According to my "read" bookshelf on Goodreads.com, 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.
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.
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.
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?