Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Book Talk (Favorite books of 2019)

Normally my Best of Books would appear on a Sunday and I would have a difficult time paring them down to just ten books.  Last year, with the scarring cataract forming on my right eye, I not only read less books but made the decision to stop reviewing for publishers.

I now only review books by friends and a few here and there by request.  Even with improvement in my eye sight, I have decided not to go back to reviewing like I once did.  I am quite enjoying the ability to read just for fun again.

So below are a handful of books that I read in 2019 that I thought were exceptional.  They are listed in the order I read them.  I did not include re-reads and I did not include books that I started and did not finish.  I will probably finish most of them this year.

Placemaker by Christie Purifory
I loved Christie's first book, Roots & Sky, so I was excited to read and review her latest.  Here is what I wrote in the review of her book, which I highly recommended.
In Placemaker, there are multiple layers of story telling.  The most obvious is the story of the places Christie and her husband have lived, the apartments and houses they made their own.  Including their home they live in currently, made famous in her original book. 

The second layer is a story of trees and gardens.  I so enjoyed the research she has done over the years about trees. The pages where she described the battle of keeping the forest from growing again in her yard made me laugh.  For anyone who lives in a forest knows what it is like to find baby trees growing throughout your lawn and garden, most likely planted by squirrels.

I would say the third layer of this book are the stories of the people they have met in the various places they lived and the people in her family... and how people are all part of the places we have known.

Christie also reminds us that we are all makers of places.  Wherever we have lived and will live, we put our unique mark on each place.  This book inspires us of our God given need of place and our equally God given need to make each place better because we were there.
More information about Placemaker can be found... here.

The History of Christmas by Heather LeFebvre
I loved this book so much that I bought a copy for  my daughter and daughter-in-law for their Christmas book collections.  Below is a section of the original review...
This is a jewel of a book, one to bring out every Holiday season.  There is so much history about Christmas that I didn't know plus she provides discussion questions and a project (or a list of projects) that corresponds with each chapter.

This visually beautiful book would make a fun study leading up to Christmas or just an enjoyable read aloud for the family.

Some of the chapters include:

  • An Ordinary Day in Bethlehem (Christ's Birth)
  • A Date for Christ's Nativity (Early Church)
  • St. Francis and the Live Nativity (Early Church)
  • Luther's Protestant Christmas (Reformers and Puritans)
  • Christmas and America (Reformers and Puritans)
  • Christmas Reinvented (Victorians to Modern Day)
  • From St. Nicholas to Santa Claus (Victorians to Modern Day)
  • ... and many more!
I enjoyed reading all of the book but especially "Christmas and America", since I have a special place in my heart for Colonial Williamsburg.  The suggested projects at the end of this chapter include "24 Ways to Celebrate a Williamsburg Christmas".
Written from a faith perspective, beautifully put together and illustrated, this is a book to enjoy and give as a gift this Christmas.

More information can be found... here.

Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making by Andrew Peterson
I had heard this book started a little slow so I was glad I persevered through the first few chapters.  It wasn't due to bad writing, he was just laying a foundation for the rest of the book.

The book is partly his understanding of the creative process for anyone who is in a creative profession or who writes, paints, plays music, etc. for a hobby.  What I found the most interesting was his own story of faith and becoming a well known music writer/performer.  Many people love his books, too.

I enjoy Peterson's music but even if you haven't heard any of his songs (and you probably have but didn't know it was him), it is an excellent book to give to a young person who is just beginning to play an instrument, write songs, paint watercolors, or even knit a sweater.

Part of this story is the need for community with other people and how we all need each other as we walk through our journey.  I loved seeing how God was at work throughout his life, even when he couldn't see it at the time.  We have all been there.

More information can be found... here.  (I read this on the Kindle with larger font.)

Recipe For Life by Mary Berry
I started this book in paperback in 2018 and tried to continue reading it.  I finally gave up and purchased it on Kindle in late 2019, finishing it this month in 2020.  It was one of those books I gave up trying to read but I loved it so much, I persisted on the Kindle with large font.

If you watch The Great British Baking Show, you will want to read her life story.  I just admire her so much on that show and I was pleased that she was the same in real life.

The first thing I found fascinating was how much culture has changed since she was young (she is now in her 80s believe it or not!).  Her story is as fascinating as a made up movie but it is true.  She is very honest in the telling of her story, which sometimes made me laugh and at other times I cried.

It took a few tissues to get me through the chapter where her nineteen year old son is killed in a car accident.  She shares how her faith was deepened in all of this but she also shares how her two other children reacted by "going crazy" for awhile.  The story of how she and her husband dealt with this with patience, understanding, and love (albeit it a lot of worry on her part) is a lesson a lot of parents can learn from.

It was well worth finishing the book on the Kindle.  In some ways, it was my favorite read of 2019.  

More information can be found... here.

Every Moment Holy by Douglas McKelvey
I kept this book for last because it is so unique.  I had seen photos of pages of the book for awhile and loved the "everyday liturgies".  I mean, really, he had me on The Liturgy of the Ritual of Morning Coffee and The Liturgy for Feasting With Friends.

These kinds of liturgies, for every day living, goes along with my new nudging from God to celebrate life in its' smallest of moments.  For our life is nothing more than a collection of small events in the days and the weeks and the years of our life.

I love words but I can't always think of what I want to say to God in specific instances.  This book provides beautiful words that takes my worship directly to the One who thought of coffee and friends and feasting in the first place.  

This book stays with my Bible.  The outside of the hardback version (there is a paperback version coming later) looks very "old world" and the illustrations by Ned Bustard are lovely in a block print style. 

More information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Image:   Book Shop, artist Kim Sung


Deanna Rabe said...

Yay for book talk! I now must get all these books!

Anonymous said...

So glad you reviewed the book by Mary Berry. I have seen her several times on the British cooking show when we visit our son nearly three hours away. (it comes on his TV). I like the show and her part in it. I have been going back to the beginning of your blog in 2006 reading your blog. The early ones are still good and you were posting nearly everyday which I understand would be hard to come up with that much to write (it would be for me). I have noticed a lot of the other blogs you talk about no longer exist..but you are still the Everready Bunny..and I hope you keep on going. Love your writings. Blessings to you, Sharon D.

Barbara Harper said...

I only reviewed for a publisher for a very short time. They kept sending six boxes of books a month. I didn't want all my reading time taken up by "have to read" books. I still like to review the books I read, mainly to help me remember them and what I liked about them.

The only one of these I am familiar with is Peterson's. I have not read it but have heard good things about it. Maybe some day...

Barb said...

I just loved your list of books, and can't wait to go to the library! I love Andrew Peterson, his music is absolutely beautiful - I'm reading his book first. Thank you for the reviews.

Barbara said...

Thank you for these book reviews. They are intriguing. You are the second person this month to recommend to me the book, Every Moment Holy. Your description of it is so good. I may ask for this for my upcoming birthday, if I don't buy it for myself before then.

Thank you!

e said...

My goals for 2020 are to read one book per week. I have been wanting to read Mary Berry's book but was disappointed that my library doesnt have it. I did find it used on Amazon, so im buying it. I try to borrow so i dont have stuff laying around my house, but some times you just have to. 😄

Thanks for sharing your list.

Vee said...

You have talked me into a few of these. ☺️I enjoy Peterson’s work...wish my family had.

Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Always enjoy your book review/recommendation posts. I went in search (and found) the Mary Berry autobiography, Adorning the Dark, and Placemaker. I look forward to reading them when they arrive. Thank you, Brenda.