Book Report

I used to keep careful track of the books I read–not because I’m so organized, but because I have ZERO reading retention abilities.  I’ve gotten sloppy on this over the last year, so before I forget, I thought I’d share a few notes about some of the notable books I’ve read since January.

Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle

I’m adding this to my list of favorite books ever.  I already loved Madeleine L’Engle (I sort of have this mental fantasy in which we would have been very dear friends had we ever met in real life, and she would have been the smart one, and I would have just nodded and smiled a lot).  This particular book of hers is a memoir of her marriage, and it’s one of the loveliest things I’ve ever read on the subject.  I don’t easily cry while reading, but this one had me in a puddle of tears.  And thanks to this book, I’ve added several pages to my quote collection, including these gems:

Every fate is to be overcome by bearing it.


But we do have to know in the very depths of our being that the ultimate end of the story, no matter how many eons it takes, is going to be alright.


A love which depends solely on romance, on the combustion of two attracting chemistries, tends to fizzle out.  The famous lovers usually end up dead.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This book is proof that there are still page-turning stories to tell.  It’s gothic and mysterious, in the same vein as The Woman In White and Jane Eyre (two of my other favorites).  It has a good, old-fashioned surprise ending; I wish more contemporary novels were like this.

A Distant Grief by F. Kefa Sempangi

I read this on the airplane to Uganda this past winter.  It is the true story of the persecution of the Christians under Idi Amin.  Beautifully written, this book is inspiring and chilling all at once.

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

My favorite kind of book is one that makes you hungry to turn the pages without, in its urgency, sacrificing lovely, poetic writing.  This book fit the bill perfectly.  Similar in tone and genre to The Thirteenth Tale (above), it was impossible to put down.

Afternoons With Emily by Rose MacMurray

I am a sucker for historical fiction, especially the kind that features an actual historic figure.  This book–which I randomly pulled off the shelf at the library, something I almost never do–is about a fictional woman and her friendship with the poet Emily Dickinson.  If you love Dickinson, you will be captivated by this book.  And the story behind the book is Dickinsonian, itself–the author, Rose MacMurray, wrote only this one novel, and she told her children about it just a few days before she died.  Her family had it published posthumously. 

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This is the story of a missionary family in the Congo in the 1950’s.  I read it just after I got back from Africa, so I was reading it with especially raw emotions.  Gorgeously written, with a spotless narrative rhythm, it was entertaining and squirm-in-your-seat uncomfortable all at once.  This particular missionary family shamefully rejected the local culture, and they paid a high price.  A friend wondered to me if this book was just a missionary-bashing novel, and I really don’t think it is.  I think in demonstrating so obviously what grace isn’t, it actually demonstrates what grace is, if that makes any sense.

This one had some great quotes in it, too:

The way I see Africa, you don’t have to like it, but you sure have to admit it’s out there.


When I want to take God at His word exactly, I take a peep out the window at His Creation.  Because that, darling, He makes fresh for us every day, without a lot of dubious middle managers.


I have long relied on the comforts of martyrdom.

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler

The story of a 40-year-old mother who, literally, walks away from her life, I could never quite decide how I felt about this book.  At times I was furious and frustrated with the main character; at other times I was sympathetically rooting for her.  It wore me out emotionally, which is probably a sign of powerful writing.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

This is the only Cather book I ever read.  It’s the story of an immigrant girl on the American frontier, told in the voice of her friend (and a delightful narrator), Jim Burden.  I loved this book.

A Stranger’s House by Bret Lott

I love Bret Lott so much that he could spray-paint the alphabet on a cardboard box, and I’d show up to read it.  This book is the story of a young woman dealing with infertility.  The fact that Lott, a man, can write about such a uniquely feminine experience as infertility and maintain such an honest, authentic voice, is just more evidence of what a spectacular writer he is.   

The Emancipator’s Wife by Barbara Hambly

This is what I’m reading right now, and it’s fascinating.  Again, I love fiction about real historical characters, and this book tells the story of Mary Todd Lincoln and her marriage.  While we generally don’t place the words "Abraham Lincoln" and "romance" in the same sentence, this is actually a very beautiful love story.

