"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Thomas Moore

Friday, August 10, 2018

Reading again...



I homeschooled my children for a little over eleven years and each day we’d read from a variety of books on different subjects.
We followed the Charlotte Mason 'living books' method of learning so there were overflowing bookcases in every room, divided into many different subjects and genres. Blossom especially loved having our own home library and was usually found with a book or two on her lap at all times, and it was not unusual to see a wide golden sea of light spreading out across the hallway carpet from under her door in the midst of night.


Our days began early with Bible study and prayer before the kids would separate to various areas of the house and work on their individual math, science and language arts lessons before I called them back to the table (or outdoors on the grass if the weather was nice) for morning tea.  A plate of crackers, cheese and fruit satisfied their appetites as now we would immerse ourselves in music, art, nature study or poetry, dependent on what day of the week it was. 

Back to their individual studies until lunch was served, I'd bake, catch up on housework and begin the dinner prep. 

But my favourite part of the day (and theirs) was the afternoon. We would settle ourselves down in the lounge room for a long afternoon tea (usually an hour or two) and I'd read aloud to my dear children from our current fiction novel, a book almost always based on a specific time in history with a variety of real or imagined characters and an engaging or edge-of-your-seat story line.

Those long and lazy afternoons with a steaming pot of tea, scones or cake to feast upon and the large plump floor pillows, quilts or blankets scattered around, are truly some of the very best memories we have of their childhood and young adult years. 





Oh, the wonderful books I read to them! Robinson Crusoe, Lord of the Rings, Peter Pan, Children of the New Forest, Around the World in 80 Days and hundreds of other tomes which would carry us from where we were in our living room into a place and time far away and long ago.
Some books were written centuries earlier, some only 60 or 70 years ago, but each had a richness of language and a story line which taught the children how to speak and write with beautiful words, grammar and expressive comprehension themselves. 
As the afternoon drew to an end I would bring the cover down on those pages to a chorus of "just one more chapter" and even though I wanted to continue (for my own pleasure!) having them eager for more reading the next day was even more of a joy.


Now all grown, it's a cherished thing to share memories of favourite books read years ago with some of my children.  The funny quotes we use in everyday conversation remembered from numerous books read over the years, phrases which to us are a normal Reynolds flow of speech, confound newcomers to the family who wonder why we fall apart in laughter at their raised eyebrows. Stay long enough to become one of us and those secret messages are unlocked.  
When homeschooling finished and the children graduated into adult life my fictional book reading gradually diminished and was eventually replaced with needlework, sewing and design work. I did switch to audio books for a while but mostly these were Christian non-fiction that I could listen to as I stitched. 
I even purchased a number of books on kindle when it was the 'new thing' in a hope that would get me back to reading, but when you have loved reading all your life (I was just like Blossom growing up) there is nothing quite like holding a real book in your hands, turning the pages, turning down the page when you can't find a bookmark, holding it in your lap for the longest time when the last page has been read just to savour the story that little while longer. 

So I simply stopped reading novels.
I had my Bible which I love to study every day,  favourite monthly English home and garden magazines, and various craft, sewing and homemaking non-fictions - the kind of reading that can be picked up and out down at any time - but no longer was I taken away in the pages of a really good story for pure pleasure.
In 2016 this bothered me enough that I read four books that year, not many at all by previous standards but I certainly enjoyed each and every one, however, life stepped in with extra responsibilities and once again the down-time of relaxational reading evaporated.

Late last year I discovered a wonderful blog (Coffee, Tea, Books and Me) written by Brenda, a book-lover who has reminded me why I need to read and the joy I have missed not doing so. 
Just last week I ordered a book she'd recommended and yesterday it arrived in the mail (no luck with our library) so I brewed a fresh coffee, set two sour cherry rock buns on a tiny white aged Wedgewood plate I'd purchased at a yard sale for $3,  and settled into our most comfortable chair to re-establish a once loved daily habit of reading for pleasure.


