Skip to content
Home » Posts » My Year in Books 2023

My Year in Books 2023

open book with magic coming out of it with words my year in books

My year in Books 2023 reviews the books read in 2023. My post is a bit overdue, but I finally finished all of the reviews. More or less. I lost track a bit in December. I enjoyed this challenge. Thanks to my son!

Why a book tracker? Two reasons:

  1. I accepted a challenge from my son in January to track each book read.
  2. I’m also hoping to find some insights for you because I like to streamline how things are done. If you can benefit from that, then GREAT!

As always, Genre and Dates Finished in italics. A rating of ★★★★★ indicates a really good read or a living book.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase after clicking through, SelfEducatingFamily will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Reviews for My 2023 Year in Books

My favorites are shown above. These are all 5-star recommendations or are living books. 43 of the 150+ books were 5-star! Good percentage, right?

Below are mini-reviews for all of the books I read. I’ve broken them into the broad categories of Children’s Illustrated Picture books, Fiction and Non-Fiction.


Overall, I had a blast with this challenge. I ran out of steam at the end of the year though. And early in the year (right in January) I felt like keeping track of all of the books I started reading may be overkill. There are just too many books! This challenge has made me see the need to feel no remorse for putting a book back “on the shelf” for another time.

Another advantage of a book challenge is that it makes you aware of what you are reading. I tried to be a bit broader in book selections, so that was fun.

Reviews for Children’s Illustrated Picture Books

  • Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet. ★★★★★. Picture book Caldecott Winner. Another recommendation from Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook. I wondered why I never read this when my boys were little because I totally enjoy Macy’s Day Parade history. But it’s because the book is from 2011 — just as my kids were leaving the picture book section! This one really deserves a Caldecott! Great detail of the famous puppeteer and creator of the balloons, Tony Sarg. Fun read with rich illustrations. Non-fiction Children’s Picture Book: 1/3/23
  • Blueberries for Sal by Sal McCloskey. ★★★★★. Re-read. Awesome book. Still holds up after 20 years of reading it. Great read-aloud. Definitely a classic. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: 7/26/23


  • Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World by Margi Preus. ★★★★. I liked this because of the interesting content about 14 very famous trees. Good read-aloud, especially if you have children interested in numbers. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: 7/25/23
  • Chester by Melanie Watt. ★★★★ Re-read. This was one of my son’s favorites from our library trips. It seemed like every week for about 2 or 3 years, he would select one of the Chester books. I still enjoy it. It’s probably not the most classic book, but we always thought is was fun. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 6/25/23
  • Chester the Worldly Pig by Bill Peet. ★★★★. Not to be confused with Chester the Cat. Bill Peet is reliably fun! Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 11/25/23
  • Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans written & illustrated by Don Brown. ★★★ Excellent illustrations evoke a dismal feeling of a tragic story. The book describes a ton of facts that happened during this disaster, but I feel like the book itself lacked any connection to people because all of the vignettes that could have brought this tragedy to life were anonymous. While I’m not keen on the graphic novel style, I thought this one was pulled off well because of the stormy illustrations. Non-fiction Teen Graphic Novel: 1/5/23


  • Emily Dickinson: Poetry for Kids, illustrated by Christine Davenier. ★★★★★. Loved it! Favorite Poem: New Feet Within My Garden Grow. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book, Poetry: 9/24/23
  • The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George. ★★★. I used to love this book because it was a gift to my boys one Thanksgiving. But the story isn’t that accurate, and for some reason I had to downgrade the star rating this year. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book 11/22/23
  • From a Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Llewellyn Thomas. ★★★★★. I liked how the illustrations matched the rhythm of the book which matched the rhythm of a train. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book, Poetry: 8/14/23
  • The Greatest Skating Race by Louise Borden. ★★★★★. Re-read. Fabulous story set in wartime Netherlands. Highly recommended. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: 11/14/23
  • Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas ★★★★ by Cheryl Bardoe & illustrated by Jos. A. Smith. I liked this. It’s a good story behind the man. Non-fiction Children’s Biography: 4/7/23


  • How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet. ★★★★★. Reread. We loved this. I’m currently reading an autobiography of writer/illustrator Bill Peet so I thought I would find some of my favorites. This is a sweet story that still makes me chuckle. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: 10/29/23


  • My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Ted Rand. ★★★★★. Best version of this poem that I’ve read so far. The illustrations enhance the poem and more. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 8/25/23
  • Also read: My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson; illustrated by Monique Felix ★★★★ and one by Sara Sanchez ★★★★. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 9/4/23
  • The Owl and the Pussy-cat by Edward Lear, illustrated by Charlotte Voake. ★★★★. I love this poem, but I think my favorite illustrated version is still the one on my shelf. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book, Poetry: 8/14/23
  • Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney. ★★★★ Reread. Fun! I re-read this book because of a reference from a holistic food coach who said that sometimes the way people used to eat had advantages and then he mentioned the food in this book that the self-sufficient ox-cart man grows and sells. I enjoyed the re-read and the illustrations. Did you know that this illustrator is one of a few who have received the Caldecott Award twice? Once in 1980 for this book and once in 1959 for Chanticleer and the Fox. I often use the Caldecott Awards as a way of finding children’s books. The older awards are very reliably good reads. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 6/18/23


  • Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Monica Vachula. ★★★★. I liked the illustrations on this because they gave a good feel of authenticity. And I like the poem, despite its inaccurate portrayal of events. If you are going to read this, be sure to throw in what actually happened too when you discuss the book! Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: Poetry: 8/4/23
  • A Persian Princess by Barbara Diamond Goldin. ★★★★ Fun story about Purim with an Iranian grandmother and her grandaughter told from the Sephardic tradition. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: Holiday Stories: 2/21/23
  • Pilgrims of Plymouth by Susan Goodman. ★★★★★. This is an easy reader, but I love this book anyway. Great photographs which were taken at Plimoth Plantation. If you are ever in Plymouth, MA, be sure to tour this living history. Especially if it’s Thanksgiving. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books 11/21/23
  • Please Mr. Panda written and illustrated by Steve Antony. ★★. I read this because it was recommended, but I didn’t care for it. I thought the Panda was rude also. I liked the illustrations. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 6/22/23
  • A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost, illustrated by Grandma Moses. ★★★★ or ★★★★★ depending. If you are studying Grandma Moses as the artist for your semester, and if you have read the Frost poem before, then this is a 5-star. If you are just looking for an illustrated picture poetry book, I’d have to give it a 4-star rating. The illustrations and text are just a bit too separate. Maybe you could pull it out during artist study for fum. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: Poetry: 8/13/23
  • Queen Esther by Tomie De Paola. ★★★★ Purim story about Esther. I usually enjoy de Paulo’s illustrations, so this was fun when I was looking to screen a few Purim storybooks. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: Holiday Stories: 2/21/23
  • Queen Esther the Morning Star by Mordecai Gerstein. ★★★★ Purim story with rich illustrations. Depictions of Haman are particularly vile in the style of the cartoonish villain! Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: Holiday Stories: 2/21/23


