Wednesday, July 6, 2022

An Open Book: June 2022 Reads

Am I the only one in shock that it's already July? 

Yet, here we are. I'm kicking off the month by joining An Open Book to chat about my recent reads! A lot of activity filled my calendar for the month of June (plus the whole business of unexpectedly going without a/c for over two weeks), so I didn't read as much as I had planned. But, I still read some pretty great stuff. Let's dive in! 

Glow Kids, by Nicholas Kardaras

A clinical professor and expert on addiction, Dr. Kardaras examines the presence of screens in the lives of children, and walks through studies, stories, and examples of ways that lives have been destroyed through the overuse of screens. He references many different studies and scientific research that analyze the effect of screens on children, and it was pretty fascinating. The chapter on the Newtown elementary school massacre was chilling to read, especially as news from Uvalde spread across the country. And I have to say, I was very excited/delighted to read a book that was quite opposed to the widespread use of screens in the classroom (I have many thoughts and frustrations about the way that screens and technology are used in schools across the country). There's a lot of great stuff in here, but I also needed to be reminded that the author sees the worst-case scenarios, so those are what he focuses on, and there are tons of people who are not adversely affected by some screen usage (the author didn't really address this point very much). All in all, though, this was an insightful book. 

Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Nine-year-old Elizabeth Ann has grown up under her Aunt Frances's smothered care and only heard bad things about her "Putney cousins." She is sheltered and coddled, weak, and frail, but her aunt means well. One day, her aunt can no longer care for her, so she is sent to live with her Putney cousins in rural Vermont. Here, Betsy (as she is now called) begins learning how to live and experience life without being constantly monitored or fussed over-and she thrives. Eventually, her aunt comes back to reclaim her, and Betsy must choose where she wishes to spend her life. I really enjoyed this delightful children's novel! It was very, very fun, and a lovely story. This book was written over a hundred years ago, and it's easy to see how it has traversed the years, since it is so enjoyable (also, I'm hoping more people read it and seriously reconsider if extreme helicopter parenting is good for kids. But that's a conversation for another day). I highly recommend it! 

Emily of Deep Valley, by Maud Hart Lovelace

I think this is my Maud Hart Lovelace book to read, and I loved it so much! This story follows Emily as she finishes her high school education in a small town and grapples with growing older and seeing her high school "crowd" all go off to college...while she stays behind to care for her grandfather. Emily struggles with feelings of loneliness, depression, and emptiness as tries to process all these big life changes, and she ultimately realizes that she can make the choice to continue life as she's always known it or to instead cultivate a life of adventure and joy, even if it doesn't look like the typical "graduate high school and go to college" experience. This is a great story, Emily is very relatable, and there is also a ton of wisdom in these pages. I highly, highly recommend it, and honestly this is a book that I would have really loved and benefited from years ago-but I'm glad I finally discovered it! 

REREAD: Poustinia, by Catherine Doherty

In this short, beautiful book, Catherine Doherty discusses the importance and place of "poustinia" (a Slavic word that means "desert") in the Church. She describes her process of trying to bring the practice of poustinia into her life and ministry in North America, and she discusses the challenges and fruits of seeking this silence, solitude, and detachment. There is a ton of wisdom in this book, and it was very, very good to re-read (especially leading up to a retreat...and in the midst of having no a/c at home!) I highly recommend this book!

REREAD: The Way of a Pilgrim, a new translation by Helen Bacovcin

This has been sitting on my shelf since my senior year of college, when I first read it-and I finally got around to re-reading it! Written by an unknown Russian peasant in the 19th century, this book explores what it means to follow St. Paul's injunction to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:17). It follows a Russian pilgrim as he seeks answers to his questions about prayer and grapples with the challenge of praying unceasingly. He meets other people who offer their wisdom, and the teachings of early Church Fathers are also incorporated in the text. This is a rich, beautiful book on prayer that is full of wisdom and is very encouraging. I highly recommend it, and this is one of those that I know I'll be going back to again. 

Thanks for joining me this month! If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments!


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed glow kids. You are right about the worst case scenarios. I want to check out the Way of a Pilgrim book.

    1. Glow Kids was a great read-and I'm thankful that my very wise husband reminded me of the worst-case scenarios part, because I was pretty horrified at some of the stories and statistics in there. I think it's very good to keep in mind multiple perspectives. I hope you enjoy the Way of the Pilgrim if you pick it up! I wish it hadn't taken me this long to re-read it; there's a lot of beautiful wisdom in there (much from an Eastern Christian perspective, which I always enjoy learning from)

  2. I forgot all about understood betsy and emily of dv. I read those uears ago and loved them!

    1. That's so neat that you've read and enjoyed those books! They were absolutely wonderful! (there's something so endearing to me about that genre of literature that centers around girls or young women coming-of-age around the early 20th century)

  3. A lot of great books this month! I'm going to look up most of them. I miss screen-free childhoods - well, I did watch too much TV, but at least it wasn't portable - and the freedom to be off on my own, wandering in the woods for hours unattended. I wish I could give my kids more of that.

    1. I hope you enjoy these! Those sound like some wonderful childhood memories--some of my fondest childhood memories are the ones that didn't involve screens, all the time I spent with my siblings playing outside, walking to the library, or curling up with books for hours on end :)