Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Reading of Good Books

for more posters like this, go to Lovely Whatevers

and look at the categories.
Quotes about books: "...and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading." Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice (1775-1817)
"A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight." (Robertson Davies)
"Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as by the latter." Paxton Hood (1920-1885)
"And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Ecclesiastes 12:12-13
Writing equipment in the desk are from left to right: envelopes, writing paper, round box containing stamps, address book below that, blank cards, larger envelopes. On the table area on the left is outgoing mail in the little holder, and on the right in the holder is received mail that needs to be answered. This is not an antique secretary desk, but a reproduction, likely 1970's, that has been updated with white paint.
The books in this desk are mainly inspirational. I would like to mention one that would be very useful for a mother- daughter activity and study project. It is a workbook called "The Joy of Womanhood," by Susan Zakula, from The Keepers At Home Series. In it, the last part shows things a daughter can be assigned to, that will give the mother a great deal of help. Though the teachings in this work-text will not necessarily be applicable to everyone, there are parts of it that are very useful. It is a Bible study that provides activities for being "others" oriented, physical fitness, art, baking, budgeting, yarns and quilting, family relations, housekeeping, journal keeping, music, sewing, reading, writing, and more. The author went to a lot of trouble to put this book together with all the assignments and orderly study pages. It should be read word for word from the very first page. The special skills section is in the back half of the book, so that you can work on study and then practical things each week. This company also has books for boys.
In the middle shelf, two books worth mentioning: Better Than Medicine, by Leroy Brownlow, which teaches the proper Biblical concept of "self" which is so needed today. It helps young people understand the ups and downs of life and understand how to be happy. "My Heart Sings," by Joan Winmill Brown, is a book of stories and quotes ranging from the 1st century to the 20th century, from people like John Newton, Queen Victoria, Alexander Solzenitzen and many others inbetween. This slender volume provided a good way of learning a little bit about the faith of historical figures when it was not possible to find books on each one. From this book, a child might become more interested in a particular person and do research further.
The third shelf contains a few other inspirational books, including "Tea For Two" by Brownlow Publishing (1994), a collection of quotes, stories, recipes, history and 19th century paintings depicting the culture of taking tea.
On the writing area of the desk: Spencerian System of Practical Penmanship by Pratt Spencer, a reproduction from Mott Media. This is also available in a kit with a feather pen, in some catalogs, including Victorian Trading Company. Pratt Spencer traveled the country teaching students in special Spencerian Schools, his special method of writing, influenced much of that century's handwriting style . Lillibeth has samples of it in her "Dear Carrie" series on her blog, where she shows photographs of autograph books.
I was taught the Palmer method of writing, as a child, which is a neat and simple way to write with a ball point pen or pencil, but became interested in the flourishes and technique of the Spencerian style when I was teaching my own children how to write. I thought it would make them more interested in doing a good job of writing, if they viewed it as art. The instruction kit comes in a package of 4 books, from beginning to advanced, and shows sketches of correct posture and the holding of the pen. I refer to it if I want to do something special with a capital letter or a tail. It explains that the writing becomes very individual, as each person adapts it to suit their own tastes, and that there are several ways of writing the letters of the alphabet.
Also included in my collection for girls are: How to Dress an Old Fashioned Doll (sewing) with drawings. The Folkwear catalog is somewhat historical, and helps you observe the different folk wear of nationalities world wide, and the patterns can be ordered from this book. It is advanced sewing, but the catalog is only about $3.00 and is fun to have around as enrichment for sewing. The Big Book of Papercrafts seems to be a reprint of an older book, and can give some ideas for making things out of paper. I found one or two projects I wanted to try in this book.
Other books: Daughters of Eve, by Lottie Beth Hobbs--explained some interesting things about the women of the Bible (published in the 60's), Days to Remember--a date book with really great art and classical poetry; Creating a SenseSational Home by Terry Willits (good drawings and great color), and The Spirit of Loveliness by Emilie Barnes.
In this shelf is a collection of other books: McGuffey's Readers* from the 1800's, The Art-Literature Readers, Best Loved Poems of the American People (has a lot of inspirational, can-do poetry from the past), America Revisited* and Gaining Favor With God and Man. *
The next shelf contains the Boys Handibook, which was originally published in 1882, and a reproduction was made in 1983. It contains all kinds of splendid things for boys for making and doing in all four seasons, from making a boat or kite, a bridge, a tent, and just oodles of other things. It was originally made for the boy scouts of an earlier era and is just great for families that want to help their sons be men.
The American Girls Handibook is similar, and although you may not want to use every activity, it has some wonderful creative things to do, from making a hammock, to conducting old-fashioned games at parties, and making harmless fireworks that were used in the 1800's by children. Lillibeth put some of the directions for the 4th of July sparklers from this book, on her blog, The Pleasant Times, last year. This is a great tool for parents to provide their own scouts activities at home, adding their own values and teachings to go with the activities.
"Our Good Old Days" was a privately published book by an elderly gentleman who just handed it to our family one day. C.L. Embrey wrote this book about his childhood and we really enjoyed reading the stories when our children were home. He told about how his family grew up without being spoiled! This is a good book for boys.
