Reading 2015

With the coming new year, I usually spend some time journaling about the past year and about goals for the new year and open the blogging year by publishing my reading from the past year.  As always, it's arranged in chronological order with brief annotation.  You might notice some trends, such as rereading old favourites, reading strings of books by the same author, and lots of fiction.  However, if you glance through the unfinished/books in progress section, you will see quite a few weighty books that I have been supplementing my fiction reading, which are accompanying me into 2016.

1. 2/1/15 Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand *kindle
  • My sister Faith had read and recommended this book, and though it took me a little while to get into it, I soon saw the appeal of the story. Its truthfulness and its example of the capacity of humans both for evil and for forgiveness and good was quite moving. Moreover, I now have some competence in bombers (as in aircraft). I read it mostly while flying to the USA and it was quite captivating. 
2. 5/2/15 Stories of My Life by Katherine Paterson*kindle
  • This book was an interesting read, full of the experiences of Paterson in China, in Japan, and as a mother and author. She was very strict in saying it wasn’t a memoir but rather a relation of stories of people in her life—and in her case, very interesting people. 
3. 13/2/15 Jacob I have loved by Katherine Paterson *kindle
  • After reading the not-memoir, I was inspired to reread this book that I'd read as a youth, which is told from the perspective of Louise, the “unloved” twin. I found it both an engaging read as well as a challenge to my own attitudes. It does a good job of showing that even if there is a logical reason for someone’s feelings and actions (and there usually is some reason), that doesn’t necessarily justify the action or attitude. 
4. 13/2/15 The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff
  • After having been lent this by a close friend, I had a read. It delineates ideas about wearing children and granting children early independence in which they’re in the centre of the action (while worn, they are in the midst of all cooking, cleaning, talking, working), while not the centre of attention; this distinction sets the mother up as a stable entity, who is available to the child rather than the slave of the child. Most of the writings were based on her experience with the Yequana people of South America and how balanced and at ease they seemed as a community. 
5. 20/2/15 The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless *kindle
  • Though I didn’t read Into the Wild, I was extremely affected by the film. After watching it with students last year, I came across a website that had more information about the family. When I heard about this book written by Chris McCandless’ sister, I was intrigued and read it over spring break. The content was fascinating, considering the unusual situation of the author and her family in regards to the limelight of a book and film about her brother. Moreover, the unfathomable abuses of her parents and the resulting effects on her and her siblings’ lives made this book a fast read. 
6. 6/3/15 The Story of John G. Paton or Thirty Years Among South Sea Cannibals by John Paton *kindle
  • This book was definitely appealing on every level—well written, interesting content, great perspective, and so on, so I flew through the 400 pages in just a couple of weeks. It’s the story of a Scottish missionary in the 1900s among the New Hebrides/Vanuatu, specifically among cannibalistic tribes. The story of John Paton influenced my faith in my early teenage years, and now I’m under its influence again. I would definitely recommend it. 
7. 18/3/15 Ponnammal, Her Story by Amy Carmichael *kindle
  • Carmichael writes this biography of her co-labourer, Ponnammal, in India. Ponnammal was a young widow who joined Carmichael and others in their work, eventually starting a centre Dohnavur for rescued temple children (devadasi, temple prostitutes) in India. The narrative attempts to give a picture of the once hopeless, then resilient and tireless worker on behalf of the rescued temple girls. 
8. 29/3/15 The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery *kindle
  • Though the plot was not strong, the little stories sprinkled throughout were dear and the innocence of children enjoying a summer together among nature was lovely. 
9. 3/4/15 Lady Susan by Jane Austen *kindle
  • I wanted something light for a sleep-deprived train ride and this did the trick. Nice satire, cleverly written, and a quick read. 
10. April 2015 At the back of the North Wind by George Macdonald *kindle
  • I’d read this years ago and found such refreshment and encouragement in returning to it. There was such purity in it. It reminded me of the spirit of The Little Prince
11. 24/4/15 The Princess and Curdie by George Macdonald *kindle
  • After being so encouraged by At the Back of the North Wind I couldn’t help but pick up another book by Macdonald. I found it insightful and charming, and more George Macdonald books have been bought on my kindle. 
12. 2/5/15 The Princess and the Goblins by George Macdonald *kindle
  • This is the first book before the one mentioned above. It was also delightful, but perhaps I prefer the second one more. 
13. 8/5/15 The Wise Woman by George Macdonald *kindle
  • I think I’m now ready to take a break from my George Macdonald fantasy spree. His writing is lovely, and it’s clear to me how he influenced L’Engle and Lewis. I wish I could have enjoyed his books as a child, though I clearly see their merit now as well. 
14. 27/5/15 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • This is the first time I read a British publication of the book, and I loved the little gems of vocabulary and phrases thrown in. Just as addictive of a book as ever. I just can’t get over them. Brilliant. 
15. 29/5/15 Son by Lois Lowry
  • The fourth part of the Giver series.  I needed a train book, and this did the trick.  It was nice to return to Lowry, as she was an early favourite of mine, and it was nice to see the connections between her various books.
16. 20/6/15 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • This may just be the second time I’ve read this, and I really appreciated it even more this time—the details that fit into the rest of the narrative, the dialogues, etc. 
17. 25/6/15 The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller *kindle
  • This book came highly recommended, and I very much appreciated it. Keller is a pastor in Manhattan, so it’s no surprised that his biblical view of marriage is expressed in a way that is tangible to those coming from a skeptical background as well as those used to more academic approaches. Suffice it to say that he communicates convincingly, intelligently, and well. 
18. July 2015 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

