This post is one of my favorites to write every year. Looking back through all the books I read during the year is like revisiting old friends. I try to keep my end-of-year favorites between 10-15. Some rise to the top immediately. Others I have to think about and weigh.
Not all of these books were written this year; in fact, most of them weren’t. But most were first-time reads for me this year.
Another Gospel: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity by Alisa Childers, nonfiction. I knew fairly soon that this would be one of my top books. Alisa Childers’ faith was shaken by her pastor, of all people, as he undermined the validity of the Bible, the nature of Christ’s atonement, and so many fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. Alisa realized that she didn’t know why she believed what she believed. And to her credit, instead of just following along, she began to read and study for herself. This book is her testimony as well as her answer to the issues the progressive movement brings up.
Heaven and Nature Sing: 25 Advent Reflections to Bring Joy to the World by Hannah Anderson, nonfiction. As the title indicates, Hannah focuses on various aspects of the Christmas narrative, especially in connection with nature. She brings such a depth of thought and brings out things I had not considered before.
Joy: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback, nonfiction, is made up of 42 fairly short devotions on the topic of joy. Being joyful is not a matter of having a bubble personality. It runs much deeper. I enjoyed the truths Lydia bought out.
O Love That Will not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence, complied by Nancy Guthrie, nonfiction. Most people are uncomfortable thinking about death. Even if we know we’re going to heaven because we’ve believed on Jesus as Savior, we can be a little afraid of death and dying. It’s not for nothing that the Bible calls death the last enemy. Nancy has assembled writings from an assortment of Christian writers over time to help.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Lady Carnarvon, nonfiction. The author is the current countess of Highclere Castle, which was used as the ancestral home of the characters in Downton Abbey series on PBS. But you don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy the book. Lady Almina oversaw the castle through World War II, when she turned it into a hospital for wounded soldiers. She accompanied her husband on many travels to Egypt for his health, and where he and friend Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb. The first part of the book was largely informational and a little hard to get into, but before long it became fascinating.
The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron, Christian fiction, is my favorite fiction book this year. It was released just this summer. It’s based on the true account of an Italian hospital which made up a contagious disease they called Syndrome K to keep the Nazis away from one ward. They then used that ward to hide Jewish refugees until they could find somewhere for them to go.Two US military men, a newly-orphaned child, and a ballerina and her partner end up in the hospital as well and try to help. The story is uncovered by two descendants of some of the characters in modern times who follow clues to find out what happened. Excellent.
Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer, Christian fiction, is another split-time novel involving modern characters trying to find the history of their ancestors. In this case, Hazel DeFord’s younger sister disappeared when they were children, when Hazel was supposed to be watching her. Hazel didn’t tell her daughter, but this loss made her overly controlling, perfectionistic, and anxious–which drove her daughter away. Her granddaughter is a cold-case detective who unwittingly discovers old pictures of Maggie, Hazel’s sister, and uses time healing from an accident to investigate the 70-year-old case, hoping to bring closure to her grandmother and healing to her and her mother.
The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, Christian fiction, is a novel about an adopted heiress who finds out who her true father is. But will the rest of her father’s family accept her, and will her relationship with her friend, Justin, who she secretly loves, survive? And will she realize the man trying to woo her is a predator? This sounds like a fluff read, but there is no fluff in Roseanna’s books. She brings such depth into her characters and plot.
Midnight, Christmas Eve by Andy Clapp, Christian fiction, is a sweet story about two teenagers who decide that in five years time, if they are not married, they’ll come back to “their” bench in their home town at midnight on Christmas Eve and get engaged. He comes; she does not. He continues to come for the next several Christmas Eves.
Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan is a novel about a college girl is London whose younger brother is dying. Her brother is obsessed with the world of Narnia and wants to know whether it’s a real place, and if not, where it came from. When he learns the author, C. S. Lewis, teaches at his sister’s college, he begs her to meet Lewis and ask these questions. There are three levels to this story: Megs and George and their family, Lewis’ biography, and Megs’ learning the value of stories. I didn’t agree with every point of theology from the author, but the overall story was very good.
The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow is secular fiction from the world of Pride and Prejudice, from the viewpoint of Mary, the quiet sister in the background in Austen’s book. It suffered from a bit of over-explanation in a couple of places, but overall it was excellently done. And the audiobook was very good.
