Wednesday, June 1, 2022

An Open Book: May 2022 Reads

Another month has arrived, so it's time to kick off summertime by joining An Open Book to discuss what has been on my reading stack lately! I've recently gone through a bunch of non-fiction with a couple of children's novels thrown in the mix, and a lot of it was really interesting! Let's dive in! 

HRH: So many thoughts on royal style, by Elizabeth Holmes

Really fun read about the styles portrayed by Queen Elizabeth II, Diana Spencer, Kate Middleton, and Meghan Markle. The book featured a biographical chapter on each woman, followed by a lengthy analysis of her style developments and fashion-related stories associated with these women. There were several photographs included, as well. I'm not particularly obsessed with the British royalty, but I do enjoy observing the styles the women have portrayed over the years, and I enjoyed this (though it's not likely something I'd go back and re-read). 

The Book of Rosy: A Mother's Story of Separation at the Border, by Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schwietert Collazo

This was a powerful memoir by a woman who, after enduring a tremendous amount of violence and terror in Guatemala, immigrated to the U.S.A. in 2014, returned to Guatemala in order to protect one of her children, and then went through the arduous journey of immigration again in 2018. She details what life was like for her and her children in Guatemala, she walks through the horrific journey in 2018, and she reflects on the hardships of being imprisoned in a detention center, and separated from her children, for nearly three months upon arriving to the U.S. In the second part of the book, Julie Schwietert Collazo shares the story of how she started advocating for immigrants, working tirelessly to reunite mothers with their children. The story moved back to Rosayra, as she details her life in America, and it concludes with her asylum case being heard. It was really moving and opened my eyes to both what living conditions in different Central American countries are like (particularly in small towns) as well as what it's like for people to immigrate to America. Reading this book was a great way to put a human face on a very controversial political issue, and it makes me want to learn more. 

By What Authority? An Evangelical discovers Catholic Tradition, by Mark Shea (revised and expanded-Ignatius Press 2013)

Shea, an Evangelical, was saddened to see Christians falling away from God as they bought into modernist claims against Jesus Christ. So, he decided to find a way to refute modernist claims--and discovered that he, as an Evangelical, was accepting extrabiblical Tradition without even realizing it. This was a logical, straightforward, and utterly fascinating exploration of Shea's faith journey. I really enjoy how he walked, step by step, through all of his arguments against extrabiblical tradition, and then was very honest about how he had to face his assumptions, and how he ultimately became Catholic. I loved this book and highly recommend it to everyone--I think Catholics can learn a lot about the Faith and about how to move step-by-step deeper into our faith (and share it with others) and I think Protestants can learn a lot here about the truths that they (perhaps unconsciously) believe, as well as what Catholics believe. 

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DeCamillo

Some of my elderly neighbors love this book, so much that one of them loaned it to me so I could read it to my kids. Well, my kids didn't want me to read it to them (obsessed as they are with The Happy Hollisters), and I decided to read it to myself. What a lovely story! It's about a large toy rabbit named Edward, who cannot talk but he can listen, think, and gaze upon the young girl who loves him and her family. He's treated well and pampered with fine clothes...the only problem is that Edward is extremely conceited/vain and has no kind of affection for the one who loves him. But one day, everything changes when Edward becomes lost and embarks on a years-long journey, one that ultimately will break him apart and force him to recognize his shortcomings. I thought this was a beautiful book--lots of darkness but also lots of hope--and I'm excited to share it with my kids sometime! 

I guess I haven't learned that yet, by Shauna Niequist

This is a compilation of short reflections/essays in which Niequist discusses healing, creative work, change, growth, and working through pain and suffering. She draws from her experience of moving from her small-town Midwestern life to New York City and discusses the different experiences that have impacted her. I do wish she would have given a little more context about naming WHAT happened in her hometown that caused her to move (according to my internet searching, it looks like her father, who started a megachurch, was embroiled in a scandal). While her views are rather different than my own, I still enjoyed reading her reflections!

The Religious Potential of the Child: Ages 6 to 12, by Sofia Cavaletti

This is a great follow-up to Cavaletti's earlier edition of The Religious Potential of the Child, which focused on kids ages 3-6. This one includes a short recap of her earlier work, but then dives into observations about kids ages 6 and up. With the developmental shift of older kids, Cavaletti focuses a lot more on history and timelines, and the importance that those play when working with older children. She also talks about specific works that are done in the Level 2 atrium, and it makes me very excited to begin my catechist formation for Level 2 later this summer! 

REREAD: Anne of Green Gables,  by L.M. Montgomery

I needed a good comfort read to pick up before bed, and this book completely fit the bill! I have long loved this story, and I found that even on my millionth re-read, I was focusing on different elements of the story that I hadn't noticed much before! This is a great book, a wonderful classic, and I highly recommend reading and re-reading it (my three favorite books of the Annes series are: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island, and Rilla of Ingleside, in case anyone is curious). 

Swear to God, by Scott Hahn

Hahn begins this book by relating a story about how he confessed that, during his time in seminary as a Protestant, he thought that the Sacraments were "boring." He then relates his journey of discovering what both the Bible and the early Church reveal about the Sacraments, and his own journey of discovering the importance of the Sacraments. He focuses a lot on the history of oath-taking in Judaism throughout the Old Testament, as God bound himself and his people together in covenants, and then shows how this continues in Christ with the Sacraments. This was a great book, with lots of wonderful insights, and was very approachable. I highly recommend it! 

How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education, by Scott Newstok

I really enjoyed this discussion about thinking, reasoning, and education. Drawing from Shakespeare and a plethora of other sources--both classic authors and recent research--the author dives into topics like handicrafts, technology, having a "common knowledge stock," and the importance of physical place. The chapters were not too long, while providing some depth and being very thought-provoking. This book made me think a lot about education, and it was giving me some good ideas for my children's education as well as for my own further learning. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the value of imitation. It was a great book! 

How Children Fail, by John Holt (revised edition)

This is a fascinating book in which Holt shares notes and observations from his time working with a fifth-grade class of students in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Since this edition was put out a couple decades later, there's the added benefit of additional notes by Holt in which he gives his later perspective on his earlier observations. A lot of his observations and discussions don't really talk about children failing; rather, they touch on how schools and the educational system fails children. Honestly, I found it sobering to see that some of Holt's observations in the late 50s continue to be problems in classrooms today (and some of them are problems that I myself fell into as a student). I also loved his final summary section, which is basically his manifesto about education-it was excellent. This was a fantastic read, and I really want to look into more of Holt's work-even though he wrote a while ago, his words and insights continue to hold up very well! 

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


  1. Thanks for sharing! I'm a huge Anne of Green Gables fan!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this-and it's always nice to hear from a fellow Anne of Green Gables fan :)

  2. Thanks for linking to An Open Book! My younger kids really liked the Edward Tulane book. I have to laugh at your kids' Happy Hollisters obsession. I've been meaning to get some of those out for those same younger kids to read this summer. They were some of my favorites. I have yet to read Anne of Green Gables by my 14-year-old has almost completed the series twice now! I wish I'd read it when I was young.

    1. That's really neat that your younger kids have enjoyed the Edward Tulane book-I thought it was beautiful, and I think my kids will like it (when they eventually let me read it to them haha!). If you need some easy and lovely reading over the summer, I recommend you pick up Anne of Green Gables! It's a beautiful book :)