My Reading List: Must-Read Books for 2019

Bonjour! Did you make crêpes for la Chandeleur over the weekend? Much of the French population did! The Christian holiday of la Chandeleur (Candlemas) always falls on Groundhog Day here in the U.S., so it's easy for me to remember to make crêpes for dinner each February 2nd, even though crêpes have nothing to do with marmottes. I like the thought of so many people eating crêpes for dinner on the same night each year. It's a more heartwarming picture than everyone watching the Super Bowl together, don't you think? But to each (country) their own habits!

That said, the Super Bowl was a good excuse for us to invite family and friends over. Once the game was done and the kitchen was tidied, though, I continued reading Circe by Madeline Miller. Her first book, Song of Achilles, was the first book I finished this year, and it was riveting. Miller's gifted writing and her intimate knowledge of the flawed characters of Greek mythology make her novels utterly fascinating. These are not stories of moral virtue; instead, they show why we can still respect the broken heroes of the classical world.

I'll happily finish Circe soon since I have a number of fascinating titles waiting on my bookshelves, both in French and English. Here are the books on my list for 2019:

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Streamlining my Hopes for this Year: What I'm Loving

Bonjour mes amis,

How did the month of January go for you? Are you still feeling hopeful about 2019? There are a few simple things that have given me a burst of optimism about this year and the future, so I'd like to share what I've found:

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Simple Advent and A Few Favorite Gifts for Children

Happy Advent and Joyeux Noël! We're excited for this lovely month, in spite of some family health concerns and the turmult in Paris. My dad, a self-taught pianist, once pointed out to me that Christmas carols have a lot of minor chords. This seems fitting to me—not only because of the longing that many people have for a Redeemer, but also because peace on Earth is such a profound need.

In the darkness of winter, light is so meaningful. Earlier this week I told my children about la Fête des Lumières that will take place in Lyon, France, now and this coming weekend (always around le 8 décembre).

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On Worldschooling and our Weekday Rhythms in Lyon, France

My children and I have been back in Oregon for three weeks now, but we're still savoring the seven weeks of school when we lived in Lyon this past fall. On our last worldschooling trip there three years ago, my daughter attended first grade at a private Catholic school and my oldest son attended a public preschool part-time. On this visit, all three of my oldest children attended a public school and like last time, they had great experiences. Here's what it was like:

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Automne à Lyon: Learning to Live Like a Local

My four children and I have been living in Lyon for roughly six weeks now, but it feels longer in the best way. We just love it here. I’m so grateful that God has blessed our stay, and yet at the same time I’m grieving that we’ll have to leave in two weeks. However, my husband has been waiting patiently for us in Oregon, so being with him again will truly make it feel like coming home.

What do we love about Lyon right now? Here are four aspects that are making us happy:

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4 French-Related Reads from Summer 2018

It’s September 11th here in Lyon and I find myself reflecting on Franco-American relations, books, and the state of the world. When I’m teaching on September 11th, I often share a condolence letter I received from a French acquaintance just after the attacks of September 11, 2001. My French friend was so kind to offer support; his thoughtful letter still reminds me how individual actions of encouragement can cause ripple effects wider than we realize.

What we read and write can shape others in significant ways.

Four years ago on this blog I recommended a fairly obscure book on childhood anthropology because it was a thought-provoking reminder that there are many ways to parent well. My book recommendation, The Anthropology of Childhood, was spotted by journalist Michael Erard, who read the book and in turn wrote a very impactful piece about it in The New York Times. I wouldn’t have known the impact that my book suggestion had on him were it not for a fellow blogger who shared his article with me, not knowing that I had recommended the book in the first place. The world is a more beautiful place when we can learn from each other’s reading!

Likewise, had it not been for blogger Gabrielle Blair’s mention of reading Global Mom in late 2013, I would not have sought out Melissa Dalton Bradford’s book and gotten to interview her here on the blog a few months later. I’m grateful for authors like her who write honestly from their experience, especially when their words spring from a place of grief and growth and healing.

Summer reading, though, on the whole, leans towards the light and leisurely; in July and August I hope you had a chance to read a novel or two that you loved. Here are three French-related non-fiction reads that I enjoyed this summer:

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La Rentrée à Lyon: Returning to Lyon as an Expat Family

We arrived in Lyon two weeks ago, mid-August. The city seemed both paradoxically full of tourists and empty of Lyonnais citizens, as is normal here in August. Since we are living in Vieux Lyon, tourists are ever present in this Renaissance neighborhood and UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it has been a relief to see the crowds dwindle and the restaurants re-open as locals return from summer vacations.

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Cité du Chocolat: A Family Day Trip from Lyon

Our family arrived in Lyon just over a week ago, so with another ten days before school begins, I decided we'd make a day trip to Valrhona's Cité du Chocolat--an educational experience (much like a hands-on museum) focused on chocolate. Located in Tain l'Hermitage roughly 50 minutes south of Lyon by train, Cite du Chocolat opened just five years ago (in 2013). Having had a delectable first visit in 2015, I was excited on this visit to see what was new (and to taste the high quality samples)!

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