The Books of 2016

One of my passions is reading, but I have really struggled to do much reading since I started my photography business.  There’s just only so many hours in a day, and when I edit from when the kids go to bed (which is getting later and later) until I can’t keep my eyes open any more…Well, that’s all, folks.

In 2014, I managed to read so many books that I couldn’t resist doing a blog post about it.  And then I think 2015 was a total reading flop.  (Well, I think I did read Big Mama’s new book that year.  But that may have been it.)  2016 was somewhere in between the two years.  Truth be told, I really only read one book before the big move…life seemed to stay at a pique of busy-ness those last six months in Tally!  But when we moved and had a more relaxed schedule (and significantly less photo editing to do,) I committed to make at least a small comeback in the reading territory.  So here is what I read:

callthemidwife

1. Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth.  This is the book that I read before the move…because when Mary An found out that I was moving, she said, “Oh!  You have to borrow this before you go!”  She was borrowing it herself, and didn’t want me to miss out on the opportunity.  She knew how much I love the show!

And, you guys.  This book is so. good.  So very interesting.  It’s a memoire of a midwife in East London in the 1950s.  Although her personal stories would have been enough to make it an amazing book, she also includes a great deal of history that makes her stories that much more fascinating.  This was a unique decade for London, sandwiched between WWII and the Sexual Revolution.

It’s also actually a great story of faith.  Her testimony of turning away from agnosticism is woven quietly throughout the book.  It’s not a sermon or propaganda that gets her attention; it’s seeing the nuns that she worked with fleshing out the love of Christ to the poor and lowly on a daily basis.

Having said this, I would note that this is not a book I would recommend for children or young teenagers.  Birth stories are very descriptive (although medical terminology is used.)  Of course midwives encountered plenty of problems with clients who were promiscuous or even prostitutes, and she doesn’t shy away from those subjects.

forthelove

2. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker.  OK, look, I know that the Hatmakers have gotten all of Christendom in a tizzy.  So let me just preface this by saying that I purchased this book for a few of my gal pals and sister-in-loves for Valentines Day BEFORE all the controversy got going.  And then I borrowed it from Jackie to read it.  (I’m super cheap, K?)  (And she did get to read it first, K?)  (Hmmm, maybe I should return it.)  So this was BEFORE the controversy was made public, and she doesn’t touch on that topic in the book.

Having said that, it’s a fun book!  It’s lighthearted and encouraging.  There are some nuggets of wisdom amongst the fun.  The style is not particularly cohesive; each chapter stands alone, so it’s really more like reading a series of blog posts.  I would recommend this as a light read, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most spiritually edifying of books.

great-expectations

3.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  One of my goals in life is to read all of Dickens, but I haven’t done a great job so far.  I finally snagged Great Expectations this summer and said, “It is time.”

And I know that this is not everyone’s favorite Dickens work, but I will say that I was pleasantly surprised.  This is the first thing of his that I have read that is written in first person.  I normally have trouble getting into a Dickens book (of course, about half way through I can’t put it down,) but the first person style drew me right in and made it easier for me to focus.

I knew that this is a book that has a lot of symbolism before I ever picked it up, but I think it was about halfway through when the light bulb went off and I was all like, “Oh!  This is a Prodigal Son story!  Did I know this was a Prodigal Son story?”

That’s the joy of having a bad memory.

I happen to have the Annotated Edition, which was fortunate because it included Dickens’ original ending.  He actually changed the ending of the book due to pressure by Some Important Person.  And I just want to say to you, Charles, that you got it right the first time.  Not everything has to end happily and get tied with a neat bow.  That’s not real life.  So cheers to your original ending!

maze-runner

4.  The Maze Runner by James Dashner.  I snagged this book out of the Young Adult section of the library on a whim one day.  I want to see the movie, and I have weird rules about reading books before I can allow myself to watch their movies.

And I guess that this was my introduction to Dystopian Literature.  (I haven’t drank the Hunger Games Kool-Aid.)  And I will say it was…OK.  A good (albeit rather depressing) plot.  A writing style that could be worse.  About a 3 day read.

Probably my biggest complaint is something that’s my own fault…I didn’t realize that it was a part of a series.  I hate it when that happens.  (Let’s just say that when I was 15 my Dad said, “Hey, let’s go see Lord of the Rings !” but failed to tell me it was the first of a trilogy.  So, after 3 hours of Orcs  and Elfs, I was like, “REALLY?!!  That’s it??  They’re just standing on this mountain?!”)

