Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Highlights: A Few From 2011

In no particular order of importance:

~~ 2011 was the year I discovered Connie Willis, thanks to some friends. Blackout, All Clear and Doomsday Book were the ones I dove into. I had some frustrations with her repetitious style, but ultimately enjoyed them all. Of the three books (though Blackout and All Clear are really one story) I loved Doomsday Book the most. Fr. Roche was a beautiful and noble priest.

~~ The Penderwicks at Point Mouette and A Homemade Life were both mentioned in this post last summer.

The Penderwicks have become Edmisten family friends. Long may they live on our bookshelves.

A Homemade Life managed to change one of our Christmas traditions. We always make a birthday cake but this was the year that we used the Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake recipe. We found it fitting -- Jesus has won our hearts and minds, and a cake like this is nothing if not proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

~~ I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron. She makes me laugh. I like to laugh, and I need to laugh. By some weird algorithm, I apparently need Nora Ephron.

~~ Read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to Ramona. (I don't need to link to anything regarding that book, do I? You've heard of it?)  Pure fun to share it with her and see the story unfolding through her eyes.

~~ Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell. Utter delight. Reviewed here.

~~ A Little Princess with Ramona.  A different kind of utter delight. Ditto for Trumpet of the Swan.

~~ The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Recommended by my sister and a friend. A book to escape with at the end of a day. A puzzler, fun to sort out and guess about.

~~ The Provence Cure for the Broken Hearted, by Bridget Asher, aka Julianna Baggott. Sweet, touching, a bit magical and romantic. The story is not afraid to take us on a real trek through grief (the main character has lost her husband and is trying to move on with her young son.) Ultimately hopeful, a portrayal of coming out on the other side of pain. Lovely.

~~ Parched by Heather King, followed as quickly as I could get my hands on it by her Redeemed. (Soon to be followed by Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux, courtesy of Atticus, Amazon, and Christmas presents.)

What's that you say? The rest of the world has already read Heather King and I am, as always, roughly seventeen steps behind the rest of the cosmos? Okay, fine. If you want to get technical, yes. That's true. But the following point remains: she is an astonishingly good writer. Loved reading her. Nodded my head too often, thinking, "That could have been me. Oooh, that one was me. Oh, that could've been me if I hadn't gotten out of there ..." She writes about beauty, chaos, confusion (past and ongoing), grace, and mystery. So glad I'm only seventeen steps behind, not a-hundred-and-seventeen.

~~ Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. Loved it so much. Fascinating, and fits so neatly with my own philosophies about education, work, goals, and motivation.

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