Monday, December 28, 2015

My Year in Books

The year has flown. It seems just a month ago I was posting my 2014 reading list. All the major milestones of life, the three great celebrations as Thomas Lynch puts it, have occurred this past year: a wedding of a daughter, the birth of a grandchild, and death of a sister. Life has brought great moments, merrymaking, and heartbreaks in turn. The constants of family, church community, friends, writing and reading are the unbreakable threads that have woven the days and months tightly together.

I have read fabulous books this year, nearly every one outstanding. I used to feel reading was an indulgence, but have grown to believe it is life sustaining, not only bringing pleasure, but nourishing my mind and spirit with ideas, insights, and wisdom for living. I have had the unprecedented (in my life at least) blessing of having several friends volunteer to read books to me that I would otherwise not have access to, one coming to my house one afternoon a week, others e-mailing recorded files. Of course, my beloved husband has faithfully read books to me for over 40 years. My cup runs over with gratitude to them.

A couple of themes emerge as I look over the list. One has been the rereading of several books I read before I was 20. I was amazed to discover that my memory of them had not deceived me and they were gems worth rereading. Other books I read every year: the Bible, the six volumes of Charlotte Mason, The Elements of Style by E. B. White, Calvin's Institutes. I try to read a variety of genres and explore new authors as well. Unintentionally, I discovered I was reading books on writing, so my passion to pursue knowledge led to a special study of that art. Intentionally, for the purpose of research for my CMI lecture, I read books about reading and moral development in children.

So here, in loose categories, are the books that carried me through the very good year of 2015 (an * denotes books that I reread):

The Martyred Christian, 160 Readings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ed. Joan Windmill Brown
Borges: A Reader; Selections from the Writings of Jorge Louis Borges
Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
Caught Up in a Story by Sarah Clarkson
After They Are Yours by Brian Deborg
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
Culture Care by Mako Fujimura
Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken Moral Imagination by Vigen Guroian
Books that Build Character by William Kilpatrick and Gregory and Suzanne Wolfe
Why I Read, The Serious Pleasure of Books by Wendy Lesser
The Second Treatise on Civil Government by John Locke
*Formation of Character by Charlotte M. Mason
*Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason
*Ourselves by Charlotte M. Mason
*Parents and Children by Charlotte M. Mason
*School Education by Charlotte M. Mason
*Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte M. Mason
*Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McIntyre
The Lord's Service by Jeff Meyers
Signposts in a Strange Land by Walker Percy
The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis
When I was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson
The Whimsical Christian by Dorothy L. Sayers
Stories and Story-Telling by Edward Porter St. John
Thirty Million Words: Build Your Child's Brain by Dana Suskind
Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N. D. Wilson
The Writer Who Stayed by William Zinsser

Poetry and Plays:
*The Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheri
Poems by Lord Byron
Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins
*The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson
New and Selected Poems, Volume 2 by Mary Oliver
*Hamlet by William Shakespeare
*The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Poems, selections, Collected Poems 1943-2004 by Richard Wilbur

*The Silent Storm by Marion Marsh Brown
*Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth
Fields of Home by Ralph Moody
Man of the Family by Ralph Moody
Mary Emma and Company by Ralph Moody
Amy Carmichael, Beauty from Ashes by Iain Murray
Anything Can Happen by George and Helen Papaschvily
The Good Master by Kate Seredy
Stillwell and the American Experience in China 1911-45 by Barbara Tuchman

*The Pony Express by Samuel Adams
The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton
The Civil War, a Narrative from Fort Sumter to Perryville by Shelby Foote
America Grows Up by Gerald Johnson
*Gettysburg by MacKinlay Kantor
The Jewish Wars by Josephus

Books on Writing:
*The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Steering the Craft: Twenty-First Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peterson Clark
Someday You'll Write by Elizabeth Yates
*The Elements of Style by E. B. White
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Writing to Learn by William Zinsser


Trent's Last Case by E. C. Bentley
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Brother Cadfael's Penance by Ellis Peters
Dead Man's Ransom by Ellis Peters
A Rare Benedictine by Ellis Peters
Monk's Hood by Ellis Peters
*Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva

The Black Caldron by Lloyd Alexander
*The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander
The High King by Lloyd Alexander
Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
*Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Lily of the Valley by Henri Balzac
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel Brill
Brendan by Frederick Buechner
The Storm by Frederick Buechner
The Wizard's Tide by Frederick Buechner
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge
Middlemarch: A Study of Privincial Life by George Eliot
*Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
The Sound and the Fury by William Falkner
Grendel by John Gardner
*Blue Willow by Doris Gates
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
*Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
*The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
Utopia by Thomas Moore
Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery
Anne's House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery
Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery
Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery
Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery
*Cry, the Beloved Country b Alan Paton
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
King of the Golden River, John Ruskin
Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
*A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Black Star of Kingston by S. D. Smith
The Green Ember by S. D. Smith
*Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
*The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
*The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollop
Dr. Thorne by Anthony Trollop
The Journeyman by Elizabeth Yates


  1. This is a great list that I already see many I would like to read!
    Have you ever read any The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock? This title is just the start of a great series.
    Thank you for all you bring to the feast.
    Happy New Year

    1. Diane,

      Yet another author whose name I've seen, but have not read. I will put that on the TBR list.


  2. I loved this sentence: "I used to feel reading was an indulgence, but have grown to believe it is life sustaining, not only bringing pleasure, but nourishing my mind and spirit with ideas, insights, and wisdom for living." I feel the same way, and it always bothers me when people hear about the number of books I read in a year (which isn't even very many!) and say that they can't read without feeling guilty. I wish all of them could see this post because I think you are spot on!

    1. Amy,

      If you are reading more than one book a year, you are far above the national average. Keep on reading guilt-free.


  3. This is a wonderful list Liz! I see some titles that I have read and many that I are on my list to be read.

    I agree with the quote Amy posted above. Charlotte Mason would call this 'mother culture' or 'pabulum' - meaning nourishment for the mind.

    I personally read a great deal to our children and sometimes lose time to read for myself. Then suddenly, I realize I've grown weary and really need to make time to read for myself in order stay fresh for the children.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Melissa,

      Happy New Year to you as well. Happy new reading.


  4. Liz,
    I remember this post from last year and have been looking forward to it! I am inspired by the quantity and breadth of your reading. I enjoyed sharing my list with you last year and hope it is okay to do so again!
    -The Joy of the Gospel - Pope Francis
    -She Did What She Could - Elisa Morgan
    -Erin's Ring - Laura Pearl
    -The Secret of Pembrooke Park - Julie Klassen
    -Lady Maybe - Julie Klassen
    -A Flight of Angels - Geoffrey Trease
    -The Cross (book 3 of Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy) - Sigrid Undset
    -Caught up in a Story - Sarah Clarkson
    -For the Children's Sake - Susan S. Macaulay (re-read)
    -Peace Like a River - Leif Enger
    -33 Days to Morning Glory - Gaitley (read twice)
    -The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery
    -Pilgrim's Inn - Goudge
    -The Scent of Water - Goudge
    -Girl of the Limberlost - Stratton-Porter
    -The Age of Innocence - Wharton (audio/re-read)
    -Swallows and Amazons - Ransome
    -The Green Ember - Smith
    -The Blackstar of Kingston - Smith
    -The Burgess Flower Book for Children
    -The Secret Garden - Burnett
    -Treasures of the Snow - St. John
    -Just David - Porter
    -The Golden Goblet - McGraw

    There are two books on this list by a modern author who writes Regency historical fiction. One of the two was such a departure from her other books that I was left wondering if I would read her again. I attempted to read her latest book just this week (looking for something enjoyable and light) and have found that, perhaps, after reading my first Elizabeth Goudge and Gene Stratton-Porter books in the last few months, I have started down a one-way road with no hope of turning back. Those books were so beautiful.

    There are some on this list that were not the best books to read, but I know I have grown and am excited to create a wish-list for this year!

    Thank you, Liz!

    1. Kelly,

      Thank you for sharing your list. I agree with you about traveling down a "one-way road"--once certain books are read, they make it forever impossible to enjoy lesser ones again. Thankfully there are a lot of Stratton-Porter and Goudge books for you to continue to enjoy. Keeping a list is almost like keeping a growth chart, and certainly a memory prompter as we recall how we felt or what we were living
      through when we read certain books. Continue to share your good finds.


  5. This was so fun to read through, Liz! What a great list! I JUST finished The Ark by Margot Benary-Isbert today and it was so beautiful! :) I'm still working on my 2015 reads ;)...two more days. We actually have my side of the family's Christmas on January 1st this year. Anyway...again, so love peeking at your reading!

  6. Liz, As always your book list inspires me! I find so many good books to read simply by following your lead. Thank you for lighting the way to books I don't know that I'd find anywhere else.

  7. Liz, As always your book list inspires me! I find so many good books to read simply by following your lead. Thank you for lighting the way to books I don't know that I'd find anywhere else.