19. 12/7/15 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

20. 31/07/15 The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan
  • I really enjoyed this collection of essays. I hadn’t read anything by Amy Tan before, but this book makes me want to pick up some of her books. I appreciated her use of language and her perspective—as someone who has experienced a lot, she encourages compassion and fairness and gratefulness.  (This was the book I brought with my on my honeymoon.)
21. 10/08/15 Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery *kindle
  • This was a sequel to The Story Girl, which I was delighted to find, since I really enjoyed the characters and antics of The Story Girl. Really, these books are about the feeling of youth more than plot.
22. 19/08/15 Foodist by Darya Rose *kindle
  • I appreciate Rose’s idea of a “foodist” approach to a “healthstyle.” She focuses on real food, mindful eating, and a life including plenty of NEAT exercise as well as intentional exercise. The overarching idea is being informed enough to choose and thus better enjoy quality, healthy food, while still allowing less healthy foods chosen for their occasional pleasure.
23. 22/08/15 Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace *kindle
  • This read was based on wanting something light and playful on a long train ride. However, I still found worth and pleasure in its historicity as well as the concepts and lessons learned along the way. 
24. 23/08/15 Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace *kindle
  • It’s hard to stop at just one Betsy book, so I continued on, continuing to appreciate the notation of slang, changing fashions, traditions and more of 1909-1910 in Minnesota. 
25. August 2015 Carney’s House Party by Maud Hart Lovelace *kindle
  • I decided to continue on my Lovelace kick. I am quite fascinated with how she records the times she lived in. 
26. 31/8/15 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
  • Being put on bed rest requires a certain kind of reading. It was quite fascinating to reread this with the perspective of the whole series in mind (in other words, I was looking at Snape differently). 
27. 1/9/15 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
  • Again, the continuation of bed rest. 
28. 4/9/15 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  • I do always love re-reading Harry Potter and catching some of the details that I missed in my first adolescent eager reading. 
29. Winona’s Pony Cart by Maud Hart Lovelace *kindle
  • This short book came with Carney’s House Party. It’s really a children’s chapter book, and a sweet one about Winona’s birthday and her wish for a pony and a birthday party that turns out differently than her parents expect. 
30. 11/9/15 Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  • This book is the one I typically call my favourite book. It was a pleasure to reread it, and there are always new things to catch my attention. I lent my beloved copy to a dear friend, so here’s hoping it spreads some joy (and that I get it back—maybe I should start making it an annual read). 
31. 18/9/15 Treading on Dreams: Stories from Ireland, retold by Clare West (Oxford Bookworm series)
  • This book was a collection of stories retold at an upper-intermediate English level. It was interesting, but very melancholic. 
32. 20/9/15 Betsy and Joe by Maude Hart Lovelace *kindle
  • Continuing on with Lovelace. 
33. September 2015 Besty and the Great World by Maude Hart Lovelace *kindle
  • I started to get a bit annoyed with Lovelace’s writing style, but finished it anyways, as well as:
34. 27/9/15 Betsy’s Wedding by Maude Hart Lovelace *kindle
  • This one was enjoyable as I’d forgotten some of the plot and events, but I felt myself craving some nonfiction (even though it is highly autobiographical). 
35. 3/10/15 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • This book was absolutely brilliant. Jana lent it to me, and it was such a refreshing change from Angela’s Ashes. The different voices of the book, the creativity of the protagonist, the dialogue, the interesting interspersed photos—I loved everything about this book. (I watched the film after reading this and was disappointed with how altered it was. It was a different concept. Yet I realized that the film also stepped a bit more outside of the boy's character to give a potentially more objective view on him instead of being swayed by how he sees the world.) 
36. 10/10/15 Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  • I’d heard about this book many times, and this year a friend lent it to me. The writing style is great. The content is rather irredeemably despondent. It’s hard to find any hope in the midst of the desperate living conditions described. 
37. 21/10/15 Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer *Jana’s kindle
  • I really enjoyed how successfully the author created the style of a thesaurus-using non-native speaker in the book. I was impressed by it. Again, the form of the novel was interesting. At the end, I was kind of getting tired of it, but I think it’s because I have been reading so much fiction and I’d like to get back to something of more substance. 
38. October 2015 Mockingjay *Jana’s kindle

