Boxes of Books

When last in South Hill, I packed up a couple more boxes of books to bring with us to the mountains. It’s always interesting to me what makes the cut. I have books in both places, but there is a migration under way that is not completely logical, as I observed as I unpacked these stacks.

Everyone needs Favorite Poems: Old and New or a similar anthology with accessible poems and so many cultural touchstones. And The Bedford Handbook (Hacker) has to be on hand, because I never really know when I might need to know the MLA format for citing an “online posting to a forum or group” on a Works Cited section of a paper or article. In my line of work, I’m not kidding. And Nick is right at the stage where he is going to need Diana Hacker’s work himself.

I’ve already blogged about Tiner’s books, so you know why they are here with me now, but what about the three of the four books we have in the Brambly Hedge series)? I have Summer Story, Autumn Story, and Winter Story, and I long for Spring Story (all by Jill Barklem), but Nick outgrew these favorites long ago, and I can’t really justify completing the collection. Can I?

Still, I find myself displaying these books seasonally and thinking I need to keep them around in case I have small visitors–or just sneaking a quick thumb-through to absorb a little Brambly Hedge into a wonderful but definitely less charming regular life.

Gulliver’s Travels is there because it will be on Nick’s Need-to-Read-for-High-School list, but the Oak Meadow curriculum is, like the Brambly Hedge books, too young for him; it still feels better to have it nearby. Sometimes I can give other people learning ideas from the curriculum, or I can review a few lessons and remember the feel behind Oak Meadow for a positive influence on our homeschooling days.

I’m not sure about the The Outdoor Survival Handbook (Raymond Mears) and Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival. These were part of our family’s Scouting years as the older boys worked their way to Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts of America, but Nick’s not a Scout, and despite living a few miles from the Appalachian Trail and the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area and Shenandoah National Park, I’ve not really sensed that we’re about to embark on a unit study on survival. Still, they had to come with me for some reason.

Then we’ve got a few middle school and early  years high school-ish books on science and economics, and what’s this? Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life by Daphne de Marneffe–an academic nonfiction book on mothering. “Simplistic images of stay-at-home moms or career supermoms, along with endless debates about what is better fro children, continue to obscure the profound meaning of mothering for many women, in all its chaos, complexity, and joy. Maternal Desire is the first book to treat women’s desire to mother as a legitmate focus of intellectual inquiry and personal exploration” (from the jacket).

I once found about ten copies of Maternal Desire on remainder (which made me sort of happy and sort of sad) and bought each one for a few dollars. I enjoyed giving them to women friends over years. I think this is my last copy.

The Joy of Mathematics: Discovering Mathematics All Around You (Theoni Pappas) is ripe for revisiting with the third son–Mobius strips, tessellations, magic squares, fractals, Fibonacci sequence and more. He’s covered some of this stuff, but I’m more inclined to play with words than with numbers, so this book provides reminders of the numbers games.

And Don’t Know Much about the Universe: Everything You Need to Know About Outer Space but Never Learned (Kenneth Davis) is a great book to have on hand as a reference when you’re watching a Nova documentary or reading a Joy Hakim science book and need a little information or clarification on nebulae or NASA. Yes, yes, you can Google it, but sometimes the rabbit trail of web search can distract as well as enrich, and this is just a great little book to have by your side if you are trying to keep a few young minds out of electronica for a few minutes longer– you know they’ll Google it later anyway. Seriously, this is a book I love not only for the way it strings together a ton of astronomical information in question and answer format, but for its index. I know. I’m geeky that way. (Note: some readers have found factual errors. This book does not provide exhaustive or in-depth study of any one aspect of astronomy; it’s more a condensed version of answers to common questions. We have found it helpful, if not 100 percent authoritative).

While not a complete list, those are some of the highlights from these most recent boxes of books. Sometimes when Rick is in South Hill, I have to call him and ask him to bring a book here to us when he comes, and I can squint and see the book on the shelf there and what books it’s between. I remember why my hand put it there, and he can almost always go straight to it from my description of its place on the oversize book shelves in our oversize upstairs hall.

Moving books from house to house has not always been the easiest part of having moved as a homeschooling family, but having books to move has been one of our biggest blessings.

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