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Reads from 2008

January 5, 2009

Another year of fabulous reading has passed. I never plan what I’m going to read in the coming year, but I do keep track and love to share good finds with the rest of you.


PersuasionJane Austen***
What can I say? A classic and enjoyable read. I like Anne Elliot much better in the book than the film versions I’ve seen.

Mansfield Park – Jane Austen***
This was the second time I’ve read this book. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it the way I did the first time I’d read it. I always enjoy a Jane Austen, though, no matter what.

Home to Holly Springs – Jan Karon**
I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t my favorite from this author. Several reasons. One was that the familiar characters I’d come to love weren’t really in it. Secondly, I usually listen to the Jan Karon books on CD, so it was a different experience reading it. Also, I’m not fond of reading dialect, and since this book was filled with it, I think it took away from the reading experience.

Cover Her Face – P. D. James***
A Mind to Murder – P. D. James***
Unnatural Causes – P. D. James***
Shroud for a Nightingale – P. D. James****
The Black Tower – P. D. James***
Death of an Expert Witness – P. D. James****
A Taste for Death – P. D. James***

I’m not usually one for murder mysteries but I love these. The writing quality is truly amazing. There’s been many a time I just have to stop to marvel at a sentence. I don’t think I’ve ever read an author with such a grasp and talent for describing human nature in all it’s nastiness and mixed motives. The only murder mysteries I’ve ever really loved before were Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey books. These are quite different from Sayers’ novels in that they’re much darker and don’t have light-hearted characters to add some gaiety to all the drama. The characters are rarely likable. Even the books’ main character, Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, has a past shrouded with sorrow. But I keep coming back for more. The writing is just so good and the plot always propels me to read with growing excitement to the end. I will say, however, often the first few chapters are difficult to get into. Also, James is good for not going into unnecessary sordid details, but she still deals with some nasty circumstances (obviously, these are murder mysteries) so just beware.

The Maytrees – Annie Dillard****
Certainly one of the most creatively written novels I’ve ever read in my life. See my previous review.

Chocolat – Joanne Harris**
I enjoyed this book, but didn’t love it as much as I expected I would. It’s darker than the lighter-hearted film version. It’s heavy handed on the anti-church message and I thought the ending disappointing.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See ***
I enjoyed this story of friendship that highlighted the importance of honesty and not assuming you know or understand the motives of others.

Anne of Avonlea – L. M. Montgomery***
Anne of the Island – L. M. Montgomery***
Anne of Windy Poplars – L. M. Montgomery***
What can I say, I love my “Anne-Girl”. It’s been great fun revisiting these classics. If you only know and love Anne from the mini-series version, you must actually read the books. Although the mini-series is great, the books are better (big surprise, right?). The mini-series combines many characters and situations together, thus leaving out some great characters and stories. They also totally cut out her college years. I plan on finishing the rest of the series this year. They are my “happy” novels I intersperse between the P. D. James. 🙂


A Mother’s Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother by Jean Fleming***
A great and practical book recommended to me by Bethany. I definitely will return to this book again. The second half of the book, where it gets really practical, is the best.

Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed – Mahaney, Whitacre, Chesemore, Bradshaw***
Check out the review I wrote for Ungrind.

Saved from What? – R. C. Sproul**
A great book by a great author. However, after reading The Holiness of God (which was page-turningly awesome) this one was hard to get through.

The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out – Mark Driscoll****
This year I’ve benefited greatly from Drisoll’s ministry, both his writing and mostly his messages. I’d heard a lot about him and he always seemed to be shocking people. Then I actually started listening to him for myself and I don’t hear much to be shocked about, in the sense of him saying anything that the Bible doesn’t teach. I mean, the Bible is shocking enough in itself. His theology is solid, although his one-liners are easily taken out of context by bloggers. I already reviewed this book here.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America – Erik Larson****
This books was a favorite of the year! Wonderfully written, page turning, fascinating history. I already wrote about it here.

Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin**
Enjoyed this book and I also already wrote about it.

When Sinners Say “I Do” – By Dave Harvey***
The same for this title.

For the Children’s Sake –Susan Schaeffer Macaulay***
I really enjoyed this book. It’s basically about creating a home and educational environment for a child’s growth and development.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart – Tedd Trip***
This is a good book for laying the ground work for training your children. It was very good, although I definitely didn’t agree with all of his arguements. I think it’s especially good (in the practical sense) for parents of older children and teenagers.

