Advice Paradise: Reading Plans for the New Year

“It’s a jungle out there. Disorder and confusion everywhere. No one seems to care.” Well, WE do! That’s why we started this column… Advice Paradise!


We’re not psychologists, counselors, therapists, or experts – we’re just fellow homeschoolers who are willing to offer a little friendly advice. Sometimes it helps to have a second opinion, and we’re here for you. The Advice Paradise team will answer questions on homeschooling, relationships, religion, and life in general. No question is too trivial. Just ask about anything you want to know! We promise to keep it simple and get straight to the point. In some cases, a bit of wit or sarcasm also does the trick.

Check out the following questions and see if any of them apply to you, or maybe you’ve been in the same situation and have some helpful advice to give someone else. Post a comment if you think you have a better answer!

This month we chose a few questions about books, to help you plan your reading list for the new year.

1. I understand this isn’t the only way to approach reading Tolkien’s work, but I would like to start with The Silmarilion although it seems rather complicated. What do you think of this idea?

It’s up to you. Tolkien really did his homework creating the backstory. However, The Silmarillion reads more like The Old Testament than a fantasy adventure novel. Reading The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings, you are slowly made aware of an immense amount of time, full of vague but important history. Imagine you are a child on holiday playing on the site of an ancient battlefield and you dig up a rusty dagger with a skeletal hand attached. This is a whole different experience than being an archeologist searching the area and finding the same thing while trying to bolster a thesis.

2. How can I get more cultured and qualified as a 16-year-old student?

Read Jane Austen novels. All of them, several times. This is true whether you’re a girl or a guy. Downloading them on Kindle makes it easy to look up and learn the meanings of archaic and obsolete words. An annotated edition with explanatory notes helps, too. Just make sure the books are unabridged (not shortened or altered in any way).

3. Can you name a simple book one can read to understand the scientific reasons why some people are skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the development of complex life on earth?

There are many excellent books on the topic, but The Evolution Handbook is the single largest in-depth collection of data on the subject. It contains hundreds of statements by prominent scientists, but no complicated math or science jargon. It’s written in easy-to-understand layman’s terms for 6th grade through high school and college. Available in paperback as well as Kindle, or you can read the book online for free.

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