Saturday, January 02, 2010

Books Read in 2009

It’s become my annual tradition to post an annotated list of books read over the previous year. It motivates me to keep track, for one thing, and I am always amazed how many books I actually get through, even on a light year.

And this was a lighter year for me, primarily because I only listened to one audio book the whole year. Instead of listening to audiobooks in the car, I’ve been vocalizing, to keep my voice limber enough to sing occasionally with our worship team at church. Plus, my kitchen boombox died.

What saved me were the read-alouds from last school year:

Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder)—it took us a long time, stopping and starting, but I finally read this classic to Chicklet, who enjoyed it.

The Secret Garden (Troll abridgement)—she liked this one more. A little shorter, and more pictures.

The Silver Chair, The Last Battle (C.S. Lewis)—The Chronicles of Narnia seem to contain a little more truth each time you read them! Further thoughts here.

White Stallion of Lipizza (Marguerite Henry)—At A Hen’s Pace review here.

The Child's Story Bible (Catherine Vos)--At A Hen's Pace review here.

Tales from Shakespeare (Charles & Mary Lamb) Okay, I'm cheating--we only read Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet. But it was significant enough to count, in my book! Further comment here.

The Wheel on the School (Meindert DeJong)—At A Hen’s Pace review here.

And the books I read myself:

Beyond Smells and Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy (Mark Galli)—At A Hen’s Pace review here.

Acedia and Me (Kathleen Norris)—though I love this author’s other works, this was not my favorite book by her. Acedia (a cousin of depression and sloth) is a complex issue, and though I was struck by many of Norris’ insights and anecdotes, I didn’t connect with the topic overall. But friends who did thought it was amazing.

The Private Patient (P.D. James)—an author I always enjoy. Her mysteries are well-written, psychologically complex and satisfying.

The Warden (Anthony Trollope)--an Anglican churchman who loves peace and quiet, and playing his violin for the old men in his care, gets embroiled in a controversy over whether he deserves the living he's being paid. The lawyer bringing the suit simultaneously courts his daughter. What's a warden to do? This one got a little bogged down at points, but Trollope is such a delightful writer, I didn't mind much.

The Dark Horse (Rumer Godden)—nuns and racetrack folks rub shoulders in this gentle story set in Calcutta, India, in the 1930's. Based on a true incident in which an escaped racehorse sought sanctuary at a Catholic orphanage, setting off a chain of events that met the orphanage's most desperate needs. God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform!

(Shaping the Man Inside) Teenage Boys!: Surviving and Enjoying These Extraordinary Years (Bill Beausay)—I have started so many parenting books and rarely finish one. This one was encouraging, insightful and practical. I read it cover to cover.

Dragon Harper (Anne McCaffrey and Todd J. McCaffrey)—Have I ever posted how much I used to love the Dragonriders of Pern series? The characters are so vivid and memorable, the plots are spellbinding, and the author’s vocabulary stretched mine in many new directions when I first read them back in junior high (I have re-read them several times). The utopian societal structure tested my thinking on ethics, morality and community (marriage is non-existent, and children are raised communally). The new ones that are co-written with her son aren't as good, and this isn’t one I’d re-read, but it was fun to visit Pern again. (My favs? Dragonflight (further comment here), Dragon Quest, The White Dragon, Dragonsong, Dragonsinger.)

So Young, Brave and Handsome (Leif Enger)—a second novel by the author of Peace Like a River. Great characters and an unlikely, yet satisfying, plot. A modern-day Western quest.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)—can’t recommend this one. It was a gift from someone who had not read it. Too sexually, disturbingly graphic.

Home (Marilynne Robinson)—not as good as Gilead, but achingly beautiful in its own way. It expands on characters and a secondary plot from Gilead (At A Hen's Pace review here.)

Freddy and Fredericka (Mark Helprin)—At A Hen’s Pace review here.

Books Read in 2008.

Books Read in 2007.

For more book reviews and lists, visit Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books: Book List Edition.


Kerry said...

Home is on my list for this year. I'm intrigued by Norris' Acedia and Me.

Great List, Jeanne!

MomCO3 said...

Jeanne, I always look forward to your list. I, too, received The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and read it, wishing the whole time that it were on a different subject. I loved the Pern series. Have you read The Blue Sword and The Hero & the Crown (boh by Robin McKinley)? I think you'd like them...

Jessica said...

Jeanne, I like reading your list too! And I liked your review of Freddy and Frederica . . . I've seen it here and there and always wondered what it was about, and now I know!

I second Anne's recommendation of Robin McKinley (well, of some of Robin McKinley), though my two favorites are Beauty and Spindle's End.

Amy said...

I'll come back to this list and your reviews this year!!