Other books in the shelf: The Christian Family, by Larry Christenson. I bought this at a used bookstore for about 2 cents but it has more than 2 cents worth in it. This firmly states the importance of marriage, home and family, by showing with out a doubt how the soul's destiny is at stake in the way the family is conducted. He states in one chapter that people were often willing to endure hardship in the present, to attain a blessing in the future. He compares it to the mentality today of avoiding any endurance or hardship.
How to Build A Happy Home by B. Charles Hostetter (1960). While a lot of people look at the 1960's as a time when the home was broken down by rebellion, there were preachers and writers who did their best to refute the new morality. I picked this book up at a junk store and I'm glad I did. The author says things that today would probably get him locked up, as they say. He tells the qualifications for marriage, the wife's part, the husband's part, the rearing of children, and what should and should not go on in a home if it is to be happy. I'll put some of it on the Sermons of the Past post. (someday).
Vestibules of Heaven, by M. F. McKnight (1982) - This man painted a picture of how a home can reflect heaven when it is conducted as it ought to be. He warns youth of the lures and temptations that will bring them down. He tells husbands of their responsibilities. He shows the things which break down the home and family and make it weak. People never want to admit that something as simple as the occasional vice (gambling, drinking, entertainment) weaken the marriage and the children, but he does it well in this sermon.
Mother, by Kathleen Norris. This was originally published in 1911, and a web search will reveal more stories by this author in their original form, on ebay and other vintage book stores. It was recently edited and republished, with a forward by Jennie Chancey, who found an old copy of it in a book sale, and was so touched by it she urged its reprinting. It basically tells of a high-minded young girl who thinks that since she's been off to college, she will "do better" than her mother, and not settle for marriage, home and family. Her attitude is noticed by a young man who would be interested in her, but is waiting to see the selflessness of her mother become reflected in the daughter. Eventually, the daughter realizes that her mother played the greatest role in the world by guiding the destiny of many other people in the family.
Carry A Big Stick. This is the story of Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president, which quotes him as saying, "Speak softly and carry a big stick," a motto that many wilderness forgers had to live by. I listened to my son-in-law read this book to his boys and enjoyed it immensely! It showed an adventurous husband and father who "just wanted to be a boy" and all the things he did for his family, including teaching a Bible class at church each week. Evidently he wrote a whole series of books himself, over 50 of them, including such titles as "Fear God and Take Your Own Part," The Conservation of Womanhood and Childhood," and books about the wilderness.
Handmade, Best Made, by Readers Digest. This is a very nice book with lots of do-able projects that are partly pioneer and partly decorative. It is worth having, just to browse through and see all the lovely things you can make with your own hands if you have the inclination.
Victorian Entertaining, by John Crosby Freeman. I found this book very useful because it gave the history of entertainment in the 19th century. It showed how boys and girls used to play and celebrate and how to make your own hammock, Kentucky fried chicken, and how to have a neighborhood parade and picnic. There are lots of recipes and wonderful photographs and very inspiring art. Show Victorian parlour games, seaside resort activities, and features photographs of the interiors of authentic Victorian homes.
A Bouquet of Flowers, by Barbara Milo Ohrbach (1990). Tells a number of interesting things you can do with your flower garden, along with quotes, poetry and pretty colored drawings. Even if you don't have a flower bed, this book is just great for ideas, like how to make scented stationery, use for rose petals, the language of flowers, and many other things that just make you glad to be alive.
Beside Still Waters by Brownlow Publishing (I guess you can tell I have liked Brownlow since I was very young) is another little book that was laying on my desk. It has the kind of paintings in it that I often post here on this blog and at Lovely Whatevers. This book is all about shepherds, sheep, and still waters. It is part of a miniature book series but I never found the rest of it.
These are homemaking books that have classes in them that can be followed: One is by Laurie Latour, called Future Christian Homemakers Handbook, and the other is Treasury of Vintage Homekeeping Skills by Martha Greene. It is good to have these books just for reference and they give you a guide if you ever get serious about really studying homemaking. Even in later years, you might want to take these courses and start a scrapbook with all the projects in them.
Even if you do not have a garden, here are three inspiring books that give the meaning of gardens: Gardens of Delight, The Old Fashioned Garden (pop-up books but very informative), and The Romantic English Garden.
To interest children in cooking, I used books like this, which were also entertaining to read. I like Gooseberry Patch catologs and cookbooks because of the pretty art on the covers, and because they contain interesting hints and creative ideas at the edge of each page. These two are "Gifts for Giving," and "Come On Over." The recipes seem to be a little better tested than some cookbooks, and I rarely have a cooking failure with them. Besides, they are just so cheerful to have on display. Use your JoAnn's 40% coupon and get them for half price in the store. The Heart of England contains beautiful photographs of historical country areas of England, along with traditional tea-fare recipes. It is worth having just for a coffee-table book.
As in all things, parents, please be sure to read books to determine what is appropriate for your child's understanding, nature and maturity. Not everyone will agree with every single book I have mentioned, but some of them might be useful in developing a curriculum for daughters at home.
Sew No More Home Decor shows how to use iron-on methods and glue to make curtains, placemats, table cloths, bedspreads, pillows, and much more and it has several different styles to choose from. There are also some wood painting ideas and other types of decorating besides fabric. The photographs show coordinating accessories in rooms, which can inspire anyone to want to clean up and decorate a room.
Asterisk* books means I'll try to provide quotes from these books and add to this article later, to show what I think is so grand about them.