Now, I may be sorry I asked, because my "to be read" list is already knocking me out, but tell me–what was your favorite book you’ve read this year?

118 thoughts on “Book Report

  1. Rachel says:

    So far it’s been The Pillars of the Earth. I usually try to stay away from Oprah book-club books, but this one kept nagging at me to read. It was totally worth it! There were a few parts I had to skip (a little too graphic for me), but it was one of those think about it even when you’re not reading it books. Those don’t come around very often.
    I’ll have to try your historical fiction books. I love historical fiction, but sometimes authors abuse history and make it their own. That irritates me!

  2. stacey says:

    I read a wonderful young adult novel called The Book Thief. Some of the passages were sheer poetry. Also read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.
    I am really loving YA literature. Great stories, less objectionable material.

  3. Housebear says:

    Have you ever heard of or been to the Goodreads dot com website. You can set up an account there and keep track of what you are currently reading, what you have read, what you have on your bookshelf to read and you can share it all with friends who have accounts so you all share your reading lists and comment on them and get more ideas, etc and I have seen people have those icons on their blogs so others can see what you are reading. It is quite a handy site for avid readers.

  4. Jenny in Ca says:

    oh, I love book reviews!!
    I have to say that Madeleine L’Engle’s “Circle of Quiet” is one of my very favorite books, I didn’t know about this one on marriage, I will have to go get it now.
    I like The 13th tale, too-couldn’t put it down, but I wish she hadn’t gone into so much detail about some things, parts of it made me want to put it down…

  5. Damsel says:

    I’ve been re-reading favorites lately… The Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke is a good one, and The Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers is absolutely at the top of the list. Both of these might be something you would like since you like historical fiction!

  6. Angie says:

    Mmmm.. I’ve been picking up Jodi Picoult books. Very thought-provoking reads. And just finished Plain And Simple by Sue Bender, all about her life with the Amish for 6 weeks and how it transformed her thinking.

  7. bubbles says:

    Searching for Eternity by Elizabeth Musser. She is a wondeful writer who uses fiction to bring history alive as she tells a story and wraps a historical event around it. I could’t put it down.

  8. Ashley says:

    Right now I am reading THE LOVE DARE. Very challenging. I am also doing a day by day post of the challenges in the book and my experiences with them if you would like to check them out. The book is based on the movie FIREPROOF that my church put out. It has been an eye opening experience into my marriage.
    Also read THE SHACK. Still not sure how I feel about it yet. Not offended by it or anything. Just want to make sure people don’t hold to it as Biblical TRUTH. While some of it may be, as a whole it is NOT. But I liked it for entertainment’s sake.
    And if you like mystery, I love, love, love ANYTHING that Mary Higgins Clark writes. I have read everything that she has written. Haven’t met a bad story yet!

  9. J says:

    I loved Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, Its a young adult book but a very good read.
    Also Alphabet weekends by Elizabeth Noble – very cute. Its about a man who takes this girl he likes on Alphabet dates and each date starts with the letter that the activity deals with.
    Great reviews thanks for posting!

  10. Melene says:

    I read “Same Kind of Different as Me” and it has changed me. It is a true story about a couple in Ft Worth and the homeless man they befriend. You will need kleenex for this one, but you won’t be sorry you’ve read it.

  11. Dawn W says:

    I am currently reading the Poisonwood Bible, too. My son had to read it for an advanced English class at his high school – and I try to read everything he reads. He liked it and I’m enjoying it, too. I was very surprised by it as we had read one of her other novels (The Bean Trees) and had truly disliked it.

  12. Tina says:

    Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson. All her books are deep DEEP books, which make you think. But this one, man, it’s challenging in a way that makes you unable to be the same person you were after you read it. That’s pretty high praise for a fiction book.

  13. Sortin says:

    I have to say the only book I can remember reading this year (other than cookbooks, homeschooling books and health books) is Rhett Butler’s People.
    I am a huge Gone With the Wind fan, so when this came out I just had to read it.
    I loved the story line, and if you loved Gone With the Wind you just have to read this. But- it was a little too “rough” for my tastes at times. It was about Rhett growing up and it wasn’t pretty at times.
    Grammy’s Recipes
    Going Gluten Free without Breaking the Bank

  14. Shara says:

    Thanks for the great reading list! I am always looking for something new.
    The last book I read was The Secret Life of Bees. I really liked it, and I am excited about seeing the movie.

