Family Read-alouds
Ten P’s in a Pod by Arnold Pent III (be inspired by this real life family to memorise Scripture)
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill (our favourite “education” novel)
Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St John (still our favourite book of hers)
Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter (makes the kids play the glad game!)
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Pyramid by David Macaulay
The Heroic Symphony by Anna Calenza
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
Pilgrim’s Progress by Gary Schmidt (a wonderful accessible rewrite of Bunyan’s tale, accompanied by exquisite portaiture)
The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Rascal by Sterling North
Don Quixote (for children)
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (finally some of my kids love this book and chortle away – sadly it just did not resonate with any of the older ones when they were younger)
Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green (skipped a few chapters)
The Never-Ending Greenness by Neil Waldman (picture book set in Israel – inspirational story of how one boy can pursue a dream and make a difference in the world)
The Hungry Coat by Demi (wonderful wonderful picture book fable set in Turkey)
T is for Turkey by Nilufer Topaloglu Pyper
The Dog of Knots by Kathy Walden Kaplan
Tirzah by Lucille Travis (short novel that brought alive the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt and their subsequent rescue)
The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Heide Parry?? (wonderful picture book set in Egypt)
The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (the older I get, the more I get out of this series!)
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Mama’s Reads
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder (capitivating mystery, excellent intro to philosophy)

A Handmade Life by WM.S. Coperthwaite (powerful concepts)

Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber (the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner and saint – God shines through)

Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph (excellent first few chapters about desiring God; godly woman = homemaker remainder does not sit well with my mutuality theology)

The Nature Principle by Richard Louv (just what I needed to spur me on to making sure I get myself and the kids into creation at least every week)

A Celebration of Simplicity by Penelope Wilcock (a devotional inspiration to intentional downward mobility)

The Bird in the Tree by Elizabeth Goudge (first in the trilogy)
The Herb of Grace by Elizabeth Goudge (wonderful characters developed, but too much flowery description for me to tackle the end of the trilogy, The Heart of the Family immediately – will come back to it after a different book or two!)

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver (would it be fair to say this is a lady with a huge understanding of and resentment for the church? Clever writing as ever, but overall another sad and even desperate book)

Peace Like A River by Leif Enger (oh what an author, must look out for more of his…my one quibble is that as far as my experience so far has been, he totally overestimates the ability of a young child to write poetry…..but a wonderful writer, great voice….one quote: Pride is the rope God allows us all.)

Torn by Justin Lee (rescuing the Gospel from the Gay-vs.-Christians debate….a compelling read filled with humility and challenge)

a million little ways by emily p. freeman (once I got past my frustration that she erred towards dualism with regards to people who do technical non-poetic jobs, I was able to find a million little gems)

I Promise Not to Suffer by Gail Storey (it’s always interesting to hear someone’s story – it’s just that this book convinced me I have no desire to do anything like what she did, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Interesting insights, handy appendices, a book you’d want to read for yourself before giving it to your young teens due to her candid descriptions of her relationships)

Walking Home: travels with a troubadour on the Pennine Way by Simon Armitage (sometimes funny people use a story as a framework to hang their jokes from – not this one. He tells a story, takes us on a journey and incidentally although it is frequently disturbing to him, it is most amusing to us, the readers)

So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger (he was scared his second novel would not meet with the success of his first – that is clear in the book! While I preferred Peace Like A River and couldn’t put it down, this was still a clever read – I think Enger’s real strength lies in his ability to draw characters)

In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher (Having lived in Poland back in the early nineties and returned there a couple of years ago, I could NOT identify with the author’s absolute fear of the place that opened this story. Once I allowed him to express his experience and decided not to judge him for it, I ploughed on in to the book and fell in love with it. I am not a fan of how-to books for parents, but this is a story every parent should read. And youth workers, and children’s workers and teachers too. I’ll be reading it to my kids and taking some literary sidetrips inspired by the steps taken on this family’s pilgrimage)

Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered by Tim Cahill
I hear people loving Cahill’s work. I get tired of it. And I can’t even be bothered working out why. Lazy, but true.

The Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie
Accessible, inarguable and indispensible for anyone wanting to be freed from addiction to sugar. And especially challenging to those who think they are not addicted!

Sinning Across Spain by Ailsa Piper (a playwright’s engaging take on her modern journey by foot from Granada to Galicia, bearing the sins of friends and acquaintances and she searched for meaning and faith)

My Great-Grandfather and I by James Kruess
Only had time to read half of it – putting it on the list of read-alouds for when we come home from our Camino trip. Absolutely delightful.

