We are well into 2014 and I would like to get the last few book reviews out of my system before starting in on my 2014 list. The last book review post I did was four months ago exactly. Whoa. I hope I can remember all of the books I finished between that time.
*I am a long time fan of the Eldredge clan out in Colorado, and have read many of John's books. I saw that Stasi had another coming out, Becoming Myself, and I wanted to read it. It seemed to be more of a memoir from the dust jacket blurb, so I was excited to read it. To tell the truth I liked her first book, Captivating more, but this book made me think about a lot of deep and heavy things from my past that I wouldn't have if not for the topics within. For that reason alone, I'm glad I read it.
*An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor might be my favorite read of 2013. I was enamored with this book, and it took me a long time to read it (about three weeks) just because I wanted to savor the rich prose and wisdom this book has from front to back cover. I had never heard of her before, but I loved the artwork, and picked it up by chance while our family was at the library. Oh my, how glad I was that I got sucked into it, judging the book by the cover. I am going on to read more of her books this year, especially her new one that comes out in April, Learning to Walk in the Dark. This book is part memoir, part essay about Brown Taylor's faith. I love the subtitle, which is: a geography of faith. That sounds about right.
*I finished Ruby Slippers by Jonalyn Fincher for our bible study and can't say much about it. It was not a good book, though the conversation that developed between all of us was wonderful. Each chapter had very thought-provoking questions at the end that helped us through the topics, but the writing was poor, overly academic, and the graphs were confusing at best. I donated this book after I completed it.
*Grooming the Next Generation for Success by Dani Johnson was a book I read on the way home from Nebraska over the two-week vacation we had. I read it in a day, about a chapter every 45 minutes or so. It's a nonfiction book about training your kids holistically. It sounds better than it was. As a Christian leader and teacher, I was very uncomfortable with a lot of the tone of her book, in the financial realm. It was a bit over the line of the 'prosperity gospel' (if you want it, ask God and He will provide a lot of money!!) and it soured the entire read for me. I do think it is important to teach our children financial health, but that should not be the top tier of their entire upbringing as far as parenting priorities and their future.
*A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman was another favorite from the year. I sure seemed to be going toward the women-Christian-non-fiction books; I actually noticed that while I was reading all of these. I read this book along with others during a 3 month online book club that really enriched the experience for me. I have needed to hear this message for a long time. The book is about living art. That might sound really vague, but it's about giving yourself permission, and then taking little practical steps, to get your art out in the world, whatever that looks like. For me, this book reminded me that I love to write, and I have dreams of being a children's author, and staying overwhelmed by the bigness that comes with publishing, the fear of rejection (after rejection, after rejection) and the horror at my own lack of eloquent writing just had me stagnant in this area of my creative life. I journaled through this book, watched the book club videos, and then followed Emily's "31 Days of Art", which I loved. The book was rich, and I certainly put a lot into 'reading' this book. I'd recommend this to just about anyone who wants to start, but can't figure out where point A even is.
*Natasha Trethewey's newest book of poetry, Thrall, was a book on race, and the relationship between her and her estranged white father. I love her books, and have read every single once since finding her words in my English capstone class back in college. I did my senior project on the book, "Bellocq's Ophelia", and she has won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry a few years ago for her book of poems called, "Native Guard". This book wasn't my favorite of hers, but it was very well-executed. There was a story inside this collection of poems, and her words are always beautiful. If you like poetry, her work is always a good choice.
I got to so many books on my list, but even more from 2013 that I added later to this preliminary list. Some have transferred over to my 2014 list, some have fallen by the wayside. When 2013 was said and done, I believe I read 36 books total. I was surprised it wasn't more, because I felt I did spend a lot of time reading. It felt that way. Stay tuned for 2014, if you love a good list!