The Winnie the Pooh books by A. A. Milne. I reviewed the two books of stories and two of poetry all together. The Pooh videos were a big part of my kids’ growing up. There was a weekly cartoon of Pooh on then with new stories. But somehow we never read the books together. I wish we had. It was sweet and nostalgic to read them as an adult.
So that’s my top twelve this year. What was your favorite among the books you read this year? Have you read any of the ones I listed?
I read Once Upon a Wardrobe and loved it. Thanks for the list!
You’re welcome! Loved that one.
I’ve had the one about the other Bennett sister on my want to read list for a bit. I’ll have to look for it at our town library next time I go. Of course I’ve read ALL the Winnie the Pooh as both daughters were obsessed with them in elementary school. The advent one sounds great. I haven’t thought about which of the 40 books I read would be my top faves. Hm….i’ll have to think on it and look back at my reviews. I do know what one was NOT> Back to the library it went after c hapter 1 due to horrible F words every other sentence and sexual scenes based on adultery. and the author is considered a BESTSELLER! her books will NOT enter my home.
I return those kinds of books, too. Thankfully both Audible and Kindle will allow returns.
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I would have a hard time coming up with my favorite books of the year — although Goodreads would make it quite a bit easier, I think?? Enjoyed your list and there are several I think I’d enjoy — the non-fic about the progressive becoming a Christian, the Downton Abbey one (I think I’ve read the author’s other book on the topic), and of course Winnie the Pooh (read some as a child but it would be fun to do as an adult) 🙂
I want to read the other one about the Highclere castle, too. I think it covers the next stage of history after Lady Almina. The one about progressive Christianity was excellent. I had seen some of what the author talked about but hadn’t known it was under that umbrella.
I love Alisa Childers youtube channel. I learn so much about defending our faith intelligently. I read her book Another Gospel?? this year and really liked it. I love Kim Vogel Sawyer and have to get this one moved up on my TBR. I listened to Once Upon a Wardrobe and really enjoyed it.
I’ll have to check out Alisa’s YouTube channel.
I have added two new books to my list. Thank you!
Yay! I love expanding people’s reading lists. 🙂
It’s good to read your recommendations and several of these sound good, especially the Nancy Guthrie one. I haven’t read any of Lydia Brownback’s books yet but I have one on Trust (which I guess must be in the same series as your one on Joy) so I’m looking forward to reading that soon.
I read the one on trust a few years ago and enjoyed it. I need to look back over it, as I have forgotten much of it.
I’m following up on some of these titles! They all sound good. Side note: are more novels being written as split times than normal? I know it’s always been a thing, but I run across SO many books that way now (and I don’t even read that much fiction!).
Split-time novels do seem to be a big thing now. I don’t know if they are more than they used to be, but I am seeing them more often, too.
What a great list! I can’t wait to purchase a couple of these. I’m not sure about my own favorites. Although I recently read Jerry Jenkins’ Writing for the Soul and it was a nice change of pace from much of the non-fiction I normally read. I think I’m ready for a good fiction read, too, so will pick one from your list.
Oh I’m going to have to add Midnight, Christmas Eve to my next December’s reading list; that sounds like a good one!
I’m so glad you read the Pooh books, even belatedly! We love them. Just this past year, after subscribing to Disney+, my 8-year-old and I watched the Pooh movie that I had seen in the theater as a child (1977, I think) and not since. It’s very sweet and much more faithful to the books than other Pooh movies/TV.
One of my most pleasant surprises in 2022 reading was The Children of Willesden Lane, a book my 17-year-old son chose to give me for Mother’s Day. It describes a World War II Jewish refugee experience that was different from any other I’ve read: a teenager who lived in a youth hostel and became a concert pianist. <a href="https://articles.earthlingshandbook.org/2022/06/14/suburban-nation-happy-city-owl-musings/"Here's my review with more details.
What a great top book list! Some of these caught my attention so I’m going to have to check them out.
Thank you bunches for sharing this list with Sweet Tea & Friends this month.
I have not heard about these books before, but they do sound worth reading. I’ve definitely got some books to add to my to-read list. Thank you for sharing!
You’re very welcome! I am always glad to add to others’ reading lists. 🙂