1066 and All That by Walter Carruthers Sellar
Browsed before going away – definitely need to borrow this again fomr the library. Hilariously funny. 11-year-old son could feel it was funny, but didn’t get it.

The decline and fall of practically everybody by Will Cuppy
Another funny history. More accessible to kids. Again, only browsed it but coming back for a full reading after the pilgrimage.

Childhood by Leo Tolstoy
Even as a child he was an astute observer of character and motive.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
In the interests of not giving away teh story I will not say if it is a victorious mastery of self or an inevitable tragedy. A very important book for young people to read as they consider lifelong adult friendships.

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
Apart from being an interesting autobiographical account of a governess with strong themes of injustice and isolation, this is a great story for anyone hoping to be a parent or teacher some day.

Trekking in Greenland by Paddy Dillon
I borrowed this book merely so that the library would see his books being borrowed and hopefully be willing to purchase another that I would like to see. The ruse worked – but I also fell in love with the idea of trekking the Arctic Circle walk in Greenland – and it seems Ella-Rose is keen too!

Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver
Law studies 101 in a completely accessible form to non-lawyers….and a ripping good yarn at the same time.
References to phone booths made me realise that you may not know what is typical to your time – and it might only be with the benefit of hindsight that we will discover what those things were.

From Here to There by Jon Faine and Jack Faine
A father and son set out to drive their car from Melbourne to London in six months. What an adventure! Brought back all sorts of visa memories from our big trip, and lots of good memories too. If you’re uncomfortable with swearing or prostitution or bribing, be aware they’re all there. There’s plenty of food for discussion with older kids- analysis of cultures and politics, their own responses to a variety of situations, including their own relationship.

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There by Wallace Chapman
For a kiwi reader, this book is a refreshing change because it is set in my backyard. It may be a little context-less for an international audience, although the message is valid to anyone in current Western civilisation.
Chatty in style and with liberal doses of anecdote, you could be fooled into thinking the book is not much more than pop psychology, but it is actually well researched. And then made accessible.
Chapman claims it is a manifesto for living the slow life, but the slow life is not necessarilly what you imagine – don’t you just conjure up images of hippies sitting round a bonfire in the country? Nup, this book is especially for urbanites – although he does encourage you to grow yellow beetroot!
People with a low tolerance for swearing may get annoyed, but I think it would be a pity to ignore the message simply because of a few choice words. You be the judge.
Chapman sings songs I’m always humming – think local, enjoy the simple things, be grateful, be a creator rather than a consumer, be intentional….and he has a couple of chapters dealing with depression and facing a crisis, which were most interesting. All the melancholics in the world would love what he has to say!
In case you’re thinking of throwing this book at your techno-obsessed teen who stays uptil all hours, just be warned there’s a chapter on “slow loving”. You might want to cast your eye over it first to decide on the suitability for your audience.

How to Sh*t in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer
Well that put me off hiking anywhere there is not a long drop! I can go without a shower and sleep on a bamboo mat on the floor – or no mat, for that matter – but carrying my poop out of the bush? I think I like my creature comforts more than I realised.
So it is not with romantic views that I proceed to contemplate overnight hiking in the wops. At least I know what I’m in for.

Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck
A wealth of ideas about incorporating grains into your lifestyle – amaranth, barley, bulgur, corn, couscous, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, wheat……now we can go beyond porridge and rye bread.
Most (all?) of the sweet recipes liberally use sugar and so this is a downside for me, but there are enough non-sweet recipes to make this a worthwhile purchase (and I’m interested in adapting the sweet recipes to be sucrose-free)

Where Children Sleep by James Mollison
If I could live again I would want to be a photojournalist – and this is the type of book I’d create. It’s a photo essay of kids around the world, both rich and poor, and where they lay their head to rest at night. Perhpas unsurprisingly, some of my kids liked one of the “nice” bedrooms – but that’s not really the point. They also realised that they are not hard done by to share their room, four children in one room – they are blessed to HAVE a room to share.
I share the author’s hope that this book will be one of the many experiences that spark an interest in them to *do something* to be the answer to some of the injustice in the world.

