Monday, December 26, 2016

Books at the Finish

Where does the year go, we usually wonder. At least part of this past one was spent in reading all kinds of books. I’ve posted those I finished each month through October, and here are those I finished reading in November, but postponed listing because of Advent. I look forward to one more week of reading before turning to a new year and new possibilities within the covers of new and old books for young and old readers.

1. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenit͡syn.

I’ve never read anything by this author before and can now agree with others about his masterful storytelling. This book describes an entire day in a Soviet prison camp in the 1950’s. It was vivid and enlightening about the era that was mysteriously prominent in my childhood. Though dim in hope, this man’s survival by cunning, humor, and empathy for his fellow man shows the indomitable spirit of man even in life’s grimmest circumstances.

2. The History of Henry Esmond by William Makepeace Thackeray. I have grown to appreciate this author in the past few years and this historical novel added to my appreciation. It informed me about a period of English history I was very vague about and his character portrayals and plot development is intriguing. I always think I know some people just like the ones he brings to life. Incidentally, this is the prequel to The Virginians.

3. The Control of Nature by John McPhee. Pardon the puns, but this one will rock your world. The enormous earth changing attempts of man to try to circumvent or reroute nature’s purposes are astounding, both in engineering feats and nature’s effortless defeats. The rerouting the Mississippi, volcanic lava flows, Californian mud slides are some of those battle zones he highlights in his usual absorbing narrative. This would be great ecology or earth science reading for high schoolers.

4. Prayer by Timothy Keller. I actually have read slowly through this book twice this year. It is a carefully researched and thoughtful presentation of the principles and practice of prayer throughout the Christian church and full of principles for making prayer a living part of a Christian’s daily life. I’ve read lots of books on prayer throughout my life and this is the most eye opening yet.

5. The Miller’s Dance by Winston Graham. In a period of near exhaustion, I decided to indulge in finishing out this 12 novel series. I have enjoyed living withthe Poldarks this year. This one shifts focus to the second generation, whose struggles are reminiscent of those of their parents, Ross and Demelza.

6. The Loving Cup by Winston Graham. The series continues and this one is a bit suspenseful and apprehensive of the consequences of the choices being made by its young people.

7. The Twisted Sword by Winston Graham. The setting of this novel is the upheavals in France after Napoleon’s banishment and subsequent escape and attempt to regain control. Naturally, the Poldark family is caught up in the climactic account of the Battle of Waterloo.

8. Bella Poldark by Winston Graham. This final novel focuses on the youngest Poldark children, the changing social mores of England entering the modern era, and is a quite satisfactory wrapping up of the long life of one couple from post Revolutionary America to the industrial age.

9. The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin. I reread this systematic theology for the third year in a row and continued to glean valuable knowledge for life and practice. His mind and heart amaze me and the thorough and logical progression he sets forth is easy to follow to reveal the scope of a Christian’s foundational beliefs. I have of course heard this book quoted all my life, but was inspired to make it part of daily reading by Marilynne Robinson’s habit of continuously reading Calvin. One author inspires us to read others.

For the joy of reading,



  1. I always enjoy your book posts, thanks for sharing them! I remember reading part of One Day in the Life... when I was in high school and having a hard time even having a context for the book. I'd like to try again as an adult because I'm sure I would find it a much more compelling and powerful novel.

    1. Amber,

      Life experience does make some adult novels much more real. In fact, I think almost every novel I read in high school that I have returned to has seemed like an entirely different book.