Something I look forward to every year is getting to line up a new set of books to read and wondering which books will light up my imagination and pull at my heartstrings. Luckily for me, this past year has uncovered a wealth of literary discoveries. During this post, I would like to highlight some of my favorite reads from this year–and, boy, are they diverse. There are books for children and adults. There’s fiction and nonfiction. There are comedies, dramas, romances, fantasies, memoirs, and so on. Some books have been on my reading list for years, others were spontaneous. A few are rereads. Overall, it’s been a great year for reading, and I’m looking forward to what next year will uncover.
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
This is one of my rereads, and I absolutely love it. I first read it in middle school, and back then my preteen brain didn’t pick up on all there was to enjoy about this book. First thing’s first–the syntax, diction, imagery, everything about the language in this book captures my imagination. It’s almost poetic. Next, the stories are quaint, adorable, and entertaining. Lastly, my favorite thing about this book are the characters: Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and Toad. Yes, they are talking animals. However, their distinctive personalities bring them to life, and their unwavering friendship makes me wish that I could join their gang, too. This past year, I found this copy of The Wind in the Willows on sale. I didn’t hesitate. I just snatched it. Isn’t it lovely?
Adulthood is a Myth, by Sarah Andersen
This is hilarious. You might have seen Sarah Andersen’s relatable comics around social media. That’s what this is–simply a compilation of her comic strips. I initially purchased this book for my sister as a college graduation gift–appropriate, right? But before I gave it to her, I read it for myself. Took no more than an hour, and it was hilarious. And the best thing is that I could read it again and still laugh.
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
This is one of those classic children’s books I had heard about over and over again but had somehow missed out on while growing up. Tired of being left out of the loop, I finally read this book for myself, and it was quite an emotional experience. I didn’t think I could cry so much at a story about dogs. I cried when he finally got to see his dogs for the first time, and much worse at the end. Oh dear, it was a good read, though.
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell
This is a light and entertaining read–a “chick flick” in book form. But it is easy to read, funny, romantic, and I loved it. Since the perspective is from an IT guy in the years 1999-2000, we get to remember what some of the technology was like back then, which is entertaining in itself. The whole basis of the book is that the main character is hired to read “flagged” emails for a company, but some of the emails are so intriguing and entertaining that–instead of reporting the senders–he starts to fall in love with one of them, making way for plenty of laughs and misunderstandings.
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
This was another of my re-reads, but–unlike for The Wind in the Willows–I basically have these memorized. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read these. I think I lost track when I also started to listen to Focus on the Family’s dramatized audio books, which are amazing. Even after hearing the stories so many times, the magic of these books still gets to me, and I usually end up crying at the end of every book.
The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
This book has been on my list for years, and I’m glad I finally read it. Lewis himself admits that he did not particularly enjoy writing this book, since it is built of letters from one demon giving advice to a novice tempter. Lewis says that, though the actual writing of the book was easy, having to think of bad things as good (and vice versa) was wearisome to do. For myself, this book is mind blowing in that it gets the reader to think about simple, everyday issues in a new kind of way. I talk a little more about this book in a past post.
The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
I initially chose to read this book based on the simplistic beauty of the cover and because of the author’s name (how neat to have the name Eowyn!). Yes, these are shallow reasons for choosing a book, but–luckily–the designer of the cover did a great job at conveying the atmosphere of the book–which was also beautifully simplistic in its story and diction. After reading the first chapter, my first reaction was basically: “Wow. This is serious and depressing. But the language is beautiful.” So I read more. The story is fairy tale-like. It takes place in Alaska in the early 1900s and centers around a childless, middle-age couple. However, things become strange after a small girl appears and disappears with the coming and going of the snow.
The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
This was a tough read–not because of how it was written, but because of the subject matter. This autobiography describes the life of Dutch watch maker Corrie Ten Boom leading up to World War II. During the war, the Ten Boom family creates a secret room to protect Jews during the Holocaust, and Corrie Ten Boom finds herself leading a scheme to relocate Jews. Eventually, the plan is discovered, and Ten Boom faces the horrors of the concentration camp, yet survives. Throughout these terrors, Ten Boom looks through a God-centered lens, which is eventually what brings her through and encourages her to tell about her experiences after the war is over. Though there were many tears on my part, this was completely worth the read. Read a little more about this book in one of my past posts.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
This is yet another reread, but this one only took one day to get through! It’s an adorable read, so go check it out from the library. I will say no more about it because I’ve already dedicated not one, but two whole posts to this book. I also read a couple more Kate DiCamillo books this past month: The Magician’s Elephant, which was very sweet and magical, and I read The Tiger Rising today while my car was at the shop.
Earth Psalms, by Francine Rivers
This devotional contains 52 chapters, one for each week of the year, so I’ve actually been reading this all year. Each chapter takes a small glimpse of how God reveals himself through his design of nature. The physical design of the book is also beautiful, with vivid photographs of animals, plants, and other aspects of nature. I looked forward to reading it each week! Maybe I’ll just reread this next year, as well.