The Secret Garden
By Frances Hodgson Burnett

completed: 1/14 - Reading with C.  I've always liked this story of two sour, selfish young kids learning to change the way they view life and becoming stronger and healthier and happier as they go.  Always makes me want to go plant roses, too.  Lovely.

completed: 1/14 - Jennifer Worth's memoir about midwifery in 1950's London is very similar to the mini-series on PBS, but the stories and characters are so worthwhile I was willing to give the book a try.  Worth is a great storyteller and she tells her stories with honesty, not sparing herself in her reflections.  There are graphic descriptions of birth and poverty (and one quite unflinching account of the prostitute's world) which make you begin to understand what amazing women these midwives were.  My favorite part however, is Worth's gentle awakening to God as she grows to love and respect the nuns of Nonnatus house.  I'll be looking for the next book in the series.

"The nuns lived by the monastic rules...In a contemplative community, the offices together occupy about five hours of prayer time.  For a working community this is impracticable, so the Midwives of St Raymund Nonnatus had had a shortened version devised for them...The sight of this fair young face in the firelight, reading the ancient prayers, turning the pages quietly and reverently, her lips moving as she read, was deeply affecting.  I sat watching her and marvelled at the depth of a vocation that could make such a pretty young woman renounce life, with all its fun and opportunities, for a religious life bound by vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  I could understand the vocation to nursing and midwifery, which to me were fascinating both as a study and practice, but the calling to a religious life was quite beyond my comprehension..."

The Thief (The Queen's Thief, Book 1)
By Megan Whalen Turner

completed 1/14 - (YA) On a search for quality YA books.  This one comes highly recommended.  Starts slow.  Really slow.  But the second half is worth it.  

completed: 1/14 - One of my goals this year is to add a steady rotation of nonfiction reading, particularly biology.  Bernd Heinrich seemed a good place to start as he's been recommended to me many times.  We don't have ravens locally, but after reading Heinrich's personal accounts and studies of interacting with the birds, I wish we did.  Heinrich has a straightforward scientist's mind and his writing reflects that, but his clear affection for his ravens comes through and he is not afraid to attribute consciousness and self-awareness, morality and intelligence to the birds as so many scientists are.  Watching ravens is now on my life to-do list. But more than that, I learned so much about birds in general, I can't wait for our flocks of crows to come back this spring so I can see some of these behaviors in action.  Really enjoyable reading.

"Ravens have personalities.  There are the bold, the meek, the curious, the calm and the nervous birds.   I suspect the ravens' often unpredictable behavior resides in what we call "mind" - something independent of programmed reactions to the immediate."

completed 1/14 - (read-aloud with C) This is my second reading of Perelandra and it won't be my last.  I find it hard to even say what is so impacting and moving about this book.  I had a similar feeling after reading Tolkein's Return of the King: that I've been given a glimpse of something so true and noble, so beautiful and right, so hopeful and so sure, that I am left without words.  I don't know that you have to agree with every aspect of Lewis' worldview in order to appreciate the beauty of this book.  He's painting a picture of something none of us could fully grasp, something only hinted at in the depths of our souls.  It's Lewis' vision of our common story and hope.   What would the world be like if Adam and Eve had not tasted the fruit?  What is Man and Woman?  How is God redeeming the universe?  What lies before us?  Lewis dares to shape an answer.  My heart is deeply, deeply moved again.

"Each thing was made for Him.  He is the centre.  Because we are with Him, each of us is at the centre.  It is not as in a city of the Darkened World where they say that each must live for all.  In His city all things are made for each.  When He died in the Wounded World He died not for men, but for each man.  If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.  Each thing, from the single grain of Dust to the strongest eldil, is the end and the final cause of all creation and the mirror in which the beam of His brightness comes to rest and so returns to Him.  Blessed be He!"

"In the plan of the Great Dance plans without number interlock, and each movement becomes in its season the breaking into flower of the whole design to which all else had been directed.  Thus each is equally at the centre and none are there by being equals, but some by giving place and some by receiving it, the small things by their smallness and the great by their greatness, and all the patterns linked and looped together by the unions of a kneeling with a sceptered love.  Blessed be He!"

completed: 1/14 - OK, Megan Whalen Turner, you hooked me.   I've got the next book right here and a whole weekend ahead.

completed: 1/14 - There goes Saturday morning.  Great YA series and so far it just gets better.   Turner's plotting is genius; not one word is wasted.  It's all so smart and just plain delightful.  If you start the series, know that the first book begins slow...I almost didn't stick it out...and then the second half sweeps you in and you're hooked for good.  I think the series would be enjoyable to both young men and women - and adults too, obviously.   Off to annoy everyone I know and get them to read these.

