Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Favorite books read in 2012

According to my "read" bookshelf on, I read 64 books in 2012. At the beginning of the year I had set a goal for myself to read 25. I guess I got on a roll. Here is a short review of some of my favorite books from the past year.


Clara, Gustin and I have thoroughly enjoyed the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. The illustrations and humor are delightful and they are at the perfect reading level for my little Kindergartner who is learning to read this year. I gave a pack of these books to my four year old nephew for Christmas. They are wonderful books.

Elizabeth and I loved reading The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge and The Borrower's by Mary Norton. Both these books fire up the imagination and are simply lovely, especially for young girls. Elizabeth also really enjoyed The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. This book is unique in that the illustrations are not merely a companion to the prose, but rather they actually advance the story. It's a fascinating book that is great for both boys and girls.

Both Elizabeth and Jonathan eagerly sat through The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart as well as the other two books in the trilogy. The books had them thinking hard trying to figure out the different puzzles and mysteries in the story and often laughing out loud in delight.


I've been on a literary analysis kick lately fueled by great books like How Harry Cast His Spell by John Granger, which discusses the Christian symbolism of the Harry Potter books as well as the fascinating structural and stylistic choices that J.K. Rowling made while writing the books, and Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit by Corey Olsen. I've posted a number of times in recent months about my admiration for Professor Olsen's podcasts and I found his book just as fascinating.

Eric and I both read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Wow, what an amazing true story and Laura Hillenbrand (the author of Seabiscuit) has the unique ability to make a work of non-fiction flow and engage the reader as well as any fiction author. Highly recommend.

Catholic Non-Fiction

A Catholic book I read this year, gave as a gift to friends, and am sure to read again is Style, Sex and Substance by Hallie Lord. There is so much to learn from this book and the writing is so good that it immediately earned a spot on my mental list of "books to read again".

I took my time reading A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey. The book is formatted to read about a new saint each week with prayers and reflections for each day of the week about the saint. I followed the format and loved my time spent meeting and praying with so many wonderful saints.

I'm about 2/3 of the way through Walking with God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins but I had to include it as one of my favorites. The book walks you through all of salvation history bringing richer meaning to old Bible stories and unraveling the confusing or obtuse sections of the Old Testament to create a clean, coherent story that leads up to our redemption by Christ. I often found myself stopping and reading particularly fascinating sections aloud to my husband.

Catholic Fiction

I read two light-hearted, fun, but still Catholic, books this year that I thoroughly enjoyed. Looking for the King by David C. Downing is a mystery novel with references to Arthurian legends and the characters interact with several members of the famous Inklings (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien). Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut by Rebecca Bratten Weiss and Regina Doman is Catholic chick-lit that is quirky and fun yet also intelligent. It was a great summer read.


My list of favorite fiction books is too long to go into each one individually, but I really loved all of them and did not want to leave any out. My favoites include: The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Blue Castle by L.M. Montegomery, Bleak House by Charles Dickens, Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell, and Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt.

Two others could also be considered great Catholic literature with their complex Catholic characters, moral dilemmas, and insights into the nature of sin, grace, human nature, and God. They are Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset and Gentian Hill by Elizabeth Goudge. These two books are probably my top two books of the year, though I feel compelled to include Bleak House as well, so instead I'll say they are two of my top three books of the year.

Favorite Re-reads

Since I am often drawn back to my favorite books because they seem to have more and move to give with each reading, I decided to re-read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, and The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Now, I'd love for you to share. What are some of your favorite reads from 2012 that I simply must add to my "to-read" bookshelf in 2013?


Jill said...

Gerald and piggie are awesome!! Henry reads them every night to me. It's all he will check out from the school library. :)

Love your list! I love that you have rereads. My most re-read book is The Red Tent.

I am going to look into some of the titles you posted. Thanks!

Colleen said...

I forgot about The Red Tent. I read that years ago as part of a book club. It would definitely be worth a re-read!

Christine said...

Hi Colleen, I love your book list, I will have to look into the Mo Willems books for Gregory, and your read alouds. Clare enjoyed listening to The Princess and the Goblins by George MacDonald. And I have Unbroken on my to read list, I really enjoyed Seabiscuit.

Also I wanted to respond to your comment. Thank you so much for the encouragement and thoughts. I had a spiritual director in college and early in our marriage. I would highly recommend one if there is someone willing to do it nearby. I think some of my anxiety is sleep related. It tends to go up the less sleep I get. And prayer really helps me, it usually calms me down if I spend some time each day reading and journaling. I will pray for you too.

"Self-Abandonment" the book is helpful, but since we have the ability, it's not a bad idea to make hormonal stuff isn't behind it. I think the political stuff is probably a bigger source of worry than the flu. ;) It is sad to see our current state of affairs. I'm actually reading Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel. The time period seemed as complex or more than ours. The Church and the English government were in a big struggle. It made me feel much better about our own time.

Colleen, you are definitely in my thoughts and prayers.

Colleen said...

Thank you for your comment, Christine! It really, really helps to know that someone else is going through a similar struggle. You will be in my prayers as well!