  • The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, illustrated by Vivian Mineker. ★★★★ I wanted to give this a full 5 stars, but something holds me back. I have actually loved this poem since I sang it in a choir as a teen, (despite my notorious hesitancy about poetry) but I just didn’t adore the book. I think the words were lost a bit among the illustrations. But if you don’t have any other version, go for it. Get it from your local library and read it aloud to your kids. Fiction, Poetry, Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 5/18/23
  • The Road to Surfdom by Connor Boyack. ★★★★. This is one of the Tuttle Twins books that I keep hearing about. I loved the title (play on the title “Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek — which should be required reading for everyone since we are giving up our sovereignty — I think people should know what they are buying into.) The book itself was fun, but I bet there are better titles in this series. I’m looking forward to reading more of his books. Right now, I think the Uncle Eric series ranks higher for teaching economics to young people. I’ll read more in this series to see that holds or not. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: 9/1/23


  • Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf: With a Fully-Orchestrated and Narrated CD adapted by Janet Schulman and illustrated by Peter Malone. ★★★★★ Reread. Prokofiev’s timeless story and music together in a read-along book. When we studied Prokofiev in Composer Studies, this was a favorite. The music is wonderful to listen to by itself (especially the first time through to let the imagination soar), but once you are familiar with the music, the book is fun to read along with. Fiction: Children’s Illustrated Classics: 3/30/23
  • Shakespeare Cats by Susan Herbert. ★★★★. Cute. Who doesn’t appreciate paintings of cats dressed in Elizabethan garb and wielding swords? If you think of it as a narration by drawing a scene from the Bard, you may appreciate it. My favorite image was Henry V on a horse for the “Once more into the breach” scene. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 10/1/23
  • Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac. ★★★★★. Re-read. This STILL is one of our all-time favorite thanksgiving picture books. Accurate and interesting. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 11/21/23

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. 3 different books to compare illustrators:

  • Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Vivian Mineker. ★★★
  • Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by P.J Lynch. ★★★★
  • Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers. ★★★★★
  • I liked the Jeffers version best. Miniker had short phrasing on each double spread with extra pages interspersed with wordless scenes on it – like she was telling a different story. All of which is fine, but I didn’t appreciate it as much as the story of the poem itself. Lynch’s version had better phrasing to go with the poem, but it brought out the lonely quality of the poem (one kind of interpretation). To me, the Jeffers version was the best because the illustrations evoked warmth and hope. And even though the illustrations are black and white, Jeffers makes you feel like you are in a full-color New England winter. The phrasing is perfect and the pictures delightful. Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 6/27/23


  • The Tuttle Twins and the 12 Rules Boot Camp by Connor Boyack; illustrated by Elijah Stanfield. ★★★★. I liked this. I might give it a 4-1/2. I’m getting closer to finding the best of the Tuttle Twins books. This one was based on the 12 Rules by Jordan Peterson, which I didn’t realize until the back page. The dedication page should have clued me in. The actual story started growing on me as it went on. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: 10/20/23
  • Tuttle Twins: the Law by Connor Boyack; illustrated by Elijah Stanfield. ★★★★. This was their first book and it is enjoyable. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: 11/20/23
  • The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. ★★★★★ This is an illustrated version of the complete popular Longfellow poem. I loved this version. Karas puts a modern spin on the illustrations and it works! I requested this book from the library because of the Frost poem illustrated book that I read the week before. I felt like something was missing in the Frost book. Why shouldn’t great poems make great read-alouds for children? It’s actually a perfect way to introduce kids to some great living poetry! So I’m now searching for great poems that have been made into children’s picture books. This one does not disappoint. Fiction Children’s Illustrated Picture Books: 5/28/23
  • We are the Ship: The Story of the Negro Baseball League, words & paintings by Kadir Nelson. ★★★★★ Superb book backed by in-depth research tells the compelling story of baseball when the leagues were segregated. Nelson’s realistic paintings combined with his story-telling make this book a winner. I found myself pulled into the story because it’s told in the first person plural: “Players today just don’t know how bad it could be. We look back and wonder, ‘How did we do all that?’ It’s simple. We loved the game so much, we just looked past everything else. We were ballplayers.” Highly recommended. Non-fiction Illustrated Chapter Book: 1/6/23
  • Why Longfellow Lied: the Truth about Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride by Jeff Lantos. ★★★★. I totally enjoyed this book! Right up until he started making analogies to modern history. The background and details on all of the history were top-notch. Non-fiction: Children’s Illustrated Picture Book or Chapter Book with illustrations or Young History Book: 9/12/23
  • Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk by Jane Sutcliffe, Illustrated by John Shelley. ★★★★★ Rich non-fiction that details the coined words in Shakespeare’s writings. Illustrations are fun and super detailed reminiscent of “Where’s Waldo” artwork or anything by Jerry Pinkney. Brings Elizabethan England to life. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: 1/1/23
  • Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth. ★★★★★ Re-Read. We rearranged a bookcase and I had to re-read this old favorite from when my boys were little. It stands up to many re-reads, which is perfect for a children’s book. Stillwater is a zen panda who moves in next to 3 kids. Children’s Illustrated Picture Book: 2/28/23

