Books and Reading

Favourite Reads from 2018 (but there could be many more!!!)

Picking your favourite books is akin to choosing your most beloved child, an almost impossible task! I’m not sure I’ve got it right, although, there probably isn’t a right and a wrong for personal taste in books, is there? I am sure I’ve missed a few, but I’ve given it a whirl, anyway.
Considering that I read well over 100 books this year, choosing was a daunting task.

These are not necessarily books published in 2018, in fact, some are quite old, but they made an impression and brought hours of entrancing travel into different worlds each in their unique way. 
In no particular order:

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1) by Jacqueline Winspear 

This book, the first in a series of which I read 11 out of the 14, was intriguing. Maisie, a young girl from humble beginnings, goes into service and from there makes connections which alter her life’s course. She becomes a nurse goes to the front (during WW1) and then returns home to become a private investigator. Her mentor, Dr. Maurice Blanche is a quirky fellow, and he teaches Maisie not only the “hard” skills of ferreting out the truth but also some mystical ones. Maisie is a strong character, independent and eager to prove herself. 

I’d Rather be Reading: the Delights & Dilemma‘s of the Reading Life, by Anne Bogel

It is a charming and engaging set of essays about reading!!!  With, winsomeness and humour Anne takes us on the journey of the lifestyle of the reader. One in which books are not just a hobby or something to pass the time but are the oxygen to our breath, the joy to our sorrow, the butter to our bread. Our books inform, enchant, and define us. Truly a delightful read, whimsical, informative and fun.

Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery

This book has got to be one of my all-time favourites! The sixth in the series of books about Anne of Green Gables, it tells the story of Rilla, one of Anne’s younger daughter’s. It takes place during the first World War and is a powerful, potent, and emotionally poignant story. As Rilla’s friends and brothers head off to fight in the War, Rilla, initially selfish but kind-hearted, finds purpose waning. When she discovers a young baby, she takes it upon herself to raise the child until someone finds the parent. It proves to be the making of Rilla and she blossoms into maturity. Heart-wrenching and devastating we watch the War unfold from Rilla’s point of view. Terrible loss and tragedy take place. I ugly cried, bawled like a baby, even though I have read it many times before and knew what was coming. L.M. Montgomery takes care to cover many factual events of the WWI making it an even more compelling story. It leaves us wrung out, grief-stricken and heartsore, such an accurate portrayal of many of the sorrows of war. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!!!

Bleak House, by Charles Dickens
I read this via Audible and it clocks in at a whopping 45 hours long with two-thousand characters to boot! I enjoyed every minute! Dickens’ is masterful, his prose is intricate, his humour and insight penetrating. His themes are vast, covering at the very least: the legal system in England, through which this book in part, ended up being the impetus to reorder their court system; to love, murder, comedy, tragedy, intrigue, unsolved mysteries, poverty and plenty, and more. It is thoroughly engaging. Equally satisfying is that it covers all things Dickensian. 

A Circle of Quiet, by Madeleine L’Engle.  
I found this fascinating and instructive; She speaks of the paradox of engaging our intellect and moving beyond it when writing: – “I have to use what intellect I have in order to write books, but I write the kind of books I do in order that I may try to set down glimpses of things that are on the other side of the intellect. We do not go around or discard the intellect, but we must go through and beyond it. If we are given minds, we are required to use them, but not limit ourselves by them.” If you are a fan of books by Madeleine L’Engle, author of the renowned “A Wrinkle in Time,” or her “Meet the Austins” series, among many others, you will enjoy reading this; and even more so if you are a creative type.

Renovation of the Heart, by Dallas Willard
I find some of the finest and most profound thinking in books by Dallas Willard, and this one is no exception. Dallas takes care to take us through the process of spiritual formation through the spiritual disciplines. His writing is deep and complex, he is a philosopher after all, so prepare to put on your thinking cap. This is not a book to be read quickly, it requires careful attention and much pondering. Read it thoughtfully, and prayerfully in small doses; expect to be both challenged and encouraged. It is well worth the time and effort!!!

Ethel & Ernest, by Raymond Briggs
Ethel & Ernest tells the story of Raymond Briggs’ parents’ marriage. Written in Briggs’ unique cartoon strip format (and also made into a movie which I watched and loved on Netflix), it is the story of an ordinary marriage during extraordinary times. It covers the Great Depression, the build-up to World War II, the horrors of the war years, the euphoric joy of VE Day and the emerging of a generation from post-war austerity to the cultural ‘enlightenment’ of the 1960s. It is a touching and moving chronicle. I highly recommend both the book and the movie.

Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey, (Sensible Shoes #1) by Sharon Garlough Brown
A trusted friend recommended this book; one thing I have learned about her recommendations, she never steers me wrong! Four strangers meet at a retreat centre and embark on a journey of learning spiritual practices and end up finding mutual support. Reluctant at first, they uncover profound wounds and find the beginnings of healing. This leads them to unexpected friendships and a deeper, meaningful relationship with God. If you have any interest in the spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation, this is a book for you.

Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy
This book a delightful rendering of Marilla! The prose is beautiful and lyrical. “Marilla of Green Gables” is a joy to read. This Marilla is a little softer than I imagined her to be, although, I wonder if this isn’t because the movies have presented a harsher view of Marilla than who she was shown to be in the books. What I loved about it too, is the answer to the question, “Oh, Marilla, what happened?” referring to the ill-fated romance between John Blythe and Marilla. It is not a trite, or soppy answer to the riddle we have all wondered about. It is well done and fleshed out satisfactorily. I especially love Sarah McCoy’s comment’s in the “Author’s Note.,” which endeared me to her immensely. 

The Penderwicks in Spring, (The Penderwicks #4), by  Jeanne Birdsall
This the 4th in the series and I found it compelling and poignant. Batty, whose Mother died of cancer shortly after she is born, overhears a conversation which alters the trajectory of her young life for a time. The manner in which Birdsall handles this (a significant crisis of identity) is profoundly moving. I laughed, and I cried. Such an excellent story! I love this series!!!

A Study in Scarlet Women, (Lady Sherlock #1), by Sherry Thomas
This series starts with a fascinating premise, Sherlock Holmes, is Charlotte Holmes! She is an intelligent young woman whose deductive powers are beyond the pale, and in order to solve crimes and mysteries she cannot be a “woman,” so through unconventional means she cleverly creates a persona, “Sherlock Holmes,” her non-existent brother, and then proceeds to deftly and expertly work to solve problems. Since a trio of murders has cast suspicion on her sister and father, she sets out to do everything in her power to clear their names and battle a criminal mastermind.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, (The Vanderbeekers # 1), by Karina Yan Glaser
I so enjoyed this book! The Vanderbeekers have always lived on 141st Street, so when their landlord, a curmudgeon of a gentleman hands them an eviction notice and tells they have to move; pandemonium ensues. The children, determined not to lose their home, embark on a campaign to stay in their beloved home and to convince Mr. Beiderman that they are wonderful tenants and should be allowed to stay. At once hilarious and tender, it is a fine read!

What are some of your favourites???


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