  15. Tracye says:

    I have never read the Bible, cover-to-cover. I’ve read bits and pieces here and there, books that I found interesting, or were just really short! But never the whole thing.
    So I am.
    I began 76 days ago, and in 12 days I will finish it!
    A personal Everest.
    I committed to not read anything else during this time… so all others will have to wait.

  16. kathleen says:

    I just finished Afternoons With Emily and loved it. Another historic fiction I finished recently was Harriet and Isabella, which is about Harriet Beecher Stowe and her siblings. Very good, also.

  17. Denise says:

    I read Max Lucado’s 3:16 and out of all his books, this is by far my favorite. He is awesome and explains things in a way that anyone can relate and become closer to God.
    Tracye-Way to go! I have never read it all either, but maybe I will do that next. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  18. rachel K says:

    I knew I liked you! Anyone who loves The Poisonwood Bible is good people. : ) It totally changed the way I looked at the world.
    I love to read but have limited time, so sometimes it’s hard to knock my socks off. Truth be told, I like a fast, superficial, but well-written read. I started reading the yada yada prayer group books and couldn’t put them down. They are great. Thanks for the new suggestions. . .It may be awhile before I get to them. . .

  19. Reading Rosie says:

    I agree with one of the other comments that “Same Kind of Different as Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is one of the best books I’ve read recently. You cannot read this book without being changed. Also I really enjoyed “Memoirs of a Geshia” by Arthur Golden. I read two/three books per week, but these are two that stood out in my mind as good reads thus far this year. Check out my blog site above where I just listed several of my favorite Christian Fiction authors and do several books reviews.

  20. Dominique says:

    Recently read this book
    Rules for Renegades by Christine Comaford-lynch. Even though it is a marketing book it did give me a better inside on how to organise my thoughts/goals and systematically work towards it. It also gave me a lot of examples of how the author manage to overcome all her business venture failures and turn out to be a better/stronger and successful person.

  21. SouthernRose says:

    I also have have found a great place to to see my friends’ and other’s reviews and get ideas for new books to read. I appreciate your list here and those from the comments and am sure there will be several that I’ll check out.
    I recently enjoyed Paulo Coelho’s The Devil and Miss Prym and The Alchemist.

  22. Lisa says:

    The most beautiful, memorable book I’ve ever read is When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin. And his other books follow closely behind in my list of all-time favorites.

  23. Robin ~ PENSIEVE says:

    Aren’t you reading the Twilight series, too? I’m stuck mid-way through the third book ’cause my daughter loaned it to a friend. Hoping I don’t find out the end before I get it back!
    LOVED The Shack (see it mentioned in comments already). Regardless of your opinion on doctrinal accuracy (it was never intended to be treated as such), it’ll make you see God in a new light (and IMHO, beautifully and outside-the-box).
    Erwin McManus, “Wide Awake” has been a rallying cry, too.
    Gosh…I sure haven’t read much fiction :/.

  24. Carrie says:

    Thank you for telling me about that Madeline L’Engle book! I will read that, it does sound lovely and I always liked her. I reviewed Brett Lott’s “Lost Highway” for a newspaper this year, that was pretty good.
    But the best book I read all year was nonfiction: “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Blew my mind on about 90 different pages.

  25. Suzie says:

    Speak, mentioned in a previous comment, touched me deeply. Powerful imagery.
    Right now I am reading “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” thinking I might read it with my son later this year.
    Absolute favorite novel of all time is The Count of Monte Cristo.

  26. Vanderbilt Wife says:

    I just finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen–and I think it would fall into that category of still good stories to be told! It was just nice to read something different and intriguing.

  27. Jen says:

    So far this year the best things I have read have been Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult and the Host by Stephenie Meyer. That last was surprising to me in many ways as her Twilight series is so hot right now, but this book is in many respects a better novel.
    I’m currently reading the Shack and it’s been really good so far.