Fiction Book Reviews

  • Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★. Another of the Mistborn trilogy (of 7 books). Wax and Wayne star in this cowboy meets industrialism world. Characters are good and the plot doesn’t flag too much. Fantasy: 6/24/23
  • Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★. Another of the Mistborn “trilogy” (of 7 books). Wax and Wayne get into even more adventures. Fiction Fantasy: 7/16/23
  • The Best of Simple by Langston Hughes. ★★★★ While researching how to use poetry in homeschooling, I came across several poet/authors who I wanted to look into further and Langston Hughes was one of them. Hughes wrote a popular newspaper column in the 50s and created a character called Jesse B. Semple who appeared daily in various vignettes of life. The stories were gathered into three collections and then later all gathered together in this book. The genius of the stories is that “Simple” (aka Semple) is a guy everyone knows, even though he is fictional. I usually find dialect a bit hard to read, but because Simple lives in Harlem, NY, I can read it easily because I grew up in NY. I deducted one star because the collection is not that great in book format, but it would be fantastic as a daily newspaper column because each chapter really stands alone well. It would make a great daily blog in today’s world without newspapers. This is a good read for older students studying race issues of the 50s or 60s because it expresses how the world was then. Warning: Semple drinks and womanizes. Fiction: 1/24/23
  • The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson. ★★★★ While this is definitely a living book because the characters and story really came to life, I felt like it isn’t equal to Treasure Island or Dr. Jekyll or even Kidnapped. But it was a fun read anyway since he is a great writer and I typically enjoy historical fiction. This one is set in the War of the Roses just before Richard III’s time. Lancasters vs. Yorks. This has romance and adventure, and several wartime violence scenes in which the hero kills a few people. Overall, the story has a bit of a “Robin Hood” feel to it. Fiction: Historical: 1/12/23
  • Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr. ★★★. Interesting. I didn’t really enjoy this allegory/fantasy. Oddly, I thought the evil was too vivid and the good were too flawed. It was easy to understand the moral of the story and I always like my stories to have good conquer evil. So that’s good. This was from Ambleside’s Year 10 Free Reading. The story is very loosely based on the “Chanticleer and the Fox” story. Fiction Fantasy: 6/30/23
  • China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. ★★★★. Follow up to his first book. The first book was better. But this one was fun still. Fiction: 8/20/23 Also read the final installment of the trilogy. Ditto.
  • Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. ★★★★★. Re-read. Or “re-listen”? I’ve read the book, listened to the audiobook, and seen the movie. I own the BBC audio version with the full cast, and it’s delightful. Though technically, I’ve misplaced disc 4 temporarily, so I only listened to 3/4 of the book this time. Fiction: 7/24/23
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. ★★★. Fun if a bit fluffy. The world that Kwan describes, however, is fascinating. He does a great job of painting the details of the ultra-rich Asian world. Easy read. Fiction: 6/28/23
  • Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. ★★★★★. Somehow, I never read this book before. It’s a fantastic look at South Africa written in 1948. Paton completely evokes the dreamlike quality of the characters and the different worldviews of clashing cultures. However, the one criticism I had was that he spoiled it a bit towards the end when he used the word “dream”. If I can get the symbolism or metaphors before the author has to name it out loud, then the author probably doesn’t need to do that! Fiction: 9/22/23


  • Dawnshard by Brandon Sanderson ★★★★ Book 3-1/2 of the Stormlight Archives. I liked this one a lot. See other books in this series. Science Fiction Fantasy Novella: 2/4/23
  • Delete That by John Crist. ★★★★ Christian comedian John Crist’s memoir about his coming to terms with hiding his sins from his public. Scandal, repentance, addiction, and rehab. A number of laugh-out-loud stories, you know, because he’s a comedian. Not exactly for youth. The story centers around the need to put out the “perfect” life for social media, and “deleting” the parts of your life that aren’t perfect. Non-fiction biography: 4/11/23
  • Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★ Book 2-1/2 of the Stormlight Archives. I’m reading this series because my son asked me to. This one was a refreshingly small book that was inserted into the series to explain some things that apparently exist at the beginning of Book 3, and to follow one of the interesting side characters from Book 2. You can’t read it unless you read the whole series, so you have to commit, because the typical books in the series are really long. Overall, I am enjoying the series. The books are hard to put down. But the stories do have a feeling of being so complex that they are never going to resolve. For a series, it works, but I get a little nostalgic for the days when a book told one story. Science Fiction Fantasy Novella: 1/5/23
  • Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnin. ★★★★ Very well-written story from1922 about 4 British women of that time who go to Italy for a month, so in a way, it is historical fiction being over 100 years old. Von Arnin is a good writer, but she writes many descriptions of Italy’s beauty in April, and while it certainly paints the picture, it’s a bit much for me! I linked to the free Kindle classic version, but I can’t vouch for that since I read the ordinary paperback. Fiction Historical Romance: 2/17/23
  • Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. ★★★★★ I loved this historical fiction about a yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia in early American History. I’d never heard of it before! Great living story, especially if you are studying this time period. Historical Fiction: 7/14/23
  • The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★★. I loved this stand-alone book by Sanderson. His sense of humor stands out. Fun read all around. Science fiction fantasy: 10/24/23
  • A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. ★★★★ On the Ambleside free reading list. Also free on Kindle at the moment. Good living book. I would give it 5 stars but I felt that it did the opposite of today’s stories where they deliberately write a book knowing that it is a trilogy or more. This seemed like it had 3 books in one, following the same girl as she grows up, and toward the end, it dragged a bit. Lots of nature descriptions, especially of moths. Overall, a fun read. Fiction: 5/17/23


  • Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. ★★★★★ Fantastic historical fiction about a real-life Japanese sailor during the end of the Shogunate era just before and after Japan opened to the West. The sailor is shipwrecked and found by a whaling ship, then adopted by the Captain and taken to America. I won’t give away what happens to him, but this story is based on the life of a real person. Great living book. Historical Fiction: 7/15/23
  • Here’s Hank: A Short Tale about a Long Dog by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver. ★★. Recommendation from Jim Trelease. I really wanted to love this book. I had to read it because I love the Fonz and because the book is written with a font that is designed to help dyslexic readers read easier. While I found the story compelling, I was disappointed in the characters, whom I found shallow and caricaturesque. The story has a dyslexic boy (our hero) trapped in an all-too-common situation where the school system labels him as a slacker. I think I am just biased against a school system that says “get a dog and try harder” instead of “change the school system”. Anyway, I will test this book with my dyslexic reader and give it an extra star if he loves it. Fiction Children’s Easy Reader/Short Chapter Book: 1/4/23
  • Kaspar the Titanic Cat by Michael Morpurgo. ★★★★
  • Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo. ★★★★★. Oved This one. I went on a spree to read Morpurgo’s books. This was one of my favorites. Good for adventure lovers. Historical Fiction: 12/1/23


