In 2018 I read fewer books, but many of the ones I read were closely studied and re-read. As is my custom, I read about half of them in actual book form, and the rest are audiobooks. Some of the books were read aloud with my children for school, others were for classes I taught to our local homeschool co-op, some were for pleasure, and some were for speaking and blogging.
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My favorite subject. I usually have multiple history books on my bedside table with bookmarks in them. And for our homeschool, we read tons of whole books. Read my post on how we do this here.
(Click the book photos for links)
The New World and The Age of Revolution by Winston S. Churchill. These are books 2 and 3 of Churchill’s 4-part History of the English Speaking Peoples. They are excellent. I go back to these as I teach history to my kids, as I did this year. I have them in hard copy and on Audible, and use both. (Read my post about how much I love these and how I use them in my homeschool.)
Diary of an Early American Boy. This book is my favorite kind of history book: a primary source written by a person who lived the history. This is an amazing piece of early American history. It’s a one-year journal of a teenaged-boy at home with his parents. He describes their life on the family homestead, and the best part: it includes his drawings! I read it to my kids, but it’s not just for kids. Everyone will enjoy it.
Francis Scott Key. If you read this book, as I did as a child, you will never listen to the Star Spangled Banner the same way again. I love all of the biographies in the Sower Series, and this is no exception. I read this to my kids for history. It’s a look at American history, including the War of 1812, and the story of the man who wrote the Star Spangled Banner. A great book for all kids, and highly recommended for boys.
Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille. We read this for school on our tour of the 19th century. It’s another great school resource. Instead of a page in a textbook devoted to this man, the story of his life and accomplishments is much more inspiring!
World Changers: William Wilberforce. This kind of biography is what I want most for my children to read. It’s the story of the man who spent his entire life working to abolish slavery in the British kingdom. As we read this for school, I told my kids over and over, “This is the kind of hero the world needs more of. This is the kind of work God wants from His people. This is why Christians must be involved in politics.” There is so much inspiration to be gained from Wilberforce’s life. We need a Wilberforce in American politics today.
900 Miles on the Butterfield Trail. Again, a primary resource written by someone who was there. You know what I mean? It was written by the first passenger on the Butterfield State Line, from start to end. I read this in preparation for teaching my kids about the Butterfield Stage. It is fascinating. Put this one on your must-have list of American history books.
True Tales of the Texas Frontier. Hmm, this was not the most exciting book. It had its moments, but it felt forced, like it was meant to be an easy-seller but not the most exciting content. Its goal was to present some great stories from all the years of Texas’ wild years. Since I was hoping to read some of it to the kids for school, I wanted it to be great, but it just didn’t win me over.
The Evolution of a State. This book, on the other hand, is amazing. I read much of this aloud to my kids as part of school (Texas history). The author tells of his own experiences in the days when Texas was a Republic and a State. It’s a great read, keeping you wanting just “one more page.” Better than a history textbook, and highly recommend for adventure-loving boys.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Books
This year, I read and studied several books by and about Laura Ingalls. I gave a speech at the Great Homeschool Convention based on her education, and I’m currently writing a book on the same topic.
(Click the book photos for links)
Pioneer Girl was a book I didn’t want to read. I knew it was the “real” story behind the Little House series. I was even told by a museum volunteer at the Little House log house in Kansas that it was a “darker story.” I wish I had ignored that, because it’s not true. This book is what Laura wrote first, with the help and advice of her daughter Rose. Because publishers wouldn’t take the manuscript, Rose convinced Laura to turn it into story-form for children. The rest is history. But for any Little House fan or history buff, this book is a goldmine of information.
Farm Journalist is an incredible compilation of the articles Laura wrote for her local Missouri newspaper. She did this for many years before she became a book author. These articles cover every subject, including homemaking, farming, religion, patriotism, education, and marriage. It’s a treasure!
Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, and Farmer Boy. I’m still surprised when I meet people who have not read these books! I grew up on these books and have never tired of them. You can tell by all the blogging I do about the wonderful lessons learned in them. They are classics of American history, and a wonderful snapshot of an important time. I read the hard copies and listened to the audio versions.
(Click the book photos for links)
The Original Argument is a modern translation of the Federalist Papers. I’ve been teaching a 2-semester high school course on American Government at my local homeschool co-op, and this is one of the supporting books I use. I highly recommend it for all high school students and adults.
The Hobbit was another class I taught at our homeschool co-op. I love Tolkien, and love to share his books so others will love them, too.
Mere Christianity. What can you say about such a profound book by C.S. Lewis? It’s a book best read in short spurts in order to mull over what you’ve just read. I have underlined and quoted so much from this book that it has become one of the permanent books on my “devotional stack.” I like to pick it up and read small portions alongside my Bible reading. As with many books, I listen to it on Audible and also read a print version.
The Life-Giving Parent. I have been a fan of all books written by the Clarksons, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that their latest book is possibly their best book! This is now the number one book I recommend to all parents. It’s that good. Honestly, the title makes you think it’s just a feel-good parent encouragement book, but it’s very deep and biblical. It’s not fluff, but it’s convicting and encouraging at the same time. Prepare to be both convicted and inspired!
This list is not complete because honestly, I listen to multiple works of fiction on Audible throughout the year. They are mostly westerns or historic fiction.
Louis L’amour westerns. I listened to Fallon, Hanging Woman Creek, Where the Long Grass Blows, Ride the River, Comstock Lode, The Sky-Liners, Sackett’s Land, The Iron Marshall, Hondo, The Lonely Men, and others. This is how I relax. I’ve grown up on these stories. You can read more about that HERE.
Janette Oke books. She is in my top 10 list of favorite authors, along with L’amour, Tolkien, Wilder, and others. I’ve read all of her books multiple times. I have an almost complete collection in print, but I listen mostly on Audible now. They are all great Christian historical fiction, located in the Canadian west.
Did you read anything good this year? What’s on your list for 2019? Do you keep a record of what you’ve read?
Check out my page devoted to BOOKS to see previous years’ reading lists and a lot more.
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Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She is a homemaker at heart, and loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.