Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: The Year in Books

Picking the top books of the year can be so hard, but this year it really came easily. I had a really interesting reading year in that most of the best books I read were not published in 2010. I also read more backlist than before, including classics I should have read long before. Loving a book with all your heart is fabulous and I felt like many of the books I read this year will be added to my "favorite books of all time" list. (also of note is that a few books that may have been among the best books I read this year are not listed because I did some publicity work for the authors) If I wrote a review of the book, you can read it by clicking on the title. I include all genres, because I have no hierarchy in my reading, I can love books from all genres and for all age ranges equally. I, apparently, don't have a problem comparing apples and oranges. :)

Sacredness of Questioning Everything
The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark (Zondervan, 2009)
I read this most excellent book towards the beginning of the year and it has strongly influenced so much of the way I've thought about things this year. It's beyond fabulous and I really recommend it to everyone. We can all stand some questioning of what we accept as truth and some affirmation through it all even when it's painful and bruising. Dark's style is engaging and informative and he weaves many pop culture examples throughout making it a delight to read. More than anything, I hope that I always value the sacredness in asking questions and never ever rest so much in anything as truth that I'm unwilling to question it.

WoundedWounded by Claudia Mair Burney (Cook, 2008)
Our first book for the Faith and Fiction Round Table, I was blown away by what Claudia Mair Burney got away with in Christian fiction. Wounded challenges preconceived ideas and introduces us to the reality that intimacy with Christ often means suffering that feels senseless. Rich and thought provoking, I hope this book is discovered by more and more people. One of the best books that grapples with faith, race, identity, suffering, loving God, and miracles that I've ever read.

Gone windGone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Simon and Schuster, 1936)
My first time to read this classic, I shortly became obsessed with it. It takes a good chunk to get into, but once you're into it, you'll be sucked into Scarlett O'Hara's life. Brilliant characterization, timeless, and entertaining, if you've seen the movie but never read the book...please do. For as much as I've always enjoyed the movie, the book is easily ten thousand times better. Absolutely epic and in my book, a must read. The fact that I often think of it months later is telling, and that I draw comparisons between GWTW storylines and characters with new storylines I encounter cements its place in my personal canon.

The SparrowThe Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (Ballantine Books, 1997)
Having been urged to read this one for awhile, I'm so glad I did. It's a riveting, heartrending look at the weight of religious belief in the lives of the faithful and what it means to discover new land and new peoples...and what you do in that circumstance. Every second I wasn't reading this book, I desperately wanted to be. When you read as much as I do, that's a rare thing. This is a book I hope more and more people read and engage with on a deep level because I think its ideas are important and thought provoking.

Within My HeartWithin My Heart by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, 2010)
A beautiful and perfect romance set in the West, Within My Heart is the story of love, coming to life again and grieving the passing of the ones we love. A delightful romance that lacks angst and showcases an equal partnership between the hero and heroine, it also boasts some of the most beautiful writing I've read in a romance. I just can't recommend it enough. One of the most emotionally satisfying reads I had all year.

Resurrection in MayResurrection in May by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson, 2010)
Lisa Samson celebrates in her writing the things I value, which makes her an almost perfect author for me. She writes such beautiful books and validates human life--all human life. I haven't read a more beautiful and convincing argument against the death penalty or persuasive of the value of all and every second of human life. This is a gentle novel that takes its time but one that deserves to be read and cherished. The difficult process of healing, the value of sustainable living, and the strength of community are some of the beautiful things you'll find in this novel.

Fall for AnythingFall for Anything by Courtney Summers (St. Martin's Griffin, 2010)
A gripping account of the aftermath of her father's suicide, Fall for Anything is Eddie's story of beginning to try to cope with the loss of her father. It's compulsive reading, touching, and unflinching. A story shot through with insight into grief and the human condition.

MockingjayMockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, 2010)
If I were forced to pick a read of the year it would be this one. From the weeks of anticipation to the consumption of the book, to the complete obsession that followed, I loved this book. It was absolutely brutal, while still tending to the fragile growth of hope. While I understand the criticism people have lodged against it, I just don't agree. I feel Mockingjay was a scathing critique of media, a study of the powerful effect war has on the people who are affected, and an examination of its devastating effect. And brilliantly, it also works on an allegorical level--we are all Katniss. I laughed, I cried, I obsessed for weeks afterwards. This trilogy has earned a place on my all time favorite books shelf.

Great Joy
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, 2007)
This gorgeous picture book moved me to tears. It is a perfect book for the holidays, the illustrations are lovely and the story is brimming with hope and compassion. It's definitely secured a permanent place in my collection and I will return to it year after year. Not to be missed, it's a picture that is truly for all ages.

The Disappeared
The Disappeared by Kim Echlin (December, 2009)
A stunningly beautifully written book, The Disappeared is about love, war, and loss. It personalizes horrific world events and explores the way we carry on the memories of those lost. The writing was some of the loveliest I read all year. I would love to see more bloggers cover this one.

Other Notables: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, Fiddler's Green by A.S. Peterson, The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund, Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, Emily of Deep Valley Maud Hart Lovelace, and This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson.

These are the books I loved reading the most this year, the books I feel have become a part of me and will endure in my memory in the years to come. Did you love any of the same books? Have I convinced you to read any of them?

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2011 brings you nothing but enduring joy, time with the ones you love, and of course--great books!

(Read also my year in music, TV/Movies, and Blogs)


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