Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Book Post

Well, the new book list feels a little overdue. It's taken some time to put together, but with recommendations from various places and a perusal of what's already on my shelves, I think I've got a good collection for the year ahead.
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I've been asked how I choose my books for the year, and how structured my plan is. Well, there's no major method or grand plan it all. I've taken a few recommendations from World magazine to broaden my horizons. If a friend whose opinion I trust raves about a book, I'll probably add it in. I also know my needs and try to make sure they are represented; for instance, I need to stay envisioned for the different tasks and roles in my life, namely homeschooling and mothering, so I try to make sure a couple good books on those subjects are in there (in addition to making sure that I'm reading my Bible - no other book is better!). If I'm trying to grow in a particular area, say Bible memorization, I'll make sure I read a book on it (and try to implement what I read). I've learned that I really benefit from reading good biographies, so I tend to have one or two of them, particularly to read before bed. Reading something heavy or that requires a lot of thought is not great for me to get into before bed - I start doing "the Nod" and end up missing stuff! Same with fiction - that's relaxing/sleepy reading. I also make sure I check our bookshelves, since we invariably add a few pieces to our collection throughout the year.
As for the plan...there really isn't any. I basically read what I want to, what I feel I need to, and occasionally, what I've been told to. :) The book list is mainly just a tool to keep me from wandering aimlessly and bored in between books, and to make sure I read some of those excellent books that make a flash on my radar without forgetting about them. I occasionally veer from the path and pick up something not on the list; maybe I'll add it in, maybe not. I think this past year I've added about 4 books that weren't on there at the beginning of the year, plus probably another half a dozen or so that never made it to the list for one reason or another.
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So, with all that said, it would probably be good to share a few things about the books I read this year. Of them all, there was one I didn't read - Overcoming Sin & Temptation - though it was not for lack of trying. It's supposed to be an updated reworking of John Owen's Mortification of Sin, but I couldn't really get ahold of what had been updated for modern readers. Now granted, I am not the brightest bulb around (a childhood of reading The Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley High will do that to a mind), but I couldn't really...get it. I could read the words and understand most of them but putting it all together made my brain ache. There are others, though, that found it excellent and were really blessed by it, so don't let my experience put you off. I'll probably go back to it another time when I'm feeling more mentally capable.
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I really enjoyed reading A Mother's Heart, by Jean Fleming. The first half was so encouraging and convicting, and is probably something I'll be coming back to on a regular basis. The later portion of the book seemed to be more practical memory-making tips, which was less helpful, but still good stuff. I'd definitely recommend this to any mother - brand new or at it a while.
I picked up The Book Thief  on recommendation of a friend, and it was pretty good. Written from the point of view Death during World War 2 in Germany, it was definitely well written and an interesting perspective, but just didn't really grab me. I read to the end, put it down and thought "Okay, what's next?", rather than "Oh, wow!" I'd be interested to see what anyone else thought?
The Help was excellent, of course. Like everyone else this year, I read the book in a couple of days and enjoyed the movie. I'll be reading anything else Kathryn Stockett writes.
My biggest recommendation is, without question, Bonhoeffer. It's big and intimidating, but don't let that stop you - it gives you plenty of time to get to know this amazing man of faith. Based on the title, you kind of already know the ending (Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy), but the path he takes from privileged child of an influential family to a prisoner at the end of a piano wire is worth the investment it takes to read.
So, there we are. So many books, so little time. I guess it's time to get started...:)