This is my chance to share brief thoughts on seven books from my 2010 reading that I didn’t review (though I meant to). This year, I’ve been thinking about using Goodreads to write an immediate and very brief (2-3 sentences) review of every book I read. (We’ll see how that goes.)

Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School, by David & Kelly Pritchard

I had thought we would homeschool. I had, in fact, been researching it since before I was pregnant with our six-year-old. I have a shelf of homeschooling books, the ability to discuss philosophies at length with any poor sop who mentions it, and enthusiasm.

When my husband and I discerned, though, that homeschooling was not going to work (for a variety of reasons — and this isn’t the time or place to discuss them), I started another kind of research. Surely the schools couldn’t be all bad. And, in Going Public I found just the support and encouragement I needed. I returned it to the library, bought my own copy (and talked about it so much my best friend also bought a copy), and promptly lent my copy to someone. (I’ve been considering buying another copy, because there are passages I’d like to reread.)

This book is wonderfully written and down-to-earth. The Pritchards share their approach to public schooling, and it involves many of the same skills and commitments that are required by all parenting. Their philosophy, in fact, can be applied to pretty much all aspects of life as a parent, from religious education formation to schooling. Parents have to be…parents. They share great ideas for exactly how to be involved, how to supplement at home what’s going on at school (especially in the area of morals), and the concept of a family Bible study every morning, while beyond me, really made me consider.

Highly recommended, especially if you send your kids to schools, public or otherwise.

The Loser Letters, by Mary Eberstadt

I’m a big fan of The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, and Mary Eberstadt’s Loser Letters plays on what I love best about Screwtape. It’s a series of letters, written by a young lady who wants to help the devil do a better job of recruiting. I laughed quite a lot, reading this, but I also shuddered. There’s a lot of truth in this book. Well done.

Sadly, I don’t have my own copy (got it from the library). I will, though, because this is going to be one that I reread.

Life is a Series of Presentations, by Tony Jeary

A good friend of mine lent this book to my husband. He went on and on about how good it was, so I started reading it last spring (in part because I was starting to get a bit nervous about my presentation for the CNMC). What I found, instead of a business book, was a life guide. What Jeary outlines in this book, I have applied to all aspects of my life. I plan to reread it sometime…after I wrench it away from my husband, that is. (We have our own copy by now.) Five stars.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart

I dabble in young adult and middle grade fiction, and though I say it’s because of the kids in my life, the fact is that there’s a lot of good writing in this section of the bookstore. I bought this book on a whim, while in the most delightful bookstore in Mississippi early last year. After I read it, I couldn’t resist sharing it with a niece and a nearly-niece. They loved it too. It’s an adventure story of the best kind, thick enough to keep you warm on a winter afternoon and well-written enough to make you want to run right out to get the sequels. Don’t miss it.

Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water, by Susie Lloyd

There are books that are funny and books that are fun to read. This book is both and has the unique distinction of being one of two books last year that made me laugh out loud. It also, I should note, made me laugh so hard I was crying on the couch one night, long after my husband went to sleep. One of my favorites from last year and of all time, I think. Go get a copy and be sure you don’t read it with liquid in your mouth (lest you lose it all over yourself when you start laughing).

The Boys Upstairs, by Jane Lebak

Initially, I was glad to see that this was a shorter novel, because I was reading it electronically in the days when the only device I had was an iPod Touch, my laptop, or my husband’s iPad on the weekends. When I got to the end, though, I was disappointed that it wasn’t longer…it was well-written, well-crafted, and well done.

Five stars and a high recommendation.

The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feasts, and Every Day, by Meredith Gould

I justified purchasing this book because of some research I was doing for a manuscript of my own. I only wish I hadn’t waited so long to buy it: it is full of fabulous insight, inspiring ideas, and plenty of catechesis. One of my favorite resources and one that I plan to reference often throughout the year. I feel like I should write the author a thank you.

Not everyone themes their Quick Takes, but we’re all glad Jen at Conversion Diary keeps hosting every week. Go on over and check out this week’s collection of posts.