Pinterest Hidden Image

Fellow Scholé Sister Abby Wahl joins me on today’s episode of the podcast with some encouraging help for moms who want to build a reading habit this year. In the show we talk about how to develop our reading taste, what to do if you feel like you have no time to read, and Abby’s secret sauce for building a successful reading habit from the very first day.

Pam: This is your morning basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your home. Hi everyone and welcome to episode 89 of the, your morning basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I’m so happy that you are joining me here today. While on this episode of the podcast, I am joined by Abby Wahl, my fellow Schole sister, and a very good friend of mine. And we’re going to be talking all about making more time for reading as homeschooling moms, or just as homeschoolers in general. Anybody can use the things that we’re going to be talking about today. And Abby and I talk about why it’s important for homeschoolers to read more why this actually is something that we should be concerned about, how to find good books, to read, how to find reading community, some extra tips and tricks. And one vital mindset shift that Abby has that I think will make a huge difference in building the habits of reading. [spp-transcript]

If this is something that you are looking to do in your life. So, so much fun. Now, before we get started with the podcast, I want to tell you that we are always talking about reading and big ideas in the, your morning basket community. So if this is something that you think you would enjoy, we would love to have you come over there and join us.
We have over 3,500 homeschoolers in our free community. And all you have to do to get in is just request access. We talk about the things that we’re reading about. We talk about all aspects of homeschooling and homemaking. And we also talk about the things that we are reading and build each other up and support each other as homeschoolers. So you can find that we’ll put a link to it in the show notes of this episode of the podcast, but you can also find it at and request access, and we will get you right in. So now on with the podcast.
Abby Wahl is a homeschooling mother of five from 10 to 15 in age, and she has been married to her husband, Matt for 16 years when she’s not homeschooling her children in the classical in Charlotte Mason philosophy, Abby is busy raising and herding sheep. You may have heard her on the Schole sisters podcast along with me because she contributes to the discussions over there. And she also manages our private online community, the Sistership, where homeschooling moms can think, discuss and share ideas related to homeschooling. And self-education Abby, welcome to the podcast.
Thank you, Pam. It’s good to talk to you today.
It is so good to have you on here. I think, well, I know I’ve had Mystie on a couple of times and I’ve had Brandy on a couple of times, and this is the first time having Abby on.
Yeah. I’ve been waiting. Yeah. To tell you the truth. And I was expecting a little bit earlier, Pam, so I’m glad you finally put me on the list.
I finally, I finally got around to getting you on. So there you go. Well, I am so happy that you are here cause you are one of my favorite motivators. There, not a lot of people who can motivate me because mostly I just kind of like blow them off.
But Abby is one of these people who can like really motivate me. She’ll say something and it’ll be like, Oh, now I got to do something about that.
I’m I’m the friend you love to hate, sometimes.
I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say that
But no, I mean it in a “Oh, I should do that, Abby. Yeah. Thanks.”
Yeah. Thanks.
The kick in the pants friend maybe?
Yes. Oh yes. The kick in the pants, the kick in the pants. And you know what a lot of moms really do need a kick in the pants about what we’re talking about today. So I wanted to have Abby on because she is the community manager of the schole a Sistership. And she is also, you know, my kick in the pants person. I wanted to have her on to talk a little bit about reading for moms and how moms can establish the habit of reading. And I think I want to start this conversation Abby, with asking you like, so what? Why, you know, why would a morning time podcast where we’re supposed to be talking about, you know, teaching our kids in a homeschool morning time? Why is it even important for us to talk about the idea of moms making time for themselves and building their own habit of reading?
Oh, well moms and people in general should be reading, right? We, we do read all the time. We just sometimes don’t count it. But I do believe that we should be reading really good books. You know, we want our kids to be lifelong learners. And how do we set that example by being a lifelong learner ourselves, and one of the easiest ways for your children to see you actively learning and loving learning is picking up a book and reading it and then perhaps even enjoying it. But so often we think I don’t have time. I’m I’m so busy homeschooling, how could I ever read another book? And these are just really bad excuses.
I told you guys, I told you that she was just going to come in and like really convict you. But yeah, I think you’re right. And I think it was Cindy Rollins who was talking about like your kids need to see you read on an actual book as opposed to just a device. I know that I was really surprised I had, I had a Kindle device and my kids had a Kindle and they would use theirs for, you know, playing Stack the States or, you know, we even did the letter tiles from All Aabout Reading on there. Or sometimes they would watch videos or different things on their little Kindles. And I had one too, and it wasn’t until my youngest said something to me that I realized he thought I was over there watching YouTube on my Kindle, but I was actually reading on mine so that he had no clue, you know? So I thought I was like getting all these great mom points for setting a good example for reading and I really wasn’t at all.
Yeah. So Yeah, I mean, and they see, and then they interpret and unless we’re actually telling them, I’m reading on my Kindle, it’s hard. And even then I think there is a disconnect because we do use devices for other things too, besides reading, I do think reading on your device is definitely a better choice than, you know, other things, but when your kids are awake, it’s a great time for them to see you actually reading a real book. And I think that’s an easy thing to do, you know?
Yeah. And I definitely started then after he made that comment, I started keeping it to make sure there are still some things I prefer to read on the Kindle. But then I, you know, I really wanted to make sure that I had some things that I got in real books and not just Kindle version. So I always had something that I could pick up and read that they could see me reading. So you hit on something a few minutes ago when you were talking about this. So setting a good example for your kids, but you hit on the fact that moms feel like they don’t have time to read that’s right. That this is something that’s like, you know, I’m right there with you, Pam and Abby, I think it’s important. I think I should really set that good example for my kids, but Oh my goodness, I have five or six kids and I just, I have, you know, laundry to do and a house to clean and three meals to put on the table and the homeschooling to do. And I just don’t have time to read. So what do you say to that, mom?
