Monday, January 19, 2015

What I was Reading Last Year

Why is it that I often bemoan not having enough time to read? At the end of the year, the list usually surprises me because I read more than I thought. This must simply continue to prove my theory that,
here a little, there a little, every day a little, gets you through a lot of books in 365 days.

Looking through the list, I have very fond memories of some of the books, learned a lot of lessons about life in most of them, and there aren't too many here that I would rather not have read. Some of the list below were read with my children for school and for fun (not that those two things are at all separate), some for my book club I lead, and some I returned to for a new perspective after a first time reading as much as 40 years ago, some were written by authors I have enjoyed in the past, and many new authors I was pleased to discover.

Some books surprised me. 

Calvin's Institutes, for example, was not nearly as unapproachable as I expected, in fact, was enjoyable, often convicting, and sometimes made me burst out laughing. Though the two huge volumes were a daunting prospect, sure enough, bit by bit, I made it through in a year. 

Another was So Brave Young and Handsome, which I didn't expect to like as much as I did, not being given to enjoying westerns much, but it ended up being one of my favorites of the year.

Surprising also was the discovery that Catcher in the Rye, which I loathed in high school, was a completely different story to me as an old lady. 


I also thought Lord of the Flies and Clockwork Orange were both excellent and full of insight for understanding our contemporary society.

If I had to pick a favorite genre, I would probably point to the poetry. It truly enriched and was the golden thread throughout my year.

I share this list in hopes that some of these will inspire you to strike out in new reading directions. The following list of books read this past year are organized by author; (*) next to a title represents books being read a second or third time.

Poetry and Plays
Heaney, Seamus: Selected Poems, 1966-1987
Hopkins, Gerard Manley: Selected Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
*Milton, John: Paradise Lost
Oliver, Mary: New and Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
Pope, Alexander: Collected Poems
Shakespeare, William: Richard III
Shakespeare, William: Romeo and Juliet

Adams, Samuel Hopkins: The Erie Canal
Behe, Michael: Darwin's Black Box
Bestvater, Laurie: The Living Page
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich: A Testament to Freedom
Burroughs, John: John Burrous' America (ed. Farida Riley)
Butterfield, Rosaria Champagne: Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
Calvin, John: Institutes of the Christian Religion
Churchill, Winston: The Birth of Britain
Collis, John: The Worm Forgives the Plough
Conway, Jill Ker: The Road from Coorain
Conway, Jill Ker: True North
Durrell, Gerald: The Amateur Naturalist
Glass, Karen: Consider This
Hansen, Ron: Exiles
Horn, Rick: Get Out of My Face
Jethani, Skye: With: Re-Imagining How You Relate to God
Johnson, Gerald: American Heroes and Hero Worship
Keller, Timothy: The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
Keller, Timothy: The Reason for Marriage: Facing the Complexities of
Commitment with the Wisdom of God
*Latham, Jean Lee: Carry On Mr. Bowditch
*Mason, Charlotte: Parents and Children
*Mason, Charlotte: Home Education
McCullough, David: The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris
Muir, John: My First Summer in the Sierra
Muir, John: Muir Among the Animals
Nafisi, Azar: Reading Lolita in Tehran
Norris, Kathleen: Dakota
Ruskin, John: The Seven Lamps of Architecture
Sacks, Oliver: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
Tripp, Ted: Shepherding Your Child's Heart
Tuchman, Barbara: The Proud Tower
Watson, James D.: DNA: The Secret of Life
Webb, Robert N.: We Were There with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys
Wilson, Douglas: Wordsmithy

