progress: finished
Thoughts: I think I mention this book in conversation one more time, I might drive my husband crazy. But it is SO GOOD, you guys. I just can’t stop thinking about it.

Book: The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic // Jennifer Trafton
Progress: still reading this one aloud to the boys
Thoughts: We haven’t finished it yet, but this feels destined to become a new favorite. Jennifer Trafton’s writing is silly and poignant at the same time. We are having such fun reading this aloud.

Book: The Long Winter // Laura Ingalls Wilder
Progress: Reading aloud to the boys, and listening to the audiobook, narrated by Cherry Jones; still reading
Thoughts: This is a classic that I’ve read several times, but it’s the boys’ first time through the Little House series, and they like it more than I was expecting. This is one of my favorites in the series despite the fact that the words always make me feel cold to the bone. If you’ve never read it, it’s a fantastic story of triumph in the midst of hardship. Very inspiring.

Book: Good Enough Parenting // John Philip Louis and Karen McDonald Louis
Progress: Finished
Thoughts: So insightful about breaking dysfunctional patterns in families and making sure your kids’ emotional needs are met. Also, while I was reading it, I learned that it’s a textbook for some family counseling programs, so that makes me even more confident in recommending it. I’m sure this is one I will come back to again and again.


Book: Different // Sally Clarkson
Progress: Still reading.
Thoughts: LOVING it so far.

Book: Reader, I Married Him // Tracy Chevalier
Progress: Still reading
Thoughts: I just got started on this one last night, but I like it so far. This is the second short story collection with multiple authors I’ve read already this year, and some intriguing names contributed to it, including Francine Prose and Audrey Niffenegger. I’m genuinely excited to read this.

Book: The Madwoman Upstairs // Catherine Lowell
Progress: Just finished this one yesterday!
Thoughts: Another great take on the Jane Eyre story!

Book: Felicity’s Surprise // Valerie Tripp
Progress: Haven’t started
Thoughts: If I have time, I’m going to read this today. (It’s only 70 pages). I read all of  these as a kid. I am rereading them now because I would love to find something similar to read to my kids that features little boys in similar historical fiction (if you have any recommendations, please pass them my way), but in the meantime, I may see if these hold their interest, and I wanted to preview them first.


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