A Year in Books

As the evening wears it’s usual dark, wet cloak, I searched my book shelf trying to remember which books were read recently, which were read in the recent past and which have long since been collecting dust. I even enlisted my Amazon order history to help decipher the dilemma. At last, I had to look up a release date, and much to my dismay, my favorite book of 2010 was actually a 2009 read.

One thing’s for certain — the wet weather cultivates a climate for reading. Seattle’s considered the most read city in America, and here’s my slice of that pie:

Deep Church by Jim Belcher
A detailed account of the differences between the traditional and emerging church, this book would make a  good college course selection. It’s a bit dry, but incredibly insightful. Belcher attempts to pave the way for something beyond traditional, but short of emerging — Deep Church. A worthwhile read, but you’ll only finish if you’re a bookworm.

The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins
A selection of parables written by a pub pastor from Ireland, this book’s not my style in it’s construction, but it’s full of thought provoking ideas. If you’re sitting around with feisty people and nothing to do, it’s a good debate starter. It’ll likely prevent Alzheimers by all the creative brain power you’ll use.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
An obvious deviation from the last two book, Gilbert’s writing style is as inspiring as her inept morals are disappointing (from my perspective). The book is much better than the movie thanks to her clever, honest wit and interesting insight into how she thinks of God.

Soul Cravings by Erwin Raphael McManus
An exploration of modern, Christian psychology, McManus writes short excerpts on our soul’s cravings, our destiny and the meaning behind it all.

The Poor Will be Glad by Peter Greer & Phil Smith
Filled with stunning photos by Jeremy Cowart, this books seeks to compel Christians to consider their global clout. They call for sustainable giving and assistance, not just short term, shallow impact. A great read for those wanting to make a difference in the world, but aren’t sure how to be effective or where to begin.

Reading Lolita In Tehran by Azar Nafisi
A memoir of a professor in Tehran, Iran, this book has moments of horrific truth about what oppression meant, and means, for so many people — the violence, the fear, the hiding all intertwined with people who simply want to be human. The book has an intolerable amount of literary references for an amateur like me, but my stubbornness delivered me to the end.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
It’s a memoir about an American woman moving to Tuscany and restoring an old Italian home. She connects with the people, culture and land. Filled with too many fact-assessing details, this book didn’t fulfill my plight to find a delightful travel narrative; although, I’d certainly visit Tuscany.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Read as part of book club, this book of fiction is about a woman in the lineage of a real Salem witch. Well-written, but not my cup of potion.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Exploring what makes successful people just that, Gladwell writes a interesting popular psychology read. He argues that within every successful person many advantages propelled them there, even if they appear to be “self-made”.

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Heart-wrenching and articulate, it’s hard to imagine both living and writing about Beah’s life. But he does both so well. A reminder of the personal nature of war in a way that makes you yearn to be more aware and proactive. It’s a testament to human survival.

Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
As he travels across Europe twenty years after his first excursion, Bryson shares funny anecdotes; although by the end, he starts to take the reader on a tour rather than a riveting tale. A slight disappointment for my first taste of Bryson, known for his hilarity. Thankfully, 2011 has already brought his redemption in A Walk in the Woods.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Who knew a book about writing could be written so well. This book is inspiring, both by Zinsser’s knowledge, ability to convey it and his willingness to insist that one must simply keep writing.

The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
A true story about Theodore Roosevelt’s journey in the Amazon, this book is amazingly well-researched and written. It’s an interesting note in history not often mentioned.

The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown
Brown writes with detail and compassion about the Donner Party Bride (cannibalism in the Neveda Mountains). Certainly not a book I would normally choose apart from a class assignment; it was surprisingly more intriguing, and less disgusting, than expected.

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
A criticism of American culture in the 50s and 60s, Steinbeck creates characters to resonate with, just enough to keep you from hating them. He challenges the greed and loss of morality that fuels the American Dream. His staccato dialogue confuses on occasion, but overall, a very worthy read.

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