In the Woods
By Tana French

completed: 1/14 -  It's a crime thriller, and it involves the murder and abuse of a child, so this won't appeal to everyone, but if you like a good detective story, French has written one that will grab you from the start and keep your heart pounding till the end.  She is quite good at character and mood and 400 pages later I'm wishing I could keep pursuing the characters.   As I said, the crime is terrible, but French doesn't force the reader to wallow in it.  It's kind of like watching an Inspector Lewis episode:  open and unflinching, but not truly sordid.  Be warned:  I lost an entire day to this book.  

The Door in the Wall
By Marguerite De Angeli

completed: 1/14 - reading with C for school

completed: 1/14 - The series keeps on delivering.  Looking forward to the next one!

North and South
By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

completed: 1/14 - (mostly audiobook)  I've watched the BBC miniseries a couple of times, but this is my first time reading the book.  I'm always amazed when I read these old stories how much things stay the same in this world.  Gaskell explores the differences between the genteel south and the manufacturing north, including the problems of the working man, charity, self-reliance, the business owner.  It's good stuff.  Of course, the love story (something along the lines of Pride and Prejudice) that pins it all together is pretty great too.  :)  Definitely worth-while.

By Henry David Thoreau

completed: 2/14 - HD Thoreau is definitely a kindred spirit - and must be a fellow INFJ.  I enjoyed this book so much, though it swings rather wildly from deep and visionary to boringly pragmatic.  But there are whole pages copied out into my commonplace book and I wish I had a little leatherbound copy to stick in my purse for re-reading in snatches of time.  

completed: 2/14 -  This book of short stories is set inside the Catholic priesthood in the 1950's (I think).  It's an interesting little collection.  I didn't understand all of the stories - the vernacular, the mysteries of the Church and the wholly unfamiliar daily life of priests made it tricky to decipher sometimes - but it's clear that Powers did.  I was reminded of Elizabeth Goudge in the way Powers structures his stories and the insightful way he reveals characters.  I put down the book feeling that I wish I was just a little smarter to catch those tricky meanings I suspect are layered in his writing.  Good stuff.

By Jo Baker

completed: 2/14 - Downton Abbey, meet Pride and Prejudice.  The "downstairs" story of the servants and housekeepers while Elizabeth and Jane are whirling away in their romances upstairs.  I really liked this.  I'm sure some P&P purists will find it unappealing for its lack of swooning over Darcy and Elizabeth, et al,  but I enjoyed thinking about what goes on behind the scenes, how it might be for the servant girl who had to hand wash those muddy petticoats or get five Bennet girls ready for the ball.  And of course, the servants have their own dramas and stories that keep life - and the book - interesting.  

completed: 2/14

Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn

completed: 2/14 - It's a cheap thrill.  But at the end of the day, it's a miserable story about miserable people who get the miserable, terrible end they deserve.  Blech. Going to go wash my brain.

completed: 2/14 - Not as personal as the first book, but a moving collection of stories about poverty and the terrible workhouse system.

completed: 2/14

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

completed: 2/14 - a re-read, because it's a favorite.  Charming and sweet and wonderful.

completed: 2/14 - (read with C for school)

The Alchemy of Murder
By Carol McCleary

completed: 3/14 - terrible.

completed: 3/14 - Just beautiful.  

completed: 3/14 - I love the simple goodness in these books.  

completed: 3/14 - a solid contribution from PD James.  Of course.

completed:  3/14 - This would be an excellent study guide for an older daughter (perhaps 17- early twenties? There are frank discussions about sexuality, but someone else might find it helpful for younger teens.)  The writing is a bit uneven at times and it is definitely at its best when De Rossett is at the helm.  She avoids the maddening categories and restrictions that Christian culture wants to put on young women and challenges them to use their minds, intellects and maturity to make wise choices that lead to their dignity in Christ, not their subjugation or diminishment.  I read this with my daughter and future daughter-in-law and we had many good discussions.  Recommended.

completed: 3/14 - This is my third time through this book.  I think it's more a discussion of how Lewis understands and interprets Scripture than it is about the Psalms.   I find it an encouraging read since this is how I most understand Scripture as well.  (Hint: he's not a literalist.)  