  28. stephanie says:

    I’ll recommend two series that I have just finished reading (although I should clarify that I’ve only read the first two books in each series because that’s all that has been written thus far). They are both young adult series, but I think you would love them and would love sharing them with your kids. The first is by Linda Buckley-Archer called “The Time Travelers” and “The Time Thief”. Adventure of two 21st century youth that accidentally get transported back to 1763. Great original story! Also for your daughter (and I ADORED these books) – “The Penderwicks” and “The Penderwicks on Gardam Street” – four sisters and their adventures. Cannot speak highly enough about these books and plan to buy them for every little girl I know as they reach about 8-9 years old. 🙂 Wonderful!

  29. Staci at Writing and Living says:

    I’m going to have to read your suggestions, because the books on your list that I have read are my favorites.
    The Poisonwood Bible is a fantastic book, and I agree with you assessment. By showing what grace is not, it shows what grace really is. I loved how distinct the author made the voices of all the different narrators; you knew instantly who was telling each chapter.

  30. kristi says:

    I bought The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult on the library sale table and loved it. The Kite Runner was also good. Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner (I think I’ve read all of her novels so far). I’ve read a whole lot more–I started keeping track on my blog and I’m over 30 for the year. Lots of romance and sci fi/fantasy (I’m a huge Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz fan, and discovered Robin Hobb this year).

  31. Jen says:

    I’m reading a book called “Shadow of the Wind” and it is really good so far. It has been hard to read anything since Twilight, but this one is holding my interest.

  32. Georgetta says:

    I just read “How the Irish Saved Civilization” and I was fascinated…and proud to be Irish!
    Brennan Manning’s “The Rabbi’s Heartbeat” was a source of comfort and encouragement on dark days, as was “Jesus: Safe, Tender, Extreme” by Adrian Plass.

  33. Kara S says:

    I just finished “From a Distance” by Tamera Alexander – great piece of inspirational historical fiction. If you like stories about historical figures, check out Nancy Moser’s “Mozart’s Sister,” “Just Jane” and “Washington’s Lady.” They’re like reading the personal journals of the character. I have some other great fiction books that I highly recommend on my blog. Look under the labels of “books” and “book reviews.”

  34. KO says:

    Madline L’Engle…yes, yes. I want to bring her books out to read again.
    Same Kind of Different As Me- wonderful, true story. The kind of book where you are never the same after reading it and God is very close.

  35. Jendeis says:

    Thanks for the recommendations.
    This year’s recommendations:
    I loved Pillars of the Earth and am currently reading Follet’s sequel to that book, World Without End.
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
    The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede (about the planes forced to land in New Foundland on 9/11).
    The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson (I love all his books).

  36. Emily says:

    I loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, and also by Barbara Kinsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about her family’s year spent eating only things grown locally (a lot by them).

  37. Leslie says:

    I love encountering other adults who have enjoyed Madeleine L’Engle’s books past adolescence. Certain Women is my favorite.
    Having just had my first child, I’m lately into books dealing with motherhood. My best read this year so far is Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions. It’s poignant and wildly funny. I also loved Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson, who writes about motherhood of a very different sort.
    Thanks for the recommendations!

  38. Anna says:

    I agree with a previous commenter, that I didn’t like the Bean Trees, but I loved the Poisonwood Bible. My favorite Kingsolver book, though, is Prodigal Summer. It’s written in the same style, and the characters are just as flawed and interesting.
    Me? I’ve been re-reading the Green Gables series, and it’s so much better as an adult.

  39. kelly S. says:

    I read A LOT, but I wanted to mention the book I just read:
    Prisoners of Hope- by Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer.
    The true story of their captivity and freedom in Afghanistan. They were Christian aid workers who were arrested in Afghanistan for telling others about Jesus.
    I read the entire 300 page book in one day, because I could not put it down.

  40. klutzymama says:

    Thanks for the list, I’m always looking for something new to read.
    My favorite book this year was The Secret Life of Bees. I had never heard of it and picked it up at a flea market and didn’t read it for almost a year. It was a great read!

  41. Kimberly says:

    I have to echo the recommendation of Gilead. I think it might be right up your alley. Such a beautiful story and so artfully written.

  42. Diana says:

    Animal,Vegetable,Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
    A book that has inspired me to take a new look at food and how I provide for the family. It is a funny and insightful account of how she and her family changed during their year of eating locally and farming their own land.

