When I went back through my week in books posts from 2010 I found that I read 85 books (not including books for children, read to children, or the Bible). That was a bit less than I expected, but I reminded myself that in 2010 I also wrote the first draft of a book and writing a 90,000 word manuscript did take away from some reading time. At any rate, I am satisfied with the 85 books I read and the knowledge and understanding I gained as a result. Of the 85, here are the top ten in chronological order (the first link is to Amazon, the second link is to my longer review).
From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out goes deeper than how to sort out your piles of stuff and tackles how to address the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual clutter that “complicates your life and prevents you from living in peace as you live out your purpose.” This book will encourage you to get to the root cause of clutter in various aspects of your life and would be excellent reading for this time of year. (Week in Books #10)
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day will, without a shadow of a doubt, revolutionize the way you bake bread. What? You don’t bake your own bread? You have no excuse now because this book will show you how to use your very own kitchen to make the kind of bread you’d normally pay out the nose for in a bakery. And really, it does just take a few minutes. It’s shockingly easy, and shockingly delicious. You must own this book, or, at the very least, check it out from the library. (Week in Books #14)
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World is one of the most challenging, convicting, and encouraging books I have ever read. Although the book primarily deals with prayer, it also includes excellent discussions of hope, anxiety, humility, relationships, and covenant. I loved how the author balanced deep and thoughtful theology and theory with personal and humble practical examples. (Week in Books #20)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a rollicking, well-written, clever mystery story told from the perspective of a precocious British eleven year old. Even if you don’t normally read mysteries, I think you’d enjoy this book because it’s so tremendously fun. Moreover, it’s entirely clean and you could actually (gasp) feel okay about letting a kid read it. Except it’s not really written on a kid level, apart from having a child protagonist. At any rate, it’s a great story and you should read it. (Week in Books #27a)
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold is a really fantastic retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. C.S. Lewis weaves in layers of allegorical references to various theologies and philosophies in the midst of his excellent story-telling, which will delight you if you’re familiar with those subjects but won’t leave you confused if you aren’t. This book will leave you with fresh ways of thinking about interesting themes like Truth, man’s relationship to God, the nature of reality, and the search for a true home. Lewis is, I think, the best reference of how a Christian can write excellent fiction that is not “Christian fiction” – expressing Christian themes and points of view in such a way that anyone could still enjoy the book and be challenged in their thinking. (Week in Books #27b)
The Namesake is an incredible, gorgeously written novel about family and identity. I’ve read several of Jhumpa Lahiri’s books now and I still think this one is the best. This author has an amazing way of rendering details and using words exquisitely. (Week in Books #27c)
What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage gets to the roots of how problems get started and grown in even good marriages, and offers deep and practical guidance on how to strengthen your marriage no matter what state it is in currently. This is probably the best book I’ve ever read on marriage, and I’ve read quite a few. (Week in Books #41)
Parrot and Olivier in America is a phenomenally well-written and incredibly interesting novel about two Frenchmen who travel to America in the early 1800s and how they are changed by the experience. Apart from being a great story, the book is full of great detail about the history of the time period. (Week in Books #44a)
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun had a tremendous impact on how I think about myself and my life. In researching and writing about happiness, Gretchen Rubin touched on nearly every aspect of life and then resolved to take action on what she found. Books in the “spend a year doing thus and such” genre can tend toward the fluffy and absurd, but Rubin found depth and insight that I think would be truly helpful to most people. I also enjoy her Happiness Project blog. (Week in Books #47)
Girl in Translation made me cry, which is unusual for a book, and thus it wins a spot in the top ten. I loved this author’s story about a young immigrant girl struggling to find her identity in a new country and being torn between two worlds even in her new life. The ending has a well-executed twist that is thoughtful and complex. (Week in Books #50)
Right now my book stack includes fiction (YA and adult) and non-fiction on topics like education, business, parenting, history, writing, sustainable farming, cooking, and neuroscience. So stay tuned for the week in books 2011 posts coming up!
Thanks so much for reading with me!
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