My Blossom used to read Elizabeth Goudge but I never had. She always said "Mum, she's a wonderful writer" and now I know that is true, even after the first few chapters.  This time of quiet relaxation has been needed for so long...why had I overlooked it? All in the right timing, I suppose.

I believe thirty minutes or an hour spent each day in a good book is far better entertainment than a hour spent on social media, and far better for peace of mind, imagination and a sense of well being, don't you?

So I shall enjoy reading again, this time to myself, novels that have substance by authors I know are wonderfully engaging writers and can weave a story that leaves you feeling satisfied and enriched.
I shall gift myself the time to step away from life's busyness and prepare an afternoon tea for one, settle into my most comfortable chair and begin an old tradition in a fresh way.

What about you? 
What book are you reading and do you have favourite authors?

hugs


35 comments:

  1. What a wonderful idea!! I used to love reading also but the older I get, I find my mind is racing too much to keep interested, no matter how good the storyline. Maybe I’ll try this, if only for an hour or so each day. Thank you!

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  2. Currently homeschooling our youngest of two—eleven years between my children! We also use a version of the Charlotte Mason method, and we LOVE our morning read aloud time! I usually have a stack of books I am reading to her, even though she is now 14 and well able to read things to herself!

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  3. And all the little embroidery projects shown in this post are lovely!

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  4. I told Mister this morning that my perfect day would include time in the afternoon to sit and read for a while... I am a non-fiction reader, mostly, but I do enjoy 19th century women's novels. As an English professor for the past bizillion years, I had somewhat lost my reading joy... I always kept a night-night book going, but nothing Just For Fun. Now that I am retired, reading has become fun again... Thanks for your thoughts on Goudge! Maybe this is a good place to start....

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  5. I have always loved to read and still read avidly...my daughters and grandchildren are the same way. Books, magazines and music are wonderful. I drink tea every night and enjoy stitching or reading to relax me. Enjoy your new found joy of reading Jenny.

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  6. I want to sit right down this very minute and read with you! I am making my dinner and it will have to be tomorrow. I love to read but lately have not made the time to do so. Thank you for reminding me....

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  7. Jenny give Anna Jacobs a try. Enjoying her books very much and she has so many. Very easy to read.
    Loving the embroidery also. Thanks.

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  8. I try to read some every day. Sometimes, when I just don't want to work on something in my sewing room, I take a book in there and read instead. Bath time is my favorite time to read. I read to my sons all the time, and they both are now avid book lovers. We read all the Harry Potter books as a family. I listened to the Harry Potter audio books when I used to hand quilt. I'd start quilting, and my boys would show up, to listen, too. I read to both boys 2nd grade classes, and now my youngest reads to a kindergarten class once a week, during his lunch hour. I also prefer to hold a book in my hands.

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  9. Hi Jenny, those afternoons of reading sound glorious! There is an author and series of books that I adore and I think you might also. The author is Jan Karon and she wrote a series of Mitford novels. Being a Christian, I think you would appreciate how they're written. The main character is a minister and he lives in a cozy community called Mitford. Of course, the town has a cast of characters and the storylines are just wonderful. Like you said, I never wanted them to end. I love every single one. Just wanted to pass this along. Love, Linda :-)

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  10. Oh, I love dear Brenda's blog...it is a favorite place of mine to visit! Books are one of my favorite things and in the past I have been quite the voracious reader...always reading at least 2 books at once and always surpassing my yearly goal of 20-25 books. This year, however, I've been dealing with stress that comes from house hunting and then moving into a new home along with bouts of anxiety. I am just now getting back into the rhythm of reading and I must admit it is quite a refreshing, lifegiving ritual. Elizabeth Goudge is an author I so want to read more from; I have one of her books but have yet to read it. There are several series that are appealing to me at the moment, several of which I did, indeed, learn about from Brenda's blog. Right now, though, I am reading a nonfiction book on hospitality which I am thoroughly enjoying! ♥

    Happy reading to you!

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  11. I am a mystery fan. I like trying to solve puzzles of all kinds.