  43. The Accidental Housewife says:

    I keep a list at Goodreads also because I have a hard time remembering what I have and haven’t read and will be halfway through a book and remember I have read it before.
    Here are some for you to check out. Anything by Sandra Dallas. Fannie Flags series of books.
    They are all so good.

  44. BelovedAimee says:

    I always thought I was strange for keeping track of the books I have read. I started several years ago. I went through my scattered brain and tried to dig up all the ones I could remember reaading. Then from that point on kept a running list. Glad I’m not aglone. I’m currently reading The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. Only on chapter four as I just started, but seems to be a good read so far.

  45. Crystal says:

    I agree whole-heartedly with “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger, but I also really like “A Prayer For Owen Meany” by John Irving for completely different reasons.

  46. Simply Sandy says:

    Fav 2008 reads (so far):
    Pillars of the Earth and sequel,
    World Without End (great historical fiction!);
    Girl With A Pearl Earring (read it with a book of Vermeer paintings next to you!);
    The Shack- borrowed it from a friend and had to buy my own;
    The Secret Life of Bees- if you like To Catch a Mockingbird, you’ll enjoy this too;
    A Thousand Splendid Suns- a glimpse into the life of women in Afghanistan, both desperate and inspiring

  47. lovedandamazed says:

    Looks like some good reading! My favorite book this year has been the Mars Hill Classified series by Austin Boyd. My father raised me on Star Trek reruns so I enjoy a good science fiction story. This is Christian sci-fi meets political thriller. It isn’t skimpy on action or on faith. Here is the summary for the first book, “The Evidence”:
    John Wells was called by God to make a difference in the world by becoming an astronaut. While he is serving on the space station in 2011 the U.S. comes under a terrorist attack, a famous speaker predicts a visit from aliens, and a 28-year-old NASA lander is suddenly broadcasting again from Mars. Who is behind the attack? Why is the Viking 1’s signal back online? Very captivating make-you-think story. Have the sequel handy when you finish!

  48. Jennifer Gustavus says:

    Lisa… I TOTALLY agree with you about Charles Martin and “When Crickets Cry.” I VERY rarely read books more then once, too many to read but I have read this one FOUR TIMES! I buy it for all my friends as a gift. His other books are very good as well. His writing is top notch. I have also read the Thoene’s historical fiction books, very good! Francine Rivers, VG, Nancy Moser, good, I try to read a few classics every year as well.
    Tracye, WAY TO GO on reading the whole bible. I’ve never done it all either, tried but haven’t gotten there yet. Did you use a reading plan or just go front to back? jennifer at w gustavus dot com and let me know.

  49. Heather says:

    Some good ones I am reading or have loved:
    The Shack
    Water for Elephants
    A Severe Mercy (awesome story about love and death)
    The #1 Ladies Detective Agency series

  50. Beth@sportsmomma says:

    Oh, I love getting new ideas for books! Our church reading group read The Shack and When Crickets Cry- both were awesome-Jennifer G. I’ver read Crickets three times!
    I just finished Mistaken Identity:Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope- great book!
    Francine Rivers is a great writer. I LOVED her series on the Women of the Bible! Gave me a whole new insight into the lives of those women!

  51. Jessica says:

    Nothing better than a great book!
    I have to agree with the person who mentioned Charles Martin. Every book of his is excellent, but my favorite is “The Dead Don’t Dance.”
    I also loved “My Hands Came Away Red,” by Lisa McKay. I had to slow myself down while reading it, because I dreaded not having it to read anymore!
    Another fantastic author is Maeve Binchy. Her stories take place in Ireland (mostly) and are full of such realistic characters and delicious stories!
    Finally, I just started the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. The stories take place in Africa and are so beautifully written that they pull you in immediately.

  52. NancysLostandFound says:

    I read Ladder of Years several years ago on the recommendation of my college roommate. Wore me out too, but I it’s one of the books I’ve kept on my shelf instead of passing on, just because I think I might need it again.
    One of my best reads this year was My Beautiful Idol by Pete Gall. It’s an excellent spiritual biography.
    Have you ever read Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn? That’s on my list next.

