More Book Lists

2005 Commentary on Reading List

January
1. My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary (Book Club) 7

Somewhat interesting because it was during my parents' "era." Not anything WOW!

2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (WEM) 8

I liked it. It was self_reflective for me even though it is difficult to swallow.

3. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (Book Club) 9.5

A beautifully written novel set in 1940's Apartheid South Africa. It has some beautiful themes and is written so poetically. I wrote down quotes because they were lovely.

4. Fight Fat After Forty by Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH 9

It is very no_nonsense advice about eating after forty. It addresses the "why" behind having munchies in the afternoon with practical suggestions for how to help that "CortiZone" period of the day. Excellent, sound nutrition.

5. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (WEM) 9

Lovely. I am an official Edith Wharton fan after this book. Looks at early 19th century upperclass society in New York.

6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (WEM) 8

I "got" it this time around after not really understanding it as a high schooler. It is not that big of a time commitment, and it is worth the read.

February:


7. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (WEM) 6

I think Virginia Woolf was mentally ill, and her mental illness comes out on her pages of this novel. It is such a strange novel, but I liked it in a strange way.

8. The Bounty: The True Story Behind Mutiny on the Bounty by (Book Club) 7

Four hundred ten pages of LOTS of detail about the true story behind what happened on The Bounty. Mutiny on the Bounty didn’t get it right. So, it was fascinating to read how the story got all twisted. Got on the internet and look up Pitcarin Island, and I had a blast. I even emailed a descendent of one of the mutineers! I love it when books become history lessons.
March

9. The Trial by Franz Kafka (WEM) 6 - I know understand what people mean when they something is “Kafkaesque.” It is bizarre, strange, frustrating. It was an education to read.

10. Native Son by Richard Wright(WEM) 8.5 - With all the talk on race, this would be an excellent book to read. The writing was excellent. It is about a black man in 1930's Chicago. Surprised Oprah has pegged it for her classics book club. Important read about the black conditions that lead to social problems. Excellent

11. The Stranger by Albert Camus (WEM) 7.5 - This seemed like an ordinary book that has a twist and a bit of deep philosophy that I found fascinating. Heavy.

April:

12. The Captain’s Dog by (Book Club) 8 - I read this to the kids, but it is also my book club’s book. So, I am including it on my list too.

13. 1984 by George Orwell (WEM) 7.5 - So weird, but it the words and concepts like “Big Brother” and “thought police” have made it in to our modern day vernacular.

14. The Making of a Leader by J. Robert Clinton (WB) 8 - Rereading for the class I will be teaching all next year. I like this guy.

15. Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts (Book Club) 4 - Even though I am a history buff, she jumps around to so many character that it is confusing and doesn’t get you excited about any single woman in history. Boring to read.

16. Leadership Emergence Theory by J. Robert Clinton (WB) 5 - The LOOOONG version of number fourteen. It was too much detail for what I want to accomplish in the class. Felt like it was a waste of time to read.

May

17. The Path by Laurie Beth Jones (WB) 4 - It doesn’t accomplish our goals for the Women’s Development class, but my partner still wants to use it. She can write, but she is not my type of person. I am not in line with her values.

18. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (WEM) 8.75 - I really loved this authors writing, and the way he makes a social statement about the black man in America through this fictional story. Very valuable reading for anyone wanting to have a better understanding of race in America.

19. Seize the Day by Saul Bellow (WEM) 7.5

I liked it. It was a short novel with a good message. I can’t wait to see the Robin Williams film.
20. The Life of Pi (Book Club) 9

What a quirky, good book. TDS has talked about this since it came out, and I am so glad I finally read it. I really enjoyed his fun style of writing and profound insights. I loved his comparison of Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. It nailed the differences and similarities so poignantly. The story at sea and twist at the end was captivating. Couldn’t put it down. Can’t wait to discuss it in book club. I am sure some will hate it and others will love it.

21. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (WEM) 7

Quite a strange book that really is about the interaction of the reader and the novel. I starts the first chapter of ten different novels and never finishes any of the. The real story is the Reader in the story who is on a quest for closure in this crazy “one chapter novel” mystery. It is weird, but I liked it in a strange way.

22. God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life by Paul Kengor (Book Babes Club) 9

I was very uplifted by this book. It was Ronald Reagan’s spiritual history, and its affect on his political ideology and actions, especially as it pertains to his assault on the “evil empire” of communism in the 1980's. I found it very encouraging. I found out many things that I had never known about Reagan.

June - August

23. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (WEM) 8.5 Done 6/5

What a book. What a story about a family in Latin America. I can see why it is a classic. It is surrealistic in nature and writing that is very alive.

24. Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas Sparks (Book Babes Club) 8.5

A memoir of a round-the-world trek that author Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember) takes with his older brother Micah. It is interspersed with their childhood memories. I liked the world wind tour to exotic places! It is a tear-jerker. Some very poignant moments about family. I like Nicholas Sparks as a person immensely.

25. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (Oprah Creekside Book Club) 6

Oprah picked THREE Faulkner books for this summer. UGH! This one is slow and depressing, but I can see that he is a great writer and experimental in nature with Point of View. I don’t know if I will make it through all three, but it is an education in American Literature! Not a favorite for me. Can I survive two more this summer? I am not sure I can make it!

26. 19 Gifts of the Spirit by Leslie B. Flynn 8

Book I read concurrently with my bible study of the spiritual gifts. Very balanced if a little bit dated because it was written in 1972.

27. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (WEM) 8.5

My first Toni Morrison, and I have to say that I loved her writing style. I was transported on every page. I guess I thought she wrote weird books because of the movie Beloved and what bad reviews that it got. The language was crude at points, but it was part of the culture of the book and is not gratuitous.

28. White Noise by Delillo (WEM). 8 What a hoot! It isn’t at all what I expected. He has satirical humor like Dave Berry only with a bite. I guffawed out loud on several occasions. I noticed there is a comedy in production based on this book. Such an interesting departure from the other Well-Educated Mind books that Susan Wise-Bauer had us read. It is contemporary American fiction with much social commentary on our society.

29. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis 9

My kids and I listened to this as part of our summer read-aloud time. I am including it here and their read-aloud list because it has always been my goal to read these, and they wanted to join in the fun! Dad read these to them, but I was never able to sit in on all the “sessions,” or I fell asleep while he was reading. (He has this calming effect on me!) I loved it. Michael York reads this one. Lynn Redgrave reads the next book. Should be a fun ride. Aslan rocks, and there was a bit of mourning as I listened knowing how much Devon loved these.

30. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Oprah Book Club) 7.5

I liked this much more than the above Faulkner book. It had different points of view, and a bunch of “stream of conciousness” writing, but it got much more coherent and together through the point of view of the last son and the omniscient point of view in the last chapter. I am appreciating his genius with every page and being won over (Can you believe it?).

31. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis and read by Lynn Redgrave 9

I have to say that I prefer the male readers in this series over this female. Michael York read the first and Derek Jacobi reads the next. It is still a wonderful story though. Enjoying these.

32. Possession by A.S. Byatt (WEM) 8.75

Can you say impressive writing for a modern novel? I can totally see why Susan Wise-Bauer has this book in her canon of “classics” even though it was written in 1990. This woman has an amazing ability to write beautiful prose AND poetry. It is 555 pages of great reading.

33. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis and read by Derek Jacobi 9

Loved this reader! Eustace so reminds me of my children’s own cousin. Sad but true!

34. Matilda by Roald Dahl 8

Listened to it on tape, and I just love Roald Dahl’s sense of humor. Dark children’s comedy is so interesting. The adults are so bad!

35. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Book Dames Book Club) 8.75

August: This is the read for my new club for the classics. I love Dickens. He is so clever, funny, serious, and profound all rolled up into one great yarn! What can I say? This made me cry. His writing improved so much between Oliver Twist and this book.

36. The Book of Margery Kemp (WEM-Autobiography) 6.5

It was a little boring for me. I wasn’t drawn into her spirituality and was driven a little crazy by her whining.

37. Agamemnon by Aeschylus (WEM-Drama) 8 - Ted Hughes translation

I was surprisingly drawn in by this Greek Tragedy. It only took me an hour and fifty minutes to read, but it made me want to read the whole Oresteian Trilogy. The theme of vengeance and justice powerful. Nikki, Susanne, and I are reading one drama a month. Want to join in?

38. Agamemnon by Aeschylus (WEM-Drama) 8 - Vellacott translation

I wanted to compare the two, and I like them both for different reasons. I wonder what the original Greek actually says. They are like two different Bible translations with Hughes being more like The Message, and Vellacott being more traditional.

September

39-42. The Silver Chair, The Magician’s Nephew, The Horse and His Boy, The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis.

Jeremy Northam, Kenneth Branaugh, Alex Jennings, and Patrick Stewart round out the narrators for our journey through Narnia. They all did a fantastic job. I love Patrick Stewart’s little mouse voice imitations. What a treat this has been for my family and me. I still want to read them too. I haven’t really appreciated it fully. The am much better at seeing the words on the paper.

October

43. Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers 7

This is my first Rivers book after hearing about her for years. She is a good writer. It was a sweet story. It didn’t “wow” me, but sometimes it is nice to read a nice story. It reminded me of Jan Karon’s writing. It was a relaxing read, and I have to admit that I really wanted to read to the end, but it was somewhat predictable.

44. The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team by John Maxwell. 7

It was an easy read for the class I am co-leading. My partner picked the book and will be leading the leadership/teamwork section of the course. I liked it more than I thought I would. Yes, he uses a lot of sports analogies, but I am a jock. So, I enjoyed them. I kept thinking that many of the Laws were pretty obvious, but I thought maybe that is because I have played and worked on a lot of teams. So, there wasn’t anything earth-shattering in there. I was reminded of some things that I need to do though as a team leader rather than just a team member. It was good for that reason.

45. Cultivating the Inner Life by Terri White 5

I read this a couple of months ago, and I forgot to write it down, but I had to reread it for my class. It is written by a friend of mine. It is a very basic book on meditation, prayer, journaling. I wasn’t wild about it. Some girls in the class really liked it though. What is my problem?

46. Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence 9

This is another reread of this classic, and it always encourages me. Had many “presence of God moments” this week as I read it. One most profound while playing Spider Solitaire! Go figure. We will be discussing it in our class in a “book club” manner. Should be fun.

47. Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng 7

A bit too much detail for me during all her interrogations. Overall, it was a good book in that I got an insider’s look at the Cultural Revolution and life under Mao. Chilling.

48. White Bird Flying by Bess Streeter Aldrich 8

YES, all you Aldrich fans, this is the sequel to A Lantern in Her Hand. It is the story of Abbie Deal’s granddaughter, Laura. I read A Lantern in Her Hand too long ago to remember details, but I liked this one even better. It isn’t as long a span of time and not as many characters. I love her writing. It is soothing for me.

November

49. Breathing Lessons Anne Tyler 6.5 (between Okay; enjoyed parts of it and Good)

It just didn’t grab me. I know it won the Pulitzer for Literure in 1989. I just look at another Pulitzer winner, To Kill a Mockingbird, and I think that their standards have really gone down. It was OK, but it was nothing to win a prize over. It was even pretty boring in parts. I didn’t hate it, but it is no Pulitzer.

50. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown 4.5

I asked my husband what he thinks I thought of the book (since he had to listen to me talk about it every night for a month), and he said, “Well-written blasphemy!” I had to chuckle, but I guess it isn’t a laughing matter. I was totally fooled in the mystery, and he kept me on the edge of my seat with his cliff-hanging chapter endings. He is a gifted storyteller, but his facts were so blatantly wrong even from a “generally-accepted” historical standpoint that I wanted to laugh out loud at some of his ludicrous, inaccurate statements. It is good fiction though, and I was motivated to turn the page with the rest of us. I just am sad that some take it as fact. This is the tragedy of this book.

December - Decided to use my Christmas Break reading those books that people have given me to read, or I have asked to borrow. I had QUITE a backlog! Nine books!

51. Changing on the Inside by Dr. John White 6

From my mentors: I liked the part about meditation. It just didn’t hit me very hard, and it wasn’t anything new. The trick is always following through on things. :)

52. The Classics We’ve Read, The Difference They’ve Made Edited by Phil Yancey 8 (from LauraLiz)

I am really impressed with this book and can’t believe I waited so long. I was more interested in some classics than others, but it was an enjoyable read overall. Musings on Tolkien, Dostoevsky, devotional masters, George McDonald, John Donne, Flannery O’Connor, Tolstoy, Thomas Merton. Solzhenitsyn, etc by famous Christian authors. Very “good for the mind” reading.

53. Raising Children to Adore God by Paterick Kavanaugh 7

From Kim, a girl I have discipled: I just skimmed this one. It was a loan one. It was excellent, but it wasn’t anything earth shatteringly new conceptually.

54. What Paul REALLY said about Women by John Temple Bristow 7

From my mentors: Went over the main passages about women and picked them apart by defining the Greek words. He also went into Greek/Roman attitudes toward women and how they were carried into the Christian culture.

54. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orcy 8.5

From my ESFJ buddy, Lisa (who knew I would love this book): Totally enjoyable read. A great adventure story from a woman’s point of view. Loved it!
55. Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians by Gary M. Burge 10

From a Palestinian Christian friend, kicked out of Israel in 1948 when he was fourteen years old: One of those books that I just didn’t have time to read, but SO glad that I did. Remember when I was reading book after book about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict about four years ago? I read a ton of books that were poorly written carrying the a more traditional Evangelical line about Israel being the land of promise in the Bible, and how we need to support Israel. I was never really satisfied, but I moved on until I met with the wife of this Palestinian Christian who wanted to talk with me about our church position on Israel. She gave me this book, and I was so busy I wasn’t able to read it until now. I thought, “I am out of this stage of inquiry. I will just skim it.” Well, have you ever had a book that was life-changing? This is one of those books. It is well-written, well-documented, well-informed and not written carelessly like many of those evangelical Christian books about the subject. It is written by a professor at Wheaton College, and it so though provoking. It was the perfect book to end on Christmas Day as we reflect on the Prince of Peace. I pray weekly for the peace of Jerusalem, but I am so much better informed in my prayer now. I am fueled with compassion for the Palestinian plight like never before. Yes, I believe in the Biblical prophecy concerning Israel, but I also believe in the Biblical principles of ruling ethically and morally. An eye-opening book that I encourage others to read.


56. The Promise by Michael Card 10 - Love these Christmas reflections every year!

57. Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour 10

From #55 friend: Perfect book to read as a follow up of Whose Land? Whose Promise. Moving autobiographical account of a Christian Palestinian from 1948 (at partitioning of Palestine) on into adulthood. I think everyone should read this book! Heartwarming and wrenching in one breath.

58. Affliction by Edith Shaeffer 8

From Carrie: This is a good “theology of suffering” course. She is so Trapdoorish. :) Thanks Carrie for sending it to me. I am sending it back to you after having it for a LOONG time!

59. How to be Filled with the Spirit by A.W. Tozer 7.5

Not my favorite Tozer writing, but it was nice to read him after a long hiatus

60. Scapegoat by Daphne DuMarnier (Author of Rebecca and The Birds)

From my friend, Lisa:

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