I think that you probably have expectations that are set way too high. I think so many people think that unless they can read a book a week or a book a month, even that they aren’t reading enough. Right? Whereas what you really need to do is get into what Pam and I were talking about the other day is the mini habits of reading. We need to give ourselves a lot more credit for the reading that we are doing, right. Maybe you do check out a book from the library, like a cookbook. And instead of just a recipe, you actually read some of the interesting things. So that counts as reading. Maybe you have an interesting spiritual devotional that you like to read, but you only get like one or two pages a day that counts as reading. What we need to do is start giving ourselves credit for the reading we actually do, because I bet we do a lot of reading.
Now, a lot of the times our reading is, you know, emails and newsletters that sometimes don’t really add much value to our mental or intellectual life. And that’s why I think books and maybe even long form essays or articles are something that we should prioritize. You know, we need to have things for our brains to go to and meditate on and think about when we are doing things like folding laundry and washing dishes and things like that.
It’s so easy for our thoughts to just wander into endless to-do lists and drudgery. But when we actually have ideas that captivate us, you know, we’re so much able to kind of process those things and think about those things when we’re doing those mundane tasks that need to be done. So it’s not, it’s not that we, we don’t have time, but we’re not prioritizing it, right? Yeah. We’re going around and putting out fires sometimes, but would it really hurt us if we sat down for 15 minutes and read a novel? Would the laundry somehow the, would the laundry pile somehow grow exponentially in that 15 minutes? I mean, it’s possible, but probably not. Could we start dinner in 10 minutes and sit down and read for 10 minutes before we start dinner?
Probably, you know, it’s, we need to find these little pockets of time and need to realize that that’s actually enough. You know, most of us can read two to three pages of a book in five to 10 minutes, right? Depending on the ease and how much practice we’ve had, right. That’s not a problem. And you know, most books are in the 200 range.
And so we can finish, you know, a book a month easily by just reading a couple pages here and there. So I think that giving ourselves credit and finding those little pockets of time, because we do have those pockets of time, right? We, we don’t, we’re not usually 24 hours a day busy as much as we would like to say, Oh, I’m just so busy. Yeah. You probably have scrolled your phone. You’ve probably checked your email more than you’ve actually needed to probably sat down and watched not one or two or three shows. You know? I mean, we’ve all done binge watching, so we don’t necessarily need to do binge reading, but we could maybe instead of an extra show, maybe go read for 20 minutes.
Yeah. And I hear a couple things that you’re saying here. So one of the things I hear you saying is be mindful of your time. And I want to talk about that in just a second, cause I have some ideas, but the second thing I hear you saying is don’t feel like you’ve got to pull out War and Peace and read a chapter. I mean, you can, you can pull out War and Peace and read a chapter, but it also counts to get out like, you know, the latest edition of the Commonplace Quarterly and read a single article in there. And we’ll link to the Commonplace Quarterly in the show notes, but it’s just, it’s a Charlotte Mason, quarterly periodical that has some wonderful articles in there from a homeschool moms.
And so it’s not War and Peace, but it’s still uplifting and encouraging and really good material. And I think that’s so important for moms to hear is that, you know, yeah. The front matter in a cookbook is there’s some good reading there. There’s probably some really good language in there. Maybe there’s some interesting tidbits of things that they didn’t know about making bread or, you know, the food in Tuscany or something like that. There’s maybe an idea that they could grasp in there and kind of mull around in their brain. And it still helps build the reading muscle, which I know we’re going to talk about in just a little bit. I do have some tips that I want to talk about for a, you were saying maybe watch one less show or stop scrolling your phone. And I realized that I carried my phone around with me all day, every day. Like I would pick up my phone in the morning and it would stay with me all day long. And I realized that I would not start reading more and stop scrolling until I had a book with me all day long.
And so when I find myself, I don’t do this all the time. But when I find myself turning to the phone more than the book, or I’m not reading at all, I will pick up either my, my Kindle. I have the little Paperwhite Kindle now. So it’s real thin and small. I’ll pick up either that, or I’ll pick up a book and tuck it under my phone and carry both around with me all day long.
So when I sit down, you know, and I’m like waiting for some kid to go to the bathroom in the middle of a spelling lesson, or, you know, how they do the mail lady just came back, I’m going to run, get the mail. I’m like right now? we’re like right in the middle of math! You know, instead of reaching for my phone, I have a book to reach for, I have some alternative and it was only until I started like carrying something around, like you have to carry something around with you. So you have something to pick up and read. If not, you’re just going to what’s there, which is, you know, picking up your phone.
You know, one of the main things I’ve noticed is people no longer read in the bathroom. And, this is a funny little thing, but everybody just takes their phones with them to read something in the bathroom. And I was just thinking like, I just have a policy for myself is no phones in the bathroom. And so you can just have books stashed. I strategically stash my own books around the house and I really do choose purses based on how many books I can take with me.
So that way I am never, without a book, I have a car book for waiting room room type things, because now you can’t wait and waiting rooms. And I have just books stashed beside my bed, down by my chair that I like to read in. You know, I have places and strategically put them there because like you said, I can carry my phone around with me or I can pick up a book. And so if I have them just kind of around, I can just grab one easily. It’s instead of the out of sight, out of mind on my bookshelf, which is nice. I decorate with books as Mystie Winkler says. And, so I decorate them and then that way I read them and they are front and center in my mind, like, Oh, I see my history book that I was going to read a chapter of this week. I better go grab that. You know? So it’s just putting it in front of our faces. Cause that’s really what our phones are, is they’re just in front of our faces all the time. So yeah, I just want to be more exposed to having books in front of my face.