To the Lighthouse
By Virginia Woolf

completed: 3/14 - Woolf is a treasure.  Beautiful, symphonic writing about the spaces between living.  What happens in the moment you lift the salt shaker and set it down on the tablecloth?  What words, what decisions, what momentous shifts will change your life?  

completed: 3/14 - (read with C for school)  The best kind of children's writing.  Smart, elegant, spare and never an insult to the reader, whether adult or child.  Great story, too.

completed: 3/14 - a reread, but Berry always has new, quiet things to reveal.  

completed: 4/14 - I've read this one from Garcia Marquez before, but I was curious if I'd changed as a reader in the last ten years or so since I read it.  The book is clearly a work of art - lyrical, mystical, startling, almost a stream of consciousness that runs for a hundred years.  It is the story of a family, a town, and the hundred year circle of their existence.  I've read that Garcia Marquez wanted to tell a story like his grandmother used to, revealing outrageous details, impossible fantasy, all with the same tone and expression that she would reveal that night's dinner.  He succeeds.  He also succeeds in bringing the reader into the culture and place of Latin America (wait...the Caribbean?), which can be a disconcerting mystery at times for a North American reader.  I do think this is a book that needs to be read and reread before it can be fully understood, but I'm not sure I'd want to read it more frequently than once a decade, it's rather exhausting.  Still, when you finally get to the last page and finish, you know you've read something special.

Bellman & Black: A Novel
By Diane Setterfield

completed: 4/14 - I really wanted to love this second novel by Diane Setterfield (The Thirteenth Tale).  The writing is great, the story wants to be a terrific story, but somehow it all just bogged down in the middle and by the end I just didn't. get. it.   I hope someone else reads it and has a different experience.  Let me know if you do.

completed: 4/14 - Kind, wise, earthy, hopeful, tender, Mary Oliver is everything I want to be in a poet.  I'll be reading this again and again.

The Private Patient
By P.D. James

completed: 4/14

On Beauty and Being Just
By Elaine Scarry

completed: 4/14 - I accidentally walked into a philosophical treatment of beauty with Elaine Scarry's book.  I won't pretend to have understood all of it - apparently in philosophical circles, "beauty" is suspect, which kind of makes me scratch my head, but Scarry attempts to address that and lays the premise that beauty leads to justice.  She lays out a thorough and logical defense of it - at least what I could decipher.  :)  For me, as a Christian, some of these questions are answered simply in the the truth that God is beauty and God is just.  

"A related outcome seems to occur if one asks people who are individually opposed to beauty to think in terms of our whole era or even century:  "Do you hope that when people in the twenty-first and twenty-second centuries speak of us (the way we so effortlessly make descriptive statements about people living in the nineteenth or eighteenth or seventeenth centuries), do you hope these future people will describe us as beauty-loving?  or instead as neutral with respect to beauty? or instead as beauty-disregarding?"  Those I have questioned state their hope that we will be spoken about by future peoples as beauty-loving."

completed: 4/14 - I have a fondness for William Stafford because he is an Oregon poet and a famous conscientious objector during WWII.   His poems on war and its after effects have great meaning for me, but most of his work is about family and words and our connection to the greater meaning of the world.  


On the third finger of my left hand 

under the bank of the Ninnescah

a muskrat whirled and bit to the bone.

The mangled hand made the water red.

That was something the ocean would remember:

I saw me in the current flowing through the land...

completed: 4/14 - Beautiful work by Luci Shaw, weaving faith and the natural world into gorgeous lines.  I've read this collection a couple of times and it never fails to inspire.

completed: 4/14 - The sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  I like this YA series.  It's darkly funny, kind of gothic, a little bit scary.  

completed: 4/14 - Another beautiful book by Kent Haruf.  I love this writer's ability to reveal and obscure at the same time.  His characters are always slowly taking off layers, but not in a way that exposes and diminishes them.  There's a real humanity about Haruf's work, of respect for his characters,  and a sense of familiarity and home-coming for the reader.  He's a writer to have on the shelf and learn from. 

completed: 4/14 - I've read this before, but it was worth a revisit.  Each chapter is a biography of a Japanese artist or activist who has left the modern economy and lifestyle of Japan to pursue their craft and a quiet life in the mountains and rural towns.  It is not Christian in its perspective, but there is so much wisdom to glean from these quiet people who are living their lives according to their convictions.  

