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Guest Post // In the Improvement of Her Mind (why start a reading list?)

All this she must possess . . . and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.
            • Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mr. Darcy’s words ring just as true today as they did when Pride & Prejudice was published in 1813. Unfortunately, books nowadays are often completely worthless—the “middle grade fiction” that Hannah so beautifully posted on over at my blog. So maybe you should craft a reading list . . . for it would make finding that “good fiction” oh so much easier!

Reading lists are excellent for keeping you on track, encouraging you in your progress, and setting a good standard. In the summer of 2011, I began my reading list—a list that morphed from the doable to the impossible (thankfully, I weeded it out viciously a week or two back). But this figurative bookshelf, groaning as it is from the weight of several 1,000+-page novels, has so rewarded me. I’ve kept track of the number of books I’ve read this year (fifteen now!), and I’ve been able to look back with pride and say “I’ve read that!”

One of the problems that I discovered, and still am discovering, when crafting my reading list, is that you can’t necessarily fill out every single author with every single book they’ve ever written. You can’t add every classic author simply because they authored a classic. As startling as it may seem, I do know of at least one classic which is inappropriate and which I had to take off my reading list because of it (The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger--if you have read this and you know it's not as bad as I think, tell me please!). So where do you go to find material, when even lists molded for Christians can’t be trusted?

I suggest checking out small (100-200 books) compilations on the Internet (GoodReads is a pretty good source, and so is Google!), mostly of classics. Ask around! If you’re reading this, you probably have a blog—or at least you read blogs. Ask your favorite blogs if they’d tell you their favorite books. To help me in further molding my reading list, I’ve even set up a readers’ forum on my own blog.

I suggest listing a wide array of works. Fiction, nonfiction, classics, modern (just make sure they’re all clean). Of the first eight authors on my list, I have writers of classic fiction, inspirational fiction, young adult fiction, Christian romantic suspense, historical biographies, and classic fantasy. Lovely array!
Thank you so much, Hannah, for allowing me to guest post!

So . . . gonna start that list yet? ;)

Hannah Elise is a sixteen-year-old homeschool student who loves to read and critique books. She is a hugely amateur fashionista, a professional dreamer, and amazing at just being weird. She blogs over at walking in the air.


  1. Great post, Hannah! Books lists are good things. I don't have one with books that I want to read, but I do keep track of every book me and my younger siblings read in one year. It's nice to have on hands as a schooling record, even if they're fiction books. :) I think I've read... twenty this year. I usually read more. High five to you for reading those long books!


  2. Thank you ever so much for posting, Hannah. :) Reading lists are amazing. I have one (sort of) on goodreads, though some of the books I have on there are unclean, I'm sure. But I don't usually know these things until after I read the book. :P Huh, I was planning on reading The Catcher in the Rye, is it really bad? Anyway, thanks again. :)

    1. So was I--I know there is some sexual ickiness in there though. Darn :(

  3. lovely guest post, Hannah. :) I am slowly starting a reading list. Defiantly need suggestions and such. :)