I don’t feel that I’ve read much of anything this year apart from books for assignments and essays. And then I had a think and made a list of thirteen books, blogs and posts that I read and enjoyed in 2013. Here they are in an alphabetical list …
1) Adventures and Adversities
Alditha is carried far from her home, family and community in the imaginary country of Taelis somewhere in Europe during the Medeavil era. I enjoyed Alditha’s story of faith, hope and love in the midst of suffering by Sarah Holman. Read my review HERE.
2) Authentic Beauty
It’s rarely that I can honestly say that a book has changed my life. Oh, yes, I’ve been formed and grown by book after book after book since I learned to read. But how many of the hundreds of the books that I’ve read can I identify as having definitely, noticeably changed my life? Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy for one. I read it for the first time when I was twenty-three and earnestly seeking God in a new way. I had a bad cold one night, I remember, so I woke hot and snuffly and miserable at about three o’clock in the morning. I spent four or five hours with Authentic Beauty and God met with me in the space between my heart and the pages. The book is a call to a life defined by Christ and a love, His love, like no other. I read it again this year and my soul was refreshed all over again.
3) Becoming Chao
The story of exactly how I found Becoming Chao isn’t for the www, but it’s a bit of joke between me and God, which is probably one reason why this is one of my favourite books now. Colleen Chao originally blogged for three years at Becoming Chao and at the end of that time, as she celebrated her third wedding anniversary, published her posts in a book. Colleen didn’t marry until the age of thirty-four and on her blog as well as in her book (available on Amazon.com and Amazon UK) she shares stories and insights from her long wait for love from her new perspective as a wife and mother. She writes with conviction, gentleness and a passionate love for God. I’m always encouraged and inspired by her words and I consider Becoming Chao a gift from God in the midst of my current season of life.
4) Holy Is the Day
I didn’t realise that there was going to be another instalment of the Surprised By Oxford story until a dear friend let me know, in September, that Carolyn Weber was writing another book. The theme of the book connects to the theme of my last-and-longest essay for my degree and that, of course, was a great excuse for reading Holy Is the Day. And … it’s different from Surprised by Oxford. Different, but good. It’s not a book to read and understand all at once. I’ve read the book and now I’m pondering the preciousness of life and the pursuit of righteousness.
5) Ink and Vibrato
Colleen Chao isn’t blogging at Becoming Chao now, but the good news is that she is blogging at Ink and Vibrato, as well as Kindred Grace!
6) Lanier’s Books
I’ve been reading Lanier’s Books for eight years or so now. For sheer beauty of expression, Lanier’s Books is my favourite blog, as well as for the calm and lovely way in which Lanier Ivester writes, the delightful nature of the snapshots she shares of her home and garden and the inviting tone of her posts as she considers the deeper concerns of life and faith.
7) Pushed Past the Playground
I was intrigued by the title. What did being pushed past the playground have to do with faith and womanhood? I read Pushed Past the Playground and the post gave me a fresh perspective on my current season of singleness and a number of other things in my life.
8) Something Fresh
What do you get if you take a poor tutor called Ash and a penniless gentlewoman called Joan, reveal that both of them write serial stories for magazine and hate the work, then offer both of them the chance to win a thousand pounds? In Edwardian England, a thousand pounds is a small fortune, so Ash and Joan soon find that they are rivals. Because Something Fresh is a novel by P.G. Wodehouse, it’s packed with eccentric butlers, bumbling heirs and forgetful peers as well as a host of other characters. At the idyllic Blandings Castle everyone gets into a frightful muddle, but Ash at least lives to be grateful for his serial story career, since it enables him to crack the mystery and win the prize. Something Fresh always makes me laugh.
9) Soul Toes Tapping
Soul Toes Tapping is, simply, a beautiful word picture of home and family, faith and celebration, maybe life itself …
10) The Church of Facebook
I read The Church of Facebook for an essay, but found it engaging and provoking, as well as easy to read. Oh … and it’s not “just” about Facebook. It specifically challenged my blogging habit and my community expectations. The critique of my generation as one that lives with an invisible crowd of spectators and assumes, like a celebrity, that people are interested in posts such as “25 Random Things About Me” is fascinating and convicting. So is the suggestion that my generation approaches community as consumers who choose and use what we like rather than receiving and enriching what we’re given with grace. The Church of Facebook is a bit more pro-internet than I am, personally, but nonetheless positive.
11) The Shallows
What if using the internet changes the way we think and feel and … ARE? The Shallows is a detailed and passionate exploration into this possibility. Along the way the author discusses the invention of some of the other “technologies” that changed the world before the internet: the map, the clock and the printing press. The Shallows isn’t a Christian book and there’s a bad word (it’s a bad word in England, anyway, but I’m not sure about America) in a quotation on one page. Otherwise I think The Shallows should be required reading for anyone who uses the internet and worries about the way it’s changing the world … and US.
12) The Village School
Once upon a time in old England … we had village schools and one-room school-rooms and spinster teachers. The Village School is a novel written from the perspective of a village teacher, Miss Read, telling the story of the school and the village over the course of a year. It’s beautiful and poetic.
13) What a Funeral Taught Me About Beauty
If you read one post before the end of the 2013, let it me What a Funeral Taught Me About Beauty, for a new vision of life and faith and what really matters.
What did YOU read and enjoy in 2013?