So now I have to decide if I want to continue reading the series, and the library doesn’t have any more of the books.  Which is very inconvenient.

life-in-community

5.  Life in Community by Dustin Willis and David Platt.  We read this book as a church during a Sunday School Community Small Life Group Class emphases.  (I kid, I kid.  They’re Community Groups.  I think.)  The book is basically about what living in a biblical community should look like.  There are some topics that I could immediately fist bump, like Hospitality, and there were some that were a little more on the convicting side, like Accountability.  A good read for any group who wants to make sure they are following biblical guidelines for their relationships.

sarahs-key

6.  Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.  Tiff gave me this book for Christmas probably three or more years ago, and as I mentioned earlier about my struggles with reading, it sat on the backburner for a loooong time.  I finally snagged it off my shelf about a month ago; we were headed out of town and I hoped to get some reading time in the car.

OK, so this is not a light-hearted book.  Although it is fiction, it is based on a real and terrible event that occurred in Paris during World War II.  And honestly, it was not an event that I was even aware of, although it took the lives of thousands of people.

But it was an important book for me to read.  I need to know about painful parts of history as well as the good parts.  And although this was not a Christian book, I believe God used it to remind me about how calloused our hearts can become.  How many times do I ignore what is happening around me and harden my heart against other people’s pain, just like the Parisians in 1942?

Sorry, went deep and dark for a minute there.  Let’s lighten things up.

death-of-a-garage-sale-newbie

7.  Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by Sharon Dunn.  Mom gave me this book a pretty long time ago.  The main reason I know it was a long time ago is because I remember lending it to Glenda when Harlie was sick so that she’d have some reading material in the hospital.  Harlie was hospitalized when she was four…and now she’s nine.  So it’s been a while.

This is a light murder mystery.  I think I was under the impression that it would be a sort of comedy; it really wasn’t, although there was some comedic relief.  This was no Agatha Christie story; there were plenty of holes in the events leading up to the murder, and the side stories were a little bit much.  But it was fun and laced in some Christian truth without being preachy.

dewey

8.  Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat who Touched the World by Vicki Myron.  Mom also gave me this book, and I’m proud to say it was more recently than five years ago.  (But maybe not this year.)  This is the memoire of the director of the library where the title cat lived.  I am actually still working on it, but I’m about three quarters of the way through and there is no way I’ll remember to blog about it next year!

I really like how the author ties in the history of Iowa throughout the book.  In the decade proceeding Dewey’s arrival at the library, the big corporations were buying out local farmers, which had a devastating impact on the economy.  Did I know about this?  Nope.

The author also shares some inspiring stories from her personal life about how she hit rock bottom while married to an alcoholic and worked her way up as a single mom.

But the cat.  OK, so if you’re a huge animal person, you will absolutely love this book.  And don’t get me wrong, I like the concept of the library cat and can see how it would be beneficial.  It sounds like Dewey was a pretty cool cat.  Literally.

But when the author pauses to describe the deep connection that she has with this cat (which she does about every other chapter)… Well, OK.  It’s a cat.

(If you’re a huge animal person, you can disregard that last paragraph.  It didn’t happen.  Please don’t throw tomatoes at me.)

 

seamless

9.  Seamless by Angie Smith.  This is also one that I’m on the cusp of finishing and wanted to go ahead and write about it.  I’ve been doing this study with the ladies in my Life Small Community Group Class.  I already loved Angie Smith, so I was not worried about whether or not I would love the study.

It’s great.

The goal of the study is to help establish biblical literacy.  It is a six week course that covers the WHOLE BIBLE…so clearly she’s not going to touch on every little Bible story.  However, that’s not the goal; the goal is to get an idea of the big picture.  To not be lost when your pastor mentions The Exile in a sermon because you have no idea what that is, or to understand why it’s so important that Jesus was in the lineage of David.

I think this is a great course for new believers, but beneficial for all Christians.  I think it would be completely appropriate to do it with kids, as well.  (There is a teen version, but I really don’t think it’s necessary; it’s already written in easy to understand language.)

new-morning-mercies

10.  New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp.  This is one that I’m going to be working on for a while since I bought it later in the year.  After the move, I really struggled to settle into a good Quiet Time routine.  I’m a creature of habit, so I really need a routine in order to have a Quiet Time at all.

BooMama had raved about this book one or sixteen times on her blog, so on a whim I ordered it when I needed to purchase an Add-On Item on Amazon.  (A very spiritual reason!)

This guy brings a good word, y’all.  He doesn’t hold back.  And I like that there is a Scripture passage to be studied with each day.  I am definitely going to read this all through next year so that I can pick up what I have missed!

And those are my personal reading books for this year!  I did read some new, and old, books with the kids, especially Egan.  I’d love to blog about them, but I’ve got to rest up…I’m going to need some clairvoyance to decide on my 16 favorite photos of 2016!

 

 

 

 

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