Tuesday, December 28, 2004

2004: The Year in Books

I’m not sure how to begin to list my favorite books of 2004. I read quite a bit, and even though this has been an off year for me, I did manage to read 109 books. I read for several reasons, but one of the big ones is to relax and escape from life. While I used to read more of the suspense type novels, lately I’ve moved on to mysteries that aren’t quite so graphic and scary. Our world is scary enough at times for me. I also read to learn something new and about 1/3 of my reading is nonfiction, specifically Christian non-fiction. I also read some women’s fiction and mainstream books but my tastes vary depending on my mood. I always have stacks of books around to read, and yet rarely resists buying new ones when I’m in a book store.

My favorite nonfiction reads of 2004 were:

How to Find Selfless Joy in a Me-First World by Leslie Vernick

Personality Plus by Florence Littauer

How to Study the Bible by Tim LaHaye (great forms and questions for Bible Study!)

Be Intolerant by Ryan Dobson

The Worn Out Woman by Dr. Steve Stephens and Alice Gray (I’ll be using this one for a women’s Sunday School class in the summer of 2005.)

Carolyn 101 by Carolyn Kepcher (An enjoyable book, but I can’t agree with many of her views on business and life. She’s an interesting person, though, and I enjoyed hearing how she got started and moved into such a high position in the Trump Organization.)

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn (This should be required reading for every woman. While it does have an emphasis on relating to your spouse, this book is helpful in understanding every man in your life from fathers and brothers, to coworkers and friends.)

This year I also read the newest mysteries from some of my favorite authors such as Denise Swanson, Kate Kingsbury, Jill Churchill and Elizabeth Peters. While I am reading the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters, I haven’t caught to on her latest ones yet. This year I have been reading her single titles and the Vicky Bliss series. I especially enjoyed her single titles such as “Legend in Green Velvet” and “the Copenhagen Collection.”

My favorite fiction of 2004 were:

Harry Potter - I read all five of the Harry Potter books this year. I especially enjoyed books four and five. I must be honest here and say I didn’t actually “read” them, I listened to the unabridged audio books at work. (I love a job that lets you read all night!) I am buying the hardbacks this year and hope to reread them before book six arrives in the summer. I would need to write a book myself to comment on these books, but I will be writing more about them in this blog once I reread them in the coming year.

Dee Hendersons O’Malley Series - I only have one more to go which I would love to finish up this year still. These books are wonderful and she is one of the best writers in Christian Fiction. I love how she so effortlessly weaves the gospel and the characters salvation into her stories. I also appreciate how the believers in each story are so willing to share their story and let God do the work to bring others to Him. They treat the unbelievers in their life with such grace and loving concern that I want to emulate them at times in my own life. For the uninitiated the stories in order are: The Negotiator, The Guardian, The Truth-Seeker, The Rescuer, The Healer and The Protector. There’s also a prequal to the series that can be read before or after called Danger in the Shadows.

Songbird by Lisa Samson - This was not as good as I had hoped it would be. It was somewhat uneventful and was almost like reading someone’s diary. But Lisa Samson on a bad day is better than most “Christian fiction” authors out there. I had the wonderful priviledge of meeting her this year as she graciously accepted an invitation to my book club to discuss her book “The Church Ladies.” That book is on my top ten fiction books of all time and one I highly recommend.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers - Francine Rivers is hands-down the best women’s fiction author writing inspirational fiction. Her books are amazing and so well written. Her stories pull you in from the first page and they are compelling to the finish. Redeeming Love is the Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer set in the 1800’s gold rush in California. If you haven’t not yet read this book you need to stop what you are doing and get a copy. It is powerful and beautiful and haunting. I would recommend reading the book of Hosea afterward. It will give you a greater appreciation for God’s love and how gracious He is to us every day.

If I had to list my favorite fiction books of all time, I’d say my top five are:

1. Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)
2. The Gates of Zion (Bodie Thoene)
3. The Church Ladies ( Lisa Samson)
4. The Guardian (Dee Henderson)
5. The Last Sin-Eater (Francine Rivers)

That list is certain to change as I’m somewhat new to Inspirational Fiction. When I read it in college it was so cheesy and sugary I couldn’t stand it. I still don’t like Christian Romances. They are so weakly plotted and are very distorted from real life in my opinon. But there are many newer authors in the last five or ten years I’ve heard good things about so my goal next year is to try some new ones. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

I’ve been promising to get to music, so I will work on that in the next day or two. I keep putting it off because my music is somewhat disorganized right now and I need to go through it before I can sort out what was new in 2004. I’ll work on it and get it up before the end of the year.


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