winter reading

2012-12-28_11-00-36_788

{These are books I read over Christmas. I didn’t plan for them to be so color coordinated, but there you go!} 

In the past year I’ve read quite a few new books. A goal of mine was to branch out since I tend to re-read my favorites a lot! Like my namesake, I know that I love bread and jam, so why bother trying anything else?

But I was brave and I did read new things and I wanted to share some of my favorites. Maybe you’ll give one of these a try! Or maybe you’ll stick with bread and jam, that’s ok too, I won’t judge.

“WHY HAVEN’T I ALREADY READ THIS?”

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt: Oh my. Wow. I read this 2 weeks ago and I’m still being impacted by it.. feeling it, thinking it over. It is based on the Civil War experiences of the author’s grandpa. Family is central in this book, it is very focused in on how the war affects the choices, emotions, and relationships of a small group of people. This gives it a very personal feel. I started reading the 1 star reviews on Amazon and my blood pressure went way up.. I loved this book ok??!

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom: Amazing. I really don’t know what to say other than: read it.

Christy by Catherine Marshall: Thirteen-year-old me would have loved this book. Why didn’t I read it then?? Oh well. Present day me loved this book a lot, too! The Smoky Mountains, Cutter Gap, Scotch-Irish mountain folks… growth, joy, courage… it’s all in there and it’s all just grand.

“KINDOF DEPRESSING, BUT REALLY REALLY GOOD”

Still Alice by Lisa Genova: This one is about a professor who gets early onset Alzheimer’s. You find your mind hurting at parts, because you are experiencing things through her point of view and the frustration, embarrassment, confusion, fear, humor, it’s all so real. It was an awesome book and helped me be more empathetic.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: While reading this book I found myself thinking, “Nothing is happening. Why am I unable to put this down???” So riveting, beautifully written.

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger: A little bit the opposite for this one… I kept putting it down. I found myself spending a long time trying to get through certain parts. BUT after the last few chapters, and I think I held my breath the whole time I read them, I wanted to go back and read it again. It’s totally worth it. I learned about weather, the fishing industry, where “swordfish” got their name, all sorts of stuff. Great book!

“HELLO AGAIN OLD FRIEND”

In the Company of Others by Jan Karon: Let’s not get me started on how I love her books. They are some of my “bread and jam” ones for sure. In real life I occasionally think of something that happened in her books as if it’s my own memory: “Oh yeah, like that time in Ireland we pulled the car over and devoured the rhubarb tart because we couldn’t wait another minute!! … oh… didn’t actually do that.”

My aunt sent me this, the newest one, in a care package while I was at camp. I read it sitting in the sun outside the barn loft, or in the hot kitchen while taking a break from bacon cooking. Yes it is very slow moving. I don’t care. It is rich and amazing and you can bet I’ll re-read and probably adopt its happenings into my own memories.

“MADE MY BRAIN EXPLODE”

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It’s a kinda religiously jumbled book (haven’t seen the movie), however, it’s good. The experience of reading it for the first time is super unique, vivid, confusing, and awesome. It’s one of those that you really want to discuss with someone else right away!

“NEW ADDITION TO MY ‘FAVORITE DETECTIVES’ CANON” 

The Flavia de Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley: I don’t make new mystery friends easily. I have my beloved authors, my cherished books, my obsessively-known detectives, and I am very faithful to them and suspicious of anything different.

BUT – I can’t get over these books. The way he uses the English language… hilarious, new & fresh. Every few pages I find myself bursting out with laughter.

Flavia is into poisons and chemistry. She’s cunning, brave, sarcastic, irreverent.. definitely has her own view on the world. In fact she is a little like if Frances the Badger grew up to be an 11 year old human detective in 1950’s England. And so I have no choice but to love her.

We shall have a few quotes because we can:

“ ‘You are unreliable, Flavia,’ he said. ‘Utterly unreliable.’
Of course I was! It was one of the things I loved most about myself.”
{from The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag}

“I gave her a partial smile and kept the rest of it for myself…”
{from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie}

“ ‘Horehound sticks are meant to be shared with friends, don’t you think?’
She was dead wrong about that: Horehound sticks were meant to be gobbled down in solitary gluttony, and preferably in a locked room, but I didn’t dare say so.”
{from The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag}

“I had concocted the gunpowder myself from niter, sulfur, charcoal, and a happy heart. When working with explosives, I’ve found that attitude is everything.”
{from I Am Half Sick Of Shadows}

(January 29th is when the newest Flavia book comes out, I just happened to randomly know that, I’m not excited or anything.)

“GIFTS TO ME / GIFTS TO OTHERS” 

These books changed my life & helped me in a lot of ways, so I got more copies and gave them as gifts:

1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp: (which is kinda awesome to give as a gift, if you think about it, it’s like “I could get you any one other thing, but instead I’m giving you one thousand gifts!” Ok I’m done.) 2 years and counting, of counting gifts. How many books really keep impacting you on a daily basis, years after you read them?? This book goes there with faith, family issues, huge pain, & honest questions. Even though it is written in a very poetic way, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it gets down to real life and practical action. So thankful for that.

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman: Whoa, ok, here is a book that was written to me. And to pastor’s daughters, helpful church women, good moms, ladies who are perhaps at a “plateau” in their faith, who need to realize what the Gospel means for them. She helped me read the Mary and Martha story without an underlying smidge of bitterness, for the first time. I couldn’t skim over large sections in the way that I’ve done in other Christian woman type books. I couldn’t forget what it said, either. I desperately needed this book. Perhaps you need to read this book too.

Perfectly Unique by Annie Downs: Sooo wish I would have had this to read when I was in junior high. Annie writes with gentleness, humor & truth and it’s a great book. (If you are looking for excellent gifts for a pre-teen or teenage girl in your life please give them this book, or the teen version of Grace for the Good Girl called “Graceful”.)

Books. Oh, books! I’ve gushed a lot. Basically writing a book myself. How to end this?? Maybe by adding, “But, you don’t have to take my word for it!” 🙂 

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