Let’s Talk Books

Let’s Talk Books

One of my goals for 2018 was to read or get rid of all the unread books in my library, with the exception of a couple reference books, and a wee French book I have, because je ne parle pas francais. It was a hefty stack, although some of them were gotten out of the way in short order, such as the treasury of Beatrix Potter. I really couldn’t help myself from throwing some additional ones into the mix, so all in all, I ended up reading 60 chapter books last year, including plowing through an interminable stack of Jane Austen.

Let me tell you about some of the best ones I read, and please tell me if you’ve read and loved any of them too!

How to Celebrate Everything, by Jenny Rosentrach. This was a gift from the roomie who knows how much I like foodie books, and it was everything it ought to have been. Colorful and engaging and delightful and can we please throw a party now? Jenny tells us the importance of traditions and parties, my favorite being her tradition of making a “Yay It’s Wednesday Cake!” cake. And yes, cake needs to be in that sentence twice. 🙂

Stir, My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor. Jessica was at the gym one day when out of nowhere, she experienced a blinding pain in her head. She was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a burst aneurysm on her brain, which she had survived despite the odds. The book describes her journey to healing, and how cooking aided her recovery. Fascinating, especially if you like medical stuff and food.

Adventures of Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. Will you all kick me out of the adult club if I admit how much I like Frog and Toad? They just, they just get it, you know? “‘We must stop eating!’ cried Toad as he ate another.” I mean, who doesn’t relate to that?

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I know I’m late to the game with this one. I think, to be quite honest, that I expected it to be a little dull, and so I avoided it. But how wrong I was. This book was originally a radio series, so the chapters are short and sweet little bites, and so, so good. Reading it, I rather wished I was an agnostic so I could be persuaded all over again. I also read his A Grief Observed, and while I quite liked it, it left me a little disturbed by its rawness and honesty. But a good disturbed.

Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis. Yes, I read a bunch of Lewis as well as Austen this year. Gotta keep myself balanced, you know? There are few minds out there who can put those nagging and cloudy ideas we have into clear words as well as Lewis. This book was one of those, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Someone else gets it!” books. I loved his description of joy so much, and frankly, he’s one of the people I most look forward to meeting in Heaven.

Persuasion by Jane Austen. Speaking of Austen, of the four of her books I read last year, this one was the best in my opinion. It’s shorter which is kind of nice, and in general, the story line was better than most of the others. Take Emma for instance- what an imbecile that girl was! Anne had much more sense.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. This book is about negotiating as if your life depended on it, because for Mr. Voss, it really is a life and death matter. You see, he was a hostage negotiator for the FBI, and worked crazy international and local cases dealing with crazy people. Super duper fascinating, especially if you enjoy crime stories and understanding the human psyche.

Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher. I’ve never pre-ordered a book before, but I read Hannah’s blog and I just had to. This book stepped on all ten of my toes, but also, I would really like to be Hannah’s friend please. I love her writing style in addressing ordinary problems- it feels like you’re sitting across the table from her with coffee, but the casualness isn’t forced or contrived.

The Bean Treesby Barbara Kingsolver. This novel from 1988 completely fascinated me. It’s the story of a young girl who packs up her world into her rattly car, and drives west to escape the life she is weary of. Along the way, an American Indian baby is suddenly deposited upon her, and unsure of what else to do and also seeing that the baby has been abused, she takes her along and cares for her. The story follows her settling down in Arizona and picking up odd jobs to create a new life for herself and her little girl, who she names Turtle. The book is slightly…eerie, for lack of a better word, but very very interesting. I can’t recommend everything in it, but I did enjoy the story line and writing style very much.

A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines. My cousin Naomi recommended this book to me, and boy, it is gripping! It’s the story of a gathering of old men who all met to claim they each committed the crime, to protect the actual perpetrator. It’s full of racial tensions and it is elegantly written and I recommend you read it too!

So there we have it, my top ten for 2018. (Although really, it’s a bit like asking me to choose my favorite of my children.) Did you read anything compelling last year that I should put on my list for this year?


A Year Ago:

Out With the Old, In With the New

My Book Challenge for 2017

Two Years Ago:

Family Photos

Three Years Ago:

Book List 2015

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10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Books

  1. It looks like it’s time to come a-borrowing again. Here’s a list if you want to be like my personal library and pull the books before I come 😀
    How to Celebrate Everything (again)
    Never Split the Difference
    Persuasion (why don’t I have it?)

    Post idea: make a list of ten or twenty or a hundred books that you keep because you re-read them. I’d read it.

  2. Don’t read it for style. The exclamation marks alone are enough to drive you crazy. But I’m confident you’ll love the content.

  3. I always shoulder in when people discuss books. 🙂 Glad to find someone else that enjoys Mere Christianity. I haven’t read Surprised by Joy for years; should really pull it out again.
    Some of my favourites this year were:
    Yankee Stranger — Elswyth Thane
    The Moonstone — Wilkie Collins
    The Jesus I Never Knew — Philip Yancey
    Hinds Feet on High Places — Hannah Hurnard
    Eternity in Their Hearts — Don Richardson

    It sounds like I really need to get a copy of The Gospel Comes with a House Key; this must be the fourth time I’ve seen it recommended in the last few weeks!

  4. Loved your post and was delighted to discover that you read and enjoyed some of my favorite books. I have two of the Frog and Toad little chapter books, worn ragged with use. They are the BEST stories to read aloud to nieces and nephews and grandchildren. I still laugh at the quirky creative humor even though I’ve read it countless times before. It takes genious to imbue little animals with such very human qualities and so simply instill marvelous values into the heads of little children who hear the stories (and those of the adults who read them aloud.)
    Mere Christianity is a wonderful book, the top of the line for winsome and persuasive apologetics. I’ve also read and enjoyed Surprised by Joy and A Grief Observed. Like you, l found the latter less winsome but still intriguing for its very personal glimpse of the author, his personality, and the interesting details of his life.
    The Bean Tree is one of my favorite stories ever. I adopted a child while I was single so it reverberated personally with me. I know what you mean about the slightly eerie feel. But I thought that added to the deliciousness of the book. Other books by Barbara Kingsolver contain the same aura; none of her other books (at least the ones I’ve read) are quite as good as The Bean Tree, in my opinion. She’s a very liberal feminist and some of her opinions grate a bit.
    For a real treat, see if you can find BK’s audiobooks from a public library, read by the author herself in a wonderfully soft soothing Southern accent. If you like food books you might enjoy her true story of her family’s move from Arizona to eastern Appalachia and their adventure of growing and preserving and cooking their own food. I don’t recall the title but it was in the nonfiction section of the library and I picked it up because it was by Barbara Kingsolver. A fascinating account!
    Thanks again for your post. I read your scintillating blogs regularly but don’t think I have ever commented before.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Carol! It appears we should get together to discuss books sometime. I definitely want to check out Barbara Kingsolver’s audio books, and I agree that the eeriness of her writing style really adds to the story. Although not by the same author, I found the same quality in “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. You might enjoy that one too. I just now looked Kingsolver up and discovered that she was the author of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” which I have read, but I failed to make the connection that it’s the same author. No wonder she describes Arizona so beautifully; she lived there! I’d love to hear more about your solo adoption too, since that’s a topic that fascinates me.

  5. Loved this list, and put a few on my Goodreads list now!
    My treasures this year:
    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
    Educated by Tara Westover
    Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield–and I can’t wait to read her last one, The Gospel Comes with a House Key!

    1. Someone else just recommended “The Gospel Comes With a House Key” to me also. I can’t wait to read it. What is “Butterfield” like?

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