  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. ★★★★★ Classic favorite! I couldn’t remember if I had read this before or not. It’s listed in the free reading of Year 3 on Ambleside Online. I adore the Secret Garden, also by Burnett, and I’ve read that numerous times since my mom gave me a copy for my birthday one year. This one is a sweet story but I feel like our heroine is a bit too on the perfect side. Yet, she makes me want to be kinder to others! That’s a good lesson! Fiction: Classic Literature for Youth: 3/ 7/23
  • The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★. 7th of 7! Finally, I finished the series! This did feel like it ended, and yet, this book links to his cosmere world that he builds. Fiction Fantasy: 8/22/23
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. ★★★★★ Re-read. Classic. I love this series. I wanted to refresh my mind on the story of how Laura becomes a teacher at age 16. She’s actually two months shy of 16. and only gets certified for up to grade 3. She passes her exams by reciting all of American History at a School Expo from Columbus to Rutherford B. Hayes. I don’t think many 9th graders today can do this. What I noticed this time reading it, the series makes you want to read other books in the series. But I think it stands alone a bit better than some of the modern book series. Fiction: Historical Fiction: 2/23/23
  • A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. ★★★★★. I like Linda Sue Park as an author, and this story did not disappoint. The book has 2 parallel stories about two 11-year-olds growing up in Sudan. Based on a true story, this brings to life the hardships in these two people’s lives and the hope for the future. It’s called a “powerful tale of perseverance”. The boy grows up to found Water for Sudan (in real life). Great story. Fiction (based on real events) 7/19/23


  • Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★ Book 1 of the Mistborn Trilogy. I’m reading along with my son who likes this author. Support your kids! I liked this story. I liked that it was small enough to read easily, unlike his 1200 page books in the Stormlight Archives. Science Fiction Fantasy: 3/4/23
  • Mistborn Secret History by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★ This one explained some things that happen in the background of Book 3 of the Mistborn series. It has many spoilers, so don’t read it before it’s time. Science Fiction Fantasy: 4/12/23
  • Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★ Book 3 of The Stormlight Archives. See Edgedancer. Huge book. I made the mistake of reading the paperback version. At 1200+ pages, it’s way too fat to read in paperback. Science Fiction Fantasy: 1/20/23


  • A Passage to India by E.M. Forster. ★★★★★. While this was a leftover from my classic book read last month, I finished it this month and genuinely liked it even though it is not my usual style. I tend to avoid flowery, descriptive-heavy books. I noted early on in the book that it had a particular dream-like quality when describing India and its inhabitants. And, believe it or not, it totally works in this book. The only slight criticism I would give is that towards the end of the book, Foster makes that theme a bit heavy-handed when he actually points out the dreamy quality. Regardless, this book is a masterpiece. It’s on the Year 11 book lists of Ambleside Online. And here’s a funny aside: The free Kindle version spells Forster’s name wrong. Probably a spell checker over-checking. Fiction: 8/12/23
  • The Red House by A.A. Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh). ★★★★ Did you know Milne wrote a mystery? He actually started as a humorist, then wrote this mystery and then the Pooh books for his son Christopher. He had very particular ideas about what made a good mystery which he discusses in the preface. He does a good job following his rules and comes up with a thoroughly enjoyable mystery. It feels like a light story, though, so I didn’t give it 5 stars. But it’s a fun read. Fiction Mystery: 1/26/23
  • Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★ Book 4 of the Stormlight Archives. See Edgedancer. Remember, I’m reading this series because my son (the one who is NOT that excited about books) likes them and listens to the audiobooks. I’m trying to support him and we do have good conversations about these books. This one, in particular, I liked slightly more than the others, maybe deserving of a 5-star review. The story is, once again, compelling. My only criticism is that these books are really 3 separate books that never end. They are huge. And even after 4 of them (plus 2 novellas) — probably more than 5500 pages — the story STILL isn’t over. But, then again, the story is compelling.
  • Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★. Another of the Mistborn “trilogy” (of 7 books). Wax and Wayne get into more adventures. Fiction Fantasy: 7/10/23
  • Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner with illustrations by Marcia Sewall. ★★★★ WARNING: Spoilers!! This fictional tale of a legendary dogsled race where a boy has to race to win the tax money for the farm. If your child doesn’t like stories like Old Yeller, chose a different book. The story is touching. Fiction Easy Reader Illustrated Chapter Book: 1/6/23


  • The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. ★★★★★. Sort of a re-read. I’ve seen the movie before and this “reading” was of an audiobook with a full-cast version. We went on a road trip and needed a reliable story that everyone would like. Though, I didn’t have any young kids with me this trip. (In other words, Warning: Lots of drinking and some violence — after all, it is a murder mystery). Subgenre is “noir” as in film noir if it were a movie. Though the movie of this story plays up the comedic bits more than a Philip Marlowe story. Audiobook Fiction Mystery: 6/30/23
  • The Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo. ★★★★. Ok, this was from my classic list — I slipped it in at the end of the month. I liked and disliked this book. I liked it because I’ve been to Guernsey, where the book takes place and where Hugo was exiled when he wrote it, and he really brings the islands and people to life. I’ve read Les Miserables and liked it, despite it having a strongly opinionated view of the world. But this book, while supposedly fiction, comes off like a memoir of someone who has a dim view of life. He waxes philosophical quite a bit in ways that I don’t agree with (which doesn’t make it a bad book). He does harp on many ideas which can be the starting points for great discussions. I read a version that was translated from the original completely — apparently earlier translations did much editing. Perhaps that is what this book needed. Classic Fiction: 7/30/23
  • Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus. ★★★★★ Another historical fiction which was a great story. This is a youth book about real people during WWII in Occupied France and the resistance of a small mountain town. Two things I especially liked about this book: 1) The thoroughly complete notations of what was real and what was added (and not a lot was added!) and 2) The highly compelling story and characters that were woven together. The book has lots of moral messages but they really feel like they come straight from the characters. Historical Fiction: 7/21/23


  • Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★. Standalone book. Ok story. I was disappointed in the ending. No spoilers. Fiction Fantasy: 7/118/23
  • The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, Book 2 of the Mistborn Series. ★★★★ I’m liking the Mistborn series. So far, they’ve been good reads. Interesting stories & characters with some good plot twists. This second one has deeper character development. But it’s a war story (as well as a romance and a coming-of-age story.) I won’t give any spoilers. I would prefer if the ending didn’t beg for another book – I prefer endings that actually end. But I went into it knowing it was a trilogy, so that’s okay. Fiction Fantasy Sci-Fi: 3/29/23
  • The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong, pictures by Maurice Sendak. ★★★★★ I loved this. Great living book. It’s on the free reading list for Ambleside Online Year 3. This is a children’s chapter book about a Dutch fishing village that doesn’t have storks, and the kids set about changing their world. It’s really about hope and possibilities. Sendak’s occasional illustrations of the squat people of the village are perfect, and the book had me laughing out loud in several places. Fiction: Children’s Illustrated Chapter Book: 5/26/23
  • With You Always by Jody Heldung. I needed an easy-read story, so I grabbed this at the library. It’s sort of historical fiction, mostly fiction, about the Orphan Train. But it’s really just an excuse to set a romance novel at a particular time. I’d never heard of the Orphan Train before. I read the second book in the series too.

Reviews for Non-Fiction books

  • 20 Fun Facts about Monuments & Monuments and Memorials. ★★★. Totally adequate graphic-driven books in the Children’s section. This type of book is good to help get an idea of the world at large. We happened to need some facts about Mount Rushmore. It’s better than Wikipedia, anyway. Children’s Book: Non-Fiction Travel Guide. 10/2/23
  • 50 Ways to Help Save the Bees by Sally Coulthard. ★★★. I wanted to love this book. But I found it too vague. I agree that bees are vital to our existence and we should be better stewards, but I didn’t find the tips actually useful. I wanted to see more description than “hang a bee home” — I would rather have full instructions on how to build a bee home that is safe and clean for bees. Non-fiction: 7/31/23
  • America’s Parade
  • The Aromatherapy Companion by Jade Shutes and Amy Galper. ★★★★ Good little reference book with very lovely illustrations. Strong intro to oils and how to use them along with safety info. I really liked the end section with tables and descriptions. Non-Fiction How-To: 2/21/23
  • Art of the Chicken by Jacques Pepin. ★★★★★. Superb! Part memoir, part recipe descriptions, and part art gallery of chickens, this book is a delight if, like Pepin, you are obsessed with food and with chickens. Delightful read. Non-fiction, memoir, cookbook?: 7/30/23


  • Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell. ★★★★★. Superb fun read for garden lovers who love literature. She has several titles in this series so pick your favorite and read that first. Francis Hodgson Burnett’s Garden edged out this one as my favorite. Non-fiction: 12/15/23
  • The Bible by God. ★★★★★. Re-read. I can’t include this on “favorites”, because it’s unfair. I do a “Bible in a year” re-read every year. I like to read in a different order every year — this year was seasonal (for instance, read Ruth at Pentecost season, etc.). My “year” took me 15 months this time, so I feel like I have to speed it up this coming year. I’ll start re-reading again right away. I think I will read a traditional cover-to-cover, maybe switching back and forth between old and new testaments. I also like to vary the translations I read just for fun. 7/4/23
  • Bill Peet: An Autobiography ★★★★. Interesting read.
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. ★★★ or ★★★★★ depending on if you are actually a writer. I liked it, but I clearly do not have enough empathy to be a writer. She tells a good story, that’s for sure. I feel like she may be using hyperbole really well when she talks about a writer’s insecurities! Non-Fiction: 4/24/23
  • Birds of the Photo Ark by Noah Strycker. ★★★★★. Superbly photographed birds of the world. Absolutely gorgeous. It makes me want to find out more about the photo ark. Non-Fiction Coffeetable Book: 8/1/23
  • Common Sense by Thomas Paine. ★★★★★ This is on the Ambleside Online reading list for 9th grade to go along with early American history. It should be required by every U.S. citizen. “Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil;” Paine is a very persuasive writer as you might expect. This small treatise went viral in its day. It was first published after Lexington & Concord and after the Battle of Breed’s Hill (aka Bunker Hill). He believed the time for reconciliation was over. His treatise is also remarkable for the arguments against a kingship in general. It’s a good read. Non-Fiction History -Primary Document: 2/2/23
  • The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung. ★★★★★. Excellent resource for intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting with water. I personally had trouble with an extended day water fast due to mineral depletion, so I recommend doing something like this only with the help of a nutritional specialist. Non-fiction Health: 11/1/23
  • DIY Beauty by Ina De Clerq ★★★★ Excellent recipes and solid explanations of natural alternatives to common on-the-shelf beauty products (like Burt’s Bees lip balm). If you or your teen enjoyed the series above, then this is a much better book to continue with. Or skip the above series and head straight to this. I’ve already tried 2 recipes and want to make notes about several others. I wouldn’t consider this a living book, but for a “how-to” packed with recipes, it’s pretty good. Non-fiction How-To Book: 1/9/2023
  • Dopamine Nation by Dr. Anna Lembke. ★★★★ I gave this book an extra star because it is at least talking about the problem of addiction in our technological society AND because it gives some practical solutions. Warning though, it’s very explicit, so only appropriate for mature readers. It’s an important topic to bring up. Non-Fiction: 1/30/23
  • Duct Tape Purim by Jill Bloomfield. ★★★★ Fun kids crafting book. If you like doing duct tape crafts, these are fun. Non-Fiction How-To: 3/3/23