 They had no electricity, and the only things they bought were sugar and salt. They pressed their own oil, they grew their own rice, they had cows and pigs and goats, and they knew how to keep silk worms. Their way of life was the real thing.

I’d like to get my life back to just the simple things: a picture, a plate and a pot, a flute, some vegetables, cooking a meal, reading a story.

completed: 5/14 - My daughter's been telling me to read Ursula Le Guin forever and I finally picked this up at random at the library. (Le Guin writes YA as well.)  It's a second volume in a series of short stories and wow - it's like a roller coaster ride through Le Guin's seriously intimidating imagination.    Le Guin is a master at turning our expectations back on ourselves and making us rethink gender, selfhood, sentience, sexuality, even morality (though not in the context of our own world, necessarily, this is mostly science fiction.)  The book plays like an archeological dig into an anthropology museum:  field notes from a matriarchal planet; a city that made utopia; myths and fairy tales far into the future; the "real" first discoverers of the South Pole; werewolves and clones.  What a ride.  (Note: Definitely some mature situations in a few stories. )

completed: 5/14 - I think Ted Kooser can walk out his front door, see a rubber boot and write something profound.  He has a beautiful economy in his words and layers of depth.

completed: 5/14

completed: 5/14 - A sweet friend sent me Betsy Sholl's book.  She's a thoughtful, deep poet with a beautiful lyricism to her work.  The poems get better and better as you get deeper into the book.  

completed: 5/14 - Probably my favorite book on the writing process.  Stafford is lyrical and sensitive and enthralled with the craft of writing...not just publishing.  Beautiful short essays and lots of practical words of advice.

On eavesdropping on the world: 

"Gifts of rich lore surround us all.  While others seem to observe these offerings on occasion and by chance, noticing them and then letting them go, I make the hearing and recording of them my mission as a writer and a key invitation to writing students.  Dreams get away if we don't tell them, or write them down.  Thoughts do the same.  The writer's greatest chance may be devotion to the passing fragment.  It's small, but it is pure, and it may hold a compact infinity.  You heard it for a reason."

completed: 5/14 - Francis Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun was such a pleasure to read and filled with such poetry, I shouldn't have been surprised to discover that Mayes is a poet.  In this book, Mayes gives us a comprehensive look at reading, understanding and writing poetry.  I really enjoyed her approach.  Each chapter is PACKED with poetry of all time periods and styles which served as helpful illustration of each of her lessons.  There are a few short exercises throughout the book, but I mostly benefited from Mayes' obvious familiarity with the language and science of poetry and from the multitude of examples.  Really liked this one and felt like I grew a lot through the reading.  

Lorna Doone (Unabridged)
By R. D. Blackmore

completed: 6/14 - (read aloud with C)  Whew!  I thought we'd never get through this one.  Lorna Doone is a nice mix of romance and adventure in a typical pastoral setting. It is entertaining and engaging, if overly long and ultimately predictable.  (It is a classic though, so we make exceptions.)  Some kids will like the terrible war with the wicked Doones and the manly strength of John Ridd.  Some will probably like the romance and the beauty of Lorna Doone.  But Lord have mercy, the latent sexism and the long descriptive passages of a) the landscape of Exmoor or b) Lorna's virginal beauty and John's love for her might do the parent in long before the story is done.  

The Maytrees: A Novel
By Annie Dillard

completed: 6/14 - Annie Dillard writes like no one else.  The story of a marriage, through highs and lows.  It's unpredictable in its language, hard to understand at times.  It's mostly like reading a long piece of poetry, the more you just give yourself to it and sink into the feeling Dillard is conjuring up, you will get the picture.  But if you try to obsessively understand every sentence?  You're going to find this one frustrating.

completed: 6/14 - (read aloud with C)  Our history text for the year.

After: Poems
By Jane Hirshfield

completed: 6/14 - some lovely work here by Jane Hirshfield.  Poems about interconnectedness, life, death, dying, transcending.  A slow work that demands attention.

completed: 6/14 - A collection of poetry, memoir and interviews from Poet William Stafford on his lifetime commitment to nonviolence.  