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  12. What a wonderful experience you had with your children. You constantly amaze me and I am filled with admiration when you recall your life as a mum with young children. They have been truly blessed having such a loving mum. I love reading and totally agree with you about books vs e books. I usually read in bed at night and have recently found some new Australian authors . I used to read around 60 books a year but this has severely dwindled to about 12 books or less. Both my girls are avid readers too . Thankyou for sharing your beautiful experience of motherhood.

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  13. Jenny, I love Francine Rivers' books. She is such a fantastic author. I used to work in a Christian school library and had lots of fun reading the latest books. I don't read as much now as it is hard for me to put a book down. By the way, in case you and your hubby don't know...the Cowboys won last night. LOL!

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  14. I read for about an hour every night and my day is not complete without a good book.

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  15. I love reading fiction and non-fiction. I put my books on the back burner as I got gung ho into my quilting but I did take an interest in a Christian historical fiction series called The Redwing Saga by Sharon Gilbert. Mystery, good against evil, failures, overcomers...and the author intends to bring the story into the present so it will be awhile before I'll be turning the last page.

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  16. Hi Jenny, I LOVE books. My son once asked me how many books I read while he was at school each day ... as if!!
    I have just had an operation on my shoulder and have been unable to knit, sew or embroider so have read lots and lots of books.
    My most favourite, The Cavendon Series by Barbara Taylor Bradford. There were 4 all together and when I finished the last one, I was devastated. I had really got hooked on the characters.
    Maybe your library will have them, I highly recommend them.

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  17. I have always loved reading and usually it is 10 -30 minutes before sleep at night but when I am travelling then I devour books! Can't resist a good detective novel. xx

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  18. I popped over to the see the blog you mentioned and just loved it, i am now a happy follower. x

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  19. I love books. Always read to my class at lunchtime when I was teaching, including some of the ones you mention. I now use a Kindle as I haven't got room for another bookshelf :) I enjoy historical novels and a good detective story. I also read non- fiction history and dog training. I love your idea of afternoon tea and a good book. Enjoy!

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  20. Like you, I've always been a voracious reader. But, life has a way of stepping in and making it difficult in some seasons! I hadn't read anything other than business books for a while, but my sister gave me "My Grandmother told me to tell you she's sorry". It was a wonderful book! Not one I would've picked up, but it turned out to be fantastic. Happy reading!

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  21. As I read this post I was reminded that I too have neglected my reading a good book for relaxation. I have read Elizabeth Goudge but now for some time, I work at a library and will see what I can find right away. I usually enjoy historical novels set in a place I have not been. I love the embroideries you shared in this post.

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  22. When I go my first Nook from my oldest son for Christmas one year I took to it like a duck to water! Then followed my Nook HD and then my Kindle Fire. I still read hardcover books, but the ereaders are easier to hold with arthritic hands, wrists and fingers. Two of my favorite authors are Nancy Thayer and Dorothea Benton Frank.











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  23. I'm a little jealous you are reading Pilgrim's Inn for the first time. It is such a favorite. I "discovered" Goudge when my younger friends Sarah Clarkson and Lanier recommended her. I didn't realize she was one of my mother-in-law's favorite authors (they would have been around the same age) when my husband was growing up until he noticed one of her books on our coffee table.

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  24. I have read and collected Elizabeth Goudge books for many years. She has long been a favorite, and I often re-read them!

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  25. My favorite Elizabeth Goudge book is The Scent of Water. It has a great 9 word prayer Lord have mercy into Thy hands Thee I adore

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  26. Reading is the best! I love how you structured your homeschooling days, it sounds like a lovely system. I'm currently enjoying a re-read through the Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House" series.

