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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Top Eleven Books of 2011

Year's end has me pondering and reflecting.  It's one of two occasions in the year where I evaluate, plan and dream.  I love the new hope that a new year seems to offer--how should I most wisely invest my time?  What will cause me to grow spiritually?  How do I love my husband and children better?  Where will we possibly vacation this year?  What skills do we want to learn?  What and who should I/we then read?  How should we then live (to borrow the phrase from Francis Schaefer)?

Some wise person has said, "You will be the same person in 5 years, except for the books you read and the people you meet."  So I've been maintaining a reading list for the past few years.  I wish I'd kept such a list for most of my life.  I enjoy looking back at what I read in the course of a year.

Following my friend Carrie's lead, I am focusing presently on my top book reads for the year.  I was going to do my "Top Ten."  But I noticed I really wanted to keep eleven.  And that just seems appropriate for rounding out 2011.  So here we go.  I'm not necessarily ranking them here, but highlighting them in the order I read them.

1.)  "Reforming Marriage" by Douglas Wilson---Theologically deep and inspiring.  I like Wilson's "No-Apologies" kind of writing.  I think he gives some of the best writing out there on the beauty and power of how marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church and what that means for us and those who witness every day!  This one goes to the top of my most highly recommended marriage reads.

2.)  "Across Five Aprils" by Irene Hunt---Since we have some Civil War-savvy children in our home, this was one we wanted to read aloud.  It was moving and well-written and we all enjoyed it very much.

3.)  "Holy Cows and Hog Heaven" by Joel Salatin---I appreciate all that Joel Salatin is doing in this country to reform how food is produced and consumed.  And I was kind of disappointed to miss his local appearance this summer.  This book made me laugh with his all-too-true humor and opened my eyes more to how important it is to support local farmers and those who are truly seeking to make a difference in a nation where food-consumption is becoming all too regulated.  I have a Country Girl who is quite passionate about this too and she would love to live on a farm that operates like Salatin's.

4.)  "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp---This woman's writing really stirs my soul and makes me think deeply (as if I need help doing that!)  I appreciate her honesty and transparency in her writing and how she has caused me to reflect more on gratitude in the smallest of moments and seeing God's hand in even the mundane.  There is one chapter in this book I do not care for, but the rest I find very meaningful and powerful.

5.)  "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois---Yes, it's a cookbook!  And one that has given me a few more tools in my bread-baking-knowledge repertoire.  I love the techniques I've learned from them and how it has both simplified and enhanced some of my bread baking.  Such an easy method that just takes a bit of a learning curve in technique.  I love this!

6.)  "Emma" by Jane Austen---I did manage to read a classic by Austen.  Hurray!  It took me awhile, but I enjoyed every moment.  Especially after having watched (a couple of times) the newest (extremely well-done and true-to-the-book) BBC version of the movie.

7.)  "The Ministry of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson---This is a re-read for me ( a couple of times over, I am sure).  No year is generally complete for me without at least one Clarkson book.  She has been a mentor -by-book for me for many years and I just need the vision she imparts on a regular basis!

8.)  "Little Men" by Louisa May Alcott---Oh, a second classic on my list!  My Young Warrior requested this one and so I read it aloud to all and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

9.)  "Health for Godly Generations" by Renee DeGroot----I had a blog post in the works for this book alone, but I don't know if I'll get it finished.  I really appreciated this book and its theology regarding food and health choices (Did you know that even food has a theology??  It is true).  This book goes to the top of my recommended reads on the topic of nutrition and health and I like the "whys" discussed, its biblical groundings, and that it gives a bit of practical direction as well.  This book encouraged me to re-evaluate food choices and that is always a good place to revisit each year.

10.) "Reformation Heroes" by Diana Kleyn and Joel Beeke---I took the course of two years during the months of October and November to cover this book with my children.  I learned so much about the Reformers and came away with a much greater appreciation for these men and women of faith!  It's glossy pages and illustrations also make you feel like you are holding something very valuable and almost gives you a sense of reverence just by holding it!  I also learned quite a bit of English history as well.  This is one of those that needs to be revisited every so often and the month of October is a good time to do so.

11.) "Keeping Holiday" by Starr Meade---I held onto this book all year to wait for the Advent Season to read it aloud to the children.  Oh, it was worth it!  It is a clever tale that conveys the Gospel and some Reformed theology woven through the search for "The Real Holiday."  It has hints of Pilgrim's Progress, Narnia, and The Mysterious Benedict Society.  Thus my children would groan every day when we had to stop!  They begged for more of the story and I daresay it was the favorite read of the season.

That's my list of favorites--all eleven of them.  To date, I read 43 books this year, which is turning out to be about the average for me.  Though there's always plenty to read, I am quite content with this amount.  More important than numbers though, are the lessons gleaned and whether they are changing and impacting me so that I continue to live by Semper Reformanda---always reforming.

1 comment:

  1. 1,000 Gifts sure has gotten a lot of attention this past year. I have several trusted reading friends who have enjoyed it. And then I've also seen some reviews that make me wonder about it. I was surprised to see it on your list and now I'm really, REALLY curious about it!

    Healthy Food for a Godly Generation also sounds intriguing.

    Reforming Marriage is one of our favorite marriage books. (The other top favorite being "What Did You Expect?") Those are the two we always recommend to others and give as gifts to new/up-and-coming couples.

    Loved reading YOUR list of favorites!



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