It’s that time again! At the end of each spring, I publish two reading lists: The Mother Culture Reading List and the Mothers’ Education Course Reading List. As the title says, this first one is the Mother Culture list.

Mother Culture is your life blood as a mom (after Bible reading, anyway) — it is a way of making sure that while your children are learning and growing, you are, too. The original article on Mother Culture from 1892 puts it this way:

Then it is that she gets overdone. Then it is that she wears herself out. Then it is that, in her efforts to be ideal wife, mother, and mistress, she forgets that she is herself. Then it is, in fact, that she stops growing.

There is no sadder sight in life than a mother, who has so used herself up in her children’s childhood, that she has nothing to give them in their youth.

The only way to rescue yourself from this situation is to read.


There are some basic guidelines for Mother Culture spelled out in the article:

  • Always have three books available to yourself: a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel.
  • Read for 30 minutes per day.
  • When you go to read, pick up the book you feel fit for.


Naturally, you’re going to grow if you read good books for 30 minutes per day. I find it handy to have these categories stocked ahead of time because sometimes I sit down and I don’t have the brain power for anything other than opening a good (but simple) novel that is already waiting for me.

Make sense?

The purpose of this list, then, is to (1) inspire you with books to add to your category stacks and (2) challenge you to read from one stack (whichever you feel fit for, remember?) for 30 minutes per day all summer long (don’t forget to download the habit tracker below).

As usual, I try to make this list “safe” by only recommending books that I’ve either already read and approved, or own and plan to read in the near future.


For the “Stiff” Stack

I’ve changed my criteria for this stack a bit. It might be that the book requires a high reading level — that you must concentrate to extract meaning from the page. But I added a secondary level: maybe the subject itself is hard. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, for example, isn’t super difficult reading, but the stories are gut-wrenching and it’s difficult to come to terms with atrocities done by your own government. I could never categorize it as “moderately easy.” Make sense?


The Four LovesOn Liberty • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee • Modern Times • American PravdaThe Riddle of Amish CultureSix Easy PiecesOn the Holy Spirit

Moderately Easy Books

These books aren’t as tough as stiff books, but they’re still full of ideas that will grow your soul and challenge your mind. If you choose Chesterton, you will also get a good laugh.


Not Tragically ColoredHow Children LearnTremendous Trifles • Humble Roots • Better Off • The Wright Brothers • Rethinking School • Deep Work

The Novel Stack

I don’t read fiction beyond pre-reading for AmblesideOnline or reading aloud unless we are on school break because I can’t hardly put a novel down. I stay up too late and/or neglect my children. It’s terrible, but it’s true. I’m kicking summer off with The Giver as a new arrival in my fiction stack.

Hannah CoulterSilas MarnerFrankensteinThe Giver • A Wrinkle in TimeAnne of Green Gables • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Introducing The Mother Culture Habit Tracker!

Summer is a great time to build new habits, and Mother Culture is a very valuable habit to develop. This one-page printable PDF has two boxes for each day of the summer months — one to check that you did it, and another to mark what kind of reading (stiff, moderately easy, or novel) you did. I also put areas at the bottom to record the titles of all the books you finish! I’m printing my own copy — I think it’ll be fun to look back on the summer and see how I did. Pin it up on your fridge or on a cork board — somewhere it will remind you to read.

Fill out the form below to get yours via email. Also, if you want to share what how you’re doing on Instagram — post photos of your habit tracker and books?? — just use the hashtag #motherculturehabit.

Get the Mother Culture Habit Tracker!

Ready to jump start your summer reading?

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit



Need More Book Ideas?


The post The Summer 2018 Mother Culture Reading List! (Plus: A Habit Tracker to Get you Going) appeared first on Afterthoughts.

%d bloggers like this: