It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
The internet is awash with lists containing the “Best books of 2019.” I love reading them and seeing which books I’ve read, which are on my to-read list, and which are brand new to me. Here is my list, enjoy!
1) All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment by Hannah Anderson —I preferred this to her book Humble Roots. “Discernment is knowing the difference between what is good and what is better. And sometimes seeking what is better means learning to trust God while you wait for him to
1) All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment by Hannah Anderson —I preferred this to her book Humble Roots. “Discernment is knowing the difference between what is good and what is better. And sometimes seeking what is better means learning to trust God while you wait for him to supply it.”
2) When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink — One of the signs of a good book is how much I am compelled to read parts out loud to people near me. Let’s just say, I basically did the audio version of this book. Even now, reviewing my notes I have almost gotten off track with working on this post. So good!
3) On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior — Organized by Cardinal Virtues (prudence, temperance, justice, and courage), Theological Values (faith, hope, and love), and Heavenly Virtues (chastity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility), this book is written slightly above my normal level. It pushed me in a good way and got me to think on another level.
4) The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen — One of several fiction books to make my list, Fireflies was a surprise read in 2019 because I had never heard of it. My Tuesday night book group read it and I think I liked it the most. I loved this book. Some in our group hated it. I was so curious to see what was going to happen and it reminded me of other books I loved (The Secret Annex, Born a Crime, Educated, and fiction book House of Sand and Fog). This is the story of how one bad decision can cascade and what you think you know . . . you’re wrong. I underlined the word loved in my notebook and it is only .99 on Amazon as of this writing.
5) Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World by Noah Strycker — In 2015 Noah traveled around the world with the goal of seeing 5,000 different bird species. He ended up seeing 6,042! I love books that following someone for a year and give me a taste of that world. This book opened my eyes to how many birds there are and the quirky, kind, and passionate birder community.
6) Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel by Gail Honeyman — Also read for my book group and unlike Fireflies, Eleanor was universally adored. This is a book about loneliness and the power of human connection. My mom described Eleanor as a flower blossom opening. I felt like a better human being for having read this.
8) Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin — Looking at four presidents (Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and Johnson), this book explored their ambition, adversity, growth, and the times they served in. Each one had truly trying issues to face.
9) Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel by Fredrik Backman — Britt-Marie finds herself aged 60, separated from her husband, and needing a job. She moves to Borg for a temporary job and becomes a soccer coach to a team that has been forgotten. I laughed more than I expected and then I cried more than I expected. Backman is a genuis at capturing cranky people who have tender elements. His books challenge me to see beyond the surface.
10) The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in America by Helen Thorpe — Follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. This book brought back many memories of teaching ESL over the years.
Of course, Getting Started and Enjoying Newsletters have to make the list. These labors of love make me smile. One of my reading goals for December was to reread The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. It had been years since I read it. Why had I waited so long? If you are looking for a short, delightful read that points you to wonder of this season, this book is for you.
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Have you read any of my 10? What would you recommend to fellow readers?