Reading Recap, 2010 Version


Travel Memoirs

A Year in the World  Frances Mayes, 2006 // fascinating, well-written, a definite re-read in the future Review
Where Nights Are Longest  Colin Thubron, 1983 //  Thubron captivated me with his ten thousand mile car ride across Russia  Review
The Lost Heart of Asia  Colin Thubron 1994 // All I know about those nations ending in -stan (e.g. Uzbekistan) I learned from this book. Not an easy read, but rewarding. Review

Travel Essays

Locations Jan Morris, 1993 // Morris has been called the best living travel writer.  This is my first taste.  A collection of magazine articles on the familiar (Vermont, London, West Point, Texas, Chicago) and unfamiliar (to me!): Norfolk Island (now I want to visit it), Trieste, and  Oaxaca.  I want to read more Morris.
How to Travel with a Salmon Umberto Eco, 1994 // a few cogent commentaries; most of Eco’s satire fell flat. 
Places Hilaire Belloc, 1942 // I read the last essay, About Wine, and loved it.  Then I started at the beginning and trudged through this book, hoping for something else as sparkling.

Cultural Studies

The Abolition of Britain Peter Hitchens, 1999 // you could call this book Twilight of British Culture.  Cultural analysis from a conservative viewpoint. Review
Twilight of American Culture Morris Berman, 2000 // spot on analysis of American culture from a liberal viewpoint; my biggest gripe is his love of the Enlightenment. Review
The Geography of Nowhere  James Howard Kunstler, 1993 // excellent, highly recommended, a book that replays thoughts in my mind Review
Wanderlust, A History of Walking  Rebecca Solnit, 2001  // pleasant read, many great quotes, and a phrase I want to steal for a blog title: The Mind at Three Miles an Hour
The Disappearance of Childhood  Neil Postman, 1994 // Postman delivers more perceptive writing on the changes industrialization and television have brought on children. Excellent thoughts on shame. Review


Out of Africa  Isak Dinesen, 1937 // Elisabeth Elliot quotes from this book a lot; she spurred me on to read it. A classic book that has velcroed itself to my conscious thoughts. Review
Shadows on the Grass Isak Dinesen, 1960 // great stuff on human relations, not as striking as Out of Africa
Zarafa, Michael Allin, 1994 // A charming book about the gift of a giraffe from the Grand Vizier of Egypt to the king of France.  I learned history, zoology, and geography from this little book. Review
The Flame Trees of Thika  Elspeth Huxley, 1959 // worthy memoir of a childhood in Africa Review
Facing the Congo  Jeffrey Taylor, 2001 // a thrilling story with a flat ending  Review
Hand on My Scalpel  David C. Thompson, 2001 // a surgeon’s stories of practicing medicine with limited facilities
Land of a Thousand Hills Rosamond Halsey Carr, 1999 // Life on a plantation in Rwanda


Safe Passage Ida Cook, 1950 // loved these opera-loving sisters who rescued many people from Hitler’s grasp Review
The Apprentice Jacues Pépin 2003 Ω // A delicious story of the great cook, complete with French accent.
If I Perish Esther Ahn Kim, 1977 // Christian persecution in Korea, told by a “failed martyr”. Review
My Life if France Julia Child, 2006 Ω // Perfect companion book to The Apprentice Review
Home Julie Andrews, 2008 Ω // Julie reads this book about her early years.  Her accent alone melts me.
Twenty Years A-Growing  Maurice O’Sullivan, 1933 // Musha, if it’s Ireland ye be loving, get this book! Review
The Glass Castle  Jeannette Walls, 2005 // Poignant story from a survivor of wacky/dsyfunctional parents
Facing East Frederica Mathewes-Green, 1997 // if you are interested in (big O) Orthodox Christianity, Frederica will guide you through the church calendar lived out in her family/parish. Review
Seasons of Grace  Donna Farley, 2002 // Like Facing East, not as engaging
A Fortunate Grandchild Miss Read, 1983 // I enjoy Miss Read’s fiction, but this book drug on. Boring.


Some Tame Gazelle Barbara Pym, 1950 Ω // This is Pym’s first published book.  I loved hearing the audio book and must get the print version.  I howled through parts of it, but I’m not sure its appeal is universal.  If you like to laugh at Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, you will love this book.
Crampton Hodnet Barbara Pym, 1940 (publ posthumously) // spinsters, Oxford…amusing tale from the author called the modern Jane Austen Review
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand Helen Simonson, 2010 //  poignant and perceptive, this novel that underscores how the mores of England have changed…but really? The only way a Christian-Muslim romance will work is if both parties aren’t practicing. 
The Morning Tide
Neil Gunn, 1930 // authentic Scottish fiction, warms and breaks the heart Review
The Lost Art of Gratitude  Alexander McCall Smith 2009 Ω// I prefer Mma Ramotswe to Isabelle Dalhousie, but McCall Smith makes me laugh and muse at the same time
The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday  Alexander McCall Smith 2008 Ω// see above
An Irish Country Village
Patrick Taylor, 2009 Ω // Not up to Herriot’s series, but fun listening
An Irish Country Christmas  Patrick Taylor, 2008 Ω // see above
An Irish Country Girl Patrick Taylor, 2010 Ω // Kinky (Mrs. Maureen Kincaid, the housekeeper) tells her story
The Fields of Bannockburn Donna Fletcher Crow, 1996// Ancient Scotland through 1980 eyes.  Too much cheese. Review


