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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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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An Interview with Kim Horton Levesque, Author of Paris with Children (plus a book giveaway!)

Les amis, I'm delighted to share this interview featuring Kim Horton Levesque, whose sweet and informative guidebook Paris with Children was published in 2013. Actually, the full title is The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children: Play, Eat, Shop, Stay. A dear friend sent me this book before our current stay in France, and I couldn't have been more thrilled! Kim's informative, pocket-sized guide is a mama's dream guide to Paris, listing kid-friendly cafés, children's shops, favorite family parks, and more. Even better, you can win a signed copy of her book by leaving a comment on this blog post (details below). Without further ado, here's my interview with Kim:

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French by Heart: Rebecca Ramsey's Memoir

In July 1999, an American mama named Rebecca Ramsey moved to France with her husband, baby, seven-year-old boy, nine-year-old daughter, and their aging cat. Her family stayed in the Auvergne for four years, and I'm grateful that she later crafted her family's experiences into a humorous and endearing memoir entitled French By Heart (published in 2007). After all, there are plenty of memoirs about expat life in France, but few of them reflect the experience of an American family with young children truly attempting to assimilate into French life over the course of several years.

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Fascinating Non-Fiction Reads of 2014

Now that I'm a homeschooling mama of three, I'm amazed that I manage to read as many books as I do, but a few hours spent reading each week--mostly at night--add up to a lot of joy and learning! Last year I shared my planned reading list for 2014, but not all of the books turned out to be titles I'd recommend. In contrast, this January I'm sharing non-fiction books with you that I've read over the past year and found fascinating. These aren't parenting- or French-related books, but they'll make you a more informed parent and enlarge your understanding of life:

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Predictions, Patience, and Peace in 2015

I'm predicting some changes for our family in 2015--good changes, but startlingly big. There's the little one who's due date is today. (Whenever you're ready, little one, we'd love to meet you!). There's a summer-long stay in France that may extend into autumn if I stay a few weeks longer with our children. And once we're all home, we may begin building a house if God opens the door to some land that we'd like to purchase. All of these changes hold so much hope! Just knowing that they are possible reminds me that we are extravagantly blessed beyond anything we deserve.

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College Ready Kids by Age 12? The Brainy Bunch Book Review

Last April, I watched a Today show episodefeaturing a family who has had six children start college by age 12. Kip and Mona Lisa Harding homeschooled their children and published a book about their family's educational journey entitled The Brainy Bunch: The Harding Family's Method to College Ready by Age Twelve. I was intrigued by their story and read The Brainy Bunch over the course of a few hours during my flight to Texas a few weeks ago.

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5 Truths I Learned About French Parenting from Bringing Up Bebe

Though I lived in France for a year and a half in my twenties, it wasn't until I read Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bébé in 2012 that I started to gain a full picture of French parenting. Here are five general truths about French parenting that I learned from reading Bringing Up Bébé:

1. French women don't breastfeed their babies all that long, even by American standards. A few months seems to be typical, partially because the vast majority of French women return to work after several months of maternity leave. I expect I'll be nursing our seven-month-old infant when we stay in France next summer, so I'm curious if my French friends will see this as an unusually long time to breastfeed a child.

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