To sum up the year of blogging feels nearly impossible to me. It has been absolutely huge in scope and so much has happened that I can't even believe it. It has been exciting and fun and discouraging and just like all things in life--I learned lessons. Or at least I took steps towards learning those lessons, I fear I may have to relearn them again, as I can be quite stubborn.
Some of the important things I learned:
*There's great value in meeting online friends. And it's a lot easier and more comfortable than meeting strangers. I am amazed at how connected I feel to some of you now and how much a part of my life you are. We talk nearly every day, we share one of our greatest passions in common (books) and now that I've spent time with you in real life...I can imagine you saying things...it's pretty cool. But even those of you I haven't met in person are still so dear to me and very real. I hope to meet A LOT more of you this year at various events.
*When fun and exciting things happen because of your blog not everyone will be excited for you. It's still easier to say things publicly on a blog about other people than you would do in real life and the written word can still be misinterpreted. The forum for discussion in the blogging world is still very public.
*But I've also learned it's not worth it to stick around for the drama. While people's feelings are valid and their own and people themselves should be respected, I'm a lot happier reading posts that bring life than posts that plant the seeds of dissension. Not all things need to be known or discussed, I want to blog to share the books I love and I want to read blogs that introduce me to new books, that challenge my complacency of thought, that stir my hear to compassion, and remind me of a greater reality.
*The more I blog about books and the more I get to know other people who love books whether they be authors, publicists, readers, or other bloggers, the more I realize how much the written word matters to me. I love the bookish community fiercely and I hope that my blog is a positive contribution. I hope, in some small way, that I'm making a contribution to the good of it more than to the bad of it (honestly I know I had a lot of missteps this year) and my dream remains the same--that I will help people discover the books that will change their lives.
In no particular order:
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
I thought this was an outstanding and thought provoking little novel that moved me deeply and whispered of truth even amid it's many questions. I wrote on the book and film, but I'd like to requote my favorite passage of the book again today:
The tectonic layers of our lives rest so tightly one on top of the other that we always come up against earlier events in later ones, not as matter that has been fully formed and pushed aside, but absolutely present and alive.
The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
I liked Life as We Knew It but this one I preferred for both it's darker reality and more hopeful view of faith under trial. Pfeffer's post-apocalyptic world feels so real, that when I'm reading the book I'm fully in the story, and the characters and events continue to live in my mind long after. I can't imagine reading these books without being moved to cherish the quickly passing moments of life just a little bit more and abundant blessings of our times.
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum Ucci
I loved this YA novel's exploration of how our actions affect others...we do not live and act in isolation...and the mystery of what happened to Christopher Creed. How much do we hold ourselves responsible when our actions have real consequences? What is reality? Highly recommended.
Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart
Beth writes words that can be read multiple times and you will find new meaning. Even now trying to write about this book again makes me want to reread it. I loved the characters and their sadness and their tentative efforts to reach out and find life and hope in each other. Beth writes hope without being cheesy or cliched. She's really one of the best we've got if you haven't read her yet, why not?
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
The rich characterization in this book alone makes it worth reading. I cried A LOT while reading and I suppose it's because you can't really tackle such a heavy subject matter without dragging life's pain into it. I was absolutely consumed by it, I couldn't stop thinking about it, I didn't want to stop reading it..and I hope I'm a bit more of a compassionate person for having read it.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The follow-up the Hunger Games was better than the first one in my humble opinion as the cruelty grew and the stakes were raised. And Peeta became even more awesome.
The Passion of Mary Margaret by Lisa Samson
I still think of the raw hunger I felt in my belly to know God more deeply when I finished this book. It's so hard to know God on a daily basis..to do the little hard things that chip away the walls around my heart. But a lifetime of doing them will result in the deepest, best, and most important relationship in my life. This book illustrated to me again that I can know God, that He's real. I loved this book and I wept through the ending.
Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell
Another reminder of the power of hope ("no hope is small") and the fierceness of God's love, I loved this gorgeously crafted novel.
A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman
I loved this heart wrenching and beautiful novel about identity. I felt so much for these characters and I appreciated the exploration into their class systems and circumstances.
Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen
I suspect Bich Minh Nguyen is one of the great writers of our future if Short Girls is any indication. I really don't think I read a book with equal characterization or attention to detail this year. I don't remember seeing a lot of people having read it, so I hope more will find the time to read it.
The Midwife by Jennifer Worth
Some memoirs are pure gold and this is one of them. I loved the stories shared and the narrator's journey through them. It was addictive reading and pretty much as good as reading gets.
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
Last but not least is this fantastic YA novel about a pastor's daughter who has lost her faith. And there's a mystery and maybe a little romance too.
Whew! Honorable mentions include, A Reliable Wife, Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same, Secret Keeper, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, If You Come Softly, and Tender Grace.
I have no idea how many books I read and I don't even keep a list of what I read, so I have no stats for you on anything. These are just 12 books that stood out for me, that I loved, that I still think about, and that I hope you will consider reading in the coming year.
It's been a great year of reading...here's to an even better 2010!