39. October 2015 Hunger Games *Jana’s kindle

40. November 2015 Game of Thrones *Jana’s kindle
  • The changing perspectives, complex plot, and lack of a protagonist made this quite an interesting read. I read it quite fast, and it was interesting, but I felt it took so much of my time and it wasn’t something that inspired me or propelled me into being a better person, so halfway through the second one I returned Jana’s kindle. 
41. 9.12.15 Transformed into Fire by Judith Hougen *** read of the year
  • This book by my old university professor is one I’ve known about for years and have also owned for quite a while. This just seemed the right time to read it, and boy was it rich. I enjoyed reading it on the tram on my way home. It was a perfect opportunity to pause and reflect on what I read. Mainly it’s about dwelling in God’s presence and love, being present yourself, and extending God’s love to others through your demeanor (a demeanor springing from being infused with God's love and presence). It’s hard to sum it up in short, but a dear, dear read, and one that has been a wellspring for me.
Abandoned Books:
2nd book of Game of Thrones.  
  • I really couldn't bear to give any more time to the book.  As is probably seen above, I have a habit to charge through a series to the end, and though I found the plot, characters, and form of the book fascinating, I couldn't justify continuing to read the series in good conscience.
The Better Baby Book: How to Have a Healthier, Smarter, Happier Baby by Lana Asprey and David Asprey
  • This book was recommended by a friend.  However, it goes so much into detail about the possible pollutants and hormones and so on in nearly all foods, that I find it quite a despondent read that seems like it could do more harm than good.  I don't doubt the information in the book, but I just didn't find it helpful.
Books in Progress: 
George Muller *kindle
  • This rather long book was extremely encouraging and challenging, as it revealed the life of a man who decided to trust whole-heartedly in the promises of God and prayer (especially in accepting no regular income and making no requests for material provision, but personally living and also managing orphanages completely in faith in God's provision and answer to prayer.)  Muller reports again and again how he inquired of God and how God answered, when all human hope was lost.  The only reason I haven't continued in it for quite some time is that it's rather a lengthy book and quite repetitive (although how can one scorn the repetitions of God's faithfulness in provision?)
Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth by Judy Norsigian *kindle
  • I zipped through this book days after learning I was pregnant.  I only paused because I thought I ought to save some of the reading about birth till I was closer to the birth time (as I am now).
What to Eat When You're Pregnant by Dr Nicole M. Avena *kindle
  • I'd heard an NPR interview with the author of this book and so was happy to buy it when I heard of my pregnancy.  I do and don't like the structure of the book.  I think I'd prefer it in hard copy so I could flip through it more easily.  There's great information that focuses on the needs of the baby rather than the "thou shall not eat..." commands of other books (I would contrast it with The Better Baby Book: How to Have a Healthier, Smarter, Happier Baby by Lana Asprey and David Asprey which I bought, perused, and promptly abandoned due to it's over-focus on how nearly every food can be harmful).
What to Expect When You're Expecting
  • A friend passed along this book.  I don't expect to read every word in the book.  I like that it's a collection of information on a while range of pregnant-related topics.  It's rather PC and doesn't typically advocate for one choice being better than another, which I can understand.  I take it as a helpful book in combination with others that I'm reading.
At Home by Bill Bryson
  • This book was read in spurts in between many of the books in my finished list.  Since I read so much fiction this year, this book helped add some substance.  It has an interesting premise which takes the reader into history and detail which one may not ever have a reason to encounter otherwise.
Teaching With Love and Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk
  • I usually like to reread this during the summer.  This copy has been lent out so many times, that it's been more difficult for me to get in a full read.  I have it in my possession, but I was reading it around the same time as I learned of my pregnancy, so pregnancy books ended up taking my focus.
The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business by Gabrielle Palmer 
  • I'm currently on page 216 of this fascinating book.  It talks a lot about, of course, breastfeeding and its merits and historical place in society as well as inhibitions to breastfeeding now, be they artificial formulas, misinformation, self-doubt, work pressure, or other.  There is plenty of good information, and I'd recommend it to anyone.


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