The winner of the 2017 Modern Classics Challenge was Jenna at To Work Wonders! I particularly enjoyed this quote from Jenna’s Wrap-up post which may be helpful for those doing the 2018 Challenge.
The hardest part for me here is the question… What makes a classic, anyway? So I’m going to have my own rating system.
I consider a modern book to be a “classic” if:
- I will give it an honored place on my shelf;
- I believe it to be among the best books in the genre; and,
I believe that, a century or two from now, anyone with a casual interest in the subject matter will have at all even heard of the book.
Great way of breaking it down Jenna!
I am a little behind schedule as I am not only homeschooling both of my kids but also going through a yoga teacher training course myself, but I will try to have the posts for the 2018 Modern Classics Challenge up in the side bar very soon!
Well, this year did not go as I expected, but that is not a bad thing. At the end of last year, I expected to spend most of my time in bed homebound. I am now a year later no longer homebound and feeling much better. I do still have a tiny bit of arthritis which I am working to get to completely subside. Also, some of the books I had hoped to read this year, I did not end up reading this year, and while I wish I had been able to get around to some of them, I am glad that I ended up being in the place that I was, doing what I did! I can also now see that planning books to read in the new year is fun, but seeing what you actually ended up reading is very enlightening. Just like the book of quotes I keep from books that have inspired me tell the story of how my thinking has changed over time, the books I plan to read and the books I actually read also tell as story of the place I am at and the things I am open to learning!
For the Up and Coming Classics Challenge 2017, I read:
- Norms and Nobility
- Childhood Disrupted
- The Ten Commandments
- Post- Traumatic Church Syndrome
- Seven Lies About Catholic History
- The Other 1492
- Dragon Slippers
- Dealing with Dragons
- The Sisters Grimm
- Ella Enchanted
- Harry Potter
What does my list tell me about my year? That my health has improved. That I am as my sister says “the healthiest I’ve ever been.” That listening to the perspectives of many different people is important to me. That sharing stories is important to me because I see it as one of the best ways to learn, and finally that I have achieved more balance in my life than I had before.
What do I hope for next year? I hope to learn to have even more balance in my life and to see the fruits of doing a little bit every day instead of trying to stuff myself on one thing only to then stuff myself on something else.
In the General Non-fiction Category for the Up and Coming Classics Challenge 2017, I read The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code by Dennis Prager. My husband read this book and thought I would enjoy reading it. It took me a while to get around to it because I kept thinking “I’ve probably read all of this before.” While a lot of it was quite familiar, there were several things that stood out.
The section often translated “Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain” is actually better translated “don’t carry God’s name falsely.” In other words it means don’t justify wrong actions by saying God says it’s ok when He doesn’t. Wow, how many problems in history could be prevented if we were able to follow just that one! Also, Dennis Prager argues that the most important commandment is “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” In other words “Be truthful.” The importance of this one little phrase has become very clear to me this year while doing yoga teacher training and also the difference between being nice and being truthful. I cannot disagree with Dennis on this. Although I don’t think this little book will become a classic, I did enjoy it, but you can find this information in other books that are classics
In the General Non-fiction Category for the Up and Coming Classics Challenge 2017, I read Childhood Disrupted by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. This was another book that had a really powerful impact on me. In this book, Donna explores how recent research into ACEs (Adverse Childhood Events) can cause our bodies to go into fight or flight mode….and it never get shut off. When this happens your body begins dumping vitamins, minerals, neurotransmitters, hormones, etc all into your bloodstream like it is supposed to when you are threatened. However, if your body keeps doing this over and over and over again because it is still perceiving a threat even if the threat isn’t actually there anymore, you will become chronically dehydrated and develop all kinds of imbalances in your immune system which will then lead to latent genes being turned on, autoimmune conditions, etc.
My biggest take away from this book was that our emotional experiences impact our health in a big way. She discussed many different ways you can work to turn around the trajectory of your health…EMDR, yoga, martial arts, counseling, and many others. If you have weird health problems, I HIGHLY recommend you read this book. I read this at the beginning of the year when I had been homebound for a year. 5 months later, I was no longer homebound. Great book that I believe will become a classic as it is simple enough for a lay person to understand but explains enough to provide a nice overview of this fascinating new area of medicine for professionals!
In the General Non-fiction Categoryy for the Up and Coming Classics Challenge 2017, I read Norms and Nobility by David Hicks. I read this book in an online book discussion, and even though it isn’t a very thick book, it is a dense book!!! It took us the entire year to wade through it!! However, it is also probably the most life changing book I read all year…and I read several really really good books this year!!
Norms and Nobility is a book about Classical Christian education. The idea is that the purpose of education is not to make a student a better worker, but to help the student grow as a person so that he or she will know how to spend his or her leisure time well. This is accomplished by reading history and literature and learning about humanities. By developing a relationship with the many facets of people both is the past and the present, we are able to develop a sense of compassion for others and ourselves without becoming jaded. By asking questions for which there are no simple answers “Who are we? What is our purpose?” we challenge ourselves to grow as individuals. And none of these lessons can be learned through the memorization of facts, it must be taught in the way it has always been taught: through mythos. If I learned only one thing from this book, it would be that the single most important thing I do when educating my children is to read them stories. Think about that…
After reading The Other 1492 (the story of how the Spanish Inquisition impacted the Jewish settlement of the New World), I decided to try and find a similar book from a Catholic perspective to use for my Biography/History Category for the Up and Coming Classics Challenge 2017. The best I found was Seven Lies About Catholic History by Diane Moczar. While it was a very interesting book that was well researched, I do not believe it will become a classic in the same way as The Other 1492, although it might as it was the only book I could find like it on the subject. My biggest issue with it is the tone she takes throughout the book. She does not end up coming across as fair minded. However, I also take issue with the fact that 1) she does leave out at least some important details (such as when mentioning the crisis in Spain of having people who were pretending to be Catholic when they weren’t, she fails to mention that those people were threatened to convert or die by the mobs…) and 2) actually says “the Spanish Inquisition wasn’t that bad.” Well, it might not have been as bad as some other things, but it never is a good idea to trivialize the sufferings of another!
All that said, it really was a very fascinating book that gave me a better understanding of the people who lived in the Middle Ages! The Middle Ages weren’t dark, but people were very busy just trying to survive from constant attacks and dealing with the pagan influences from those raiding parties that sometimes conquered them. They saw the world differently from us, and to judge them by our modern western standards is at best unfair. And the Protestant Reformation was the result of tension that had already been brewing for a while, not completely due to corruption within the church (though there was need for some housecleaning) but politically and socially. In some ways, the tension is not unlike what we are feeling socially today. Overall very interesting read, but take it with a grain of salt, and let us hope someone comes along and writes an even better book on the subject!
In the Biography/History Category for the Up and Coming Classics Challenge 2017, I read The Other 1492 Jewish Settlement in the New World by Norman Finkelstein. The Other 1492 tells the story of how the Jews came to the New World which had a great deal to do with the Spanish Inquisition. It is told from a Jewish perspective; however, I felt the author was very fair in his presentation, factually correct but not trying to evoke a specific emotional response. (He actually doesn’t place the responsibility for the events surrounding the Spanish Inquisition on the Catholic Church but on the mobs because of all of the social unrest going on at the time.) I think it is a book that could easily be read and appreciated by non-Jews and those of mixed faith. It also includes an important perspective on some very famous historical events that often goes unmentioned.
Overall, I thought it was an excellent book that will become a classic for middle school and high school students. I may even read it to my ten year old next year depending on how she does when we cover the Spanish Inquisition. I learned so much from reading this book! I highly recommend it!