A Godward Life Book Two John Piper, 1999 //  like a collection of blog posts; short essays on everything
The Crime of Living Cautiously Luci Shaw, 2005 // Shaw beckons us to take off our fear and dive into life’s adventures. Great thoughts on writing, friendship, art, grief.  Her poems season the prose.   
Psallite  Richard W. Patt, 1976 // Psallite is the command to sing! in Latin.  Devotions for singers in the choir.
Telling the Truth: Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale  Frederick Buechner, 1977 // didn’t meet my expectations
Whistling in the Dark  Frederick Buechner, 1988 //  some nuggets here and there

Non Fiction

Evening in the Palace of Reason James R. Gaines, 2005 // A dual study of Bach and Frederick the Great and the worldviews they represented.  This is my non-fiction book of the year. Review
How to Read Slowly James W. Sire, 1978 // I expect to read this book at least three more times. Excellent! Review
Fierce Conversations Susan Scott 2002 // Excellent assistance in learning how to deliver the message without the load.  If you find yourself equivocating and dodging honest talk, you need to read this book.
The Art of Romantic Living Susan Wales, 2003 // The book is twee, but I gleaned pages and pages of great quotes
Letters to An American Lady C.S. Lewis, 1967 // Never did I dream I would rate a C.S. Lewis book under The Art of Romantic Living, but it annoyed me.  There are gems from Lewis’ pen, but there are easier ways to read them. Review


Island of the World Michael D. O’Brien 2007 //  This story of Josip, a Croatian lad, is my book of the year. Simply astounding writing and story. Review
Hannah Coulter Wendell Berry 2004 // Perhaps the fourth time I’ve read/heard Hannah’s story.
Crossing in Safety  Wallace Stegner, 1987 // Literary lusciousness; lives of two academic couples Review
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston, 1937 Ω // Gritty, compelling, heartbreaking (mature themes)  The audio performance of this book was highly excellent.
Playing for Pizza  John Grisham, 2008 // loved the cultural bit of an NFL player adjusting to the Italian way of life; not so much the references to casual sex
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Winifred Watson, 1938 Ω // a female counterpart to Wooster and Jeeves; wickedly funny in places, exposes the hollowness of a glamorous actress’ life, not a difficult task
Big Stone Gap Adriana Trigiani, 2001 // quick read, forgettable
The Diary Eileen Goudge, 2009 Ω //  When I tell folks about Elizabeth Goudge I always warn them not to confuse her with Eileen Goudge, who appears to write what we call bodice-rippers. Eileen is a distant relative of Elizabeth and I decided to do a comparison. The Diary is based on Goudge’s parents’ story.  It is not sanitized, but engagingly written.  The ending completely took me by surprise. While I hope to read several more of Elizabeth’s English fiction, I don’t plan on any more Eileen.
Big Cherry Holler Adriana Trigiani, 2002 // see above

Children’s Book

Rose in Bloom Louisa May Alcott, 1876 //  sequel to Eight Cousins, a classic contest between an exciting, naughty boy and a plodding, nice guy.  Who will get Rose?


A Certain Justice P.D. James, 1997 // Review
The Private Patient P.D. James, 2009 Ω // James understands human nature.  Great writer.
The Murder Room P.D. James, 2003 Ω // another Adam Dalgliesh mystery
The Footsteps at the Lock Ronald A. Knox, 1928 // wry, dry British humor comes out in this mystery. I liked it.


Words to God’s Music, Laurance Wieder, 2003 // He did what Isaac Watts did, but I wasn’t thrilled  Review
77 Love Sonnets Garrison Keillor, 2009 Ω // The author reads his sonnets.  So so.  Some were great, others not.

Local History

Home Below Hell’s Canyon  Grace Jordan, 1954 // modern pioneer raises a family in a remote, rugged ranch Review
Pan Bread ‘n Jerky Walter L. Scott, 1968 // rustic account of life in Eastern Oregon, a trudging book (hard to read because it is poorly written) Review
It Happened in Washington  James Crutchfield, 1995 // tasty bits of information.  Nez Perce = Pierced Noses; the Kaiser settled a border dispute between USA and Canada in 1872; Alki (state motto) means “By and by”

How this List Works:
Within categories I list them in order of liking, top to bottom.
If I especially liked this, and think you might also, I underlined it.
Ω means I listened to an audio version of this book.
Many books could fit in multiple categories: I picked one.

I love comments and recommendations.
If you see a title and your mind flies to another title,
as in, if she likes A, she should read B,
I would consider it a friendly gesture to tell me.

How is it I read almost exclusively (other than the Bible)
from the twentieth and twenty-first century?
Must fix that. Widgets


5 thoughts on “Reading Recap, 2010 Version

  1. What a wonderful list. How to Read a Book Slowly looks like a good read. I’ll have to look for it. I think Rose in Bloom is one of my favorite Louisa May Alcott books.

  2. Jotting down several titles from here.   I love Dinesen.  Out of Africa is one of my top 5 favorite books.  It is such a joy to read someone who loves the written word and knows how to put it down so eloquently.  Thanks for your recap.

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