Anonymous said...

What wonderful books you have! I would love to spend a quiet afternoon browsing them all. The American Girl's Handbook is one of my favorites. I have a copy ready for when my tiny daughter is old enough!

Lydia said...

The recent Tea Time magazine that I pictured, shows a brief pictorial history of tea cups. It pictures the ones issued in the early 1900's and on through the later part of the century. It gives a nice comparison and helps daughters recognize value of old china when they see it.

I forgot to mention the World History and Cultures book from ABEka. It gives a lot of helpful definitions of the "isms" your children will need to know, from communism to fabianism to feminism and many more. It shows the date and leaders of these movements and compares the philosphies of these "isms" to the Bible. It has many other great features, but this is one I think families can benefit from. I refer to it a lot when I'm writing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your list of favorite books. It's always interesting and informative to hear what other godly ladies enjoy reading.

I recently did a post about my favorite books from Keepers of the Faith.


Kelli said...

Dear Lady Lydia, thank you for sharing your beautiful collection of books. Sometimes I feel we live in a drought for good literature. I shop mostly at Borders and Dymocks bookstores in Australia. Today I’ve been introduced to many volumes I should love to read (and probably wouldn't find at my regular stores). I understand with Amazon and other online booksellers that good literature can be accessed – but these gigantic online suppliers are daunting sometimes. I appreciate your recommendations very much. Regarding handwriting - my late father had a beautiful script. I'm now wondering if perhaps Dad was taught by the Spencerian system? He was schooled in the 1940’s in Queensland, an Australian state which I feel certain would have retained classical methods longer than the others. Thank you for another great post. I would like to link this one to my favorites. ~Lady Kalianne

Anonymous said...

So many good ones here, Mrs. Sherman! I, too, love hunting for older books at secondhand shops, book sales, & rummage sales. Older cookbooks & information about homemaking are two of my favorites....not always easy to find either type! Anyway, for me it's more than just the recipes, the schedules, the lessons about hospitality. The way a recipe, for example, is presented, tells so much about the times & attitudes. I have a "Farm Journal" cookbook that uses the words "husbands", "wives", & "children" frequently. There's even a section entitled "Boys' Breakfast Sandwiches", & goes on to talk about how much young boys will appreciate the recipes offered. Can you imagine the average cookbook today being written that way?

