I posted all the books I read this year, but I also like to share my top ten or so favorites (forgive me for doubling posts today—I’m trying to fit a few things in before year’s end). But it’s so hard to narrow them down. These were not all published this year: some are classics that I recently discovered. All except the last link to my reviews.
- Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope. This was a cozy story, similar in ways to Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. A country doctor had taken in his niece, who fell in love with the young man set to become the village squire. But her position in society is lower than his, and his mother objects. Plus his father is in debt, and he’s encouraged to “marry money.” It was a little predictable, but very enjoyable.
2. Amberwell by D. E. Stevenson is about five children in Scotland raised by aloof parents. By the time the children become adults, the estate had fallen into disrepair. But it draws them all back like a beacon. The children each have distinct personalities and heartaches and joys. I loved getting to know them and Stevenson’s work.
3. None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing by Jen Wilkin. There are some attributes of God we can’t emulate, but they inspire our worship. This is a book I feel sure I’ll read again.
4. In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin. There are some attributes of God we are supposed to reflect as we draw closer to and rely on Him. And I am likely to read this multiple times, too.
5. The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan. This is about the history of the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, and the family who built it. The Biltmore is a favorite place to visit and a lovely work of art.
6. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles tells the fictional story of a man in 1922 Russia placed under house arrest for the rest of his life in an upper room in a hotel. It’s a secular book and had a couple of objectionable elements. But I loved the Count, the way the story unfolded, the wry sense of humor, and the peek into this era of history. I love how Towles had the Count maintain his gentlemanliness despite all circumstances and made the best of them, yet showed in subtle ways how the situation affected him.
7. If We Make It Home: A Novel of Faith and Survival in the Oregon Wilderness by Christina Suzann Nelson tells of a reunion of college friends who close in school but hadn’t spoken in 25 years. They take a survival trip in the Cascades which brings out the best and worst of each. I loved the author’s phrasing and the spiritual and mental journey each women went through.
8. Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker. A teenager is the main caregiver for her mother, who suffers from a brain tumor. When her mother dies, she’s uprooted and sent miles away to live with a single woman. She closes herself off from faith, friendship, and romance. I loved her stepmother’s persistent but not pushy love and the daughter’s slow unfolding.
9. A Very Bookish Thanksgiving by Kelsey Bryant, Rebekah Jones, Sarah Holman, J. Grace Pennington, and Amanda Tero is a collection of five stories which take place around Thanksgiving and tie in with a classic novel. I loved Thanksgiving as a setting. And I also loved the book references and parallels.
10. The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels has a lot going on: a loner who takes on an assumed name to hide the fact that her senator father is on trial for murder and her opening a bookstore and suddenly receiving anonymous packages. It’s a story of how people survive excruciating pain, judgments and misconceptions that are sometimes wrong, and words and their effect.
11. A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White. I could have named several of White’s books—and nearly did. But I decided to choose just one as a representative. This story involves a thief recruited into espionage during WWI. She’s a self-taught violinist sent to retrieve a cypher from a world-renowned violinist whose father worked with cryptography. At points, I wanted to set everything aside and just read this book. I love that Roseanna writes true Christian fiction. Some in this genre feel they can only hint at or suggest spiritual answers to issues, but Roseanna isn’t afraid to get into the meat of wrestling with faith and life. Her writing always gets me in the heart. Plus the story introduced a favorite character, Margo, who appears in further books in the series and whose own story is told in The Number of Love.
12. Stranger Planet by Nathan Pyle. I didn’t review this book, but it’s based on an online comic strip (on Facebook here and Instagram here) about aliens and their observations of life on earth. They’re funny, sometimes sweet and sometimes poignant. They’re perfect for a little relaxation.
I’ve enjoyed reminiscing about these books and sharing them with you. What were some of your favorite books read this year?