And some people would say, well, I’ve got the app on my phone. I could just open it up and read it. But I didn’t. I mean, you know, if you’re going to say that, that’s fine, but are you really doing that? And so I wouldn’t, I would, you know, scroll Facebook or something instead. And so it was only by actually having the book there and not doing the phone, you know, that it, it made it better for me. And I’ll say that when my kids were little, I struggled a lot with prayer. And so one of the things that I did is I put, I had a little prayer book. It was kind of a little, it had some prayers in there and it had kind of a little devotional and I kept it on the back of the toilet.
And so, you know, that was the place that I could pick up my prayer book and read a prayer. And so I think, yeah, the book thing totally works. If you keep something there, then you’re probably going to pick it up when you’re in there. So, and I, you know, I’m kind of famous from a bubble bath books.
That’s right. So yeah, keeping a book on the side of the bathtub or something like that. So you can do that as well. It’s one of my favorite places to read. The other thing I wanted to say was, and it may have been you who made me do this. I think it was you. We were talking about limiting beliefs and I had a limiting belief for the longest time that I could not read, I won’t say hard books or tough books, but like my limiting belief was I can’t read at night because I’m, my brain is too tired. And so I was not getting very far in reading books because I would tell myself, Oh, you’re just too tired. You can’t read that at night. And I think this came out of not too long ago, Abby told me to just like, let the book wash over me, like to, don’t worry about getting into every single word or understanding every single word don’t get bogged down in the book. Just let the book wash over you. You can always go back and read it again. And I think that’s where that came from. Oh, that’s why I’m putting this with, you know, I’m kind of associating this with you, but I, I realized that I had this limiting belief that I didn’t have the mental capacity to read at night. And so I had stopped reading things before bed. I Had stopped reading things at night and I was just endlessly scrolling instead because my brain was tired and I couldn’t do it.
And I said, you know what, I’m going to stop. I’m not going to have that belief anymore. And so I’ve been reading a five-by-five book every night before bed.
That’s great.
Yeah. And it was, it was just getting rid of that limiting belief that made me able to do that again. And you know, what I realized was you really can read at night before bed. It’s not as hard as you were making it out to be.
And the thing is, is we’re, we’re rationalizing it, right? We think, well, a book is way harder and I only want to, I only want to check Facebook or whatever, social media outlet or, you know, whatever YouTube. And I just want to watch, I just want to check out,
you know, numb, you know, vegetate for 10 minutes, that’s it. But what do we often do we get sucked in? And then we realize 30 minutes has gone by, right? Like there’s nothing wrong with checking your, you know, entertainment and, and checking in on things. Like, I don’t want to think, I don’t want anyone to think that I hate all social media.
I do think that it is interesting and fun and people can really enjoy it and use it for good purposes. But what we need to do is just swap out this idea that reading is too hard or that two pages doesn’t count, right? We need to give ourselves permission to be like, I’m only going to read for 10 minutes and then I’m going to go on Facebook for as however long I want.
But we want to, you know, get into these habits where we’re prioritizing the kind of life that we want to lead, because I don’t think anyone really wants to prioritize, unless maybe you’re a social media influencer, which I have no desire to be. I don’t want my life to be lived as a Facebooker. I want the identity of a reader.
And to do that, do you know what readers do they read? They read and that’s it. And taking on that kind of moniker of a reader and even a reader who reads two pages, guess what? You’re a reader, because you took that time to do two pages.
I love that. I love that idea of taking on that, taking on that moniker of a reader and you only have to read two pages to do that.
So yeah. So kind of like shaping your identity as a reader. Okay. So you’ve mentioned habits, you’ve mentioned mini habits of reading a couple of different times. So I want to dive off into this because I think it’s absolutely brilliant. Tell me how, what is a mini habit of reading?
So a mini habit is when, you know, you’ve talked about having a Minimum viable day, like the things that are like your non-negotiables that you just do. Right. And that is great. What I want to talk about is a mini habit is, you know, so many times when we think of like New Year’s Resolutions or we think of, you know, a big change in our lifestyle, right? It’s this big endeavor. And basically you have this ideal in your mind, like, well, every day I will read for 35 minutes and then I will commonplace all the wonderful quotes I’ve read in beautiful handwriting in this beautiful leather-bound book. And then I will go and discuss it with my book club and in an ideal world, that would be fabulous, but we live in reality. And so what we need to do for mini habits is we need to think of the worst case scenario type of day, like baby blow out, fevers, toilet overflowing, you know, worst case scenario, that game, the worst case scenario, handbook to survival guide. Like just think of your worst possible day dishes everywhere. You just got back from vacation. And there’s like 8,000 loads of laundry. And what is it that you could do that day? Could you read two pages?
Could you read for five minutes? Right? Even in your worst day, what would you be embarrassed not to do? Like when you start an exercise habit, people are like, well, I’m going to run three miles every day, or I’m going to run a mile every day.
I’m going to tell you, I’ve never said that. Just to let you know
Well for those people who have, have thought about it, I’m going to run a mile every day. Right. It was just we’re in January when we’re recording this. So most people it’s like January, what is it? 26. So most people basically eliminate they’ve they’ve left all of their resolutions behind them in the dust because they started out with this ideal type. But what if you said you were only going to run two blocks every day, right? Which one? Which one would be more successful? Like say you did start out a week and you did run a mile every day, but then, you know, you hurt your foot and so you didn’t want to go running. And then at three weeks later you’re like, well, I’ll try again next year. And then you have 11 months of..