I hope you'll post some excerpts from the books you've listed. I'll be waiting!


candy said...

Dear Lydia,
These look like wonderful books! I have already wrote down 9 titles to look into getting.
I especially look forward to obtaining the Spencerian penmanship book especially after seeing your beautiful hand writing in the card you made. I have always been into penmanship and my parents even gave me a caligraphy set when I was a teenager. But I havent practiced it much but Im interested now more than ever.

I so enjoyed seeing pictures of your desk. You already know how much I love it :) It is so pretty!

It is so true what the author of Vestibules of Heaven says about how the occasional vice such as social drinking can weaken the family and not to mention Christians. I never understood why people fall into that trap of social drinking being ok. I believe it is not ok at all.

I am so glad you posted about this. I love books and have never heard of many of these so I am very much looking forward to getting some.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia; I have enjoyed reading your list of books. I own a couple of them, especially the sewing books.

They are worth every penny :)

Thank you for sharing...


Dianna said...

The American Girls Handy Book has been one of my favorites, too. I'm so glad that they've kept it in print!

One favorite of mine is At Home with Beatrix Potter. I love her, and I love looking into the home that she created.

Thanks for taking the time to share your beautiful quotes and some of your favorite books.

The Lady of the House said...

Thank you for this delightful post, Lady Lydia! I hope at least a few of these are available at my local library or through interlibrary loan.

The Davies quote is so very true. Many of the great classics I read as a teen seem very different to me when I read them now as an adult. I wonder how they'll seem when I'm old and gray....

The Hood quote is so very true, as well. I honestly do not think I'd be the same person I am now if I had not read great girlhood classics like the LM Montgomery books, the Little House books, and Girl of the Limberlost, just to name a few. I also did not read very much popular girl fiction from the 80's and 90's. My aunt had an extensive library of popular fiction from the 50's and 60's that I enjoyed a great deal. I wish I could remember some of the authors. The young people in those stories maintained a balance between pop culture and old fashioned values. Something very rarely seen today in our "equal" society. The young men were gentlemen and the young women ladies. Funny that when reading those books from the 50's and 60's in the 80's and 90's they felt old fashioned even though they were just 30 years old!

Alexandra said...

Lovely book recommendations! Thanks you. :) I need that Spencerian Handwriting book; my handwriting is horrible. I think I've got it listed on one of my blogs as a free ebook.

Lydia said...

Mrs. Maybrook: yes, we must not forget the Little House Series, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen books and Anne of Green Gables, all which are full of nature and resourcefulness and some good sense.

~~Deby said...

I enjoyed seeing your desk and posts. There are a few of the books that you mentioned that I own and also some that I will now put on my list. I trust your judgement on these things.
This was also a fun post...and I am smiling as I type this..delightful...

Lydia said...

Basically I think you still have to hold the books and look through them before you decide if they can speak to you. For example, the one on paper crafting is a reprint of a very old book and not very attractive inside. However, it gives you ideas of how you can use prettier materials and adapt the designs to something maybe more creative. The Sew No More book, on the other hand has a dull cover but inside it is very beautiful with Laura-Ashley type ideas in one section, that really caught my eye. We have used the tea cozy pattern in this, and several other patterns it provides. Both the Victorian Entertaining book and the Boys and Girls Handibook have activities for holidays you might not celebrate, but you can adapt the ideas to something else.

Lydia said...

Deby, thanks for the reminder! I will post the coloring books that were our favorites, educational and artistic, that you can still buy. I will try to do that today.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this list! I have read some, but not most of these.


Anonymous said...

I so agree when I read Little women, and Eight Cousins and so on and re read them now I get so much more out of them. Same with the books by C.S Lewis.

What you get form them as a young child, then a teen and then as a young adult then a mom changes. There are books out there that can last you a lifetime.

T said...

Thank you for sharing all your lovely book! They are wonderful! You have many that I would love to add to my meager collection. Your desk is beautiful too.

Domestically Inclined said...

I must be off to other duties now byt I look forward to enjoying this post over a cup of tea later! Blessings to you and yours!

