life-changing books

Last night I tossed out a question on Twitter & Facebook:

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I’ve received some responses and added some books to my Amazon wishlist, and there has even been some related discussion among Facebook friends. I’ve been laid up with another nasty headache today (the third one in a couple of weeks), so instead of reading, I’ve been thinking about books that have stuck with me, challenged my thinking, and shaped my beliefs.

I fell in love with books as a young girl, and the likes of the Nancy Drew series, Charlotte’s Web, The Boxcar Children, and Anne of Green Gables were some of my first loves. I constantly had a book in my hand, on the bathroom vanity propped open with a brush while I blow-dried my hair, or on the floor beside my bed underneath my nightlight, with me peering down at it, reading late into the night. So I’d credit those titles with changing my life.

Kim mentioned The Well-Trained Mind, and I definitely agree with that. It challenged me, changing and shaping my philosophy of education while giving me tools to put that philosophy into practice. I’d put Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning in that category, too.

The Pleasures of God, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Spiritual Depression, and Peacemaking Women are some of the books that I consider influential on my faith. They’re marked up and I revisit them from time to time.

Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions explains so much about why there is polarization in politics. It’s not an easy read, but I think about it often. He’s brilliant.

Island of the World is the best novel I’ve ever read, and it’s a story that will never leave me.

On a lighter note, the Southern Living Cookbook has been a go-to reference in my home, and several of the dishes are family favorites.

So what books have changed your life?




a brief vocabulary lesson

Sometimes I simply can’t help it; the teacher in me cannot be suppressed. I think some people (actually, probably not my readers) need a little vocabulary refresher:

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That’s a decent definition of the word hate. Please note that hate is not synonymous with disagreement.

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I am beyond tired of hearing people throw the word hate around without using it correctly. If I disagree with you or your ideas, it does not necessarily mean that I hate you or your ideas. Yes, there are some truly bad, disgusting, even evil ideas out there.

And when someone comes along and points that out, they may just be pointing that out without hating on you.

(I wrote a little about hatred here a couple of years ago.)

Edited to add: Will is on the same wavelength.

Lesson (rant?) over. Carry on.



This past Saturday I took an all-day digital photography class taught by my son. I learned a lot about how to adjust the settings on my camera, and I expect to see some improvements in my photos. We spent some time in the classroom and then walked around to put what we learned into practice. All kinds of cool things are going on in my town this month during Flaunt.



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another round-up of links around the web:

~ 20 things to give up for Lent. I love this. It’s much better than my plan of giving up my New Year’s resolutions for Lent. 😉  Which, over-achiever that I sometimes am, I completed well before Lent.

~ First Words to the Abused: You’re Not Crazy.  I don’t consider myself abused, but I have often needed sanity checks in the middle of tough situations. A “you’re not crazy” goes a long way to giving hope and relief.

~ A simple lemon wreath 

~ Spritz. You may have seen this way cool reading tool before. I really hope it catches on.

~ 7 Steps Down the Staircase of Dishonesty

~ A fun little blast from the past: The 5 Most Realistic TV Show Families of All Time. And this is why I love Cosby:


~ I disagree with the author on his method being the “only one that works,” but I heartily concur with his assessment of the value of Latin.

~ Eight Ways to Spot Emotionally Healthy Pastors and Staff. I don’t think those ways are limited to that profession…

~ Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid

~ Victor Davis Hanson on Liberals and Their Uppity Enemies

~ The Bigger the Government, the Smaller the Citizen. Another right-on video from Prager University.

Hey, have a great Thursday!



Yet another melange of links:

~ 10 tips for perfect quick breads

~ Thomas Sowell on Inequality Fallacies

~ Reading the Bible like Jesus

~ Speaking of reading the Bible, here are Three Tips for Better Bible Reading.

~ I really like these drop cloth window shades.

~ Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness? This is good stuff:

Erik Thoennes, professor of biblical and theological studies at Biola University, sees the authenticity trend in the undergrads he teaches. At the beginning of each class he asks his students to write down two things they love and two things they hate. Consistently, one of the things they say they hate is “fake people.” But the Christian life involves a whole lot of “fakin’ it” on the path to being integrated, Thoennes says.