The Fault in Our Stars
By John Green

completed: 6/14 - I always cringe when I start a book that everyone's been raving about, but I liked this one.  I think John Green knows exactly how to write for his audience and he doesn't seem to be too caught up in himself.  It's a quick read, and of course, you'll cry.  

completed: 6/14 - Well.  I think I can just quit blogging and writing now and just hand everyone a copy of this book.  Barbara Brown says just about everything I want to say.

The Distant Hours
By Kate Morton

completed: 7/14 - A bit too long and a bit too much padding, but boy, Kate Morton knows how to use her words.  Lovely descriptions and exquisite turns of phrase.  A nice gothic story in there too.  Good summer read!

Jane and Prudence
By Barbara Pym

completed: 7/14 - This is the first book I've read from Barbara Pym and I absolutely loved it.  Reminiscent of the Miss Read novels, but with a subtle humor and the tiniest undercurrent of delicious wickedness.  

Macbeth (No Fear Shakespeare)
By William Shakespeare

completed: 7/14 - (read-aloud and audiobook with C)  

Meet the Austins (Austin Family)
By Madeleine L'Engle

completed: 7/14 - Meg's been telling me to read this YA series for a long time.  A busy summer seems like the perfect time to go for it.  Wise, careful, kind, good, all the things we love best about Madelaine L'engle.  Can't wait to read more.

ompleted: 7/14 - I won't pretend this was an easy read.  Marilynne Robinson is clearly very intelligent and much better educated than I am.  I almost didn't get through the first essay on (social) Darwinism.  But I'm so glad I stuck with it.  There are some astonishing passages in here and, for me, a life-changing chapter on Bonhoeffer.  She even managed to make me think I've been too hard on old John Calvin.  What I most like is her refusal to stay in categories, to define words by popular definitions.  Robinson gives you the idea that she is a social/spiritual scientist, turning ideas and beliefs over and over again to study them and refusing to take them except on the basis of their own merits and proofs.  Good stuff.  Important stuff.  This is what they call "critical thinking."

"I am myself a liberal. By that I mean I believe society exists to nurture and liberate the human spirit, and that large-mindedness and openhandedness are the means by which these things are to be accomplished. I am not ideological. By that I mean I believe opportunities of every kind should be seized upon to advance the well-being of people, especially in assuring them decent wages, free time, privacy, education, and health care, concerns essential to their full enfranchisement.

I am very critical of liberalism, not in principle but as a movement. This distinction seems never to be made, and it is not at all subtle."

I Capture the Castle
By Dodie Smith

completed: 7/14 - I love this story of a girl coming to age in 1930's England.  Really love it.  

completed: 8/14 - Lopez is a poet as much as he's a naturalist.  His stories and meditations on the landscape make you hunger to be there, feeling and seeing and knowing them the way he does.  Clear-eyed and unsentimental, but full of poetry.

completed: 8/14 - William Stafford's account of life in a CPS (Conscientious Objector) camp during WWII.  Fascinating, wise, and hopeful.  

The Moon by Night (Austin Family)
By Madeleine L'Engle

completed: 8/14

The Dean's Watch
By Elizabeth Goudge

completed: 8/14 - Not the best Goudge I've read, but still full of her beautiful prose and satisfying goodness.  It's a goodness that is aware of the world, and changed by it, and I always find Goudge's insights enlightening and inspiring

completed: 8/14 - I really can't recommend this book enough to Christians who are trying to understand the debates on origins.  This is not a comprehensive discussion on all the science and theology, but an overview of what Christians of all types actually believe...minus the finger-pointing and accusations.  This is an excellent model for framing the debates with humility and gentleness, respecting the viewpoints and intelligence of persons on each side.  The authors are affiliated with BioLogos, which promotes an Evolutionary Creationism viewpoint, but this is very good reading for all Christians, including those who hold a Young Earth Creationism belief, because it rises above the rhetoric and shows how much we have in common and where our differences actually lie. 

Discussing how to deal with disagreements, the authors state:

Respect and affirm the intelligence, motives, and faith commitment of Christians on all sides of the debate.  Be slow to judge; give room for everyone to grow in their understanding of God's book of nature and God's book of Scripture.  Don't accuse someone of holding a view because they lack knowledge or of changing their mind because they lack faith.

Nurture our unity in Christ.  Remember what unites us as Christians.  Cheris the central points of faith on which Christians agree.  [...] Having the "right" view on every issue is leess important than that the church lives and works and worships in unity.

