Wednesday, January 01, 2014

My 2013 Reading List

Books I Read in 2013 
My brother always used to post his reading list every year. Once upon a time, I actually wrote individual reviews of books I read. But this year, a list with mini-reviews will have to do. There may be spoilers. Sorry. 

1. Shapard, David M. (Jane Austen), The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. 
I loved this. I'm a huge Pride and Prejudice fan. (Todd is going to be in P&P at Purdue this spring, playing Mr. Bennett. I read every bit of the annotated information, and found it fascinating, and nerd that I am, managed to incorporate some of the stuff I learned about life in England into my John Wesley class! 

2. Kingsolver, Barbara, Flight Behavior
Kingsolver is one of the best contemporary writers. I could read about any subject she chose to write about and find it fascinating. This book was beautiful, and she is one of my favorites.  

3. Foster, Richard, A Celebration of Discipline. Used this for small group study at church. Walks through 12 spiritual disciplines. It was a challenging/powerful study and book, although I don't see eye to eye with Foster on some things. 

4. Yrigoyen, Charles, John Wesley: Holiness of Heart and Life. Book study at church. 

5-12. Wilder, Laura Ingalls, Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, Farmer Boy, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, These Happy Golden Years, The First Four Years.  I read parts of parts of these books as a child, but skipped some entirely (like Farmer Boy - I had no interest in reading about Almanzo - and The First Four Yeras - I also had no interest in married life for Laura.) I really enjoyed reading them as an adult. 

13. Wilder, Laura Ingalls, A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Journeys Across America. 
I tend to get very into something when I'm interested in it, so after reading the Little House series, I read a little bit about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I never knew that her daughter, Rose, helped her write the series - significantly in all likelihood. Rose has the soft edges in her writing style that Laura really doesn't, at least in this collection of journals and letters. 

14. Chobsky, Stephen, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Lent to me by my brother Tim. Tim loves this book. I thought it was just ok. Sorry Tim! 

15/16. Lutz, Lisa, Trail of the Spellmans and The Last Word.  
My cousin Karen got me hooked on this series. Fun, fast reads. I'm still in denial about Henry though. 

17. Kaling, Mindy, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? 
I never watched The Office, but I love The Mindy Project, and Kaling's book is really very funny. 

18. Garcia, Kami and Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures
I enjoy reading whatever the popular young adult series of the moment is. But Beautiful Creatures - not good. I will not be reading the rest of this series. 

19. Safran Foer, Jonathan, Eating Animals
I'd previously read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so I knew Safran Foer was a good writer, and like Barbara Kingsolver, he has a narrative style for non-fiction that makes a bunch of information read like a novel. This book was excellent. I knew it would be. I told myself that I would make the switch from vegetarian to vegan when I finished reading it (even though Safran Foer really focuses on eating animals, not on using stuff they produce - it's all connected. But the result, of course, was that I read a little slower. But I did it - made the switch to vegan. Almost 3 months now!

20. Picoult, Jodi, The Storyteller
My mom lent this to me. I've read or listened to other Picoult books. Her stories are sometimes just too intense for me. I dread the awfulness that always unfolds in her stories. I'm not sure quite how to describe it. I don't dislike them, or think they're bad, I just don't want to go through the emotional journey of her books. This one was certainly emotional, but in a different way, and I really enjoyed it. Also, it made me want to be a baker. 

21. Willis, Laura Lappins, Finding God in a Bag of Groceries.
My friend Heather lent me this book. Wow, I really just did not enjoy this. (Sorry Heather!) I thought the author trivialized the difference in tasks and responsibilities of clergy and laity in concerning ways. I don't think pastors are better or work harder or are more special than lay folks. But in order to feel good about not pursuing ministry, I felt like the author spoke about ordained ministry in really flippant ways, suggesting pastoral ministry added nothing but empty rituals that people don't find meaningful. I'm sure this wasn't her intent, but that's how it read to me.

22. Hamilton, Adam, The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus
I used this for a small group study at church, and I really enjoyed it. Hamilton's books generally have a similar structure and style, but they're very accessible for congregational use, and they are a kind of study where you get out more if you put in more, but will feel 'surface' if you only want 'surface'. This is one of my favorites of his books. 

23-32: These books I read for my DMin courses this year. I won't link/write-up each one, just my favorite couple:
Barndt, Joseph R. Becoming an Anti‐Racist Church: Journeying Toward Wholeness. 
Branson, Mark Lau, and Juan Martinez. Churches, Cultures, and Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities. 
Brueggemann, Walter. Mandate to Difference: An Invitation to the Contemporary Church. My favorite Brueggemann book to date. Love it. Go back to it frequently to remind myself of what I think the mission of Jesus is, the mission of church is, the mission of Beth is. 
Hicks, Douglas A. With God on All Sides: Leadership in a Devout and Diverse America. 
Kwok, Pui‐lan. Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology. 
Roxburgh, Alan, Fred Romanuk, and Eddie Gibbs. The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World. 
Heifitz, Ronald A., The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World. This book is excellent...and exhausting. I read it and think: maybe this is exactly what churches need. And: I am not this kind of leader and I'm not sure I want to be. Read as part of coursework for the same DMin, where a different class had us read the Brueggemann book above, I have a hard time reconciling the messages. 
Rendle, Gilbert. Journey in the Wilderness: New Life for Mainline Churches. 
Woods, C. Jeff. On the Move: Adding Strength, Speed, and Balance to your Congregation. Woolever, Cynthia and Bruce, Deborah. Field Guide to US Congregations.

Notable audiobooks: (I listen to audiobooks all the time, almost exclusively while I'm driving, and I drive a lot. I usually listen to much lighter stuff than I read. Quick-paced action books and political thrillers work best for me to keep my interest on long trips, but there are a few standouts among the mostly-similar stuff I've listened to: 
Binchy, Maeve, A Week in Winter. I've loved her sweet stories, her wonderful character studies, her intertwining of lives, and I'm so sad I won't have anything new of hers to listen to anymore!

Other: I reread several books every year, my favorite fiction, books for comfort. This usually includes any of Louisa May Alcott books, books I want to reread before movies (or a new book in the series) come out (this year: Hunger Games series, Sookie Stackhouse series.) I'm also reading a beautiful fanction story from the Hunger Games world, a work in progress, called When the Moon Fell in Love with the Sun, based on East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It is beautiful. I don't read a lot of fanfiction, but happened upon this, and really deserves a mention.

In progress: Divergent by Veronica Roth, Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, lent to me by a parishioner who asked me to read it, and When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself, by Steve Corbett, for my DMin project. But I guess I'll review those on my 2014 list!  


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