Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Books Read in 2015

I'm a bit late for my usual end-of-year post reviewing the books I read in the past year! I won't review them all, especially because so many were by the same authors. As usual, about half were audiobooks, and I read precious few non-fiction books again, I see. My excuse this year is that I read so many nonfiction articles online!

This year I did not keep track of the movies I watched, so no post on that. Sorry, folks.


The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Thirteen for Dinner
The Big Four
Death in the Clouds
Endless Night
Dumb Witness
The Secret Adversary
After the Funeral
Dead Man's Mirror
(Agatha Christie, read by Hugh Fraser)

Agatha Christie's novels are my go-to audiobooks. My library has 3 shelves of them, and I still haven't listened to them all! I love the British reader who reads most of them. Her plots are ingenious and satisfying; her characters are intriguing and so well-personified. You'd think she'd start to repeat characters, but Dame Christie really was an amazing writer.

Love Among the Chickens (P.G. Wodehouse) 

Nothing beats Jeeves and Wooster, but this novelette was really enjoyable and hilarious.

The Miracle at Speedy Motors
The Double Comfort Safari Club (Alexander McCall Smith)

More from the gently humorous series The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency, set in Botswana.

Pontoon:  A Novel of Lake Woebegon (Garrison Keillor)
This novel surprised me with a sharper, darker and cruder edge than Keillor's usual folksy, feel-good stories of life in a fictional Minnesota small town. This one is NOT family fare.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale)

That's right, all but the last one! It will fall into 2016. 

I have to say that I have enjoyed these on audiobook WAY more than reading them to myself--and I loved reading them as they came out! Maybe it's because I'm finally getting the whole story at once, instead of reading them with months and years in between, but I think it's also because Jim Dale is an incredible reader. He has a different voice for each of the hundreds of characters he eloquently portrays in these award-winning performances.


The Friendly Shakespeare:  A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard (Norrie Epstein)

I've been teaching Shakespeare to teens, I assistant-directed a summer Shakespeare production and I ended up performing in it as well; I had to brush up on my knowledge! This resource was a great refresher on everything I learned in my college Shakespeare class. It was also most amusing and entertaining. I highly recommend! My only complaint is she needs to update her review of Shakespearean films; so many good ones were made after she published this book in 1994.

The Trip to Jerusalem
The Silent Woman
The Merry Devils
The Mad Courtesan
The Roaring Boy
The Laughing Hangman
The Wanton Angel
The Bawdy Basket
The Vagabond Clown
The Counterfeit Crank
The Malevolent Comedy (Edward Marston)

These mysteries are set in the days of Elizabethan theater, in the midst of a troupe very much like the one William Shakespeare wrote for. The detective, Nicholas Bracewell, is the bookholder--something like a stage manager/director, who was the only person to have a complete copy of "the book" or script. We also meet the leading man, the clown, the talented young boy who plays the leading lady's parts, and many other characters secondarily related to the troupe. These mysteries were fun to read and sketch a historically accurate picture. Pre-read before giving to your Shakespeare student though--although there is nothing really gratuitous, these Elizabethans are a lusty group.

The Shakespeare Stealer (Gary Blackwood)

This novel is safe for any age student, and it also gives a good picture of life in an Elizabethan acting troupe. 

A Challenge for the Actor (Uta Hagen)
The Power of the Actor (Ivana Chubbuck)

An acquaintance who is an acting coach recommended these two books on her website, so I read them, since I teach acting to kids. These were definitely geared to adult thinking and did not seem easily applicable to what I do, but I was glad to learn from them.

This Thing of Ours: How Faith Saved My Mafia Marriage (Cammy Franzese)

I was picking out books at the library that might be helpful for B16 with a report he was writing on the Chicago mob, when this title caught my eye. It was fascinating! What an encouragement to see what a huge difference this wife's faith made in a marriage tested by imprisonment and other extreme circumstances. Her mother's faith was a testimony as well.

Prayer (O. Hallesby)

What a find among Father Rooster's many worthwhile books! The cover claimed it was a classic, though I'd never heard of it, but now I believe it. This gentle Norwegian pastor explains so simply how to pray--continually, and without striving. Here's a quote:

To pray is to open the door unto Jesus and admit Him into your distress. Your helplessness is the very thing which opens wide the door unto Him and gives Him access to all your needs.

Here are more. Who knew?

Tuck (Stephen Lawhead)

These are re-imaginings of the Robin Hood legends, set in Wales. We've owned these forever, but I think Father Rooster and I OD'd on Stephen Lawhead back in the day, with his wonderful 6-volume Pendragon series and then some less memorable books after that. His books are set in the post-pagan times of the druids as they were converted to Christianity, so Lawhead's historic world includes beautiful Celtic Christian prayers, songs, mysticism and the occasional miracle. 

Now, if you'd like to read more book lists and reviews, check out the blog Semicolon and her round-up of year-end book posts!


Isaac Early said...

What a lovely list. I like all the authors that I am familiar with (Christie, Wodehouse, Lawhead), and I am interested in checking out the ones I don't know (the Shakespearean mystery series and the book on prayer). Thanks for sharing.

Sherry said...

Whoops, signed into my son's google account instead of mine. The first comment is mine, not Isaac's.