  • EinKorn by Carla Bartolucci. ★★★★★. It was a hard choice for the best non-fiction this month. I own this so it was a reread, so it lacked the newness factor, but I think I’m ready to start baking with EinKorn now. Non-Fiction How-To: 9/29/23
  • The Essential Oils Apothecary (skimmed), The Essential Oils Diet, and The Healing Power of Essential Oils by Eric Zeilinski and Sabrina Ann Zeilinski. ★★★★ I read them in reverse chronological order, accidentally. I did not expect to like the Diet book (it’s really a lifestyle book) but I actually did, though I skimmed the recipes section. The recipes sound good, but I’m usually drawn into recipes by photos and this had none. I liked how they broke down topical vs aromatherapy usage. And all the safety warnings were thorough. I guess the biggest new takeaway for me was that these oils are extremely potent and can do many different therapeutic things. My favorite of these three books was the one that was written first: The Healing Power of Essential Oils. Perhaps because it was the most general and comprehensive. It makes it easy to start making blends for specific purposes. All the books come from a Christian perspective. Non-fiction How-To 1/23
  • Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine by Josh Axe, Jordin Rubin, and Ty Bollinger. ★★★★ Beautifully arranged book and unabashedly Christian. The attractive, easy-to-use format makes it simple to find what you are looking for. If I decide to put this on my shelf for a reference book, I would use it for the clear descriptions of the oils and their uses rather than for the applications shown in the recipes. Non-Fiction How-To: 1/25/23
  • Essential Oils to Boost the Brain and Heal the Body by Jodi Cohen. ★★★★★ Fantastic resource. I need this for my home library. Cohen addresses the body as a system and uses essential oils to heal via brain chemistry mechanisms. So much helpful information as well as practical action steps. Non-Fiction: 3/17/23
  • Essential Oils (DK) by Susan Curtis and Fran Johnson. ★★★★ Nice essential oils reference book. Like most DK books, this has a beautiful layout and photos with easy-to-navigate sections. Fairly comprehensive book for introduction to essential oils covering 88 different oils and how to use them. I’m not ready to put this on my permanent bookshelf yet, because I feel like I wouldn’t use it. Instead I will try re-reading it in 6 months to see how it holds up. Non-Fiction Reference: 5/8/23
  • Everyday Essential Oils by Daniele Festy. ★★★★ Lovely book that concentrates on 6 specific basic oils and the stuff you can do with them. Great beginner book which would be a good way to start if you were starting from scratch. Non-Fiction How-To: 2/18/23


  • Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten Shockey and Christopher Shockey. ★★★★★ This book is on my permanent reference shelf and I finally finished it cover-to-cover. Kirsten has a website at Fantastic book that explains principles and practices, and has recipes for various fermenting methods, as well as how to use your ferments and how to troubleshoot. I’m going to schedule making ferments in my planner to get more of a variety of ferments. Non-Fiction How-To: 2/1/23
  • Fermenting: Pickles, Kimchi, Kefir, Kombucha, Sourdough, Yogurt, Cheese and More! by Wardeh Harmon. ★★★★★ Takes fermenting up a level. I love this book and all of Wardeh’s recipes. You can find her at This was a partial re-read. I wanted to finish the book, so I re-skimmed the part I read last year. Now I have to make the recipes more regularly. A great resource for learning and doing ferments.
  • The Fourth Turning is Here by Neil Howe. ★★★★. Fascinating look at the generational influences of history written this past year. I liked his earlier book on the same subject The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy co-authored with William Strauss and written in 1997. In both books, the closer the historian comes to current day, the more unreliable his analysis & predictions. In this book, however, Howe lacks the balance of a second voice in Strauss (who died). Howe seems to omit several social disruptions in his analysis (the riots of 2019 and the pandemic) which seem like they are major influencers — but I’m not a historian, so what do I know? Anyway, the concept itself of the seculum (a 4 generation cycle) that steers history is food for thought.Non-Fiction How-To: 1/15/23


  • The Guide to Woodworking with Kids by Doug Stowe. ★★★★★ Excellent how-to by the premier Sloydist teacher in the U.S. (that I know of!) The book reads well and could easily be used as a guide for handicraft in wood sloyd. It teaches methodology, recommends tools and requirements, and gives details on a number of projects along with real-life examples by kids. See also the article called Wood Craft Ideas from the Guide to Woodworking. Non-Fiction How-To: 2/19/23
  • The Healing Power of the Sun by Richard Hobday. ★★★★ Really interesting topic that I had never looked into previously. **SPOILER**: get out in the sun. I may follow up with more study. Non-Fiction: 5/23/23
  • Heal Your Leaky Gut Diet and Meal Plan by David Brownstein. ★★★★. This is a fine, comprehensive and practical guide. I was just a bit disappointed because I was looking for his books on Iodine therapy and this didn’t mention Iodine at all. Non-fiction
  • Heliotherapy by A. Rollier, MD. ★★★★ Ok – I am only giving this a 4-star review because this is a medical textbook! I found it because of last month’s book about getting out in the sun. I was oddly fascinated by this book and read it cover to cover. The subtitle is “With Special Consideration for Surgical Tuberculosis.” I really liked it – but it isn’t exactly a living book. Rollier wrote this in 1911, and the copy I read (from the library) was one of those delightfully heavy books with really thick glossy paper and photo plates. Note: this book is NOT for the squeamish! Rollier ran a few tuberculosis sanatoriums and this book details the amazing success he had with heliotherapy (sun therapy – as in patients lying in the sun in the mountains year-round with little covering for very specific times and protocols). I had always wondered why TB patients were sent to high altitudes when they had trouble breathing. This explains it all! Takeaway: The sun is a very powerful healing force. Non-fiction Medical Text: 6/25/23
  • Herbs for Long Lasting Health by Rosemary Gladstar. ★★★★. Superb reference as always from the legendary herbalist. Some of the herbs in this one are very specific and not always readily known by beginners, but that’s what the book can help with as you learn. Non-fiction Reference: 10/23/23
  • Herbs for Common Ailments by Rosemary Gladstar. ★★★★★. I gave this one a higher rating, though all of her books are excellent. This one is really useful for stocking your medicinal cabinet. Tons of practical advice. I have this book in my home library. Non-fiction Reference: 10/24/23
  • Home Apothecary by Ashley English. ★★★★★ Excellent how-to on using essential oils. I loved the layout and tried a few recipes. Non-Fiction How-To: 1/31/23
  • How to Live Like a Lady by Sarah Tomczak. ★★★. Nice idea, but read the Madame Chic books instead. Non-fiction: 8/2/23


  • Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook edited and revised by Cyndi Giorgis. ★★★★★. Excellent reference book. Read once to be committed to reading aloud now for your kid’s sake. Then refer to it when you want some excellent read-aloud books. Or go to his website which lists his recommendations. I’m going to check out some titles that we missed when my guys were smaller. Trelease asks, “At what age do you stop reading aloud picture books? In a word — never.” Non-fiction Education: 1/1/23 –started in December!
  • A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens by Melissa Caughey. ★★★★★ I had to read this after I read Caughey’s How to Speak Chicken. It was another fun read. Very thorough overview for beginner chicken keepers. Non-Fiction How-To?: 5/3/23
  • The Life Giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson (mother and daughter team). ★★★ or ★★★★ My ambivalence to this book is summed up in my friend Sarah’s response when she saw it on my desk, she said, “Oh. I tried to read that book but it made me feel terribly guilty so I stopped.” I stuck it out and read the whole thing, and I did get some ideas on how to make my home a little homier, but overall, it made me feel like it was an impossible task. And I wasn’t terribly fond of the two-authors approach because the daughter felt preachy even though she really doesn’t have the experience from a mom’s point of view. But try if you want. You may have a different experience. I might search for my hygge elsewhere. Non-Fiction: 5/21/23
  • Lotions, Potions & Polish: DIY Crafts and Recipes by Aubre Andrus. ★★ Slick book with a small bit of substance. This book is listed for teens, and it has the feel of a slick magazine with beautiful layouts and photography. I think it would make a fun book for crafting with small children, but they probably couldn’t do that because it has some recipes that melt and use a stove. I guess if your young teen expresses an interest in learning some basics, this book could be fun. Extra star for the benefit of the doubt. Also in the same series are Gloss, Floss & Wash and Spray, Smooth & Shampoo. I put these on my reserve list from a search for essential oils crafts. There are not that many recipes with essential oils in them. Non-fiction Teen How-To Book: 1/5/23


  • A New Handwriting for Teachers by M.M. Bridges. ★ ★ ★ ★ Public Domain (free) book from 1923 used in the Charlotte Mason Schools. Instructions for a calligraphy font. This would have been just a normal handwriting font, but today we would need the special calligraphy pens that were common then. It is pretty handwriting and looks easy enough to learn. Non-Fiction How-To: 3/20/23
  • NO B.S. Guide to Powerful Presentations by Dan Kennedy and Dustin Mathews. ★★★★ Solid info on how to improve your presentation techniques. Practical case studies and suggestions. Non-Fiction: 5/23/23
  • No BS Time Management for Entrepreneurs by Dan S. Kennedy. ★★★★. Helpful guide. But I feel like some of his advice is only for the cutthroat business person. I do agree with saving time by not indulging in social media, but I’m not sure I could eliminate email as a communication form. Still, lots of good points to consider. Non-fiction Guide: 7/19/23


  • Overcoming Thyroid Disorder by David Brownstein. Brownstein is the expert on iodine research.
  • Poems by a Little Girl by Hilda Conkling. ★★★ I’m sorry. I tried to like this. But I had to force myself to read it. She was a child poet featured in my ebook The Poetry Hater’s Guide to Loving Poetry which I wrote to add poetry to my day since it really is vital to an education. I really was very excited to get her book of poetry after I read about her background. Unfortunately, I resonated most with her poem called Poems which had a line in it about not understanding poems. I will keep trying to use my own advice about reading poems. Non-fiction Poetry: 3/2/23
  • The Permanent Pain Cure by Ming Chew. ★★★★ I would give this 5 stars but I’m not sure if I can apply all the tips and exercises he suggests. Ming is a physical therapist noted for treating pain by targeting the fascia muscles. I’m still working on his first 3 suggestions: Drink more water (see above); Reduce sugar (and trans-fats, which I don’t eat anyway, but sugar… well, we won’t talk about that); Take fish oil and fascia supporting supplements. Then he focuses on stretching and finally on strengthening. As for pain, we are talking about things like joint pain or injuries. Here’s a tip from Ming: “Remember, no pain is normal.” Overall a good read for natural healing. Non-Fiction Health: 5/10/23
  • Prepper’s Natural Medicine by Cat Ellis. ★★★★★ This is a great resource for learning medicinal herbs! Rosemary Gladstar’s iconic book Medicinal Herbs is, of course, the one book you should have on your shelf if you like this field, but Ellis’s guide is really good. Despite its lack of photos, the content is broad and straightforward. I’m not sure if it’s good for the beginner since I own & use Gladstar’s book, but I found it a great resource. It also covers essential oils to an extent, which is how I found it. Non-fiction Reference: 3/30/23


  • Railroads of Colorado by Mike Danneman. ★★★. Give this an extra star if you have a railroad enthusiast in your family. The book is mostly a photographic essay about the trains of Colorado (which is exactly what I want to see with trains!) But I was a bit disappointed with the exception of the narrow gauge railroad section. Non-Fiction: 7/30/23
  • Read This if You Want to Take Great Photographs by Henry Carroll. ★★★★★. This is a fabulous resource for understanding what makes a great image and how to achieve it. Simple and practical while effectively pointing to the primary reasons certain photographs are great. Note: Two photos included display nudes. Non-Fiction How-To: 8/26/23
  • The School Revolution by Ron Paul. ★★★★★ Great read on the need for school reform. He proposes that the free market of homeschoolers using technology with many different options will ultimately cause the public state-funded schooling to become obsolete, similar to the post office in the wake of competition from FedEx. The book was written in 2013, just as he was developing the Ron Paul Curriculum. I wish I read the book before my sons used some of the RPC for high school! Non-fiction: 3/2/23
  • Seed Saving: A Beginner’s Guide to Heirloom Gardening by Caleb Warnock. ★★★★★ Reread. I got so much more from this on a second reading. I was looking for specifics for seed saving for this current season. Here are the easiest seeds according to Warnock: Peas, lettuce, peppers, and sometimes tomatoes and beans. Don’t even think about carrot or corn seeds unless you are a professional! A superb resource for your gardening shelf. Non-fiction How-To: 3/13/23
  • Shallow Pit Garden Composting: The Easy, No-Smell, No-Turning Way to Create Organic Compost For Your Garden by Caleb Warnock. ★★★★★ Reread. Useful, practical advice just before spring. I’m going to try this method of composting. Warnock is also from a very dry climate, so it seems like it could help me in my semi-arid climate to keep the compost moist. Non-fiction How-To: 3/16/23
  • Simple Qigong Exercises for Health by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming. ★★★★ Explains the 8 pieces of brocade both sitting and standing with pictures and descriptions of the poems. I wanted to read this before testing the movements with the companion video. Non-Fiction How-To: 1/8/23
  • South Dakota’s Black Hills ★★★★. This is a superb Guide book! I would trust that the others in this series are as good. I didn’t give it 5 stars because it is in no way a living book. But it is a fabulous reference handbook if that’s what you need. Non-Fiction Guide Book. 10/6/23