Of not doing anything. This I can relate to. Yeah.
Reading is the same way we want to start something so small and sustainable that you could do it for the rest of your life, no matter how good or how bad the day is. Right? Most people can read for five minutes. And the thing is, is like once you’re in it, once you’re reading and you’ve gotten five minutes, it probably just flows by you. And you’re like, Oh, look at that. I read 10 minutes. And that is great. You can celebrate that simple win and bonus points, right? Maybe on Sundays, you have a more restful day. And so you got into a novel and you read for an hour, boom, you got your five minutes, you know, habit check if you want to check boxes, but then you got to have all of that wonderful benefit of being able to have some downtime. But there are seasons like when you have young kids and are nursing, you may not get more than five minutes, but most of us can get five minutes. So you want to start with something small, sustainable that when you keep these things, when you keep these commitments to yourself of five minutes or two pages, whatever it may be, that that actually helps you with your motivation and your momentum, right? You don’t want to give up those streaks and it keeps you motivated. Like, all I need to do is read two pages to meet my habit goal.
And it’s really, really amazing how many books you can read in a year by just finding those little pockets of time and just making that habit.
So have you ever done the math on this? Probably. Oh, well I have, I just did it with all my calculators. So if we were to read five minutes a day and that’s like sticking to the bare minimum that you set for yourself and like Abby says like a lot of times we’re going to keep going right?
Then you’re gonna end up with 30 hours of reading in a year. That’s a lot of books. That is, well, let’s say about how many pages do you think you read an hour? I want to say sick about 60 an hour, but even if we gave a mom, you know, some grace, because maybe she’s distracted a lot. You said what? 35 or 40?
Sure. Yeah. Okay. That’s that’s 1200 pages and Abby said the average book is just divide by 25 or 250. Yeah. So were you going to read almost five books in a year, at five minutes a day? And you know what, that’s five books that you haven’t read.
And I want to tell you Pam, the adult reading level, I think it’s something dismal like after high school, the average person never reads a book again.
I cannot imagine!
Like, like 75% of people never read another book and it may be, I may have my statistics off and, you know, statistics they’re skewed, but they say most people do not read much, maybe two books a year, maybe.
And I know that homeschoolers and people who do morning basket, you know, your morning basket and things like that, they’re obviously reading aloud to their children and they are getting through great literature with their children. But I think that it is also important as a mom and as a homeschooler to actually read something that is just for you. Right? something that you delight in.
And that is your way of, you know, kind of just keeping your intellectual life stimulated because you know, the years with little kids and stuff, it’s, it’s a lot of taking care of what needs to be cared for in nurturing. And that can be, you know, not a lot of intellectual stimulating ideas, you know, it’s wonderful ages and so fun with babies and toddlers, but it can leave you somewhat drained. And when you have really great ideas, even if there’s just a few of them in the books that you’re reading, it just becomes a great time to be able to think about those things and a great season of life because, you know, babies nurse and toddlers nap. And even though the, you know, the, the idea to like, Oh, I could just catch up while they’re down. And napping is so strong, you know, like I could get so much done, you know, spending a few minutes reading as, and then taking care of business, you know, really does make life a lot more enjoyable, I think.
Yeah. So let me ask you about audio books.
Do they count? They totally count. I love Audio books, and if you like audio books, then you should totally make those count. They absolutely count also books that you read aloud to your kids. Count the books that you’re prereading for homeschooling count, good periodicals count, right? Cookbooks, count them, whatever it is that you know, you are are, is giving you ideas and encouragement and it’s literature or some sort of interesting idea and article count it.
Yeah. And I think it’s important to have like multiple books on multiple levels going at one time. And what I mean by multiple levels is like, okay. So just as an example, two of the books on my five by five lists this year, one of them is the Alexander Hamilton biography from Chernow. So I’m trying to finish this up. This is a huge book. It’s a big book. I have it on my Kindle. So, and, and so I feel like I’m kind of lost in the weeds of this. I’ve looked down. I’m like only 50%. Gosh, it feels like I’ve been reading this thing forever.
It’s good though. I’m enjoying it. And then I’m also working right now. I’m eating my frog and reading Death of Christian Culture by John Senior. Not a very long book. That is one. I am not picking up at night. And by having the two going at the same time, I am able to, you know, read the John Senior book when I do, I am a little fresher and I’m doing my heart or reading usually in the morning time and then pick up the, the Hamilton biography at night because it’s not a hard read. You know, Chernow has a great really readable style for non-fiction and you know, it was just super easy to read.
So I think having different kinds of books going, you know, some easier, some harder, I know Brandy talks about that. It just makes it, so then you don’t feel like, well, I don’t have to pick up the hard book to do my five minutes today. I can pick up the easy book to do my five minutes today. And it, it totally counts. It’s something I can do.
Yes. Having a variety of lengths and of challenges, we should keep them things light and fun. And we should have one harder book that challenges us, you know, but you know, taking into the account of your season of life, right? Sometimes it’s, it’s a great time to be a novel season. Sometimes it’s more of a history or some sort of interest that you have.
But yeah, having a variety is really, really helpful. And you know, my books talk to each other, sometimes I’m reading a history book and then I’ve hit on a literature and there’s connections there. And my reading life just comes alive. And the ideas just are that much better because I’m reading a variety of things.
Yeah. Yeah. So having a different variety of books like committing yourself to five minutes a day, let’s start there and we’ve already talked about how far you can get how many books you can read with only five minutes a day. So, you know, everything counts. So we’ve mentioned five by five, a couple of times during this. So tell us a little bit about the schole I sisters five-by-five challenge that we run. This is our second year running that.