  53. The Secret Life of Kat says:

    Kelly S. –
    I just wanted to pop in and say that Heather and Dayna are friends of mine and I’m sure they’d be so glad you were encouraged by their story. They really are amazing women who are still giving everything they are to love those who don’t know the hope of the Gospel.

  54. Stephanie says:

    What a wonderful list…and such nice, concise summaries of each book!
    I, too, used to have a “book log” to track the books I was reading. I wrote down the title and author each book, along with a brief “review.” Sadly, that practice ended with the birth of my daughter. Now, it’s a wonder if I find time to read entire books at all! Perhaps when my little ones are a bit older…

  55. chaotic joy says:

    In the past year I have also read “The Thirteenth Tale” and “My Antonia” and loved both of them. I am interested in reading the other novels you have recommended. Especially “The House at Riverton” which I now plan on picking up next.

  56. Adventures In Babywearing says:

    Shannon, I just love the new look!! This post also makes me a little sad because I don’t think I read ANY book worth mentioning this year. I want one that will knock my socks off. Oh, you know I did enjoy Rockabye by Rebecca Woolf (Girl’s Gone Child.)

  57. Alison says:

    Thanks for the recommendations, everybody. I just looked at my goodreads account and I have to agree with the recommendations for Gilead. And the companion novel, Home, is out now. More recently, I’d put in a good word for The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

  58. Lora Lynn @ Vitafamiliae says:

    I liked Pillars of the Earth, a bit rough, but a great story and there were one or two characters in there you could root for. Plus, I could see the hand of God woven throughout, even if the author didn’t intend it. However, I didn’t make it through the sequel. Too women’s lib, nobody really likable. Nothing to root for.

  59. Hillary - The Queen I Am Not says:

    My Antonia has always been one of my favorites; same with The Woman in White.
    I’ve actually read so many books this year that I can’t remember a favorite. I did really enjoy The Time Traveler’s Wife, though (minus the language). And I’ve read a lot of L’Engle this year, too.

  60. Ally says:

    I’m with you on Poisonwood Bible. I read it several years ago, and it moved me and made me think in ways I never had. It’s also a book that I can’t tell just anyone to pick up and read – not everyone I know would get it, and would be offended instead. I’m going to Africa next June (encouraged, I believe, by your trip) so maybe I’ll read it again. Also, my friend loaned me her Compassion magazine so I could read your article. So cool to see you in print and not just my computer screen!

  61. Lisa @ put-it-on-the-list says:

    You want ONE favorite book? You’ve gotta be kidding. I probably read 75-100 books a year. Apologies for the long comment.
    Thank you Amazon for your Kindle. How I love it!
    I would highly recommend these books (some mentioned by others):
    * Anything by Jodi Picoult. She is a master of both plot and characterization.
    * The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Better than the Twilight series by far.
    * Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Simple, poetic, beautiful. I had to read it slowly to savor it.
    * The Shack by William P. Young. It’s fiction; don’t try to make it theology. Beautifully descriptive of the loving, triune God.
    * Ghost: Confessions of a Counter-Terrorism Agent by Fred Burton. He thinks information is power. Fascinating read.
    * Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Written by a white millionaire art dealer and a homeless black man. Life-changing. I bought an extra copy to share.
    * Soul Revolution by John Burke (my pastor). Simple concept: we don’t include God in our daily lives. Through a beeping one-hour timer for 60 days (called the 60-60 experiment), we are reminded of God’s presence throughout the day. Reading currently.
    * Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson (pastor of National Community Church in DC). How did Christianity get so boring? Ancient Celts called the Holy Spirit the Wild Goose, naming the unpredictability of a life following God. Batterson names six cages and calls Christians to come out of our cages and chase the Wild Goose! Inspiring read; bought a second copy for a friend.

  62. Tree Climbing Adventures says:

    I’ve just discovered Willa Cather (Death Comes for the Archbishop) and I love her gentle tone. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.
    Also, have you discovered It’s a free online resource to keep track of the books you’ve read. A nice little bonus is that they help you track the number of pages you read every year.
    P.S. I love the new look of the blog!