  • Table to Trail by Marty Cowan. ★★★★. Fun part cookbook and part trail guide. She’s local to me and so I enjoyed the local trails that were referenced. Non-Fiction: 8/6/23
  • A Thorn in My Pocket by Eustacia Cutler. ★★★★★. Cutler is the mom of Temple Grandin. I’ve read several of Grandin’s books and find her story fascinating. Read Thinking in Pictures if you are interested. Grandin was a keynote speaker in my son’s college honors seminar, and he loaned me her book, which I loved. Cutler tells the story from her point of view as the mom of an autistic child in the 50s. It’s a great read because she works through her struggles as the book unfolds. How brains work is just amazing! Non-Fiction Memoir: 7/31/23
  • A Touch of the Infinite (my book club read this year about Charlotte Mason music studies.) by Megan Elizabeth Hoyt. ★★★★ A very good read, but a bit overwhelming because Hoyt is so very knowledgeable about music. We had wonderful discussions about the material in our book club, and the book is jam-packed with great ideas, even for the less musically inclined. Hoyt gives so many practical actionable items. I think the biggest regret about the book is that we didn’t read it at the beginning of our homeschool journey. Most of the moms in our club are wrapping up their homeschooling years. But for those starting out, this would be a great resource to visit a few times. Non-Fiction Educational Guidebook on Music: 4/16/23


  • Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior In Company And Conversation. ★★★★★ This is an arrangement of 110 sayings that young George Washington copied when he was 14 or 15 years old. The sayings are all about manners. It’s fun because I recognize weaknesses in my kids’ manners as well as my own. A great resource for copywork. Also has a fantastic vocabulary of plenty of words no longer in common usage. Best quote: “Being set at meat, Scratch not, neither Spit, Cough, or blow your Nose except there’s a Necessity for it.” or “Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; For ’tis better to be alone than in bad Company.” Non-fiction Historical Book of Quotations: 1/3/23
  • Weight Loss Success Without Dieting by George Mateljan. ★★★★. SPOILER: Eat way more vegetables and do all the other sensible things like cut out sugar and processed foods. He advocates lifestyle over “diet” fads and does have a nice chart of the most nutrient-dense vegetables. Non-fiction: 8/3/23
  • Welcome Home by Myquillyn Smith. I was looking for cozy ideas. Non-Fiction: 12/15/23
  • Why the Universe is the Way it Is by Hugh Ross. ★★★★★ This was one of my hubby’s books he had on his desk when I needed a book to read and was too lazy to get up to get my own book. I enjoyed it! I thought I would just skim it a bit for the 20 minutes I had to kill, but I finished it because it was really interesting. It’s by an astronomer and can get a little geeky. He makes the hard astronomy part easy to understand for the layperson. Non-Fiction: 3/31/23
  • Wild Beauty by Jane Blankenship. ★★★ Sorry for the harsh criticism, but I was disappointed in this book. It gets great reviews and has gorgeous pictures, but it just didn’t resonate with me. I wanted labels on the pictures if they corresponded to a recipe. Or maybe I’m simply not looking for recipes like “Mermaid Hair Mask.” It’s probably just me. Non-Fiction How-To: 1/10/23
  • The Wisdom of Our Hands: Crafting a Life by Doug Stowe. ★★★★★ Superb guide that talks about the importance of handcraft, in particular woodworking. Stowe is really talking about using woodworking to craft a better life and a better world. Great quote: “Deep engagement with the hands as they are crafting has an effect on your sense of well-being that should not be ignored.” Non-Fiction Education: 1/2/23 –started in December!
  • The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. ★★★★★ Fascinating read about the Dustbowl. Digs into the people who stayed. Really interesting history. Two reasons I liked this book: First, I picked up 2 books in this genre of history/documentary book, one on the dustbowl (this one) and one on the Donner expedition. So neither was a particularly upbeat story. I started reading the Donner book first and couldn’t get past the first 50 pages. You’d have thought that was a gripping story, and maybe the book got better, but I can’t tell you. I started reading this one and couldn’t put it down. Second, I had read The Empire of the Summer Moon last year, which is about the fall of the Comanche tribe interwoven with the story of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young pioneer, who is kidnapped by the Comanches and becomes the mother of Quanah Parker, the last Comanche chief. Great book. I was not sympathetic to the Comanches (because my hubby is part Cherokee) but this book really explains their culture. Here’s the connection between the two books – they both take place in the same area of the US – the Great Plains, where the buffalo once roamed. Both are living books that leave quite the picture of this area and the people in it. And of the wrongs done to the land, and thus the peoples. Not stories for younger children due to the nature of the hardships described, but you could pre-read for older students to see if they are suitable for your family. Non-fiction History: 5/15/23



Reviews of Books Read in January 2023


Reviews of Books Read in February 2023


Reviews of Books Read in March 2023


Reviews of Books Read in April 2023


Reviews of Books Read in May 2023


Reviews of Books Read in June 2023


Reviews of Books Read in July 2023


Books Read in August 2023


Books Read in September 2023


Books Read in October 2023


Books Read in November 2023


Books Read in December 2023

disclosure: I actually lost track in December. I’m estimating. 🙂


Reviews of Books Read in 2023

stack of books 2023

Related Articles