The Year in Books


Because I love to read reading lists, here is my offering of books read in 2009. 
Titles with Ω next to them indicate audio books.

It was a good reading year; there were many painful stories relative to WWII, but the comfortable books in-between helped.  Many of you influenced my reading with your own book reviews and recommendations.  Thank you!  I am grateful for the book-loving blogging community.


■   Rachel Ray, Anthony Trollope (written in 1863, my favorite of 2009)
■   The Herb of Grace, Elizabeth Goudge (comfort and joy)
■   Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns (quirky, colorful, lovable, Southern)

■   Band of Brothers, Stephen E. Ambrose (grand and gripping)
■   D-Day, June 6, 1944, Stephen E. Ambrose (I couldn’t put it down)
■   Beyond Band of Brothers, Dick Winters  Ω (I totally admire this man)

■   My Lucky Star, Zdenka Fantlova (absorbing, haunting)
■   The Book Thief, Markus Zusak Ω  (most unusual – a must re-read)
■   The Pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman (Holocaust memoir, Poland)

■  All but My Life, Gerda Weissman Klein (left me in an emotional puddle)
■  The Proud Tower, Barbara Tuchman Ω (1895-1912 could be compelling? Yes!)
■   How to Cook a Wolf, M.F.K. Fisher (written for the starving; acerbic wit)

■   Simple Courage, Frank Delaney Ω (I yearn to write this well, audio excellent)
■   A Thread of Grace, Mary Doria Russell (Jewish resistance in Italy during WWII)
■   String Too Short to Be Saved, Donald Hall (life on a Maine farm, rec. by Wendell Berry)

Really Liked

■   Suite Française, Irène Némirovsky Ω (captures the horror of invasion)
■   Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl (mischievous, sparkling, crackin’ good fun)
■   Schindler’s List, Thomas Keneally (he saved > 1000 Jewish lives in WWII)

■   Good Night, Mr. Tom, Michelle Magorian (sweet story without syrup)
■   The Last Chronicle of Barset, Anthony Trollope Ω (good but not Trollope’s best)
■   A Gravestone Made of Wheat, Will Weaver (basis of movie Sweet Land)

■   Children of the Storm, Natasha Vins (modern Soviet memoir)
■   The Second World War in Color, Stewart Binns  (great photography)
■   Dr. Seuss Goes to War, Theodor Geisel (a different side of Dr. Seuss)

■   The Rising Tide, Jeff Shaara Ω (brings history alive)
■   The Steel Wave, Jeff Shaara Ω (D-Day was a particular focus in my reading)
■   The Hours After, Gerda Weismann Klein and Kurt Klein (sequel to ABML)

■   All God’s Children & Blue Suede Shoes, Kenneth Myers (culture & faith)
■   Walter, The Story of a Rat, Barbara Wersba (the rat loves books)
■   Island on Bird Street, Uri Olev (young adult book based on author’s life)

■   The Art of Civilized Conversation, Margaret Shepherd (full of delightful quotes)
■   The Holy Wild, March Buchanan (quality writing not usually found in devotionals)
■   Easy Company Soldier, Don Marlarkey Ω (another Band of Brothers soldier)

■   The Phoenix and the Carpet, E. Nesbit (warmth of Narnia without the allegory)
■   Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, Alexander McCall Smith (an easy, enjoyable read)
■   A Nice Cup of Tea & A Sit Down, Nicey and Wifey (from a blog on tea and biscuits)

■   The Book That Changed My Life, ed. Diane Osen (authors interviewed)
■   The Incredible Shrinking Critic, Jami Bernard (NYC-style wit and sarcasm)
■   The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Lewis Buzbee (adventures of a book seller)

Liked Parts of It

■   Living in a Foreign Language, Michael Tucker (TV stars move to Italy)
■   Head Over Heels in the Dales, Gervase Phinn (James Herriot of schools)
■   The Water is Wide, Pat Conroy (a young teacher, a South Carolina island)

■   The Invisible Heart, Russell Roberts (economics for dummies)
■   1916, Morgan Llywelyn (historical fiction, Easter Rising in Ireland)
■   Fire in the Blood, Irène Némirovsky Ω (a bit strange)

■   Bedside Manners, David Watt MD  (some weird patients/maladies)
■   The Gathering Storm, Winston Churchill (“see? I told you so!”)
■   The Airman’s War, WWII in the Sky, Albert Marrin (juvenile history)

■   Overlord, D-Day, Albert Marrin (another good juvenile history)
■   Churchill, Hitler & the Unnecessary War, Pat Buchanan Ω(didn’t buy premise)
■   The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall (not up to Nesbit, Alcott, & Lewis)

■   The Ocean of Truth, Sir Isaac Newton, Joyce McPherson (juvenile history)
■   Isaac Newton, Scientific Genius, Pearl & Henry Schultz (another juvenile history)
■   The Wild Blue, Stephen E. Ambrose (pilots of the B-24)

■   Luther and His Katie, Dolina MacCuish (juvenile history)
■   Women of the Old Testament, Abraham Kuyper (devotional)
■   The Illumined Heart, Frederica Mathewes-Green (Orthodox author, devotional)

■   Luncheon of the Boating Party, Susan Vreeland Ω (book based on Renoir’s painting)
■   The Panama Hat Trail, Tom Miller (made in Ecuador; compelling non-fiction)
■   A Year Down Yonder, Richard Peck (juvenile fiction, the cover drew me in)

■   Evasions, Melanie Jeschke (preferred author’s other books)
■   The Spiritual Life, Evelyn Underhill (a deep book, I didn’t “get it”)
■   Isaac and His Devils, Fernanda Eberstadt (parts I loved, parts I hated)

■   Common Sense Christian Living, Edith Schaeffer (a spin-off of film series)
■   The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett (excellent sections, except for the gay bits…why?)
■   Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult (a page-turner)
■   Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod, Gary Paulsen (intense)

Didn’t Care For It

■   Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler (How bad was it?  Very bad.)
■   Eating My Words, Mimi Sheraton (her voice grated–and it wasn’t an audio book!)
■   The American Classics, Denis Donoghue (I don’t like literary criticism; I prefer literature)
■   Speaking of Beauty, Denis Donoghue (it was a struggle to make it to the end)


4 thoughts on “The Year in Books

  1. Thank you for posting your list.  Although I read your blog regularly, I was hoping you’d list your favorites in one place.  Do you like E. Nesbit?  She has a very George MacDonald-like story with a princess and a dragon that I love very much.  I’ll send you the link if your interested.  

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