So tell me a little bit about that. And then I think there’s like a variation. Yes. We Also have a three by three for the very tired moms. So the idea this was Mystie Winkler’s brain child, because she was very frustrated at a year where she just didn’t read very much. And so she decided to challenge herself. And then of course, challenge all of us to reading five books in five different categories, because you know, as schole sisters, we believe that you should read widely think deeply and apply faithfully, those things that you are reading. And so reading widely and broadly means that you take one of your subjects and then you pick five books in that category so that you actually get some depth.
And maybe it’s something that you’ve never learned about before, or maybe it’s something that you just want to know more about this year. One of mine is the medieval world and I am reading two different versions of Beowulf. And I am reading Susan Wise Bowers, the medieval world. And I am reading the Inferno by Dante. And then I have one other selection that I haven’t quite decided on, but I wanted to have kind of a historical perspective. And that’s why I’m reading Susan Wise Bowers history book. And then I’m reading some shorter literature from that time, right? Beowulf will not take me very long because it is not very long. And so I am going to really enjoy those. And then I have, you know, a homemaking one where I have a cookbook and some other things like the supper of the lamb and some other things, but there are so many different books and we have so many great ideas at the sistership and people are putting out their ideas still. But the idea is that we take a year to read 25 books. And it’s amazing how many people have been able to do this by just reading a little bit every day. If you could only do the three by three, maybe it’s been a while. And you’re out of the habit of reading. You know, the three by three would be a great option and you can pick shorter books. So, because like you said, we could finish five books if they were all 250 pages, a lot of books right now, especially like some practical ones are maybe only 150 pages.
So we definitely could read, you know, three by three, which is nine books, totally doable for most people, even in a frantic extremes circumstances of life. Right. We can, we can do this.
Yeah. And so, okay. If you’re Abby’s category, medieval category is a little intimidating to you. Let me tell you about one of mine.
So one of my categories is Lewis and Tokien, a bromance for the ages.
Pam has the best names for hers.
Well, you know, that’s part of the fun of it for me is to come up with really great names for my categories. So I had never finished, do not hate me, everyone. I have never read Fellowship of the Ring. So I’ve read the Hobbit, but I’ve never read fellowship. I’ve started it a few years ago and I read a couple of chapters and I just got pulled off, probably scrolling my phone. It was before Abby got a hold of me. And so I’m going to finish fellowship this year. I actually, I’m going to start back at the beginning and read the whole thing. So fellowship of the ring, I, one of the Narnia books I’ve never read is The Silver Chair. So those are two on my list. And you know, the silver chair, children’s book, not that hard, the Screwtape letters, that’s one of Tolkien’s that I’ve always wanted to read.
I’ve heard that’s great on audio by the way.
Okay. So maybe I’ll make that one of my audio purchases Frodo’s journey, which is a Joseph Pierce book of just about the literature of fellowship of the ring and then a Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great Word, because I kind of wanted that historical perspective.
I’ve hear great things about that book. So none of those are Dante. None of those are Beowulf or anything like that. You know, even though Beowulk is shorter, it is, you know, you get into the middle English and stuff and it’s, it’s a little harder, but always is that old English? I can’t remember, but it is a little more challenging. So my category, if you were to take just three of those, you know, even if you were to just do Fellowships, Silver chair and Screw tape, I mean, two of those three are probably fairly fast reads. So, but yeah, I think it’s such a great thing to just kind of get your juices flowing. And if, if the five by five is kind of, if you just want to start smaller, I do think the three by three is something that could be done. It is only nine books.
And I love the idea of your books talking to each other and reading multiple books. And I will say that like people find really unique ways. I think that’s part of the fun of it for some people is, you know, I have these nine books I want to read, how can I fit the categories together to, to make them work? Yes.
And I mean, Which is, we love to promote buying books. One of the things that the reason behind the five by five is because we looked at all of our bookshelves and we saw all these books, this are on our to be read piles and we kept buying more books and not reading them. So that was part of it is you shop your shelves and try and find categories that your books can fit into. And the books that already owned. So this doesn’t have to cost anything. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy new books. You can actually choose the books and you can reread books. Maybe you have a favorite book that you haven’t read in many, many years. And, and that would be a great place to start. Right? And you could even have it called books to reread.
And you just pick out five of your favorite or three of your favorite books. There really isn’t any hard and fast rules other than, you know, you’re just trying to challenge yourself to read a little bit more and to read a little more broadly.
Yeah. I love it. I absolutely love it. I love that idea of a books to reread.
I should have done that, but so much of my, I think I’m, I’m buying very few of the books that are on my list. Most of them I have, you know, already, so. Yes. Yeah. Okay. So what about, so we’ve thrown out some things like Dante and Beowulf and, you know, Lewis and Tolkien and different things like that.
What are some tips for the mom who used to read more challenging material, but now she, like, I can’t handle those harder Books. Well then I think finding some practical, how to books are actually a great place to start, right. I think that there are some great books maybe in areas that you struggle, right? Maybe you really do struggle with being on your phone too much.
And you want to stop that two really great books that I’m going to recommend are Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. And the other one is called Indistractible by Nir. And I think it’s pronounced AI, but it’s Eyal is his first name. And he has a blog called Near and Far, and he is quite good too. So those are two great books talking about doing things offline and scheduling and prioritizing.
