100 books in 2011

At the beginning of this year I took the GoodReads challenge and made it my goal to read 100 books. Mission accomplished (with the inclusion of the Bible, which I read through chronologically–something I can’t recommend enough– with my now-roommate Kate)! Not all were worth recommending (in fact, some were terrible), but it’s the end of 2011 and my mind is 100 books richer. 🙂

2012 will be the year of re-reading, starting with the Lord of the Rings and probably continuing to at least War & Peace and probably Atlas Shrugged… and from there, who knows. Anyone want to join me?

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I’ve told some people about this and several have asked for the list (which I’ve been keeping all along), so here you go…

1) Believing God by R.C. Sproul, Jr.
2) A Chance to Die (Amy Carmichael) by Elisabeth Elliot
3) Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot*
4) The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
5) The Testament by John Grisham
6) Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Rigler
7) Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond
8 ) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien*
9) The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
10) In the Company of Others by Jan Karon
11) A. L. T. by Andre Leon Talley
12) Chocolate & Vicodin by Jennette Fulda
13) Born Round by Frank Bruni
14) Poke the Box by Seth Godin
15) Emily Post by Laura Claridge
16) The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis*
17) Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon
18) Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
19) Live Alone and Like It by Marjorie Hillis
20) The King’s Speech by Mark Logue
21) Keep A Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot
22) The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk
23) The Narnian (C.S. Lewis) by Alan Jacobs
24) Millionaire Women Next Door by Thomas Stanley
25) Common As Air by Lewis Hyde
26) Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis*
27) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis*
28) The Silver Chair  by C.S. Lewis*
29) At Home by Bill Bryson
30) The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis*
31) Assured by God by Burk Parsons
32) God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew*
33) The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis*
34) All By My Selves by Jeff Dunham
35) Bossypants by Tina Fey
36) Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
37) The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis*
38) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle*
39) When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley
40) Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery*
41) The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
42) Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriett Reisen
43) Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery*
44) This is A Book by Dimitri Martin
45) Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery*
46) The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel
47) Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery*
48) Familyhood by Paul Reiser
49) Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery*
50) If You Ask Me by Betty White
51) Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery*
52) Made to Crave by Lisa TerKeurst
53) Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery*
54) Snobs by Julian Fellowes
55) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens*
56) Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery*
57) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows
58) Mavericks at Work by William Taylor
59) Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes
60) Christianity & Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
61) A Praying Life by Paul Miller
62) Addicted to Mediocrity by Franky Schaeffer
63) Half Assed by Jennette Fulda*
64) Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery*
65) The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims
66) Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
67) Young, Restless & Reformed by Collin Hansen
68) Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery
69) Good Stuff by Jennifer Grant
70) Emily’s Quest by L.M. Montgomery
71) My Lucky Life in and out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke
72) Further Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
73) Eat Mor Chikin by S. Truett Cathy
74) Radical by David Platt
75) A Wind in the Door by Madeline L’Engle*
76) A House Like A Lotus by Madeline L’Engle*
77) A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L’Engle*
78) In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson
79) Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
80) The King of Madison Avenue by Kenneth Roman
81) Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
82) Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber
83) Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic
84) Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
85) Chore Whore by Heather Howard
86) Be My Guest by Conrad Hilton
87) Suck Your Stomach in and Put Some Color On by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson
88) Einstein in Love by Dennis Overbye
89) Mistress of the Monarchy by Alison Weir
90) Confessions of a Carb Queen by Susan Blech*
91) Diary of a Player by Brad Paisley
92) Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
93) Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle*
94) Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler
95) The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
96) Treasuring God in our Traditions by Noel Piper
97) The Flinch by Julian Smith
98) The Organized Heart by Staci Easton
99) Christmastide: Prayers for Advent through the Epiphany for the Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle
100) The Bible *


Books I Read This Month (May 2011)

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Okay first yes, I really did read all these books just this month. I was trying to read 13 in order to catch up to where I should be in my goal to read 100 books this year (since I didn’t decide on that goal until late March). Turns out that when I’m trying to read (and picking short books), I can just keep going…

The Magician’s NephewThe Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, of course!

