Last year, everyone was posting their “Year in Review” on Facebook and I thought it would be fun to post my “books in review” for that same year. What I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to remember all the books I read; I listed the standouts but am sure others were lost in my brain traffic. So when January 2015 rolled around, I decided to keep a reading journal for the first time ever. And I’m really glad I did… I just wrote the title of a book as I finished it and made a few notes for future reference.
The effect this had on me is two-fold: 1) I can clearly remember which books I loved and what I loved about them and have specific reasons why I would recommend them to certain people. And 2) Journaling my book titles made me a more intentional reader. Last year, I was sad at how little fiction I had read so I made a point to include more fictional reading this year and am a better person for it …
Not included of course are picture books and read alouds I did with the children. But in short, here is a literary tour through 2015 with The Bleeding Pelican..
The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It This book was absolutely fascinating and a must-read in order to understand the struggle of willpower. It directly helped me to order my day better once I was equipped with a better knowledge of self. Super highly recommended.
Parched: A Memoir I read this book just before going to a mini retreat with Heather King. She and I have very little in common by way of life circumstances and choices, but in her writing I find something so authentic and raw that my woman soul can’t help but be nourished by her words. The first book I read of hers, Redeemed, was even more poignant.
Outliers: The Story of Success Riveting. I think it’s honest to say that this is perhaps the most INTERESTING, non-fiction book I’ve ever read in my life. My brother-in-law was bugging me to read it so I did so with reluctance but for the life of me, I could not put it down. What a master story teller Malcolm Gladwell is!
The Hidden Art of Homemaking I was very surprised at the treasures inside this vanilla-sounding title of a book. I kept taking pictures of little paragraphs here and there of parenting and spiritual wisdom that goes far beyond homemaking. It’s all about making the most of your God-given gifts in many capacities… really, really great.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing My first audio book I’ve ever listened to (that was just for me, not children). There were parts I loved. And parts that were a little weird (thanking your items for their service to you before disposing of them). But all in all, it was a good reminder to keep only in your home things you find useful or beautiful… things that make you happy.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles This book was a catalyst for me to get moving and get serious about writing. Super, incredibly inspirational.
To-Do List Makeover: A Simple Guide to Getting the Important Things Done Some good points, but it read like a giant blog series of posts (which in my understanding, it originally was).
Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education This book is excellent for nerds who enjoy educational philosophy. It’s not a practical “how-to” or even inspirational homeschooling book. It’s just good, sound theorizing on the art of educating human beings… RIP Stratford Caldecott…
Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life the Diaries, 1941-1943 and Letters from Westerbork Alas, I got this from the library and wasn’t able to finish it before another user put a hold on it. I keep meaning to get back to it because there was something different about Etty that really drew me to her. Another one of those women across the generations, with whom I have nothing in common, who grabbed at my heart and found in me a sister sojourner to Truth.
Interior Freedom Best spiritual book of the year. I know now that certain books are right for certain periods of one’s life… and not right for others. I have read spiritual books before that scared the pee out of me because I wasn’t ready for them or that I thought were boring or dense at the time. I wonder if Interior Freedom is one of those books that is a time sensitive book. For me, at this point in my life, and with what my interior life looked like this year… it was absolutely perfect. Sublime. But I don’t think it would necessarily be perfect for all Christians everywhere at any given time…
Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart This was my second visit through this book and I loved it as much as the first time. Jacques Phillippe is my spiritual director and he doesn’t even know it!!!
Life of Christ Just when you think you know a Man. A story. A Gospel. Fulton Sheen comes along to make it all brand new again. I’ve gained so many insights into the Life of Jesus through this book and am so thankful for it. I highly recommend it to everyone. Ever ancient… ever new.
Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting My Advent companion this year, and hopefully for years to come. What wonderful thoughts each day had! I noticed that it was out of print just before Advent so am happy to see it currently available.
Little Women Part of my ‘intentional reading’ resolution was to read some of the books on my own shelf that haven’t been read yet. It’s a fantastic goal and one I’m going to repeat for next year also. I realized that I never actually read Little Women and so I enjoyed going through it very much. What soul food…
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency I read this book to get away from another one on my list. I wanted something light and totally out of the ordinary for me… a lady detective in Botswana’s adventures suited me just wonderfully at the time.
Tears of the Giraffe This is the second book in the above series and I enjoyed the tales very much. If I wanted easy, enjoyable reading, I’d happily continue on in the series. And somehow, though it’s very light reading… there’s an underlying soulfulness to the tales that make you yearn for a simple life, a beautiful life.
Pilgrim’s Inn Part of the Eliot Family Trilogy and in my opinion, this second book is the crowning jewel of them all. Not sure what it is or what it isn’t about the other two books, but Elizabeth Goudge is easily in my top 3 authors of all time because of these books.
The Heart of the Family The final book in that series… really beautifully done. Among the story and descriptives, there is eternal truths to be discovered that offer more than just a beautiful story to be read.
Emma I read this out of desperation because I wanted fiction and was disgusted by my lack of options… to the bookshelf I go. I’ve read other Austen novels but hadn’t enjoyed this one outside of the cinematic showing of it. Really wonderful to escape to a world where life’s biggest concern are social improprieties and whether there’s too many people for a ball…
The Red Horse This book is the one I was running away from all year. I started it in February… and am still only a third of the way thru it. It was my ONLY goal in the fiction world to read this book. But here’s the thing… The Red Horse is a timeless book that you can keep going back to. Granted, I don’t recommend letting months go by in between readings because it’s hard to remember who’s who and what’s happened. But it’s timeless because it reads on a deeper lever than most modern literature. Eugenio Corti taught me something really important as I read this book: I am not a fiction writer. That is a gift and it’s not mine. He is one of the best fiction writers I’ve ever been privileged to read and while I thoroughly appreciate this book and what it is… it’s heavy. And my life has been such this year as to not want to be heavy or thoughtful on this level. I would recommend it without hesitation to anyone… but it does require some commitment of both your time and mental reserve.