I told Belinda I would post my top 10 reads for the year. My complete reading list for the year will go up on the 31st. I am going to attempt to pick 10 favorites for this post (in no particular order). Here goes...
1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Barrows & Annie Shaffer - We read this in my book group, and I loved it. It is a sweet story that incorporates well-written characters with an overwhelming love for books. I am a sucker for a story about stories. Books about books. This one made me happy. Simple as that.
2. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - Leila handed me this book. She could not get past the dog-as-narrator thing. I was not sure I could either, but agreed to try. I was instantly in love. I could not put it down. The main character reminded me so much of my friend, Michael, that I had to give him the book as soon as I finished reading. I learned a lot about racing, a subject I never had any interest in before. The analogies made to life, however, were so spot on that I could not resist them. I still find myself pondering some lines from this novel. Do take the time to visit Goodreads and check out some excerpts.
3. Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor - I love pretty much anything that drips from Sue's pen, so it was no surprise that I loved this book. I listened to the audio version while traveling. This story cemented my owl-obsession and was so full of symbolism that I could write about each chapter for weeks. It inspired me to listen to some wonderful stories with the boys and refresh my knowledge of Greek mythology. A good writer has a good handle on ancient myths. Allusions to them and to Biblical stories are very helpful.
4. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender - You will either 100% agree with me on this choice, or you will think I am a lunatic. I realize that the story ends in a rather.... strange manner. But, the book is so well-written and the concepts are so much fun. I loved it.
5. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery - I know I know I know. It is a total shame that I did not discover Anne until adulthood. I love her now, though. And being with her felt a little like being with Natalie. A book that can take me on a Nattie visit is always a good thing. The upside to reading this as an adult is the help it gave me in parenting. Anne reminded me of being a child myself. She took me back in time and that allowed me to relax more with my boys and remember the fun of a simple summer day and a walk in the woods. I needed to relax in my parenting, and Anne has helped me do so.
6. Return of the King by JRR Tolkien - Yes, the third book of the trilogy was my favorite. Again, a shame that I waited so long to read them. I have gotten more into fantasy over the last few years, so I was bound to read them eventually. I think, I was afraid of not liking them. My Daddy loves them and raves about them any chance he gets. What if I did not enjoy his most beloved stories? But, no worries, I loved them. They have changed my perception of every book I read in the genre. I can pick out the Tolkien in Harry Potter and Eragon and, well, pretty much every bit of fantasy out there. The reason Return of the King is my favorite, however, is Jesus. No, really. This story is about a King returning to his people and his kingdom, freeing them from fear and hopelessness. It is a story about God's plan for us. And I love that. Actually, I even heard Beth Moore reference a scene from this book in a Bible Study, recently. And, you know if Beth said it, it's got to be the gospel truth. *wink*
7. Take This Bread by Sara Miles - Dear Sara, I want to meet you and eat with you and feed people along side you. Sincerely, me. This book was suggested by a friend and I had my Nook on-hand, so I purchased it on a whim instantly. Best whim I have ever had. This book took my theory of communion (that every meal is sacred and should be treated as the Eucharist) and illustrated it so clearly that I cannot believe the whole world cannot see this Truth. The stories Sara shared changed me deep inside. What an amazing woman who serves such an amazing God.
8. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert - Wow. I learned so much about leprosy and Hawaii and Japanese-Americans. I learned so much, period. And, at the same time, I was highly entertained and fell in love with some beautiful characters. I love when a novel can do that. This, combined with Neil White's In the Sanctuary of Outcasts gave me a window into an ancient world that still actually exists. Leprosy may not occur as often in America as it used to, but ostracized people come in all shapes and sizes, and we are just as guilty of the prejudices against them as we were back then, with leprosy.
9. Buzz by Katherine Ellison - You knew this one would make the list, right? It revolutionized how I see my oldest child. This book changed how I parent him. Our relationship has improved by leaps and bounds since I read this book. It was while reading this book that God revealed my theme for 2011 (Paying Attention). And, I made this memorable post about it: My Attempt at Doing Justice to a Book I Loved.
10. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood - I loved Handmaid's Tale when I read it, years ago. Why did it take me so long to pick up another Atwood novel? I have no idea. I loved this one, though. I went back and read Oryx & Crake as well. I am a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories of this sort. This one was particularly easy to believe. When I read books like this one, I am convinced Jesus' return is still pretty far off. Because it is clear there is so much worse we can do as a human race. We are busy trying to become like God. I think He will wait until we are pretty sure we have mastered it all and then knock us to our knees. This book is a good look at where society is headed. Also, I did a lot of highlighting. The theology of God's Gardners interested me. They gave me some new ways to look at Bible stories I thought I knew by heart. Corey and I actually pulled out the Bible and looked up some of their references and had some really deep conversations. Love that.