Assured by God: Living in the Fullness of God’s Grace by Burk Parsons (good reminders)

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew (great Christian biography)

All By My Selves: Walter, Peanut, Achmed, and Me by Jeff Dunham (funny and informative)

Bossypants by Tina Fey (very funny)

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield (don’t bother)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (classic for LOST Book Club)

When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley (surprisingly rare well done modern fiction)

Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery (delightful as always)

The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul (finally read this classic of the faith, and I’ll be reading it again)

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen (a good biography)

This Is a Book by Dimitri Martin (Very funny and until I read it I was unaware the man was A GENIUS)

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel (give this one a big ol’ pass)

Familyhood by Paul Reiser (poignant and enjoyable)

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Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads to read my reviews and share your own books! I don’t think I’ll finish anything tonight but I’m already working on a few books that will be in next month’s list. 🙂

Books I Read This Month (April 2011)

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I’m really not doing well on my goal to read 100 books in 2011 (see sidebar)… I need to catch up a lot in May!

Still, I did some reading in April…

The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis – awesome biography of his intellectual life

Millionaire Women Next Door: The Many Journeys of Successful American Businesswomen – lots of interesting facts and statistics

Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership – a treatise on copyright or the lack thereof

Chronicles of Narnia (namely Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair) – which hold up even better than I remembered. Truly great books.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life – Bill Bryson. I now have enough interesting facts and stories to last me at least the next few months of cocktail parties 🙂

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C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis

I have been doing an irregular series of posts recommending three essential books from one author. With C. S. Lewis, that’s impossible. To attempt to limit it to three would be a painful disservice.

Several friends of mine have told me they’d like to read more Lewis, and I’m betting others are in the same position– when there are so many options, where do you start? I’ll let you decide for yourself. Here is a list of some of Lewis’ major works with a brief synopsis. Get reading!

The Chronicles of Narnia
A fantasy series for children about another world, some of which is allegorical. Start your kids on this early and often, and there’s a lot here for adults too. They’re books that seem to grow with you.

Mere Christianity
The apologetics classic that’s an adaption of a series of radio addresses Lewis gave in England. It’s an approachable intellectual argument for faith and truth.

The Screwtape Letters
A fictional  correspondence between two demons (an uncle to his inexperienced nephew). While the theology of a personal tempter is a little shaky, there are more convicting passages here than you’ll find in ten books by lesser authors. It’s an exploration of ways we fall away from God through all those little distractions and foibles we’d like to believe aren’t really sins.

The Great Divorce
A fictionalized look at heaven and hell with a lot of application for our lives on earth. It’s Lewis’ allusion to Dante’s Divine Comedy, among other works. (Wikipedia claims there’s a film version coming out this year, but I couldn’t authenticate that anywhere.)

The Pilgrim’s Regress
One of the few of his books I haven’t read (yet!), this is his first novel after becoming a Christian, written in the style of the classic A Pilgrim’s Progress.

Space Trilogy
Fictional series (I’ve written about the first book before) dealing with the dehumanizing of science fiction and literature in general at the time.  (The Abolition of Man, written from a series of lectures, deals with this topic too.)

Till We Have Faces
A retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, it’s an exploration of a character who comes to faith when those around her do not.

The Four Loves
His work on the types of love: friendship, eros, affection, and charity.

The Problem of Pain
An apologetic classic dealing with common arguments he encountered against Christianity.

Another apologetic work arguing for the truth.

The Weight of Glory
An absolutely wonderful piece (one of my all-time favorites), generally published with other excellent addresses; a beautiful reminder of what Christ has done for us.

Classic Literature on E-Readers

Van Gogh Still Life with Three Books

I love classic literature. I had the privilege to be taught in the classical model in middle school and high school, which meant we read at least one book a month– and that book was usually several hundred years old. I found that these novels transported me to different worlds in a way modern literature or historical fiction never could. I learned new words and turns of phrase, and absorbed historical context and events.

My senior year of high school I was in charge of my own English curriculum. For writing I kept up with current events and wrote at least two papers a month on political issues. I also sent at least one letter to the editor every month (many of which were published, some as op-ed columns). The most fun, though, was that my mom had picked up a book at a homeschool curriculum fair that listed major American colleges’ recommended reading lists. The authors had also compiled a list of the 100 most-often-recommended books, which I decided to read. (Really I only wound up reading 73 that year, if I recall correctly.)