We do agree about the most important things:

God created and sustains the universe. The natural world gives testimony to God's power, creativity, and faithfulness.  All parts of this universe are God's creation and under God's control; none of them are divine powers in themselves.  God created humans and gave them a special place as his imagebearers and caretakers of this world.  Science and Christianity are not at war.  In fact, scientifically studying God's creation is one way in which we can joyfully explore creation and fulfill our mandate to be caretakers...

completed: 9/14 - Hmm.  Some really good things about this book, some really overdone things (like the sexual relationship between the characters.  I got it already, sheesh!)  It's a love story.  It's a science fiction/fantasy story.  It's beautiful in places and tiresome in others.  I wouldn't be surprised to find some people love it.  And others, like me, probably come away a little dissatisfied.

completed: 9/14 - I really liked this novel.  Go has a nice, steady writing style and the characters are appealing and human.  It's the story of a young American who finds he may be the heir to an old fortune, IF he can find some proof in just a few weeks.  This leads him to Europe and the uncovering of a his great-grandparents' love story.  Beautifully researched and compelling enough to keep you turning pages. 

The Hidden Wound
By Wendell Berry

completed: 9/14 - Wendell Berry's thoughts on racism (written in the '60s with an additional chapter added in the '80s.)  Berry believes there is a hidden wound in white culture because of our racism.  He ties this in with his more well known themes of our abandonment of the land, our loss of community and our worship of affluence.  Really thought-provoking and well worth your time.  I'm giving copies to my grown kids.  

"If we were sincerely looking for a place of safety, for real security and success, then we would begin to turn to our communities - and not the communities simply of our human neighbors, but also of the water, earth and air, the plants and animals, all the creatures with whom our local life is shared.  We would be looking too for another kind of freedom.  Our present idea of freedom is only the freedom to do as we please:  to sell ourselves for a high salary, a home in the suburbs, and idle weekends.  But that is a freedom dependent upon affluence, which is in turn dependent on the rapid consumption of exhaustible supplies.  The other kind of freedom is the freedom to take care of ourselves and of each other.  The freedom of affluence opposes and contradicts the freedom of community life."

completed: 9/14

completed: 9/14 - It took me a year to read it, but that's not indicative of how good this book is.  If you are interested in permaculture at all, this should be on your shelf.  It's engagingly written, but it is also packed with detailed charts, plans, ideas for how to get started in permaculture and how to design a working site.  I'm glad I took the time to read it through.

The Moviegoer
By Walker Percy

completed: 9/14

completed: 9/14 - road trip audio book.  

completed: 9/14 - C discovered Flavia's charms and so we've had a stack of these fun mysteries around for a few weeks.  Such fun.

completed: 9/14 - C discovered Flavia's charms and so we've had a stack of these fun mysteries around for a few weeks.  Such fun.

completed: 10/14 - along the lines of Tana French's novels.  Kind of disappointing, but I'll give her another try later.

The Mad Farmer Poems
By Wendell Berry

completed: 10/14 - I love Wendell Berry.  That is all.

completed: 10/14 - inspiration for everyday naturalists.  I really liked this book and it's encouragement to just get out, where ever you are, and SEE.  Fascinating info on crows and other ordinary creatures, but mostly good for its practical advice on connecting with your own ecosystem.

completed: 10/14 - The story of Conscientious Objectors on the Oregon Coast in WWII.  Very detailed, slow at times, but overall a fascinating portrait of the artists and dreamers who came to create the Fine Arts Camp at Waldport.  As objectors to war, the men held high principles, but they were still ordinary men and this book does not shy away from telling the truth about them.  These were the men who laid the foundation for the beatnik generation and the war protestors of the sixties, many of them were far, far ahead of their time in a world where war was still considered necessary and honorable.  

Lila: A Novel
By Marilynne Robinson

completed: 11/14 - This book.  My favorite read of the year.  Achingly beautiful.

completed: 11/14 - This book lingers with you long after you expect it to.  The story of a poor family in Brooklyn in the early 20th century, it is layered with quiet emotion and depth.   

completed: 11/14 - I've read this two or three times already, but it continually inspires.

Godric: A Novel
By Frederick Buechner

completed:  11/14 - a re-read of Buechner's account of the life of St Godric, an obscure medieval saint.  So good.  I appreciated it much more in my forties than I did when I read it in my thirties.  Maybe I'm a little more in touch with my mortality now.

completed:  11/14 - A hodge podge of a book by poet William Stafford.  It's almost a stream of consciousness collection of how he writes and his philosophy on writing.  I found it enlightening.