“There’s this idea that to live out of conformity with how I feel is hypocrisy; but that’s a wrong definition of hypocrisy,” Thoennes said. “To live out of conformity to what I believeis hypocrisy. To live in conformity with what I believe, in spite of what I feel, isn’t hypocrisy; it’s integrity.”

Thoennes hopes his students understand that sanctification involves living in a way that often conflicts with what feels authentic.

~ Here’s a book buying opportunity for one of my favorites. If you’re interested in education and history, you need to read it.

And with that, I’m off to begin a busy and long day.

Happy Monday,



labordayAfter the busiest summer I can remember, I’m enjoying true rest and recovery this long Labor Day weekend. 3 master’s level classes was waaaay too much for me, and I have learned my lesson about that. I turned in the last assignment for the summer term on Friday night, and an enormous weight was lifted.

So now I’m enjoying a break from school and a day off from work on this holiday. I’ve made rest a priority this weekend, and that includes watching tv, reading, and sleep. I slept in until 8:30 this morning after falling asleep at 9:30 last night, and for this insomniac that’s a pretty good indication that I was truly worn out.

I’m looking forward to picking my camera back up after rarely seeing it this summer. I enjoyed that creative outlet with my 365 project, and I miss the way I was really looking at things through the lens.  I’m thinking about challenging myself with another project, but not one as long as the 365.

I’m also looking forward to reading what I want to read and not what has been assigned with deadlines. I’m finishing up a Wodehouse book today, and then I’ll  look over my fiction shelves for something like a beach read.

I plan to get back to more regular blogging, as well, including some book giveaways. As they say, stay tuned!




climbingparnassusFrom Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin by Tracy Lee Simmons:

‘The right word is a sure sign of good thinking,’ Isocrates once said. Education in any literate society must begin with training in language. Words signify acts and ideas. They serve as common currency for the literate and the illiterate alike, because even the unlettered utter sounds so as to communicate. Words distinguish; they supply an index to the quality and capacity of their users’ intellects. They provide the gold standard for the thoughtful mind. Ideas are shadowy and inert without them. But with words to clothe them, ideas take on form. They gain substance. They become measurable, weighable. Words can make those ideas a shared possession. Private wisdom may inform one’s own life supremely, but that wisdom may never inform or inspire others until one can, in some grand or modest way, breathe life into those private perceptions with the power of words. The mastery of language, according to Aristotle, both fosters practical skills and enhances the enjoyment of leisured hours; it is eminently useful for the workaday life while cultivating the mind and soul. Language, wrote Milton, serves mankind as ‘the instrument conveying to us things useful to be known’ — and language is a precision instrument, like a Swiss watch.


“…a yardstick from which to measure the present absurdity in our midst…”

whokilledhomerFrom Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom by Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath:

Why does one go through all this to study the Greek (and Latin) language? To gain an aesthetic sense? Perhaps. To master language? Of course. To read great literature? Always. But in this present age, the few students who survive tell us they continue with Greek and Latin because they give them clear bearings in an increasingly chaotic world. The languages become a first-hand explication of evil and good, permanent and transient, relative and absolute, here and hereafter that they now cannot find anywhere else in the university. It may be that the reasons one puts up with the maddening rigors of Greek change with each generation. If so, it is clear to us that now more than ever the ancient language and its literature offer a yardstick from which to measure the present absurdity in our midst, a safe haven from, and a condemnation of, the noise and nonsense on campus that is now too often passed off as learning. As one of our students recently put it, ‘My literature class turns out to be gender, my history class racism, my philosophy class guilt, my psychology self-esteem, my anthropology colonialism, my English 1A a personal journal—my Greek class about everything else.’ After all, where now but in a single class period on thirty lines of Sophocles can a twenty-one-year-old meet without prejudice grammar, syntax, music, logic, aesthetics, philosophy, history, ethics, religion, civics, and literature?