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What I Read this Year: 2011

December 29, 2011

It’s that time of year. Time for the annual reading list. And I want to know what you read too. I know a lot of you also post your reading lists from the past year too, so if you do, make sure you link up at the end of this post. I know we’re all looking for great reads for 2012.

In the fiction department I had a much more satisfying reading experience than last year. My personal rating system:

* Mediocre
** Good
*** Very Good
**** Excellent


The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton****
I like gothic novels. Strike that. Love them. I went on a Kate Morton extravaganza this year and read all her books. This one was my favorite. Mystery. A fairy tale book. An old garden. All is finally told as family secrets are unravelled.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows****
This book was pure delight. This witty narrative is told through letters but it’s not at all stale. The characters come to life as they share their war stories to writer Juliet Ashton who’s searching for material for her next book.

The House at Riverton – Kate Morton***
An “upstairs/downstairs” type of novel, the drama unfolds through the eyes of housemaid, Grace. Now, elderly, Grace thinks back on her younger years and the mystery surrounding a young poet’s death.

Ahab’s Wife: or, The Star-Gazer – Sena Jeter Naslund***
The author takes the reference to Ahab’s wife in Moby-Dick and fashions a life-story for her. Superbly written and meticulously researched, the story was at once gripping and disturbing at times. Sometimes I loved reading it and other times I got bogged and wanted to put it down. I ended up with mixed feelings about it. Not for the faint of heart in length or at times, substance.

The Distant Hours – Kate Morton****
A long-lost letter finally reaches its destination and causes Edie Burchill to peel back the layers of her mother’s history and her connection to the ancient spinster sisters of Milderhurst Castle.

In the Company of Others – Jan Karon***
I listened to this as an audiobook. It was a bit slow, but I love the character of Father Tim and joining him on his trip to Ireland. After a theft at the B&B where they’re staying and Cynthia has an injury, their stay is extended and Father Tim becomes involved with the family problems of Conors.

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy****
This was a second read through this magnificent novel. It’s one of my all-time favorites. With themes of betrayal and faithfulness, love and forgiveness, death and life, it transcends time and is as relevant today as it was when first published.

Entwined – Heather Dixon****
This book was just plain fun. I listened to it on audiobook and was hooked. It’s a retelling of the fairytale of the 12 dancing princesses. It was a beautifully written fantasy and had marvelous descriptions.

Hamlet – Shakespeare****
A classic. What more can I say?

Stepping Heavenward – Elizabeth Prentiss**
This was my first free Kindle download. I used to own the book but have since misplaced it and wanted to reread. I like the fact that despite the fact it was written during the 1800’s it still comes off as being very real. The main heroine is completely honest with her faith struggles and failings. As it went on it got a bit tedious and didn’t always agree some of the theology presented.

Coming Home – Rosamund Pilcher***
This was my first Pilcher and I soon was sucked into English world of Judith Dunbar. This was another audiobook read by the lovely Vanessa Redgrave. The quality of the recording was a bit old, but still enjoyable. Looking forward to reading more Pilcher next year.

The Violets of March – Sarah Jio****
This was a fast and easy read, but one that immediately “grabbed” me. After her marriage ends, Emily goes to spend some time with her Aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island near Seattle. Once there, she discovers a diary that plunges her into discovering  a mystery in her family history.

The Seamstress – Frances De Potes Peebles**
Although it started off great, I found it ultimately tedious. The history was interesting as were the characters. However, in the middle it dragged.


An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Faith Patricia St. John****
This book has since been renamed, but is writer and missionary Patricia St. John’s autobiography. Just as engaging as her many children’s books, I loved learning about her amazing life. As a missionary nurse someone who reached out to many beggar children, I wonder how she had time to write all she did!

The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children – Sally Clarkson***
I really appreciate Sally Clarkson’s parenting/mothering heart and this book is at once deep and practical. I constantly need to be reminded that motherhood is ministry.

One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp***
I relate to Voskamp on many levels: her struggle with forgiveness and her strained relationship with her father being the most obvious. I appreciate her gut-wrenching honesty and her tenacious attempt to find God’s gifts in everything. Her poetic and almost stream-of-conscious writing is one-of-a-kind and can be hard to get used too. It lends itself well to blogs, but was harder to stay with in a longer book, I thought.