From Robert Louis Stevenson to Ralph Ellison, Louisa May Alcott to Charles Dickens, Jane Austen to Herman Melville and Fyodor Dostoyevsky to Shakespeare, these books informed and shaped my worldview both then and now. They gave me a head start on my eventual college English program. They made me an intellectual richer person.

Why am I waxing poetic about classic literature? Because the latest technology (you know, that evil thing that was supposed to make it so we never read a good book again?) makes reading some of the greatest literature of all time easier than ever. I must admit I thought everyone knew this, but I was listening to a podcast by obviously relatively tech-savvy people the other day and this was a new revelation to them: Any books in the public domain (that is, those whose copyright has run out) can be had for free on any of the e-reader platforms!

The Kindle, as I’m sure you know by now, is my favorite e-reader. It can be read across devices– there are desktop, Android, Blackberry, iPhone and iPad apps so you can read Kindle books practically anywhere without an actual Kindle device.

But whether you decide to use Kindle, Nook, Borders, Sony, Google, or another e-reading platform, get reading. You can’t beat having access to the greatest books of all time for free!

“There is no argument by which one can defend a [literary work]. It defends itself by surviving, or it is indefensible.”
-George Orwell

Books I Read This Month (March 2011)

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I read more than I thought I would in March. I hope I’m able to keep that trend continuing because I currently have about ten books out from the library, waiting expectantly on my coffee table. Looking forward to diving into the next batch! Again I remind you that I post all these to GoodReads, so get yourself an account and let’s be friends over there!

Seth Godin’s new book (and an awesome success in his new publishing model), Poke the Box.

A biography of Emily Post (Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners) that was more of a fascinating portrait of  her age (she lived from 1871-1960… she saw Reconstruction and Sputnik!) than her own life.

I re-read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for the LOST book club. I meant to get to the other Chronicles of Narnia too, but I’ll just have to do the remainder this month! (By the way, have you heard they’re making a movie of The Magician’s Nephew next?)

Home to Holly Springs, which technically I should have read before I read the second Father Tim novel… not that it matters that much. 😛

Having been recommended by pretty much everyone whose opinion I respect, I finally read The Five Love Languages Singles Edition. I think I already knew most of it since people refer to it so much, but there was definitely some new content I hadn’t internalized.

Live Alone and Like It: The Classic Guide for the Single Woman, a reprinting from 1939 that’s hilarious to read in 2011. It used to be subtitled “The Guide for the Extra Woman”!

The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy, the nonfiction biography of Lionel Logue written by his grandson (after they began working on the movie). Well done.

Keep a Quiet Heart, which I read slowly during my quiet time with the Lord (started it in February). Now one of my all-time favorites.

Just last night I finished Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest, The Thank You Economy. I’m with Seth Godin on this one: “give a copy to your clueless boss”!

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Let me know what you’re reading too!

Recommended Classic: Jane Eyre

I promise I’m not posting books just because there are upcoming movies. It is, however, a great time to get your hands on an inexpensive paperback copy of a classic! (Incidentally, Jane Eyre is public domain so you can read it for free on Kindle or the lesser e-reader of your choice.)

Jane Eyre 2011 theatrical poster

If Jane Austen and her ilk is a bit saccharine for your taste, the Brontes might be for you. Many are dark and brooding and much more drama-filled. Jane Eyre is far from my favorite heroine but I do re-read the book every few years and have seen most of the movie versions. I don’t think anyone’s quite nailed Mr. Rochester yet.

Many friends have told me they tried to get into Jane Eyre and just… couldn’t. The secret? The first ten chapters are boring, and don’t have much to do with the rest of the story. Skim them. It’s okay… I won’t tell. 🙂

There’s quite a bit of literary talent to go around among the Bronte women. If you’ve already done Jane Eyre (chances are you have), check out Charlotte’s other books, Shirley or Villette. I actually like them better! Emily, of course, wrote Wuthering Heights, which I always found too juvenile and unrealistic  but some people love it. I recently read Anne’s Agnes Grey, which I enjoyed more than I expected. I’ll get to The Professor and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall one of these days!

Whether you read (or re-read) the book quickly before the movie comes out this month or read it afterward to compare and contrast, read it. No fair just seeing all the period movies and not checking out the source material!