So I find that most modern books tend to be a little bit easier and get right to the point right away. Whereas older books maybe take a little bit of time to get into, or at least 150 pages to get into it and can be a little slower. And so not as motivating. So, you know, maybe read a bestseller mystery fiction book, maybe read something that, you know, your, your neighbor or your friend recommended. It doesn’t have to be all this Scholastic or, you know, snobby literature, which I did sound like I was being snobby, but I’m really not. I read a ton of business and how to books and I love those as well. So just finding something that interests you, maybe you are struggling with house management, there are some great homemaking books out there, and that could maybe help you get your priorities in line so that you can read more or at least help you manage things or You feel better about, you know, better About yeah. And just maybe figuring out some systems, you know, there’s lots of people out there who struggle with home making as well.
So there are, you know, solutions for those things. Let me ask you a little bit, you mentioned the Supper of the Lamb, which has been recommended to me so many times and I’m like, I need to, I don’t need to buy it because it’s not on my five by five list, but, and then you mentioned another kind of cookbook, so what’s your category for them?
So that one is home and hospitality.
Okay. Hospitality is a big part of our life and our family culture. And it’s something that we’ve worked at for years and years. This is not something that we plan on doing. I personally really like cooking, but I am always finding, I would like to know more about the science and art of cooking. And so I have a couple books. One is a Nigella Lawson cookbook. That’s coming out this spring and she is a beautiful writer as well as makes really great ideas in the kitchen. So I’m looking forward to that one when it comes out. And then the Supper of the Lamb is Robert Capon. And I, you know, when people start recommending a book to you, but then five other people recommend it to you? You’re like, okay, I need to buy that one. So I did end up getting that one. And since we are sheep ranchers, I do, I do have a hookup for lamb. And so I’m super excited because I guess he has a couple of lamb recipes in there. And I’m always looking for good ways to prepare lamb. And he talks a lot about the philosophy of cooking. And I love that I have another one called Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, which is kind of a primer on how to perfectly salt food, why you need to add acid to food, why you need fat to cook food and why heat is so important. And I think there was even like a Netflix documentary on the person who wrote this cookbook. It’s beautifully illustrated. It’s a fun read. And I’m looking forward to that one.
Yeah. So, so many good books in a category like, you know, that’s not a snobby category at all. So It’s very practical and it makes me a better hostess. Right? And it gives me better tips and it just improves my life. And my children’s lives like better food, right? This is, this is serving other, other people like me reading this cookbook will actually be better for my familyand just like when I read literature, I have more interesting things to say and have better conversation, which actually helps my family culture. So reading is really beneficial to not just myself but others.
Yeah. Yeah. So I want to make a couple suggestions for the mom. Who’s struggling with reading harder books and like, where do I start? So I read through the entire Mitford series a couple of years ago, and those are wonderful books. And, you know, I can remember like, you know, Dawn and Mystie and Brandy and I having these conversations, are they living books or not? And we came to the conclusion that indeed they were living books and they’re written by a modern author, and they’re just really, really good. And so very readable, very easy to read, but very worthy. They were my bubble bath book for quite some time. And then Wendell Berry is a good place to start as well.
If you’re like, well, I can’t, I love Wendell Berry. I can’t jump into Chaucer or Dante, but you know, Wendell Berry is, is definitely readable with some wonderful language and some wonderful ideas as well. And children’s literature too. There is some great children’s literature. Sure.
Yeah. Definitely like finishing all the Narnia books. Yes. For sure.
It would certainly be something to do. And there, there is, there is some really great kids lit out there as well. Let me ask you this. Do you think that you can strengthen your reading muscle?
Absolutely. It’s it’s like anything else right back to the exercise analogy, Pam. Cause I know you love it so much. If you were to tell yourself to read 10 pushups a day and let’s say 10 pushups equals reading Crime and Punishment or some other Russian literature, right? You would probably give up really soon. But if I told you, you, I’m pretty sure barring an actual physical impediment. Every single person could do a pushup. Now whether that’s on your knees or maybe even against a countertop or some elevation, right? Every single person could do some form of a pushup and you could do it every day for the rest of your life.
And you would probably get to actually doing a real pushup or multiple pushups. If you just kept doing it, reading is the same way. Maybe the first five minutes you try it. You’re like I am so out of shape and I can’t do it. But the next day it gets easier. The next day it gets easier. And as you grow your intellectual life, you are able to tackle those bigger books. Right? Maybe Beowulf is out of the realm of possibilities right now and that’s okay. But you could start with Greek myths. You could start with something that is interesting. That is not hard, but could really get you to where you want to go.
Yeah. And I think, I think something to keep in mind, you know, let’s say you were to, to go and pick up, let’s say Pride and Prejudice tomorrow and you were to start reading it. And I’m going to tell ya, you know, people think of Pride and Prejudice is a girly book, but it’s not always the easiest thing to read. There’s a lot of dialogue in there. A lot of going back and forth, a lot of mannerisms and things that contexts that the author assumes that we know about and things that we don’t understand. And so like, there’s a bunch of things going on in this book and that makes it a little more difficult to follow the plot of the book. And it’s easy to get bogged down and get lost in it. It’s okay to go watch the movie first.
Yes. I mean, it’s okay to read an adaptation first to like to read a plot summary or to go and you know, to, to watch a good movie version, I’m going to say, you know, probably don’t go watch Pride and Prejudice and zombies. I mean, that’s a totally different book. The Bollywood one, it was a lot of fun.
Oh, I don’t know. I probably bride in prejudice. Yeah. Something like that. Olivia and I watched, and it was a lot of fun. We really enjoyed watching the whole takeoff on Pride and Prejudice. Don’t watch that one. What’s one of the other ones, but watch it first. And so then, you know, the plot and then you feel like you can get in there and really enjoy some of the story.