Speaking Truth in Love – David Powlison**
Good content, excellent writing. But I still got bogged down at times for reasons I’m not sure. I really appreciated the message, however, as I plowed through.

Faithful Women, Extraordinary God
– Noel Piper****
This was a reread for me. I love biographies and this is a compilation of five biographies: Sarah Edwards, Lilias Trotter, Gladys Aylward, Esther Ahn Kim and Helen Roseveare. These women are so inspiring. And Piper ends each chapter by drawing from their lives and applying it to our own, contemporary Christian walk.

His Word in My Heart: Memorizing Scripture for a Closer Walk with God – Janet Pope***
This was a year of me growing in the area of memorizing God’s Word. This was the perfect tool to help me with that.

The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism – Timothy Keller****
There’s only one Tim Keller. This book took me a long time to get through because it’s got so much to think about. It basically gives a rational argument for Christianity. It’s at once deep and refreshingly direct in writing style. I appreciate how widely read Keller is and how he includes so much writing/arguments from contemporary atheists.

Currently, I’m finishing up Emily Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl and P. D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley.

Now it’s Your Turn

I want to know what you read. It doesn’t have to be a whole list like I did. It could even just be your one favorite book of the whole year! But do share. I want to do some good reading in 2012. Comment below or share by linking a blog post of your own below:

Click here to enter the link to your booklist post and view other’s lists…

12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2011 9:28 pm

    some intriguing things here I will have to put on my 2012 list! I have to say, though, I read Anna Karenina a few years ago, and it didn’t do much for me. It took me all summer to plow through it and I ended up feeling kind of stupid, like it was really deep and beautiful and just went over my head or something! I’m really wanting to read Crime and Punishment, but I’ve heard the translation *really* matters and can’t seem to find a free (library or Kindle download) copy of the Pevear/Volokhonsky(?) translation.

    I’ve started my round-up posts but won’t have it up until next week. I did more reading this year than ever because it’s my nursing activity! so I read quite a few books I loved and can highly recommend.

    • December 30, 2011 5:44 am

      I look forward to your list, Amy. I always get good suggestions from you. There’s so much in Anna yes, I’ve discovered translation matters a lot when picking up these Russian tomes!

  2. Bethany permalink
    December 30, 2011 12:49 am

    Oh wonderful. I might go download one now to read. I will try to post mine later, although this was a leaner year for me due to pregnancy. I just always fell asleep. Plus since I’ve had the baby I’ve needed lighter fare due to brain fog. But I feel like I am coming out of that now and reading more while nursing.

    I love Anna Karenina. Last time I read it was before kids. You have inspired me to read it again. I agree on the 1000 gifts book. I really liked the message and for me reading it in a book group helped. It was one where we met often going over a chapter or two at a time and that was helpful in dissecting her language. I did start to fade the last two chapters. But still a good book. I want to hear your thoughts on Death Comes to Pemberley. I almost picked that one up.

    • December 30, 2011 5:46 am

      Oh good. I always get great titles from you, Bethany! I’ll review Death Comes to Pemberley when I’m finished . . .

  3. Bethany permalink
    December 30, 2011 12:57 am

    Entwined is .99 cents on kindle download at amazon 🙂

  4. December 30, 2011 3:18 pm

    I just posted my list! Exciting to check out some of your recommendations!

  5. December 30, 2011 3:18 pm


  6. December 30, 2011 10:41 pm

    You know my reading doesn’t hold a candle to yours or anyone who would post here, but I did leave a reply at Krista’s blog post about some of the books I *read* (mostly) this past year. 🙂

  7. January 2, 2012 4:58 pm

    Are you going to post your 2012 goals? It’s not sad that they’re year long. I think it’s great. I feel a bit like a cop out but I think the 30 day challenges are all I can handle at this point in my life. pathetic possibly? I’m trying to respond humbly to my frame. 😉

  8. Amy permalink
    January 15, 2012 8:34 pm

    Yay! I love reading lists! Now I have more books to look for. My favorite book of the year was “The Help”. (Mine and everyone else’s!) Also, I know this is a totally random questions but, I was looking at the books in your picture (getting more book ideas). Can you tell me what the book is on top of the stack? Thanks : )

    • January 16, 2012 8:49 am

      Hi Amy. The book on top is “The Valley of Vision” which is a collection of Puritan prayers.


  1. What I’m Reading in 2012 « Hope Road

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