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  27. Another thing we share, but the only time I stopped was when I was getting my Master's and had no time for sleep, let alone reading. I discovered how grumpy that made me, too! I can never read for only 30 minutes or an hour. I will often read far into the night to finish a good book. I simply can't sleep until I know the end! Last night, I finished the next to the last Flavia de Luce book. These are by Alan Bradley and the protagonist is a 12-year old girl from 1950s England. This one was Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd and it was as wonderful as the rest. The first one is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Sometimes, I read or re-read science fiction, such as Isaac Asimov, and sometimes it's a mystery, as this is, or a techno thriller. Joel Rosenberg writes ones of those that are religious-based, involving mysteries that hinge on Biblical passages, and I love those. The series that begins with The Last Jihad is one of my favorites.

    I, too, read the classics and the modern classics to my children, up until they were into the early years of high school. So many wonderful books we shared! All of us like the classics and we all read science fiction.

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    1. Oh how I love Alan Bradley and Flavia!!!!!

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  28. I agree with your sentiment about reading. A while ago I was feeling like I wasn't getting enough reading done. So I started a practice of setting aside 30 minutes after lunch, whenever possible. I set the timer for 30 minutes, put my feet up, and have a small little serving of m&m's to enjoy while I read. When my kids were in elementary school sometimes the school did this school-wide. Principals, teachers, janitors, everyone read for 30 minutes. It's just about my favorite time of day! When my granddaughter is here, she joins me with m&m's and a book.

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  29. I have to read every day. All my life it is necessary for my well being. All kinds of books. However my favorite is science fiction I think this is so because my Mother read so very much of it and as a teen I read them too. All kinds of stories about people in real situations to totally made up ones. My DH also reads and he is happily reading cozy mysteries now.
    My daughter also loves to read and many of the same favorites as my Mother and myself.

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  30. I've always been a reader (I guess it's easier when you're single to keep it up). My current job is working in a school library, so I have the privilege of sharing my love of books with students at the school as I help them check out the books they have selected.

    Some of my current favourite authors are Irene Hannon, Dee Henderson, Robin Jones Gunn (she's written for all ages; fiction and non-fiction), Melody Carlson (mostly I like her Christmas books), Rachel Hauck and Denise Hunter.

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  31. I never did give up reading - I still try for one book a day, especially when I find a new great author. I'll read the entire series in order. Mysteries are my favorite! Right now I'm re-reading Elizabeth Peters, the Amelia Peabody series. I used to read to the boys every evening, cuddled on the couch - Elizabeth Enright was a favorite, as was Tolkien. Even now I'll re-read Elizabeth Enright's children's books, they're so well written. We too followed the Charlotte Mason method.
    I do enjoy reading on my phone - although I prefer regular books, my phone is always with me and I can download a book and start reading in no time. Mostly through my library, although I've purchased books when they're .99.

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  32. I didn't know you homeschooled your children! We are about to start out last year of homeschooling with our youngest. We have had 11 - will be 12 years of precious memories just like yours as we too have followed a Charlotte Mason style education. Your days sound like my days. I'm reluctant for them to end and will treasure our last year of learning and reading together. I am encouraged to hear how your days slowly filled with your embroidery and sewing etc. It is good to see how our Lord brings about a new season which is filled with as much peace and beauty as the preceding one. Thank you for sharing :)

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  33. Hi Jenny,a lovely scene you have set!!I also love reading,and enjoyed so much reading a young version of Pilgrims progress to my son when he was 9!in my hut in thegarden each evening.He is now 20!and I pray he will come back to the Lord!I am reading your LOVELY blog ,on board a train in N.Irealnd using my free travel pass en route to meet my husband.xx

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  34. I've been homeschooling and reading to children for 23 years and just started really reading by myself again this year, even though I still have three children (adolescent) at home. It has been wonderful to make time for this. Very relaxing. I had always been a reader, but for years most of my reading has been with my children. And Elizabeth Goudge has long been a well-loved authoress of mine. Enjoy Pilgrim's Inn!

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It's always nice to receive feedback on a blog post, so *thank you* for taking time to comment!
I will try to reply via email unless you are a 'no reply blogger' which means you'll have to check for my reply in the comments. Of course, life is a rather hazardous activity, isn't it? So if I don't respond to your comment that's the reason why - life simply stepped in...
hugs
Jenny
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