Book 18 of 50 – Deep Work

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When I read Digital Minimalism last summer and blogged about it, I knew I wanted to read more books by Cal Newport. As a computer scientist, he thinks very logically and presents information in a way that makes sense. Maybe I have missed my profession. Maybe I should have been a computer science major in college, because, I tell you, Newport’s mind presents information just the way I like to receive it.

Deep Work Paperback Cover

Deep Work Paperback Cover

Deep Work by Cal Newport is tremendous. If you do not read any other book this year, read Deep Work. It is not just about productivity. It is about changing who you are by the activities you engage in. Stop the shallow habits of thought and become intentional about the way you interact with the technology available to us today. Continue reading »

Book 17 of 50 – In His Steps

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Have you ever wondered where the phrase “WWJD” came from? Wonder no more. It came from In His Steps by Charles Sheldon.

In His Steps cover

In His Steps cover

In all honesty, I had a hard time reading this book because Sheldon preaches a sermon over and over again. As he advances the story, he slides in a sermon. Continue reading »

Book 16 of 50 – The Art of War

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Sun Tzu wrote this classic, The Art of War, thousands of years ago, yet military academies still study it today. In fact, the translator placed notes throughout to show how Hanibal, Napoleon, Hitler and others followed the advice in this book, as well.

The Art of War cover

The Art of War cover

I read this book to the kids over two days – two sessions of read-aloud fun, about one hour each. It is a short book and very straightforward. Continue reading »

Book 15 of 50 – The Cat of Bubastes

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I read The Cat of Bubastes by G. A. Henty to the children for over two months. We did a lot of driving to Science Olympiad practices, co-op, and music lessons, which reduced our reading time to a minimum. But we persevered. They liked it a lot.

Cat of Bubastes

The Cat of Bubastes

Set in Ancient Egypt about the time when Moses was an adult prince there, this book will teach your children a lot about that culture. The clothing, architecture, worship, societal hierarchy, fishing, hunting, agriculture etc from Ancient Egypt feature on every page. Continue reading »

Book 14 of 50 – Co. Aytch

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Sam Watkins fought as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. Twenty years after the war, Watkins wrote this memoir, Co. Aytch about his experience. His stories about surviving enemy fire border the surreal.

Co. Aytch

Co. Aytch book cover

His company was named “H.” Back then, they spelled words they way they sounded – hence the title. Sam’s regiment hailed from Tennessee. Since I live in Tennessee, I recognized a lot of the places he mentions. Continue reading »

Book 13 of 50 – Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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It just so happened that I had to wait on the kids almost the entire day at co-op and at orchestra rehearsal. That gave me time to read this book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, in one day – to be precise, in about four hours. The book is only 78 pages long and the plot moves fast.

Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – the first of his three autobiographies

I knew what to expect – shocking portrayals of slavery during the 19th century. That is why I hesitated before reading it. Violence in a book or a movie never appeals to me. In fact, I avoid it as much as possible. It was hard to read the four or five passages in which Douglass describes horrible acts of violence against African Americans. Continue reading »

Book 12 of 50 – A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett

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One of the funniest books you will ever read, A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett is his autobiography. Talk about Southern charm. The voice of David Crockett rings honest and funny. His quaint language tickled me from the first page.

David Crockett

David Crockett’s autobiography

It did not take me long to read this book because the stories move fast and keep one’s interest. Crocket got bullied in school and decided not to attend anymore. When his father found out, two weeks later, he chased David “at top speed” for over a mile. Hold it right there. How fit were these people? Continue reading »

Book 11 of 50 – Cry, the Beloved Country

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Alan Paton wrote a masterpiece which fed him and his family for the rest of his life. Cry, the Beloved Country is set in 1946 in South Africa. I loved it. It reads fast and easy.

Alan Paton Cry, the Beloved Country

Alan Paton – Cry, the Beloved Country – my copy

The plot moves rapidly, despite repetitions and descriptions. Paton writes well, what can I say? Continue reading »

Book 10 of 50 – Humorous Stories & Sketches

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Mark Twain can be funny. In Humorous Stories & Sketches, he is super funny. I especially enjoyed “Journalism in Tennessee.” Since I dabble in journalism as a local, lifestyle columnist for my local newspaper AND I live in Tennessee, this story seemed particularly suited to my situation.

Mark Twain Humorous Stories & Sketches

Mark Twain Humorous Stories & Sketches – my copy

Of course, thank God, we do not have to face the kind of tribulations as the newspaper editor Twain worked for while in Tennessee. The humor came not only from the description of the violence Twain had to face alongside his boss. It especially stemmed from the edits the boss made to Twain’s reporting. Continue reading »

Book 9 of 50 – The Abolition of Man

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C. S. Lewis gave three lectures at Cambridge about the philosophy of education as he understood it. These lectures became The Abolition of Man. Many commentators put this book on a short list of books that can save Western Civilization.

Lewis starts out by criticing an English high school textbook of his time. From there, he builds a case for education in morality and absolute values. Honestly, at times, I had no idea what he was saying. He lost me about the middle of the first chapter, Men Without Chests. I got the main idea, but when he got into the details of The Way (which he calls the Tao), my poor mind did not comprehend him anymore. Continue reading »