You Are What You Read

Reading is an all-consuming pastime for our family. We devour books individually, but travel-schooling has allowed us the chance to read together as well. WE LOVE THIS. When we read together, we find so many instances to relate literature to our daily lives. Our dinner-time discussions are rich with literary reference and empathy towards characters in real-life. Current events are compared to our knowledge of world history – conjoining books we have read in genres of non-fiction, poetry, historical fiction and biographies.  Modern-day (yes, sometimes political) personalities remind us of characters in books that we have admired or pitied.

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“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Reading adds value and understanding to a complicated world.  Psychologists suggest that those “who often read fiction appear to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and view the world from their perspective.” Reading, combined with extensive travel is a magical combination for adults and children alike. So many books, so little time!

“Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” – Anne Lamott

Research shows that deep reading – slow, immersive, rich in sensory detail and emotional and moral complexity – is a distinctive experience, a kind of reading that differs in kind and quality from the mere decoding of words that constitutes a good deal of what passes for reading today, shares writer Karen Swallow Prior. 


Over the past three years I have kept a log of the kids’ reading, as their free-time reading is by choice. I thought it might be interesting to anyone with like-aged children to know what other kids are reading and enjoying, so these lists are published by school year on Sophia and Oliver’s respective blog post pages. Their reading choices fascinate me as they show an enduring thirst for knowledge and emerging understanding of the world around them. On their own, they choose a balance of fiction, history, poetry, biography, mystery and classic literature.*

Author Jamie Leigh writes, “Literature, along with (arguably) all forms of art, is a distinctly human legacy. It is by definition an exploration of our own humanity, one of our most important tools of communication, and a force that both creates and reflects our culture.” I love the reminder that literature serves as an authentic basis for learning about our geographic, religious, political and environmental past. In summary, an ardent reader lives an enriched life.


(Sophia and Oliver looking up vocabulary words in hard-cover dictionaries; Soon, if not already, an extinct act of erudites!)

I have never before posted titles of my own reading, but I thought it might be an interesting list to share. One’s reading list is a direct window into the values, slant and intellect of a person, which is why “what are you reading now?” is a wonderful and curious ice-breaking question.  Tell me about yourself!  With heart-sleeves rolled way up, here is what I think about the world and the wonderful humans within:

Lynne’s Reading List: Ten Years of Great Books


The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast – Hemingway  |  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Voyaging with Kids by Behan Gifford, Sara Dawn Johnson, Michael Robertson

Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen  |   Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion  by Philip Greene

The Historian’s Daughter by Rashida Murphy

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse *(read w/ kids)

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White *(read w/ kids)

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


All the Light we Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee (again)  |  The Mockingbird Next Door – Marja Mills

Go Set A Watchman – Harper Lee  |  The Danish Girl – David Ebershoff

Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson  |  The Secret Chord – Geraldine Brooks

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel  |  The Luncheon of the Boating Party – Susan Vreeland

Don Quixote (again) by Miguel Cervantes/abridged *(read w/ kids)

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame *(read w/ kids)


Brave Companions, by David McCullough  |  Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund De Waal

“The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld”  by Justin Hocking  | Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

The Golem and the Ginni – Helene Wicker  |  Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Middlemarch by George Elliot  |  My Life in Middlemarch – Rebecca Mead

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (abridged)*(read w/kids)  |  Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse *(read w/kids)

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (abridged) *(read w/kids) |  Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle *(read w/kids)


The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson  |  Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey  |  Alice Munro’s “Runaway”

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World, by Sabina Berman  |   Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloane

The Sound and the Fury, by Wm Faulkner

Glitter and Gold by Consuela Vanderbuilt Balsan  |   Strapless by Deborah Davis

Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire  |  Breathe, by Kelly Kittel

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer


Priceless by Robert Whittman  |  Day for Night by Frederick Keiken

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker  |  Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga  |  The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert  |  Consuelo and Alva by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart

A Clean Well Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway

The Education of a Lifetime by Robert Khayat

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Old Filth by Jane Gardam  |  The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam

Provenance by Laney Salisbury  |  Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Wait til Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin


Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese  |  Don Quixote by Cervantes

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht  |  State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch

Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  by Rebecca Skloot

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides  |  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close  by Jonathan Safran Foer

In the Garden of Beasts by Eric Larsen,  |  The Greater Journey by David McCullough

Rape of Europa by Lynn Nicholas  |  The Tipping Point Malcom Gladwell


Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann  |  The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout  |  The Known World by Edward P. Jones

The Lost City of  Z  by David Grann  |  The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy  |  History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Checkhov Short Stories  |  People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

March by Geraldine Brooks,  |  Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

1776 by David McCullough  |  The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri

Loving Frank, Nancy Horan  |  Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett  |  The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel


Don’t Let’s go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller  |  Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindburgh

Life of Pi, Yann Martel  |  Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

The Passion of Artemesia by Susan Vreeland

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, and Annie Barrows

Song yet Sung by James McBride  |  The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

City of Thieves  by David Benioff  |  Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

2006 – 2008  (incomplete list, but titles of note)

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri  |  On Green Dolphin Street, Sebastian Faulks  |  Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland  |  Peace Like a River, Leif Enger  |  The Blue Virgin, Tracy Chevalier  |  Balzac & the Little Chinese Seasmstress, Dai Sijie  |  The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama  |  Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama,  |  The Color of Water, James McBride  |  The Red Tent, Anita Diamant  |  Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert  |  Ghost Heart by Cecelia Samartin  |  Middleplace by Kelly Corrigan  |  Five Quarters of an Orange by Joanne Harris  |  The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd  |  The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd  |  Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott  |  Kite Runner by Khaled Husseini  |  The Help by Kathryn Stockett  |  Angela’s Ashes Frank McCourt  |  ‘Tis Frank McCourt  |  The Unfortunates Laurie Graham  |  The Future Housewives of America by Laurie Graham  |  The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho  |  Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver  |  Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver  |  Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver  |  Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver  |  High Tide in Tuscon by Barbara Kingsolver  |  A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel  |  She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel  |  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

References:  *“How Reading Makes us More Human” by Karen Swallow Prior.
Ref. Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University. Keith Oatley, a professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto. Anne Lamott, author.
Jamie Leigh,  C.S. Lewis quote from:
*Note: Some books on the kids’ reading lists are books I have chosen for specific reasons – to read in class together – or to boost their understanding of a particular culture relative to our studies.


Also, I would be remiss to not thank my GLAM book group, who for the last seven years, have encouraged and cajoled me in reading many works I would never have otherwise. I love and cherish you all!  xxx

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Albert & Pat Dilger says:

    Always like to read what is going on in your life and the kiddos!



  2. thanks for including To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion in your list of Great Books! Happy you enjoyed it.


    1. Lynne Rey says:

      I did enjoy it very much. I have read a lot of Hem over the years and it was a great fun read; well-researched and well-written. A friend who knows my love of Hemingway, lent it to me. Though she insisted it was only a “loan” because it was a treasure in her library! I have already returned it, so will have to get my own copy now. Thank you for writing it!


  3. kcartgeek says:

    Thank you for sharing this incredible list and your amazingly generous spirit. It’s a privilege to know you and your family


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