Daily, my journal clamors for attention. I snuggle into a roomy chair and record praises, prayers, to-do’s, weather reports, maybe upcoming menus or dates. At year-end, I give it more focus and take an accounting of the past 12 months: its joys, sorrows, special people, special events.
Always I remember my friends with the enticing covers and bindings and lots of numbered pages.
They were there when my folks tucked me in and read out of an illustrated children’s Bible. Books remained loyal when yearly changes of schools meant childhood pals faded away…or often were never there. Not only were books close by and willing to open up, they taught valuable lessons when the “whys” of the teenaged years hit. Back then, no teacher ever said, “Wow, you should be a writer someday. I had no “first stories” with hole-punched pages and bound with string, only embarrassing love letters and maudlin poetry.
Those book friends taught me the ways of words, led me to a passion for writing, and got me published.
In honor of my beloved silent sentinels that stand proud on nice wooden shelves, I journal the names of all books read. In 2017, 96 special books passed through my hands, heart, mind, and soul. The year championed Agatha Christie mysteries, returned to time and again for their ability to surprise, their championing of moral codes, their peek into English society of the 1940s-1960s, seen through the eyes of the dapper Hercule Poirot, the deceivingly complex Miss Marple. New York Times notables, blind dates arranged by friends, and a few strangers also made the cut.
Enjoy the 21 books that grabbed hold and held on. May you too meet new friends of the literary kind. They won’t interrupt you when you go off on a tangent or complain when you stay up too late. If the list seems eclectic, I’ve always liked friends in high and low places and everywhere in between.
Happy reading in 2018!
Hillbilly Elegy (Vance)—Insightful but didn’t live up to the hype. Still, I love memoirs, especially when they highlight a culture often underrepresented in literature.
Hamilton (Chernow)—Brilliant, insightful biography about the joyous yet tragic life of an underappreciated, controversial American hero (until this book and the Broadway musical, that is😊)
The Insanity of God—A True Story of Faith Resurrected (Ripken)—Yeah, it’s a strange title. It’s also a penetrating and difficult read on the role of persecution in the Christian’s life.
Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer—Not that well-written and repetitive, but the story must be told.
Undocumented (Peralta) Vivid writing laying bare the harsh reality of life where the seams have ripped open at our southern border.
A Dog’s Purpose (Cameron) Fifty or so years ago, Beautiful Joe introduced me to a dog’s point of view, long before I knew what that meant. I’ve been captivated ever since. Tears flowed during this fast read, wearing the brindle-colored glasses of a dog lover/owner of 16 canines since 1978 (which includes a litter of Dalmatian puppies, but still…)
The Zookeeper’s Wife (Ackerman) The book suffered from a distant point of view, but I loved crazy true story and the fantastical Polish settings. World War II nonfictions continue to be perennial favorites.
Becoming Nicole (Nutt) Poignant and definitely worth the read. Once a fiction nut, I’m being mesmerized by memoirs, especially when they deal with in-the-news topics, like transgender children.
Girl in Translation (Kwok) Another go-to genre, multicultural fiction, shines bright under the hand of an exciting new Chinese-American author who explores choices, loyalties, and what it means to be tough.
In the Land of Blue Burqas (McCord) Faith slams into cross-cultural and religious divides in an exciting memoir by a modern-day Christian heroine. Your view of ministry, evangelism, and sacrifice will change!
Wheel Man (Albergotti & O’Connell) Compelling representative of a new favorite genre, the sports expose. I won’t look at those yellow rubber Livestrong bracelets in the same way again.
Forgiving Forward (Hebel, B & T) Doug Baker, Senior Pastor at Marvin United Methodist Church, suggested this as he spoke from the pulpit. An inspiring Biblical guide with practical tips and personal anecdotes, it’s must reading for those like me with the poisonous besetting sin of unforgiveness.
Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety (Scoblic) An unforgettable memoir of a writer who can’t stop her affair with alcohol. The great prose makes for a compelling read, and if you’re like me and have a trait here and there of addictive personality, put this one on your bedside table.
You and Me Forever (Chan) No ho-hum marriage book but so much more about your passion for God.
League of Denial (Fainaru-Wada and Fainaru) Did you expect the NFL to teach courses like Bullying 101? Lies & Conspiracy 411? The NFL funded these and more “courses” with billions of dollars to keep everyone from its stars to its viewers in the dark about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. In rides Dr. Ann McKee, a former Green Bay Cheesehead, now a “good guy” in relentless pursuit of truth. Books can most def change habits, even ones cultivated by sitting in Daddy’s lap back in the old days, watching the one Saturday college football game. Bye, bye, former pastime. I just can’t stomach what you’ve become, nor can I ignore your Pandora’s box of really bad habits. But don’t take my word for it. Read the book, then this article: http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/08/07/why-you-should-stop-watching-football/FYbCW73jay4MzeMQ6pC5TK/story.html
Elephants Can Remember and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Christie) Picking two of Lady Agatha’s best-sellers from the 30+ read this year is harder than picking just two candies out of a Zurich chocolate store. Start here, and don’t stop!
Girls Like Us (Lloyd) Remarkable memoir of a girl who descended into the hell of sex trafficking and lived not only to tell about it but to help others so enslaved through her group GEMS.
A Wind in the House of Islam (Garrison) Informative read for those who love evangelism and want to know how better to pray.
Memory Man (Baldacci) and Jury of One (Ellis) I rarely pick up “free” books in B&Bs or hotels. That changed at Juliano’s place in Vernazza, Cinque Terre. “Take ’em home!” Juliano insisted. So an old dog can learn a new trick, especially in a very strange year…