In Trouble and In Joy – Sharon James***
I love biographies. Especially of strong Christian women of the past. This book told the stories and impact of three such women: Margaret Baxter, Sarah Edwards, Anne Steele, and Frances Ridley Havergal. I really enjoyed hearing about what these women faced in their lifetime.

Don’t Make Me Count to Three – Ginger Plowman****
An excellent and easy-to-read book about training young children. It encapsulates the message of Shepherding a Child’s Heart in a shorter format and combines more practical help for mom’s of young children than the former title. I loved her “voice” and down-to-earth tone.

Contentment – Lydia Brownback***
An excellent little devotional that’s small but contains a lot of depth.

So, that’s what I read in 2008. I’m now reading Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell and John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy.

Any fabulous reads from 2008 that you want to share too? Or a book you’re currently engrossed in? Either leave a comment with your book title or link here letting me know where to find your booklist!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2009 5:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Danielle. I posted my booklist from last year on my blog too. I want to read a little more fiction this year. I had forgotten about P.D. James. You and Fishmama both recommended those books. I’ll have to see if our library carries them.

  2. January 5, 2009 5:53 pm

    I’m going to get the Glaskell book after I finish Emma. I love having others’ book lists to refer to for good reads. thanks for taking the time to briefly annotate.

  3. January 6, 2009 3:13 am

    I actually read a lot of books this past year. I think one of my favorites was Memoirs of a Geisha. I also liked A Painted House, and The Kite Runner.

  4. January 6, 2009 7:45 am

    I’m reading Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman. I also read “Radical Reformission” in 08 and was both challenged and helped by it. I am now enjoying how (hopefully) “Questioning Evangelism” may be equipping me with practicals on how to apply the philosophy of “Radical Reformission”. It’s a book to read through, but I’d also like to have it as a reference book as well. Kathleen is letting me borrow it for now; I may get my own copy.
    I also picked up “The Excellent Wife” again..that’s just one of those books I keep going back to for inspiration on my role and the standard as a wife.
    I’m not one to recommend fiction b/c I don’t tend to gravitate toward that genre. But, perhaps I’ll try one this year. 🙂 Maybe the Jan Karon series since everyone raves about them and I can do the books on CD. That may work for me. 🙂

  5. January 6, 2009 9:08 am

    I just started my first PD James-Devices and Desires. Good so far, but not quite as engrossing as I had anticipated! We’ll see if it picks up a bit. I am still trying to keep all of the characters straight. =)

  6. January 6, 2009 9:27 am

    I really enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha when I read it a year or so ago. Lib, I haven’t read Devices and Desires yet, I think it’s next on my list (I’m reading them in order, although it doesn’t make a huge different). Stick with it until the end, then tell me what you think.

  7. January 6, 2009 9:30 am

    My favorite read of the year was “The Maytrees,” recommended by you. The characters were so human. It was also very beautifully written – I kept reading it purely for the poetry of the prose!

    I don’t have a lot of time to read, though, so I spent more time enjoying short articles from new blogs – like yours!

    (lol – that sounded like a kiss-up comment if I ever heard one!)

  8. January 6, 2009 9:50 am

    Did you see the review I did on “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”? I really enjoyed that book and I’m glad to know others have too.

    I still have “Persuasion” on my must-read list–perhaps when I’m not so sleep deprived I’ll get it from the library again.

    Right now I’m working at a snail’s pace through a book highly recommended by my friend Lynn. It’s entitled, “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards. It’s not a hard one to get into…just my time to read is sort of low on the priority list right now. :oP

  9. January 6, 2009 12:55 pm

    Kelly, so glad you enjoyed “The Maytrees”! Wasn’t it interesting? And you can say nice things about my blog whenever you want to! 🙂

    Krista, I did see your review of “Snow Flower . . .”. You and Libby had both mentioned it on your blogs and so I decided to read it after you both said you liked it, as we tend towards the same tastes in literature.

  10. January 6, 2009 6:05 pm

    Novel currently reading by Peter Mayle is Anything Considered. Not nearly as fond of it as his first two books, A Year in Provence and Toujours, Provence. The guys’ vocab and humor are amazing, his gift for descritbing French countryside so vivid I feel I’m there.
    Thsi last one is a murder mystery, but not one I’d recommend.

    Also reading Questioning Evangelsim and doing A Heart Like His (the Biblle study).

    I’m still amazed how much you read at this busy time in your life.

  11. January 6, 2009 6:07 pm

    That was me above, Sorry.

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