29 December 2012

Top Ten Reads ...2012

I didn't get to read quite as much this year as I normally do. 

So, out of the 35 or so books that I did both start and finish (I've got several more on the shelf started, too.) this year, here are my faves...


Thunder and Rain by Charles Martin

This book did not get the rave reviews most Charles Martin's other books have received. I would agree that it is not the same quality as his other books, however it was still a very good read and I did enjoy this mystery/love story blend. Once again, his main character, a Texas Ranger, is a strong man of impeccable integrity, and sacrificial bravery. In many senses, this story was, perhaps, more real, more reflective of American culture today.


Love at the Speed of Email by Lisa McKay

I thoroughly enjoyed Lisa's first book (My Hand's Came Away Red) and this effort, as well, did not disappoint. Written by a gifted weaver of words, this is very different from her first book, much more of a memoir, a series of essays, reflections and email exchanged between her and her future husband. One of my favorite aspects of this book was a glimpse into the mind of a true TCK, or global nomad, as she attempts to define what home means to her - quite possibly because I've got 8 of those TCKs mulling about my house every single day. 

I've also been very privileged to team up with Lisa at a life overseas: the missions conversation where we are both part of the team of bloggers posting regularly there. Don't miss her first two fabulous posts: 
  1. When my child is sick: Missing the promise and illusion of safety
  2. Fighting Fear: Peace Like a River


The Village of Waiting by George Packer

What can I say? 

I love reading about West Africa and the experiences of others who've lived and/or worked here. The author of this book volunteers with the Peace Corps to teach English in a small Togolese village. He is the one who receives a life changing, very difficult education in the year he lived with the people of this village. This book gives a clear and realistic portrait of small town life in W. Africa, the day to day struggles people face, theorizes some on the value of education under these circumstances and deeply explores what happens when we try and immerse ourselves in a totally foreign culture.

In my honest opinion - it is an older book, but it is definitely worth the read, particularly for anyone interested in working in this part of the world.


Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

In many ways, this work of fiction was the perfect contrast to the previous book. Seventeen years old and pregnant, Novalee Nation is headed to California with her boyfriend, except he runs off after dumping her at a Walmart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma. With almost nothing to her name, she makes a home for herself in the Walmart store... until the baby arrives. And in this small, Oklahoma town, she finds community, deep friendship, love and begins to see herself as those around her do. Funny, heartwarming and for anyone who'd ever spent time living in a small Oklahoma town... moments of truer than life reality... this book was a delightful read. We rented the movie, too, which Tim and I thoroughly enjoyed.


Cross-Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer

This truly is a must read, not just for those involved in cross cultural ministry of any type, but for anyone who wants to learn how to better relate to people coming from a different world view or perspective.

I was so impressed and challenged by the ideas put forth in this book, I've already blogged about it a couple of times. Instead of rehashing what I've already said, here are the links for you to check it out yourself:

  1. Perspective
  2. the title made me think it'd be a great book for missionaries ~ 


Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis and Beth Clark 

This is one I've just finished... and just finished blogging about... just last week. It is an amazing story, worth the read.

Whatever you do, don't miss this one! It is now required reading for all of my kids.


The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

This was a book I picked up on a whim. I almost didn't keep reading to finish it. I'm so glad I did. Read why right here.


Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I read this book because my kids were begging to. I'd heard enough about it that I didn't really want to give them the green light until I knew what it was about. Those who think the point of this book is reality tv gone bad where entertainment has become kids killing kids have missed the point. Lately, it seems that some of the young adult fiction I've read is willing to risk asking hard questions, is willing to challenge kids to think. I like that. I also like the fact that the book leaves you still asking those hard questions... that it doesn't tell you what to think, but makes you wrestle with the issues yourself.

This is exactly the kind of literature I love for my kids to read and then to talk about with them!


Unwind by Neal Shusterman

More youth fiction. More hard questions to wrestle. This one is all about the life versus choice debate and considers the consequences when both sides decide to stop dialoguing and come up with a compromise where no one wins...

Yep, I've already blogged about this one as well. You can read that review here.


Light on the Mountain by Leonard Sanders

I love missionary stories about brave, feisty strong women who remain gentle and feminine, who embrace the culture where they've been called to minister, who serve God and people with all their heart, who recognize that God often calls us to suffer and to sacrifice... and who see God do absolutely amazing God-things! This story has all of this...

Rebekah recommended it - it is one of her all time favorites. It is one of mine, too. 

There you have it!
The best of what I've read in 2012.

How about you? What books have most entertained, challenged and encouraged you to grow this past year?

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