There is a gentle snow again this morning and it is cold in the Midwest and getting colder. I'm not complaining as I actually love the cold weather months. I may have been raised by a Southern mother but my inner thermostat is all Northern.
Somewhere in the vicinity of early March I am quite ready for warmth and color to return to my world. Until then, the season for being quiet and making soup and bread and reading is to be embraced. I'm pretty certain these feelings came about in the near decade we lived in Western Michigan, where one learns to find that which is good about all the cold and snow. :)
Thus, the stack of books to be read is often much higher than reasonable at this time of year. Much like my husband's tray at a cafeteria as a young man... our eyes are often bigger than the literary tummy can digest. We will make every attempt, of course to read them all, even if it involves a little skimming here and there of certain volumes.
This year I didn't write down all the books I read. It is one of those habits that went by the wayside but I plan to begin all over again tomorrow as I prepare a page in my scrapbook journal. So, this list of favorites is "off the top of my head" and I may later think of a book I liked just as much.
Most of these books I first borrowed from the library when they were first published or they came to my attention. A few were later purchased for myself or Stephanie with Amazon credit. Like rich cream, these rose to the top of all the titles read this past year.
If the sign of a great work of fiction is how often we think of the people in the book through the year, then my favorite novel read has to be The Gursney Literary and Potato Peel Society. I've never seen another title make its' way as quickly through blogland with word of mouth recommendations like this one.
Set in postwar England (WWII), it is charming and funny as well as giving us a little peek into the challenges many had to endure during and after the war. It is not only my favorite from this past year, it is easily one of my all time favorite novels.
I'd heard a lot about Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & the Comforts of Home. It is one of those books whose Amazon page shows comments of both absolute love and hate. I have a feeling what you think of the book has a lot to do with expectations. If you expect a lot of recipes and "how to" instruction.... this is not the book for you. If you are not at all domestic, it is definitely not your "cup of tea". :)
I brought it home from the library one afternoon and snuggled up with it for days, reading off and on as time permitted. The combination of pictures and prose provided a sense that this woman understands my feelings about the home and family. That is what makes it a favorite... that sense of chatting with someone over tea while sharing ideas about books and old movies and cooking and decorating and bringing a little magic (Narnia magic) to our lives.
I ended up purchasing this book when I accumulated enough Amazon credit and it sits on the shelf among favorite books that I take off the shelf and lose myself in when a mental vacation is required.
I love cookbooks, I read them as some people read novels. Having said that... I gave away scads of them the past few years and they must be fabulous to purchase these days. There was one I bought with Amazon credit and kept for myself and two I gave to my daughter as I knew Elisabeth would enjoy them, too.
I purchased Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen by Trisha Yearwood after bringing it home twice from the library to peruse. When one now has a limited (considering how many we used to own) amount of cookbooks, it has to be very good to later purchase and have a place of honor in the kitchen.
Trisha's book has great recipes that are mostly very easy (just a few special occasion recipes which take longer to prepare). Because they are recipes she grew up with as well as a few favorites of her husband, they are tried and true. Everything I've made from it has turned out well. I love the way her mother and sister are a part of this book, too.
Two books I purchased as gifts for "my girls" are The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen: Live Well, Laugh Often, Cook Much and The River Cottage Family Cookbook. The former being a delight to the eyes as well as providing great recipes and craft ideas and the latter one of the best cookbooks I've ever read for families who enjoy cooking together (with farm fresh and healthy foods). At the time I ordered the River Cottage book, there were plenty of inexpensive copies available! It is also available now in paperback.
I had the serendipitous timing of receiving Jack Hannah's book Jungle Jack's Wackiest, Wildest, and Weirdest Animals in the World to review when the family was visiting from New England. Sometimes an adult can love a book but kids... not so much. I knew this one was a winner when we all liked it, the little guy even enjoyed the pictures. It also contains a DVD with bloopers from both his recent shows and his earliest days on TV. It is a sturdy picture book but has plenty of information about each animal for older kids and adults.
Homeschooling Mom Books
Karen Andreola's books are all among my favorites and highly recommended for families using the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. So, I was quite happy to find she had written a sequel to her first novel. Titled Lessons at Blackberry Inn: Adventures with the Gentle Art of Learning, it continues the fictional account of a family (I believe set in the 1940s or thereabout) homeschooling their children using the CM style of education. Both of her novels are enjoyable for ladies of all ages. They remind me a lot of a Grace Livingston Hill book.
As I said, I know I'll think of more favorites as time progresses but these are what I thought of first. I know there had to have been a brand new "Christian" book among them but nothing came to my mind immediately. I have tended to reread my favorite authors a lot this past year.
This is the first book post I have written since adding the Blogger-Amazon link option. So far it seems to have worked fairly well. The Recommendations list will be available next week... God willing and the creek don't rise... and the desktop computer stay out of the shop. Which is where it ended up the same time I had planned to type out the Recommendations list a few weeks ago.