Thursday, August 04, 2005


The girls are big enough I actually have time to read again. I can't believe it, I keep looking over my shoulder expecting a crisis any minute and SOMETIMES nothing happens!

So here's my recent reading list:

Marva Collins Way

Kingdom of Children : Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement (Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology) A sociologist looks at homeschooling. I'll be posting a full review of this one soon. The problem is the sociologist admits he got more interested in studying the differences between the Far Left and the Far Right than he did homeschoolers. Fortunately that's another topic I'm interested in, but it's not to everyone's taste.

Freedom Challenge: African-American Homeschoolers I intended to review this book, but now I don't know if some people might find it presumptuous of a Caucasian homeschooler to comment on African-American homeschoolers.

Night Watch: a Discworld Novel by Terry Pratchett This series is soo Mississippi it's painfully funny. Discworld is a tiny universe where the very Laws of Nature are run by a committee. And not just any committee either, but the sort of committee that sets up the social and political rules of your average small town. Yes, THAT sort of committee. And everyone has to put up with it and get by as best as they can, which sometimes (often) calls for a bit of ingenuity. On one level it's a series of adventure tales, on another it's the author's running commentary of pointed, funny and oh-so-true observations about the human condition, like:

"The Assassin moved quietly from roof to roof.... His movements could be called catlike, except that he did not stop to spray urine up against things."

(On the Chief of the Secret Police) "He didn't look around, and watch, and learn, and then say, "This is the way people are, how do we deal with it?" No, he sat and thought, "This is the way people ought to be, how do we change them?" And that was a good enough thought for a priest but not for a copper, because Swing's patient, pedantic way of operating had turned policing on its head. -- There had been that Weapons Law, for a start. Weapons were involved in so many crimes that, Swing reasoned, reducing the number of weapons HAD to reduce the crime rate. -- The flaw was...that...criminals don't obey the law. It's more or less a requirement for the job. They had no particular interest the streets safer for anyone except themselves. And they couldn't believe what was happening. It was like (Christmas) every day. -- Some citizens took the not-unreasonable view that something had gone a bit askew when only naughty people were carrying arms. And they got arrested in large numbers. -- Swing didn't seem to have grasped the idea that the system was supposed to take criminals and, in some rough-and-ready fashion, turn them into honest men. Instead he'd taken honest men and turned them into criminals. And the Watch ... into just another gang."

The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold Lois Bujold has won more literary awards than any author in the field of Science Fiction or Fantasy EVER has before. Her people are living, breathing 3D characters with complex moral and ethical problems who just happen to live in a Star Wars setting. Or in Middle Earth. Free chapters are available online from all her books, as well as the complete short stories "Borders of Infinity" (required reading in some military leadership classes) and "The Mountains of Mourning." But don't read "Mountains" when you can't afford to cry.

In THH, her newest novel, a insane younger prince is exiled to a remote hunting lodge where it's supposed he can't do any damage. There he tries to ravish a young woman, who sensibly beats his brains in with his own weapon. An investigator is sent from the Crown to determine what happened, bring the woman in for a trial and cover up any evidence of the prince's madness. But no one is quite whom they seem, including the prince, the woman and the investigator; and before you know it you find yourself unraveling a Dorothy Sayers mystery in a sword-and-sorcery setting involving a centuries-old magical spell.

Home Education by Charlotte Mason Written in 1885, so it's a candidate for the first homeschooling book. I haven't felt up to parsing out the Victorian writing style a lot lately, but I've found stunning insights in it when I have.

Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio If you like Victoriana and/or Miyazaki, you'll adore this tale of an alternate universe where the Industrial Revolution turned into a all-out war and Mad Science rules the world -- but not very well. Now available as a free webcomic updated three times a week.

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