27 December 2009

2009 Books I Read


To quote a friend, reading is the dessert of my day. I have feasted on some wonderful books this year. And here they are in the order that I read them:

It took me years to have the courage to order this book and read it. It has had the greatest impact on me as a wife of anything I've read. I will be reading it again with a friend starting next week. We will meet weekly to talk and pray about what we have read and experienced. In desperation last January, I began the journey through this book and will forever be grateful.

Standing By Words by Wendell Berry
This book is filled with highlighting and many notes scribbled in the margins. This was a book that one ponders and probes and enjoys, even though one may not agree with all of his conclusions (as was the case with me). Truly a book about... well, everything, but especially about language and meaning in life. It is truly food for thought.

If you have even a passing interest in education, you simply must read this book. It is a relatively quick read and will open your eyes to the evolution of American public education in the 20th century. As you read it, you will say out loud, "Ah, I see now. That is why..." This book identifies the pieces of the puzzle and puts them into place. I even ordered more copies and have been giving them to friends.

My daughter's teacher lent her The Giver and both she and I became hooked. These stories are like futuristic parables, but without sci-fi baggage. Good messages (and warnings we ought to heed as a culture) creatively conveyed through fiction. Older children would enjoy and benefit from these as well. They read quickly and are "light" while being profound.

All of the small groups in my church went through this study this year. Amazing. Great principles and practical help. A compact overview of God's Word as to the fact that the Lord God owns everything and we are His stewards. This book navigates well to avoid both legalism and apathetic liberty. I was glad to go through it ~ especially, may I say, during an economic recession. (No name it claim it garbage here.)

Girl Talk; Mother-Daughter Conversations On Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney and her daughter, Nicole Mahaney Whitacre
My tween daughter and I read this together. Wonderful! There are questions to discuss together for each chapter (not stupid ones, good ones) and other recommended books for each topic. My daughter LOVED it and it sparked wonderful conversations about what it means to live as a godly woman pleasing to the Lord. Highly recommended. I was so inspired that I am going to lead a small group of mothers and daughters through the book to get them jump started on using this great material to help them disciple the next generation. (If you are familiar with C. J. Maheney, this is his wife and daughter.)

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis audio drama by Radio Family Theatre
This is simply STUNNING! I can't recommend this highly enough. Our family listened to the whole series (all 19 CD's) by firelight while munching on my hubbie's chocolate chip cookies. What a delight!

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I never read these growing up and I enjoyed doing so now. I sure hope the movie that is out does them justice. I was surprised by how good they were and how different Holmes' character was than I expected. I originally picked it up because my daughter bought it with her Christmas money December a year ago. Now she is reading it, too, right next to me on the sofa as I type this. It was nice to read some fiction and something a bit different than my usual choices.

A book I am glad that I read despite not agreeing with everything the author wrote. I was challenged by it and tried not to dismiss his ideas too quickly before I understood what he actually meant. Merton appears to have been influenced by Asian philosophy, but this book is still worthwhile to read. Not to seem arrogant, but I would not suggest it for a young Christian.

My youngest son and I read this each night at bedtime. This book was originally written in the 19th century, but has been reprinted for good reason. I originally thought my 1st grader might find the older language a put-off, but he greatly looked forward to our Little Pillow time. Each brief reading ends with words from a hymn. I was not familiar with most of them, so I just made up a melody on the spot for them. A precious volume for the quiet moments before slumber.

Mentioned on the Holy Experience blog, this is a fascinating book about how the (materially) poor and non-poor can learn from each other. What would you learn if you actually walked with the poor? Lived in community with them where "they" becomes "us"? Intrigued? Check out this book. As Ann wrote: "A raw, honest read that kindles a heart to care about the people Jesus cares about... I want to change."

Every mercy ministry and missions committee leader needs to read this book. Anyone who wishes to serve those who are poor, here or around the globe, needs to read this book. I kept thinking "Yes, yes" as I read it. This is not a political book. It is evangelical, founded on Biblical theology, and passionate for the least of these. Finally! Very honest, very on target... this is a book to read and lend to others.

Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian
Good book and appropriate for older children. Great principles of sorting out living in, but not being of the world. Worth reading, but I felt that towards the end there was more that could have been said. It was not as radical as I expected which was a slight disappointment. However, well worth reading and it's a relatively quick read, too.

Is Christianity Good For The World? by Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson
After seeing the documentary Collision, I was eager to read this little book. What started as an email exchange between well known athiest (actually, self-described anti-theist) Hitchens and Christian pastor and education reformer/radical (I'm right there with him!) Wilson turned into a book, a book tour, and a creative documentary of their public and private exchanges about Christianity, morality, etc. Great for apologetics. This book publishes the initial emails.

The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo audio book
A classic recommended by my daughter. MUCH better than the movie (as books almost always are). The adventure kept the boys' attention. For myself, it was not one of my favorites, but I enjoyed it well enough.

Well, that is what I can remember. That's actually 24 books! I had no idea I had read that much. What a glorious year it has been ~ lots of wonderful desserts with cherries on top!

All images from Amazon.

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