  63. Patsy Clairmont says:

    There is nothing I enjoy more (except grandsons) than words that line up and marry and then invite me to the celebration!
    I am a huge Thirteenth Tale fan, Secret Life of Bees, all things by Francine Rivers, Anne of Green Gables series…
    Oops, you said this year. Hmm. I’m currently reading “Eat This Book” by Eugene Peterson (not fiction), “Painted Dresses” by Patricia Hickman, Angela Hunt’s “The Face”, and Natalie Babbit’s “Tuck Everlasting”

  64. Alyson says:

    Read and loved The Thirteenth Tale and made all my family read it. It is rare these days to find good writing, a great story and good content all in one book.
    I LOVE Madeline L’Engle, and have since I was a child. Can’t wait to read more of her. I’m also a fan of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peace Like a River, The Secret Life of Bees (and Kidd’s other, The Mermaid Chair). I enjoy Jennifer Weiner’s books and Jodi Piccoult–she really makes me think. I just read her Plain Truth. For historical fiction, I’ve enjoyed Philippa Gregory’s series about the wives of Henry VII, The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl (also a movie), etc.
    I found an old book called To Serve Them All My Days, by R.F. Delderfield, about a WWI vet who teaches at a boys’ prep school in England through the start of WWII. It is a beautiful read, and hard to leave once you finish
    Currently, I’m in the middle of Anna Karenina; I also have a long list of classics I keep meaning to read…

  65. Christine says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Willa Cather! If you liked “My Antonia” (one of my faves too!) give “Song of the Lark” a shot. I read it while I was in design school several years ago. It speaks beautifully to the creative soul and anyone working to accomplish something challenging.
    I love historical fiction too, so long as it’s not too bodice ripping. The best this year by far is “Portrait of an Unknown Woman” by Vanora Bennett. It gives a fictional account of an actual painting done by Hans Holbein of Sir Thomas More and his family. Lots of historical mystery, great insight into the state of the church at the time of the Protestant Reformation, specifically in England but in Europe generally, and a great love story to boot!
    Thanks for your list – I’ll be checking into several of them!

  66. Rebekah says:

    My favorite book ever is “The Poisonwood Bible”. Talk about having a book suck you in and stick with you! I don’t think I’ve ever had a book affect me like that before. The voices in it were so clear, so personal, I felt like they were right with me. And it all felt so REAL while I read it. And I very much agree that, by telling of the father’s shameful behavior towards his family and the people he supposedly came to serve, it becomes very clear how he SHOULD have treated those around him.
    Another favorite is “The Secret Lives of Bees”. This also really got into my head and stuck around awhile. In a good way! =)

  67. Sandwiched says:

    I loved Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, too. It was clear-your-calender reading. I also just finished Hold Tight by Harlan Coben…a thriller that has a lot to do with new technologies and the internet.
    And I second I always check it before (or at) the library to see what to read next! Here’s a link to my currently-reading page:

  68. Debbie says:

    Just finished The Book Thief and it’s on my list of best books EVER. Death narrates WWII Germany as Liesel learns to read, steals books, and her foster family hides a Jew in their basement.

  69. Carey says:

    Without a doubt, the best book I’ve recently read is The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. It’s not a new book, but was recently recommended to my mom by an aunt, then by mom to me, and is making the rounds with the women in my family. It’s the absolutely amazing story of biblical events told from the point of view of the women, centered around the greatest storytelling venue of all time – The Red Tent – which is where women were kept in seclusion during their menstrual period. READ IT!

  70. Colleen says:

    LOVED the Poisonwood Bible – read it a couple years ago and definitely one of my all time favorites. Also loved the 13th tale – so I will be sure to check out some of your other choices.

  71. Britney says:

    Talk about reading retention, I had to go back and look at my library record to make sure I didn’t forget about a good read! And I can’t narrow it down to less than three. So the first two are “A Hilltop in Tuscany” and “A Garden in Paris.” They are written by Stephanie Grace Whitson, who is fast becoming my favorite author.
    The other book I really liked (I’ve actually read it twice now–which NEVER happens because my reading list is so long) is “Kissing Adrien” by Siri Mitchell. It makes me want my own Adrien, but the reason I really like it is that the main character is forced to examine her faith and lifestyle in a new way.

  72. Stacy says:

    We apparently have similar tastes- I listened to the audiobooks of both The Poisonwood Bible, and The Thirteenth Tale, and thoroughly enjoyed both of them.
    My recommendation is A Thousand Splendid Suns. Great book about being a woman in Afghanistan- I bawled at the ending.

