Friday, January 6, 2012

The Year in Review: Top 10 Books of 2011

I have a love/hate relationship with lists.  I'm a fair-weather list maker and follower at best. I'm skeptical of any book that has "Ten Steps to..." in the title.  The implication being that if I read and correctly execute the given list of suggestions, the relevant segment of my life will become controllable with a predictable, desired outcome.  Although lists can be helpful in pointing us in the right direction, there is a potential danger when we assign them too much power and assurance.

With that being said, however, I'll bookmark a good resource list any day.  I love to hear what my friends are listening to or reading, and I'm always on the lookout for like-heartedness.  As we pack up the Christmas ornaments, clean up the New Year's confetti, and look forward to whatever the new year has to bring, I wanted to pause and share a few of my favorite books from the past year with you.  Hopefully, you'll find something of interest to include on your 2012 reading list.  What an honor it is to share these books that have meant so much to me this year.  It feels like I'm introducing you to some of my dearest friends.

In no particular order, here are my top 10 from 2011:

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
I'd seen this book on several lists and assumed it would be an immediate favorite.  Turns out that it took some time for it to rise to that spot, but it eventually landed there. Gilead reads like poetry, and is thoughtful and compelling.  A letter written from father to son, there is much to be treasured.

Miz Lil and the Chronicles of Grace by Walt Wangerin Jr.
Oh my.  This may be the most life-impacting book that I read this year.  Highly recommended.   I'll be reading it again.

The Eyes of the Heart: A Memoir of Lost and Found by Frederick Beuchner
Thoughtful and poignant.  If you're a Beuchner fan, this book gives you a glimpse of significant people and events that were influential in his life.  If you haven't read Beuchner, it's a great place to start.

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
One of the few books I'll continue to re-read.  The truest of stories for adults as well as children.  Reading it (again) resulted in some of my meanderings here and here.

Bird by Bird:  Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
I've never read a book that can be both highly irreverent yet profoundly insightful at the same time.  And wow, is she funny. Lamott's book is less about the technical aspects of writing, but more about the discipline and cost required, the heart challenges, the realities, limitations, and joys of writing... and life.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
I'm guessing that I'll be reading this every year... for the rest of my life.  It's that significant.  If you don't have children, don't let that stop you.  More on The Jesus Storybook Bible can be found here.

Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
A few thoughts about Nomad found here.

How Rembrandt Reveals Your Beautiful and Imperfect Self by Roger Housden
A thoughtful look at Rembrandt's life and work.  Housden elaborates on the following lessons learned from Rembrandt:  Open your eyes * Love this world * Troubles will come * Stand like a tree * Keep the faith * Embrace the Inevitable.  

The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers
One of the most delightful books that I've read in years.  Andrew Peterson accurately describes Rogers' style as "Mark Twain meets C.S. Lewis."  Clever and light-hearted in spirit, but deep in content.   And Rogers just so happens to be a Furman grad.  'Nough said.

The Trunk by Elizabeth Coatsworth
A few thoughts about The Trunk found here.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
If you've never read it, this is the year. Charming.  Particularly when read out loud.  Even if you are alone.

Ok.  That was 11.  I told you that I'm not great at the list thing.

As the new year commences, here are a few books I'm working through and that will most likely make it on the 2012 list:

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
Ragman and Other Cries of Faith by Walt Wangerin, Jr.
Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle

Happy reading to you and yours as we venture into the new year.  I'd love to hear what's on your list...

“When you listen and read one thinker, you become a clone… two thinkers, you become confused… ten thinkers, you’ll begin developing your own voice… two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise and develop your voice.”               Tim Keller


Jen said...

I like your list! Yes to Gilead, Bird by Bird and Eyes of the Heart. I just finished The Charlatan's Boy too, and it was delightful.

I seriously need to read more Wangerin though. Miz Lil is going on my to read list for this year, after all the wonderful endorsements I've been hearing. Thanks for sharing this!

Nancy said...

I so enjoy reading book lists! Robinson and Lamott are two of my favorites. And so wonderful to hear you are a commonplacer!