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Monday, January 25, 2016

A Year in Books: 2015

Because I love old books and new books, libraries, used bookstores, children's books and historical books, novels and biographies, stories and reading and writing and . . . (you get the picture), I am sharing my list of books I read in 2015. There are 65 of them, a record reading year for me!

I divided them by category, not by the order in which I read them, so that I could keep track of what types of books I gravitate towards the most. At the end of this list, I wrote some comments about a few of my book experiences of the year.

I have marked with an R (r) the books that were rereads (ones I had read one or more times previously), and with an asterisk (*) the ones that I especially enjoyed. The books I found particularly unsatisfying/disappointing I have marked with a negative symbol (-).


1. Postern of Fate, Agatha Christie
2. The Secret Adversary, Agatha Christie
3. N or M?, Agatha Christie*
4. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie 
5. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (-)
6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
7. By the Light of the Study Lamp, Carolyn Keene
8. The Clue in the Old Album, Carolyn Keene
9. The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow, William Arden

10. Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery (r)
11. Anne of Avonlea, L. M. Montgomery (r)
12. Anne of the Island, L. M. Montgomery (r)
13. Anne of Windy Poplars, L. M. Montgomery (r)
14. The Golden Road, L. M. Montgomery
15. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee (r)*
16. Emma, Jane Austen
17. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (-)
18. Heidi, Johanna Spyri

19. Our Finest Hour: The Triumphant Spirit of America's World War II Generation, LIFE Magazine Publications
20. Lost Childhood: My Life in a Japanese Prison Camp During World War II, Annelex Hofstra Layson 
21. Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference, Joanne Oppenheim*
22. The Diary of Petr Ginz, Petr Ginz (-)
23. One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II, Lita Judge
24. Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II, Martin W. Sandler
25. Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London, Andrea Warren
26. Norman Rockwell: Storyteller with a Brush, Beverly Gherman
27. Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women, Kathleen Krull
28. Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic, Leslie Kimmelman
29. Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
30. Brother Andrew: Taking Bibles to the World, Renee Taft Meloche

31. Tallgrass, Sandra Dallas
32. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier*
33. The King's General, Daphne du Maurier
34. Emily's Runaway Imagination, Beverly Cleary (r)*
35. All Through the Night, Grace Livingston Hill
36. The Big Blue Soldier, Grace Livingston Hill
37. The Substitute Guest, Grace Livingston Hill
38. The Year of Miss Agnes, Kirkpatrick Hill
39. Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee (-)
40. The Giver, Lois Lowry
41. Wonderland Creek, Lynn Austin*
42. The Hundred Dresses, Eleanor Estes
43. Library Lion, Michelle Knudsen
44. Small Town Girl, Ann H. Gabhart
45. The Christmas Angel, Thomas Kinkade
46. The Christmas Box, Richard Paul Evans
47. Nana's Gift, Janette Oke
48. Dear Mr. Knightley, Katherine Reay

Christian Living/Bible Study:
49. Be Satisfied, Warren W. Wiersbe
50. Be Joyful, Warren W. Wiersbe
51. Be Committed, Warren W. Wiersbe
52. Be Rich, Warren W. Wiersbe
53. Be Complete, Warren W. Wiersbe
54. Be Ready, Warren W. Wiersbe
55. The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis
56. Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told, John MacArthur
57. So You Want to Be Like Christ? Eight Essentials to Get You There, Charles R. Swindoll
58. The First 90 Days of Marriage, Eric and Leslie Ludy
59. Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies, Steve and Candace Watters
60. The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, Dr. Armand H. Nicholi, Jr.
61. Grace for the Good Girl, Emily P. Freeman*

62. Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury*
63. Summer Morning, Summer Night, Ray Bradbury

64. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Neil Postman
65. The Writing Life, Annie Dillard

This year, I was introduced to Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence novels, and I find them to be my favorites of her detectives (not to steal any glory from Miss Marple, another delightful detective). ;)

As you can see, I completed a sizable stack of books pertaining to World War II. That was for a particular pet project of mine that you may hear about in the near future. I have a passion for history, and these books, though some were heart wrenching, were deeply enjoyable and invaluable in the rich past they shared with me.

Rebecca, a 1930s gothic mystery/romance novel by Daphne du Maurier, was the most intense and gripping book I've read in a long while--possibly ever. Honestly, it ranked right up next to Jane Eyre on my list. The atmosphere of the novel is almost tangible--dark, brooding, mysterious. Disappointingly, the book contains a sprinkling of inappropriate words, but they can be marked out and avoided in future rereadings. I am thrilled to have discovered this gem of a story this year.

Being a passionate lover of To Kill A Mockingbird, I read Harper Lee's second novel that (shockingly) was published this year. I found Go Set A Watchman to be rather disappointing and quite unlike her former work. In fact, though I do not know for certain the circumstances of the book's publication, I am inclined to believe, as many articles speculate, that she was taken advantage of, and that her age and poor health were used against her by publishers to gain money and publicity. Perhaps not, but the whole situation seems rather suspicious. 

I discovered an invaluable addition to my Bible study efforts this year in Warren W. Wiersbe's Be series, a collection of commentaries which cover the entire Bible. They are simple enough for the layman to understand, and by reading a chapter a day and the accompanying Scripture portion, I can learn a little a day about the passage that I never knew before and that I can apply to my life.

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman is another rare treasure that stands out in my memory from the year. It caused me to examine my relationship with God and to make lifestyle-altering decisions. My copy, from a used bookstore, is now highlighted and marked-up throughout every chapter. I definitely plan to use this in a Bible study and share it with others in the future.

If you hope to meet a certain reading goal in 2016, I recommend using goodreads.com to keep track of the books you complete. It's fun, free, and easy, and seeing all the books I've read on the site motivates me to keep reading! What is your goal for 2016?

1 comment:

Tarissa said...

Oh, you read Rebecca too? I got to read it last year as well, and I found it so breath-taking. I need to read more by this author. :) Did you like The King's General?

I'm excited to hear about this WWII project of yours. Sounds fascinating! I love history myself, and WWII is indeed a favorite time period of mine to read about.

Before I go -- I'm adding you on Goodreads so we can keep up with each other's books this year!