  73. zehrbabies says:

    My list is long but my current favorites are:
    Same Kind of Different as Me
    Secret Life of Bees
    Charms for an Easy Life
    The View From Here
    and The Mermaid Chair
    Thank goodness for a wonderful used bookstore nearby! The library never seems to have what I want!

  74. Kim says:

    Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite, so I immediately put your recommendation for Thirteenth Tale on hold. Thanks!
    I’m currently reading Charlotte Bronte’s Villette. It’s a bit verbose, and not nearly as good as Jane Eyre, but I find myself looking forward to bedtime to spend one more chapter with this book, so I guess that’s a good thing.

  75. Kim says:

    Oh, and if you want a fun Sherlock Holmes read, Laurie King’s “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” is very good! And if you enjoy them, she did a whole series with the same characters.

  76. emily says:

    i was also going to recommend 🙂 it’s a great site – if you get on, let me know so we can be friends! i love getting recommendations from ppl. i know.

  77. emily says:

    oops, I forgot to tell you my favorite book of the year!
    it was Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’. i thought it was beautifully written, and made me think.

  78. RLR says:

    I read Sheer Abandon on a cross-country business trip this summer – good, heartbreaking, and keeps you guessing. I also just finished (literally, about 15 minutes ago) Twilight. I am aching to have the next 3 in my hands – I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

  79. missy @ it's almost naptime says:

    I am reading Phillip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace, which I have somehow managed to miss reading lo these many years. And I am now asking, why? Why did I wait so long? Why?
    The only Willa Cather book I have read is Sapphira and the Slave Girl, and I really enjoyed it. I just ordered My Antonia off Paperback Swap.
    Poisonwood Bible has been sitting on my shelf for years – didn’t know what it was even about. My mom has been telling me I needed to read it. You have inspired me to pick it up and blow the dust off of it.
    How blessed are we to have access to so many wonderful books??

  80. Rita says:

    The Big Stone Gap series is a good series…especially if your like Southern fiction. Anything by Lee Smith.
    Poisonwood Bible will always be at the top of my favorite list! The Thirteenth Tale and Fair & Tender Ladies are right up there with it.

  81. Lauren says:

    The Book Thief. I have never been one for historical fiction (more of a realistic fiction girl) but I just could not get enough of this book! I got really frustrated because the only real time I had to read it was at lunch, so it took about 3 weeks to get through it, but it was so worth it! I’m hoping to read it in December after classes are over for the semester.

  82. Tracy says:

    My sentiments exactly on The Poisonwood Bible. It definitly made me appreciate grace MORE. Awesome book (although the rest of Barbara Kingsolver’s books weren’t that great).

  83. plum says:

    I’ve read about four dozen books so far this year, and by far the best of the bunch was the one I just finished: The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay. It’s a wonderful semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel set in WW II-era South Africa. His Peekay is one of the most delightful and sympathetic protagonists I’ve encountered in a long time.
    I’m looking forward to reading more of Courtenay’s works. My brother met him recently at a writer’s conference, and he has a pretty interesting story of his own.

  84. Krista says:

    Oooh, I think I’m adding that Madeline L’Engle book to my list!!! I really need to read all her books because the ones I have read I adore!
    My favorite book this year has been one my sis-in-law gave me for my birthday (which was actually last year) called Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman. It’s a very secular story, but fascinating. She travels the world after getting a divorce (true story).

  85. LifeatTheCircus says:

    Thanks! I have grown to respect your opinion and after reading your post on the Twilight Series, I instantly went online and requested all 4 books from the library. I devoured books 1-3 in a week and am waiting for book 4. I have now gone online and requested several of the books you’ve listed here. Thanks so much!

  86. Rechelle says:

    Isn’t that Madeleine L’Engle book a great one! Love that book. Also love My Antonia. Have to second the recommendation on The Shack. I sobbed all the way thru it. Hope to do a giveaway with that one soon.

  87. Kit says:

    Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. The penultimate chapter (SAT word right there) is a depiction of heaven that had me in tears. I reread it and cried again. It is SO beautiful!

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