Two for the Road by Shirley Hardy-Rix and Brian Rix
This couple road their motorbike 56,671km across 27 countries from England to Australia.
I’m guessing the book would appeal more to bikers than it did to me – my favourite parts were when they mentioned with disbelief the hikers they encountered along the way! If you were thinking of doing the same trip, it would make good preparatory reading. I have to admit I ended up skimming road descriptions. They have also written Circle to Circle.

Classic Walks of New Zealand by Craig Potton
Evocative description and photographs make this an inspirational book. Covers the Great Walks and a couple more.

101 Great Tramps in New Zealand by Mark Pickering and Rodney Smith
Extensive range of locations. Simple directions/descriptions. Good for planning adventures.

The GR5 Trail by Paddy Dillon
Excellent guidebook. I’ll take it with me when I go! When, not if. The only question is whether to walk it as part of the complete E2 trail (yes!!!) or just do it as the GR5 (something is better than nothing).

We Never Make Mistakes by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
This tiny book contains two big powerful stories – An Incident at Krechetovka Station and Matryona’s House. I’m so glad I knew nothing about these stories before I read them – and in the interests of not spoiling it for anyone else I will say nothing about them – other than the more I read Russian authors, the more I fall in love and grow in respect for them.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Each book I read about the Appalachian Trail makes me even more certain I do not want to do this trek! Despite being amusingly told, this book had the same effect.

A Writer’s World by Jan Morris
This book has sat by my bed for two months but now has to be returned to the library. It is unfinished, but not because it did not interest me. In fact, it is some of the best travel writing I’ve read. Morris’ observations are insightful and oh the command of the English language! It’s a total pleasure to read – but for some reason I found myself dipping into just a chapter or two at a time. I’ll be buying this book so it can sit for longer in my bedside pile and eventually be completed.

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams
An attempt to raise the issue of boys-wanting-to-be-like-girls, but ultimately was a book of confusion. I was not impressed enough to share and discuss it with the kids.

If You Lived Here, I Would Know Your Name by Heather Lende
Who would’ve thought that a book about writing obituaries could be so captivating! Best quote was on the last page: I don’t think my family realizes that my reaction to events can change their perception of them. I don’t think they know how much power I have to make a moment good or bad. But I do.

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
Do any happy books come out of Ireland? I haven’t found one yet! But, as with the others I’ve read, this one is thoughtful, disturbing and psychologically searching. It’s one of those books in which you meet characters who you know in real life – I even caught glimpses of myself.

Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
Initially the detail was overwhelming – until I realised I already know how to bake bread! Looking through a second time, it was all extremely helpful. Fantastic photos help to explain the already-clear text. One basic recipe – lots of variations. Plus baguette and brioche dough, and other ways to use them too (think English muffins for a start). Love the section at the end full of recipes for using the bread. Wonderful Sopa de Ajo and lots more we are going to try.

Tartine Book No 3 by Chad Robertson
Fancy version of the first one – uses lots of unusual grains (which I like) and then a whole lot of baking possibilities that I probably don’t want to make time for. Would love to visit his bakery though!

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by
(no, not finished before it had to go back to the library – but not for lack of interest – it’s a great read and I’ll be back to it)

Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird
Insight into the uncertainty and conflict of refugee life from a child’s perspective.

Grandma’s on the Camino by Mary O’Hara Wyman
Once I got over being annoyed at her not taking a break to let her blisters heal (which would have changed her walk entirely I suspect), I enjoyed the book! Interesting style – the exact script from postcards she wrote to her daughter every day of her pilgrimage and her nightly journal entries were reproduced side by side with a reflection on each day added later. The possibly inevitable repetition was easily dealt with by skim reading. Loved the liberal use of quotes and references to other books and programmes she came across/was involved with. Intrigued at her apparent feeling that a burgeoning God-awareness was sentimental……I liked it. While I tired of the bottom-bunk references, it did make me realise what an issue this was for her in a way that mentioning it once or twice would not have.

Blue Gold by Clive Cussler
As much as I really don’t like the stereotype, this is a “boy’s adventure book” not dissimilar to a fast-car-chase and shoot-em-up action movie! While most of the action is implausible and co-incidences are too frequent for even a semblance of realism to prevail, the topic is relevant and worth giving serious consideration: control of the world’s freshwater supply.

planet walker by john francis
I picked up this book thinking it would be about a walk around the world, but by the last page he still had not left America! All the same, it was an interesting read about someone who did not use motorised transport for 22 years, and who maintained a code of silence for 17 of those years.


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