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Circe people, could you recommend some books for study of the 20th century?

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I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the Circe discussions lately, and over the years we've schooled, our most successful years were those we followed a Charlotte Mason/Ambelside inspired approach. Next year, we'll be studying 20th century world history with our 9th and 10th graders, and I'm looking for some good resources to use while reading about this era. I'm thinking about a Bonhoeffer biography, maybe Brother Andrew?  Can anyone give me some suggestions for injecting beauty and hope into my plans? They will also be taking an outside American lit course which will include traditional American lit (Grapes of Wrath, Scarlet Letter, Red Badge of Courage, etc.) so that is covered.


Thank you for any insight!

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Books by Wendell Berry - Jayber Crow, Hannah Coulter

Some of the non-fiction books suggested on the Circe website:  Amusing Ourselves to Death, etc.




The Education of Little Tree -- Forester Carter

Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe

A Night to Remember - Walter Lord

Band of Brothers - Stephen Ambrose

The Dollmaker - Harriet Arnow

Cry, the Beloved Country - Alan Paton

Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

Wonder O' the Wind - M. Phillip Kellor

Death Be Not Proud - John J. Gunther

The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom



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Perhaps look at more positive people/events and then pick books about those? History Timeline: 20th Century (for ideas of discoveries, inventions, explorers, "firsts", etc. )

Encouraging 20th Century History Topic Ideas
- medical advances
- technological/scientific inventions and breakthroughs
- exploration/explorers
- biographies of inventors, scientists,

- biographies of people who effected positive changes (for example: Nelson Mandela)
- sports, sporting events, and athletes
- artists and musicians

While not Circe classics, these are about inspiring & courageous (or encouraging) events or people:
- Kon Tiki (Heyersdahl) -- biography of late 1940s crossing of the Pacific on a reconstructed log raft
- The Brendan Voyage (Severin) -- biography of the 1990s crossing of the Atlantic in a reconstruction of a 500AD boat
- The Von Trapp Family Singers (Von Trapp) -- biography of the singing family in Europe in 1930s
- Warriors Don't Cry (Beals) -- 1950s Civil Rights; living through integration of Little Rock Central High, by one of the students
- Bruchko (Olson) -- (Christian) biography of 1960s to present missionary to South American tribes
- God's Smuggler (Brother Andrew) -- (Christian) biography of smuggling Bibles into communist nations in 1960s-1980s
- Soul Surfer (Hamilton) -- (Christian) 2000s; teen surfer who lost her arm to a shark, and her inspiring life after
- Kisses From Katie (Davis) -- (Christian) 2000s; young American woman who moved to Uganda and adopted 13 children

Light/humorous books to relieve the dark events of 20th century (not all are Circe-type classics):
- 1900s = Penrod (Tarkington)
- 1920s = Three Men in a Boat (Jerome)
- 1920s = Mama's Bank Account (Forbes)
- 1920s = Cheaper By the Dozen (Gilbreth)
- 1920-30s = books by PG Wodehouse
- 1930s = Peter Wimsey mysteries (Sayers)
- 1930s-1940s = mysteries by Agatha Christie
- 1930-40s = All Creatures Great and Small  (Herriot) -- and sequels
- 1940-50s = Wonderful O; 13 Clocks (Thurber) -- and short stories, such as "Secret Life of Walter Mitty", or "Catbird Seat"
- 1950s = Our Man in Havana (Greene)
- 1990-2000s = books by Bill Bryson
- 2000s = No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series (Smith)

Circe-type classic works of 20th century Literature:
(it sounds like you already have Literature taken care of, doing American Lit, BUT In case it helps, here you go)

- short stories by O. Henry -- American; humorous -- "Gift of the Magi"; "Ransom of Red Chief"
- The Man Who Was Thursday (Chesterton) -- British; humorous; Christian/inspiring (Kolbe Academy study guideENotes essay)
- Christy (Marshall) -- American; inspiring
- Pygmalion (Shaw) -- British; play that the musical film My Fair Lady is closely based on

- The Enchanted April (von Armin) -- British; the 1990s film is even more charming and encouraging than the book
- Death Comes for the Archbishop (Cather) -- American; sad but inspiring
- Right Ho Jeeves -- OR -- Wodehouse on Crime (Wodehouse) -- humorous
- My Family and Other Animals (Durrell) -- British; set 1930s Greek island; funny; great nature observations, and character studies

- The Hiding Place (ten Boom)
- Lord of the Rings trilogy (Tolkien) -- British (Peter Kreet audio lectures: 10 Uncommon Insights into Evil in LotR & Language of Beauty in LotR)
- Till We Have Faces (Lewis) -- British; ancient setting; like an ancient epic -- tragic but inspiring (Peter Kreeft audio lecture)
- space trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet; Perelandra (Lewis) -- Progeny Press guide; free on line background info and essay ideas
- Screwtape Letters (Lewis) -- 

free online discussion questions
- The Great Divorce (Lewis) -- free online study guide by Pastor Jonathon Dingermore free online resources
- Cry the Beloved Country (Paton) -- South Africa; powerful; tragic/inspiring

- I Heard the Owl Call My Name (Craven) -- American; poignant but inspiring
- Earthsea trilogy: Wizard of Earthsea; Tombs of Atuan; The Farthest Shore (LeGuin) -- American; middle book is profoundly Christian in theme with female protagonist; books 1 and 3 are connected, with male protagonists
- Watership Down (Adams) -- British

- The Pushcart War (Merrill) -- American; YA fiction; light look at how wars get started
- The Day They Came to Arrest the Book (Hentoff) -- American; YA fiction; good companion for Huck Finn; arguments for/against censorship
- Sophie's World (Gaarder) -- Norweigan; light puzzle-solving as frame story for presenting different movements of philosophy

- The Wednesday Wars (Schmidt) -- American; YA fiction
- Gilead (Robison) -- American; probably not too interesting to teens, but a lovely message of the beauty of ordinary life
- Peace Like a River (Enger) -- Christian author; PREVIEW -- mature topics; may be better suited for adults/older teens
- Auralia's Colors (Overstreet) -- first of a fantasy quadrilogy; Christian author

Edited by Lori D.
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Thank you for the resources, everyone!! Lori D., I've been pinning and pinning books from your list! I have found it easier to find materials for my son, who is more politically inclined. So I'm especially appreciating your lighter ideas that will appeal more to my artsy daughter! I found a used copy of The Screwtape Letters on audio yesterday, and we'll be incorporating that, too. 

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