I was talking with Angelina Stanford. And I can’t remember what, where we were talking about this or what we were talking about, or it may have even been in the literature class that I took with her, where she was talking about this. But she was saying that the idea of spoilers is kind of a new concept that, you know, back in the day, if you’re reading like the Odyssey or Shakespeare or something like that, they tell you how the story’s going to end, like, think about the prologue to Romeo and Juliet, you know, going into this, everybody’s going to die. Right. And so, you know, give up that idea of, I can’t know how this ends and then do something that’s going to help you to understand the book and enjoy the book more. You know what I mean?
Yeah. Yes. And I still do that with things. I’m going to look over a plot summary before I tackle Beowulf. And I am, after I read the Inferno by Dante, I’m going to listen to Anthony Esolen’s lectures on the Inferno because I know I’m not getting any all of it and I’m letting it wash over me. Like I have other things that I’m doing. I will often read plot summaries for Shakespearian plays from SparkNotes. Right? We have all of these wonderful resources and to just give up before we’ve even tried, That’s that’s not a good excuse. So there’s lots of options that we need to exhaust first before we ditch great literature that we want to read. Right?
Yeah. I have no problem. Ditching bad books, but good ones. We should endeavor to do our best to try and get through them. It may take us a long time and that’s okay. Maybe we’re only reading two pages a day and it takes us, you know, a year and a half to get through that’s okay. It still counts, but it is worth the effort and it is worth our time to make it a habit.
Yeah. And I, I think we get in our heads that it’s cheating. And I think that the thing, I think the biggest takeaway for any mom who’s listening to this podcast is there’s no wrong way to do it. There’s no cheating right. At all.
I mean, if yeah, there, I mean, there’s Plenty of bad books and you shouldn’t, you know, don’t read the Twaddle as we say, right? Yeah. But reading benefits our lives and audio books. Yeah. Everything counts, Pam, everything can.
Yeah. Yeah. So what if a mom is listening to this and she’s like, “Okay, I want to give this a try. I want to just try reading five minutes a day, but she doesn’t know what she wants to read.” And you know how, like maybe she hasn’t read. Maybe she’s one of the people who hasn’t read since high school, or maybe she’s only been reading picture books to her, very young kids or something like that. How can a mom go about finding her personal reading taste and finding books that she actually likes to read?
Well, We have a great community at sistership and that’s the You can go find more out about that. We even have a free area and you can just ask people for book recommendations and be prepared to be bombarded by all the wonderful things, but shop your shelves. You probably have some books. I would say go to the library. But for my, my own self, our library is still closed. They do deliver books to my front door, which is pretty awesome. But bookstores are open right now. So you could always go and ask, but you know, there’s lots and lots of places that you can do.
But one recommend I would. I think everyone should read that. I just finished recently is a memoir type book and it is called 84, Charing Crossroad by Helene Hanff. And it is only about 67 pages and it is a book of letters and it is absolutely delightful and everyone should read it. Okay. Well, there you go.
There’s a place to start short book. It’s a book of letters. I’ve heard wonderful things about that book as well. It’s also great on audio, if you can get it.
Oh, interesting. Do they have different readers reading For readers reading what the main character or the main person in the book is from New York. And so she has a great East coast accent and then the person she is corresponding with is British.
And he has just this very posh, very British accent and it is lovely.
Oh, interesting. Okay. Okay. I may have to start a new category for my five, my five books. Abby said I need to listen to on audio. Yes. Yes. Because that one sounds really good. Cause I don’t know that one would not in any of my other categories.
I don’t think I’m going to have to go look. Well, it, I wasn’t on my my list either, but it was recommended and I am so glad I’ve read it this year and it’s short enough that you know what? You should just add it. Yeah. There you go. Just add it. Just, just read it. Yeah.
And I think in, I’m going to say, I think Schole sisters is probably one of my, like, you know, for getting recommendations or asking the moms either in the Schole sisters community or in, you know, my own community that your morning basket community, I could ask the same question there and we could get just tons of answers.
Actually.I was perusing a thread in there today and somebody mentioned a book and I’m like, Oh, that sounds like a really good book. So talking to your friends about what they’re reading certainly is, is a way to go, you know, just reach out to people and ask and let them know the kinds of things you like. You know, if homemaking and hospitality is not your cup of tea, then you know, tell them what you do like, and you can certainly find something. One of my favorite kind of genres of books to read is like historical books that are even modern history. I love to read books about the space race back in the fifties and the sixties. I’ve read so many different books from that period of time about what America was doing at that time and in the space race and about the astronauts.
And I read Hidden Figures last year and just absolutely loved it. You love the movie too, but certainly loved the book. And people had said, Oh, it’s too sciency. Nope, absolutely. Just dug into all of that different stuff. So, you know, look at your interests and there are books out there about any interests that you could possibly have.
Yes. There are more people like you out there who have written about things that you like. Yeah.
Yeah. So just find those records And you’re going to be able to find something. And I think it, like, if you haven’t read in a long time and you don’t know what kind of things that you like to read, I would like to give you permission that like, don’t get so caught up in a book, like give a book a chance, get a few chapters in. And like Abby said, those older books, you probably are going to have to get a good 150 pages into ’em. They are slow to start. Yeah. My rule of thumb is 50 pages for a modern novel and 150 for older.
Okay. So 54 modern and then 150 for older. But if you find yourself not wanting to read, because this is your only book, then give yourself permission to either drop it entirely or put it aside for a long period of time. If you need to, I’ve done that. I’ve started books and then put them aside for a couple of years and then picked them up and finished them or started again and finished them. So don’t let, don’t let a single book become a stumbling block for you in building that reading habit.