Jayber Crow
By Wendell Berry

completed: 11/14 - Incredibly, I discovered I had never read Jayber Crow.  I honestly thought I had.  Maybe it's because Berry's Port William's stories weave back in and around on themselves and all the characters are familiar in one way or another.  But this book, longer than many of his other stories, is so beautifully done.  It is the life story of Jayber Crow, the town barber, who from his position inside the community, yet just outside it, let's us see the power of connection and committment in a small town.  In many ways it's a treatise on Berry's own philosophy of community and agriculture, but it's all done within the framework of Jayber's self-discovery and understanding.  Just so good and worth the time it takes to read slow and take it in.

completed: 11/14 - Similar to In This House of Brede, Godden gives us the story of a woman seeking wholeness as she obeys the call to the religious life.  This woman however, is one of Paris' most famous madames and the sisters she finds refuge with are the Sisters of Bethanie, who minister to the prostitutes and prisoners of Paris.  Shorter that Brede...and different, in its way...but with the same kind of power.  I love that Godden is so unflinching about the reality of these women's lives, yet without the sordidness of modern writing.  This one is going to be an important book for me.

The Hawk and the Dove
By Penelope Wilcock

completed: 11/14 - On a monastic binge right now, so it seemed like a good time to re-read these old favorites.

completed: 11/14 

completed: 11/14 

Winter Count
By Barry Lopez

completed:  11/14 - A collection of tales...some true? some fiction...all exquisitely written.  

completed: 11/14 - Brueggemann has been so helpful to me in understanding difficult biblical texts.  This treatment of Joshua 11 is somewhat disatisfying and open-ended, but Brueggemann ends the book with an explanation about "royal power" (ie weapons and the militaristic power of city-states, the "horses and chariots" of the OT) and God's view of and power over them that is both eye-opening and sobering.

The shape of a year
By Jean Hersey

completed: 12/14 - This sweet book is written in a chapter per month format, so that is how I read it.  Jean Hersey was a master gardener and writes of her life on her farm with her husband, Bob.  All her stories are simple, warm, homey and thoughtful.  Nothing glamorous or surprising here, just a comfortable visit with a friend who lives well and appreciates the little things.  I'll read it again next year the same way.

completed: 12/14 - If you like crime/detective/mystery novels, Tana French does them well.  Edgier than say, something from Charles Todd, but not as "ick" as "Gone Girl."  I haven't read the whole series, but this one in particular was a page turner!

The Whisper
By Emma Clayton

completed: 12/14

Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day
By Ph.D. Brother David Steindl-Rast, Sharon Lebell

completed: 12/14 - David Steindl-Rast walks through the seasons of a monastic day and explains the focus of each "hour" that is set aside for prayer.  I've taken loads of notes and will reread this at some point during the next year.  Steindl-Rast has a gentle, joyful voice that I appreciate.

completed; 12/14 - We've been reading this aloud as a family, just a little each night after dinner.  Brueggemann is not an easy read.  He's scholarly and complex, but taken in small chunks, we have made our way through.  His concept of Sabbath is a convicting challenge to the culture of the church today.  I have found myself writhing under his lens some days, shocked that I hadn't read Scripture this way before.  This is much more than a call to take Sundays off.  It's a call to change your whole life.  This is another one I'm going to be reading again.

completed: 12/14 - This is the best book on Christian simplicity that I've ever read.  Pen Wilcock's writing is this beautiful blend of tough and tender that is so appealing.  What matters most though, is that she has lived this lifestyle for 30+ years and she has walked through the pitfalls and questions and she has worked through them.  I can't tell you how helpful and convicting and enlightening and peace-filling this book has been to me.  It's going to be the one I recommend when people ask about living simply.

completed: 12/14 - felt like it was time to pick this series up again.  Even better the second time.

completed: 12/14 - Neil Gaiman always tells a good, creepy story.  Not my favorite of his, but a decent, quick read if you're in the right mood.

completed: 12/14 - Anthony Horowitz was invited to write a new Sherlock Holmes mystery.  He did a nice job, imo.  Feels like a Holmes novel, just a little updated.  

Red Bird: Poems
By Mary Oliver

completed: 12/14 - seems right to end this poetry year with Mary Oliver.  Beautiful collection.  Always just right.