Alcott, Louisa May: Eight Cousins
Alger, Horatio: Ragged Dick, or Street Life in New York With the Boot Blacks
Berry, Wendell: That Distant Land: Collected Stories
Buchan, John: The Powerhouse
Buchan, John: The Thirty-Nine Steps
Buchan, John: Green Mantle
Buchan, John: Mr. Standfast
Buchan, John: The Three Hostages
Burgess, Anthony: A Clockwork Orange
Canfield, Dorothy: Rough Hewn
Collins, Wilkie: The Woman in White
Cooper, Susan: The Dark is Rising
Cooper, Susan: Greenwitch
Cooper, Susan: The Grey King
Cooper, Susan: Silver on the Tree
*Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe
*Dickens, Charles: Bleakhouse
*Dickens, Charles: A Tale of Two Cities
*Eliot, George: Silas Marner
Eliot, George: Daniel Deronda
Enger, Leif: So Brave, Young and Handsome
Fielding, Henry: Tom Jones
Gaskell, Elizabeth: Cousin Phyllis and Other Stories
*George, Jean Craighead: My Side of the Mountain
Golding, Richard: Lord of the Flies
*Goudge, Elizabeth: The Scent of Water
Goudge, Elizabeth: Castle on the Hill
*Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter
James, P.D.: Original Sin
James, P. D.: A Certain Justice
Joyce, James: Dubliners
Lewis, C.S.: The Dark Tower and Other Stories
MacDonald, George: A Peasant Girl's Dream
Percy, Walker: The Movie-Goer
Peters, Ellis: An Excellent Mystery
Peters, Ellis: A Morbid Taste for Bones
Potok, Chiam: Davita's Harp
*Pyle, Howard: Men of Iron
*Pyle, Howard: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
*Salinger, J.D.: The Catcher In the Rye
Sand, George: Marianne
Scott, Sir Walter: The Antiquary
Scott, Sir Walter: The Talisman
*Scott, Sir Walter: Ivanhoe
Shafer, MaryAnn: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein
Stevenson, D.E.: The Baker's Daughter
Stevenson, D.E.: Green Money
Tey, Josephine: The Franchise Affair
Tey, Josephine: The Daughter of Time
Thackeray, William Makepeace: Penn-Dennis: His Fortunes and
Misfortunes, His Friends and His Greatest Enemy
Welty, Eudora: Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
Wharton, Edith: Age of Innocence
Wilson, N.D.: A Hundred Cupboards
Woolfe, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway
Zusak, Markus: The Book Thief

For the joy of reading,



  1. I am so glad you published this post, Liz! I really enjoy reading others' book lists so I thought I would share at least some of what I read last year. (I track what I read with my kids but not in an easily retrieved format so my list of read-alouds will be very incomplete.)

    Lessons at Blackberry Inn - Karen Andreola
    The Screwtape Letters - C. S. Lewis
    Minders of Make Believe - Leonard Marcus
    The Captive Princess - Maxine Shore
    Flight into Spring - Bianca Bradbury
    The Dancing Master - Julie Klaxon
    The Tenement Tree - Kate Seredy
    Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
    41 - George W. Bush
    Last Child in the Woods - Richard Louv
    Back to Virtue (most of this) - Peter Kreeft
    The Bridal Wreath - Sigrid Unset (book 1 of Kristen Lavransdatter trilogy)
    The Mistress of Husaby - Sigred Unset (book 2 of Kristen Lavransdatter trilogy)
    (read-aloud) The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
    (read-aloud) Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren
    *I wish I could remember more read-alouds but am blanking right now*

    Cousin Phyllis - Elizabeth Gaskell
    Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton
    Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
    Sanctuary - Edith Wharton
    The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
    The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
    The Custom of the Country - Edith Wharton
    Glimpses of the Moon - Edith Wharton

    1. Kelly,

      Thank you for sharing your partial list - many of my favorites there, and some others I will have to put on my "need to read" list.


    2. You're so welcome! I want to correct the author's last name who wrote The Dancing Master - it should be Klassen. Sometimes I despise auto-correct on the computer!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your list! I recognize some favorites :) Years ago, I read a Leif Enger book titled, Peace Like a River. It was wonderful. I'll have to check out some of his new works.


    1. Melissa,

      I had read Peace Like a River also. Enger's writing is really beautiful and powerful. I think you will enjoy So Brave, Young and Handsome too.


  3. I am new to your blog and I am loving it. I have read some of your titles this year and others in the past, but there are many new to me ones. I all find that age makes some titles more approachable.
    I did not like The Catcher of Rye in my early 20'a l wonder how it will be now.

  4. I am new to your blog and I am loving it. I have read some of your titles this year and others in the past, but there are many new to me ones. I all find that age makes some titles more approachable.
    I did not like The Catcher of Rye in my early 20'a l wonder how it will be now.

    1. Silvia,
      I am truly grateful that you are enjoying our site. Catcher in the Rye probably will never be a "comfortable" book, but I think his struggles to figure out what is real and worthwhile in life are common to many, and I appreciate the perspective I had on his personality and behavior this time around.