So Abby got any other encouragement or words of advice before we go.
Oh, let’s see. You know, breeding is a great hobby and it’s great because you can take it with you anywhere and you, it really doesn’t cost that much. You can go to your library and people are always giving away books and things and you can borrow them from friends.
So, you know, reading really is something that gives back to you and the interest just, it’s just compounding interest, you know, because the more you read, the more ideas and interests you have and you know, it’s, it’s a benefit to for yourself, but also for your family. I know that the, one of the main things about Charlotte Mason, she talked about how a mom needs to cultivate her own intellectual life. Because by the time you get to high school, if you’re not able to read and discuss the things that you know, your high school or your high schooler is reading, you’re going to be like a stagnant pool and they’re not going to have, you’re not going to have as much to talk about, you know, talk to with your kids. Right? And that’s one of the things that I just always loved about that is that, you know, we want to, yes, take care of our children, their needs nurture them, you know, make sure they’re, they’re growing up, but we don’t stop there. Right? We don’t, we don’t stop the intellectual part just because they’re not with us.
And, you know, any book reading that you have or any time you have for, for reading books, you know, and it, you just grow. And by the time your kids are teenagers, you know, you have such wonderful conversations with them about interesting ideas that you’re both reading. You know, my oldest is 16 now, the Bio was a little off, but he’s 16 and he is doing some college classes and we are just having the most amazing conversations about so many things. And it’s just really great. And he respects my opinion and we have some really interesting debates because he loves to argue.
most 16 year old boys do. So. Yes. But you’re able to have those debates because you’ve kind of marinated in these ideas.
That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. So I’d love it, Abby, thank you so much. And I did want to point out if you’re looking for a place to start. One of the things that Schole sisters has is kind of a pre-filled list for the five by five. And do they have one for the three by three as well? I don’t think we did anything for the three by three, but so many people have posted pictures of their own five by five challenge lists. And there are just wonderful books of all different kinds available for people to look and get ideas. And, you know, you can, you can start with just filling out partial ones and then add to it throughout the year. We always say, you can change it. Yes.
You know, it’s, it’s not set in stone, but we’re just trying to encourage people to read broadly. And this is just a fun way where we can encourage one another to do that. I love it. And then you just like morning time, this is a habit you want to, you know, start small, build slow. And before you know, it you’ll have made a huge, huge difference in your own reading life.
So Abby tell everybody where they can find you online.
I am and you can also email me at I’m mostly in the Sistership and I am active pretty much every week. I will put a question or poll, and I also have an accountability group for the five-by-five challenge participants where you can post your goals weekly.
I post what I’m reading and we just kind of encourage one another to set goals and intentions for the week of our reading. So we can stay on track and it’s working out really, really well. Lots of books are already being finished. Perfect. So meeting those goals five minutes at a time, I absolutely love it. Well, thank you so much for coming on.
Thanks Pam. It was a delight to talk with you.
And there you have it. Now, if you would like links to any of the resources or books that Abby and I talked about today, and there were quite a few of them, so it’ll be fun perusing those. You can find them on the show notes for this episode of the podcast.
Those And we also will include a link to the Schole sisters community over there for you. I’ll be back again in a couple of weeks with another great morning time interview. This time with homeschool Mom Dachelle McVey who brings her travel into her homeschooling. This was such a fun, inspiring podcast interview, and I think you are going to love it. So we’ll see in a couple of weeks until then keep seeking truth, goodness and beauty in your homeschool.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show

Stack the StatesPinStack the StatesStack the States® 2PinStack the States® 2Amazon KindlePinAmazon KindleThe Death of Christian CulturePinThe Death of Christian CultureThe History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First CrusadePinThe History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First CrusadeThe InfernoPinThe InfernoThe Silver ChairPinThe Silver ChairThe Hobbit and The Lord of the RingsPinThe Hobbit and The Lord of the RingsScrewtape LettersPinScrewtape LettersFrodo's JourneyPinFrodo’s JourneyA Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great WarPinA Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great WarThe Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The RingPinThe Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The RingDigital MinimalismPinDigital MinimalismIndistractablePinIndistractableSupper of the LambPinSupper of the LambSalt, Fat, Acid, HeatPinSalt, Fat, Acid, HeatCrime and PunishmentPinCrime and PunishmentPride and PrejudicePinPride and Prejudice84, Charing Cross RoadPin84, Charing Cross RoadHidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space RacePinHidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race


Key Ideas about Building the Mini Habits of Reading

Establishing a habit of reading means making reading a priority in our day and finding small pockets of time to read.

A mini habit of reading is establishing a non-negotiable habit of reading that is small and attainable even on the worst day. It may be reading for 5 minutes or 2 pages of a book. No matter how little we read, it all counts. We should not discount the time spent reading just because it was a small pocket of time. Let it count!

Reading widely is extremely important as it allows us to continue to grow in our intellectual life while our kids are growing. This will help ensure that we will be able to engage in thoughtful conversation with other adults and with our children as they get older. As you form a daily habit of reading you will strengthen your reading muscles and be able to engage with more challenging books

Find What you Want to Hear

  • [2:21] meet Abby Wahl
  • [7:56] ideas for finding time to read
  • [21:19] defining mini habits of reading
  • [32:24] reading widely and broadly – a reading challenge
  • [39:39] tips for the mom who hasn’t read challenging books recently
  • [46:00] strengthening your reading muscle
  • [51:53] finding your reading taste

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really is a blessing — and it’s easy!

  1. Click on this link to go to the podcast main page.
  2. Click on Listen on Apple Podcasts under the podcast name.
  3. Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! 

Thanks for Your Reviews