Mrs. V. said...

Thank your for sharing your books and desk arrangement with us. My husband and I both love books and were just saying today how we need more book shelves to hold our every expanding library! I have a few that you mentioned and some of the others are on my wish list.

Books really are like old friends.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your lovely desk and books. I intend on going through and compiling a list of the ones I will use as part of my daughter's schooling this year. What fun!!
Thank you again!

Lydia said...

This list is not quite finished, as I have a few more pictures to add. I had not realized how much time it would take to produce such a post. This was not posted til several months after getting the initial idea. For a few more books you might go to Lillibeth's blog and look on the side for her favorite ones that she used growing up. There are a lot of good boys books also and I'll add more as I get time. However, many of mine are actually antiques so I don't know if you can get them still. Maybe someone will endeavor to get them reprinted if I put them up.

Kathleen said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
Amazing collection! Please write something about journal keeping someday...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I, well, my entire family, are bookworms to the nth degree. It was a delight to see some of your favorites. A few are on my shelf, a few are on my wish list and all look delightful.

I am planning this year to learn Spencerian penmanship with my daughter. I love calligraphy, but have had little opportunity to practice since my college days. Thankfully my dear daughter loves pretty writing also,so we can learn together.

If you have not read it or obtained it yet, The Princess and the Kiss is a beautiful book (as is its sequel The Squire and the Scroll) to add to your library.

Hill upon Hill said...

Thankyou. I have just started a new book today: "Disciplines of a Godly Family" by Kent and Barbara Hughes. So many good things to remember and learn. I like the fact that the books that you enjoy are close at hand and you can draw on them at any time. I learn so many good things from others' wisdom but I do hope I use the lessons....or at least retain them.

Hill upon Hill said...

Thankyou. I have just started a new book today: "Disciplines of a Godly Family" by Kent and Barbara Hughes. So many good things to remember and learn. I like the fact that the books that you enjoy are close at hand and you can draw on them at any time. I learn so many good things from others' wisdom but I do hope I use the lessons....or at least retain them.

Kelli said...

We really appreciate the time you've put into this post. It's been so helpful. I'll look forward to the recommendations you add. I have nominated 'Home Living' for a 'Blog of Excellence Award'.
Have a lovely weekend ~
Lady Kalianne

Unknown said...

You have some wonderful books. I also have the Joy of Womanhood. I bought it several years ago. I would be able to use it with my daughter who will be 13 soon.

Your writing desk is very pretty! I too love Goosebery Patch cookbooks...the artwork is very inviting....like a quaint country home : )

Unknown said...

I wanted to say I appreciated your article " Don't Miss Out On Real Life".

Eighteen years ago when I was in the 10th grade, one of my school assignments my teacher gave me was to write about what type of job/career I would like to have as an adult. I really didn't have any job/career choice in mind. So I wrote about how I wanted to be a wife & mother who stayed home.... taking care of my family, making nice meals,baking, keeping a comfortable & clean home, etc. With a little chuckle, he of course discouraged that and told me that "the novelty of that would wear off"..... as if I was living in a fairy tale land. Sure there are good & bad days in any type of job, homemaking included. This was the desire I had, what was I to do about it? I didn't feel this way because I was being taught that at home. It was actually the complete opposite....I lived in a single parent home, raised by my father, where a stay at home mom mentality did not exist.
I can't help but think God put that desire in my heart from a young age.I'm glad I didn't listen to that teacher. So here I am 18 years later enjoying a very full life as a wife, mother of 5, & homemaker.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your love of reading with us. I, too, am a bibliophile (a lover of books). It looks as though we have a lot in common. :)

Many blessings,

Marcia W.

Mimi said...

I enjoyed this post not only for the list of lovely books but also for the peak into how you organize your desk. :)

Anonymous said...

I think you might have made a mistype, "Spencerian System of Practical Penmanship by Pratt Spencer," Should probably read Platt Spencer instead. :)

Jennifer said...

I would love to find some of your books to add to my collection. I think that second hand stores have the best books! There are some you have shown that I am going to be on the lookout for! Thanks for sharing.

Lydia said...

You are right: it is PLatt Spencer, not Pratt. I'll try to change it when I get a little time. Thanks for noticing.