Beautiful Day

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Favorite Reads of 2013

As I recap my reading list for the year, I am grateful to have reached my "40 books" benchmark once again.  This seems to be my pattern for this season of life, and I did have to squeeze in finishing a couple of them in order to reach that benchmark.  But it is a worthy goal to work toward!

The past couple of years I have given a "top 11 or 12" list according to the year.  But I'm not doing that this year.  For one, I just find it hard to select that many "top" books this year.  Don't get me wrong.  I do have some definite favorites.  But perhaps not thirteen of them this year.  Or even ten.  So I will briefly review the ones that stood out to me this year.  Maybe you'll find some to add to your own reading list, whether your personal reading, or reading aloud to your dear children or grandchildren.  This year's favorites are admittedly mostly composed of books I read aloud to my children!  What fun memories they have made.

These are not necessarily listed in any order.  I'm just going to list them as they appear chronologically on my own list.  I'm not going to write much about them, so you will have to investigate them for yourselves.

1.  "The Little White Horse" by Elizabeth Goudge.  A delightful read all around.  It reads a bit like a fairy tale, but more believable.  I took away some gem quotes from this story, and we just really enjoyed it together.

2.  "Blue Willow" by Doris Gates.  I have a friend who loves this story and even bought her granddaughters their own blue willow plates to go with the book.  I thought that a beautiful little idea that I might just have to tuck away for someday.  This story was a gem, full of the elements that make a story wholesome and good.

3.  "Treasures of the Snow" by Patricia St. John.  So far, I have read only two of Patricia St. John's titles.  I enjoyed this one more than the last only because I didn't like the evil "villain" in the other story.  But she writes excellent stories of redemption.  Stories that have the power to make you cry (which I did) for both injustices, and for the transformation of character.  If you are familiar with Lamplighter Publishing or Lamplighter Theater, her stories fit right in to that "genre."

4.  "Little Britches" by Ralph Moody.  Having a bunch of "country dreamers" in my house, this book was well-loved.  I did edit out the language episodes that appear periodically as part of the "rough and tough Western culture" (and appreciated the many, many reviews of this series over the years that warn you about that element, so I could be forewarned).  I think I cried in this book too.  The children are all eager to read the next book in the series.

5.  "Candy Bomber:  The Story of the Berlin Airlift's 'Chocolate Pilot'" by Michael O. Tunnell.  What can I say about this book?  It is an incredibly heartwarming account of a man, Lt. Gail Halvorson, also known as "Uncle Wiggly Wings," who touched thousands of lives by dropping candy from an airplane.  His legacy still stands for how he used his military career to care for the war-torn, divided, hurting people of Berlin.  Tender Warrior read this one to us all and everyone kept asking him to keep reading.  We all loved it!

6.  "Alone, Yet Not Alone" by Tracy Leininger Craven is the story of her ancestors, sisters who were captured by Indians during the French and Indian War.  We wanted to read this one before National Bible Bee since they would be showing the movie there as an optional activity (which we ended up not seeing anyway for lack of time).  It is a bit on the "scary" side, so I would caution reading this to children younger than ten without some editing.  It is simply written, as the author wrote this story as a young girl, but is a touching story of how God used some tragic events in the lives of these women and carried them through.**As a side note, the book linked here is not the same edition as the one I own.  I do not know if the book has been at all changed to "fit" the movie.  I read one review that suggested this.

7.  "On the Shoulders of Hobbits" by Louis Markos is a bit of an intellectual study of virtue on Tolkien and Lewis. It is largely about the power of story to convey truths about virtues (and vices), which is not a particularly novel concept, but the author does do a good job of pulling these out of the stories.  If you like Tolkien and Lewis, you will probably glean something valuable from this book.

8.  "Hannah Coulter" by Wendell Berry was an interesting fictional story of a woman's life and love and family life in rural America post World War II (primarily).  I found many truths interspersed in this story and many beautiful descriptions of real life.  As with many fictional stories, there are portions I did not care for.  But I found it a very telling study in family life which can communicate powerfully to us today.  This is the only book of Wendell Berry's that I have read so far.  I know he has a whole series of tales on the Coulter family.  I picked this one up after seeing a trusted recommendation, and I enjoyed it.  As I don't spend much time in adult fiction, it might be awhile before I pick up another.  But I would like to read another of Berry's works on this family.

9.  "The Greatest Gift" by Ann Voskamp.  I was at first hesitant to pick this one up, thinking it would end up being just a hard copy of her original  Jesse Tree devotional booklet that I already have.  I was not disappointed!  These are all new devotionals for the Christmas season and I found them insightful, stirring and thought-provoking and just the right thing for my personal Advent devotionals this year. I will be returning to this one again!

It's been a grand year of reading, once again, and I am so thankful to be able to even enjoy the ability to engage with the world of words in story, prose, and teaching.  It still holds true that when I sit down and start reading aloud, everyone drops what they are doing and comes to the living room!  I am grateful for the power of words well-written, well-chosen, and well-told.

A Happy New Year of reading adventures to you all!

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

― C.S. Lewis


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...