Monday, January 09, 2017

Book List: 2016

    Another year has come and is gone. I'm not big on making resolutions, but I do like to take some time at the beginning of a year to reassess and make plans and goals. Last year I decided I wanted to carve out more time to read. I do plenty of reading aloud to my kids, and more than enough reading of articles, blogs, and Facebook posts, but somehow that rarely leaves me feeling satisfied, nourished, or rested. There is something to me about having a real book in my hands, turning pages one by one, seeing the progress as my bookmark slowly moves from the front to the middle to the back. There's nothing like closing the book for the last page and reluctantly placing it back on the shelf or returning it to the library or a friend. A good book will stay with me, will plague my thoughts, will become a part of me somehow.

    I began 2016 with a list of nine books I hoped to read during the year. Some I finished, one I read twice, and a few I never started. (They can go on this year's list!) I found others that weren't on my original list, and as I finished each I jotted down the name and the date. At the end of the year I was thrilled to have read nearly 30 books! When I shared my happiness on Facebook recently, several people asked if I could share my list, so I thought I'd do it here, on my largely neglected blog. These are in no particular order. Enjoy!

  1. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Girl, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. This is a true story of a Hmong refugee family with a young daughter who has epilepsy. I found it absolutely fascinating, and would consider it an important read for anyone wanting to understand cultural differences. 
  2. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry. This was a fun read by a Swedish author. I enjoyed it and would recommend it. Part fairy tale, part mystery, quite endearing. 
  3. Heavy Earth, Golden Sky: Tibetan Women Speak About Their Lives. This was a loan from a friend who is married to a Tibetan man, and it was very eye opening. Tibetan beliefs and culture tend to be glamorized in the West, and it was a fascinating glimpse into the real lives of several women. 
  4. A Midwife's Story. Another true story, this one of a midwife who moves to Amish country and begins work there. Interesting and enjoyable. 
  5. Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakeable Peace.  I actually read this one twice, as I felt I needed to re-read it before starting our school year last fall. I'd highly recommend it to any homeschooler! 
  6. Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India. This is the memoir of Madhur Jaffrey, a well known cookbook author from India. Having traveled in India years ago and being a lover of Indian food, I enjoyed it very much. 
  7. The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming. Sally Clarkson has been such an encouraging and inspiring voice in my life the past few years. I was able to attend her conference last winter, and am so exciting that she's doing a retreat in Portland this year. Check it out here.) This book is broken into monthly sections, with ideas and stories to inspire us to create a home that gives life to those who live there and those we welcome. I'm re-reading it this year, a month at a time. 
  8. Life of Pi. I'd watched the movie on an airplane, coming home from Thailand, and when the kids and I were studying India last summer, I picked up the book. It was well written and easy to read, thought provoking and somewhat disturbing. 
  9. At the Foot of the Snows: A Journey of Faith and Words Among the Kham-Speaking People of Nepal. This was a fascinating, true story of a family who lived among the Kham people and did translation work. Nepal is one of my favorite countries, so naturally it was of interest to me, but it was also well told and an interesting glimpse into a people group who at the time were still largely untouched by modern civilization. 
  10. The Lure of the Chilcotin. This is the story of a friend of a friend. I found it interesting because her story in some ways paralleled that of my parents, who lived off the land in British Columbia, Canada, and came to know Christ there. It wasn't particularly well written, but I enjoyed the story. 
  11. Snowflower and the Secret Fan. Set in China, an old woman remembers her life growing up and learning the secret women's writing, nu shu. The kids and I were studying China and so I chose a couple books set there to enhance my own learning and understanding. 
  12. The Good Earth. Pearl Buck's classic, Pulitzer prize winning novel follows the life of a man and his family in China. I really enjoyed this one.
  13. Peace Like a River. I'd read this one a few years ago and loved it. I don't re-read a lot of books, but this one is worth it. The writing is evocative, the story both touching and humorous. It stayed with me for a long time. Read it. 
  14. Mrs. Mike. This has been one of my favorite books since I first read it when I was 12 or 13. Based (loosely, I think) on a true story, it's set in Alberta, Canada, where I grew up. A young woman from Boston goes to live with her uncle and ends up marrying a mountie, and together they live and work among the native people, experiencing deep love, tragedy, and growing together through it all. I hadn't read it in years and it was fun to revisit a story so familiar and beloved. I highly recommend this one, but don't bother with the sequels that were written in later years. 
  15. Adventures in Saying Yes: A Journey From Fear to Faith. The story of a family living in Lebanon, this one was recommended by a man I greatly admire. It was a good read. 
  16. The Awakening of Miss Prim. A fun story with nods to Jane Austen; enjoyable. 
  17. Sold. A quick and heartbreaking read, Sold tells the story of a 13-year old girl from Nepal who is sold into prostitution in India. Written with sensitivity, difficult but important subject matter that is a reality for far too many girls and women the world over. 
  18. The Chosen. Chaim Potok's classic novel about two Jewish fathers raising their sons in WW2 Brooklyn.  I read this in my late teens, and reread it since it was one of Peregrine's literature assignments this year. Excellent glimpse into a different culture and time period. 
  19. The Scent of Water. A charming story set in England with great insights into human nature. 
  20. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits. This one follows the stories of a group of people who illegally cross from Morocco to Spain seeking a better life. An interesting and worthwhile glimpse for anyone who wants or needs to put a face on the "undocumented" among us. 
  21. Divergent. Because any well balanced literary diet must include some young adult fiction, right? Peregrine wanted to read these and I previewed them. 
  22. Insurgent.
  23. Allegiant.
  24. Notes From a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. This one resonated with me on many levels and I could relate to a lot of Tsh Oxenreider's stories and aspirations. 
  25. Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity. I love, love, love Sally Clarkson and highly recommend any and all of her books. She has a way of calling me to excellence and holiness without heaping guilt or heavy burdens on me. I'm so thankful for her voice in my life. 
  26. Windows to our World: Sarah's Journal: Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love, and Giving Life to 10 Children. A fun and inspiring read and glimpse into the life of an interesting family. 
  27. Nearly Orthodox: On Being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Tradition. A friend lent me this after a conversation we had. It touched on some things I've struggled with and I enjoyed it. 
  28. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel. Kind of silly and light hearted. Okay. 
  29. Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love. One more by Sally Clarkson, our Momheart group went through this together. It was my second time though, and it's an excellent read. 
   So there you have it! It's a good feeling to have committed myself to the written word. I have a few I'm in the middle of that I started in 2016, so they'll be a good start on this year's books. I guess people keep lists and notes on Goodreads, but I kind of like my pen and paper. I probably read this many chapter books again aloud to the kids, and hundreds of picture books. Hooray for books!