Best Books of 2012

It’s been a wonderful, busy holiday with the Watsons, offline.  But Teresa is having a blog party about books, and I couldn’t resist.  What a fun way to dive back into blogging for the new year!

I actually read a lot last year.  How did I have time for it?  The same way I had time for eating, and watching episodes of White Collar and Downton Abbey, and for completing all those marvelous nesting projects.  You make time for the things that fill the empty places.

But enough about me.  Let’s talk about books.

NON-FICTION

Best Devotional/Theological:

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller

Made me excited about what my marriage can be, and even more excited about what the gospel already is.  A unique and inspiring combination of practical observations, Biblical exegesis, and Jesus-worship.

Runners Up:

The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung– challenging and insightful call to walk in a manner worthy of the calling
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis- thoughtful and accessible, it’s a classic for a reason
A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper- discussion of divine Providence based on the book of Ruth
Far as the Curse is Found by Michael Williams-  reading Genesis to Revelation through the lens of redemptive history
Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore– discussion of overcoming temptation based on the Israelites, and later Jesus in the wilderness

Best Biography/Autobiography/Memoir
(the only other kind of nonfiction I read)

Right Turns by Michael Medved

Organized as a series of lessons learned, this memoir chronicles my favorite radio host’s transformation from a left-wing political activist to one of the leading voices of conservatism.

Runners Up:

Laura Ingalls Wilder by Pamela Smith Hill– you know I’d love this…
The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure– a modern woman’s funny and ill-fated attempt to immerse herself in Laura-world
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist– a thoughts-on-faith-and life book based on a thoughts-on-faith-and life blog
Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott and Sam Lamott– although I swore never to read Lamott again, I made an exception for the “sequel” to Operating Instructions, her beautiful and honest journal of her son’s first year.  Now, her son is grown and a father to a son of his own.  This book contains both of their reflections on the first twelve months of grandmotherhood and fatherhood.  I wish Lamott would find a way to rise putting political snarkyness in everything she writes.  She’s otherwise so funny and thoughtful; I’d love to love her.
Below Stairs by Margaret Powell–the kitchen maid’s memoir that inspired Downtown Abbey.  A fun real-life story.

FICTION

Best Beach Read

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

The first in a family-saga series set in Bristol, England in the 1930s.  The characters are compelling, the plot original and interesting.  The sequel is also a great, fast read, and the third book in the series comes out in May.  I can’t wait!  Meanwhile, I’m checking out some other books by this author.

Best Political Treatise Thinly Veiled as a Novel

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

This is why I am in a book club: I’d have never ventured here on my own, but I loved this book.  The political part was overbearing, and I skimmed some of the longer rants from some of the main characters.  But I was drawn into the characters and the story, and couldn’t put this book down.

Best Spiritually Edifying Novel

The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock

If you’ve never listened to me about Penelope Wilcock’s Hawk and the Dove series, let this be the year you treat yourself to it.  You might not think a fictional series set in a 13th century monastery could be the slightest bit interesting, but these books never fail to challenge and move me.  Wilcock has added three more books to the series in the last year that are not as good as the three originals, but they’re a fun way to keep up with some beloved characters.

Runners Up:

Game of Thrones by George Martin– this book is definitely R-rated in every category, but it’s a gripping story with a huge cast of interesting characters.  It’s the first in a four-part series, and I’m having trouble getting into the second one, but I’ll let you know.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith– on the opposite end of the spectrum, this is a lighthearted and pleasant read.  Every other reader in the world has already discovered this series, but I was happy to join the party for the first time this past year.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern– I don’t usually do fantasy, but this mysterious blend of magic, intrigue, and imagination was a really fun read.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins– I re-read these before the movie release, along with every other person in the world.  They’re loads of disturbing fun.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson– This is beautifully written and worth all the praise it receives.  But it’s thoughtful, slow, and melancholy, so you have to be in the right mood to enjoy it.

And in case you’re wondering, here’s what’s on the dock for the first part of 2013:

The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament by Nancy Guthrie. (I. Love. Her.)

Winter of the World by Ken Follett (Second in a series, need to review the first one before jumping into this fatty.)

Sons of Fortune by Jeffrey Archer (I told you, I’m trying to see if I’m a fan.  If the answer is yes, I’m in luck, because this guy is prolific.)

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan (book club, true story, looks fun.)

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. (Loved the movie.  Want to read the original work again, maybe unabridged this time?)

 

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6 responses to “Best Books of 2012

  1. A good list. Some good ideas. Thanks!

    As for George RR Martin’s book series “Song of Ice and Fire” for which ‘Game of Thrones’ is the first…. the books get better! There are shocking twists and turns and political intrigues and strange love affairs, and it is surely R rated (sadly…), but a great story for those who can read over, read past, or merely stomach the more R rated parts. I think he has said there are two more books to finish the series, and we eagerly await them! But he isn’t known to be the most accommodating of authors and I think there was 7 or 8 years between 2 of the books. The HBO series is helping him get on it more (the show is even worse and more gratuitousness than the books, so beware, though they did a good job with the characters and story line. Helps that Martin is a consultant.)

    • Thanks for the info on this series! It’s too bad the TV series is not more wholesome (ha!), but it’s not surprising based on the fact that it’s HBO! I might watch some bits just to see how they cast some of the characters, though…

  2. Yay! My first blog party participant! Thanks for breaking radio silence to join in. I am adding your suggestions to my “to read” list.

  3. oh yeah… I now have a way ahead for the next hopefully 13 weeks.
    Just finished Fall of Giants and ordered Winter. I haven’t read a 960 page book that fast probably ever ( I discovered I can actually read on the couch while the kids are sitting next to me watching way to much Mickey Mouse Club House). I really can tune it out. Any way I can borrow 3-4 boos you have read? Could you get them into my mom suitcase before she comes here Saturday?? I will return them with her.

  4. funny typo- “books” I meant

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