Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Book Wrap Up

This was a really fun reading year! I read a lot and most of it was really good. I read most of what I set out to but skipped and added a bunch. I also got some opportunity to write about what I read, which was excellent.
 

Fiction - Author Blocks

By Willa Cather

I blogged about her and the first five books on the list at Carrots for Michaelmas).

My Antonia (re-read)

Sapphira and the Slave Girl

One of Ours

Shadows on the Rock

Death comes for the Archbishop

My Mortal Enemy - A powerful faith and end of life story here. It is short and very worth the read!

O Pioneers (re-read) - Another beautiful prairie novel. This one is darker than My Antonia and fairly heavy on justice, as opposed to mercy. It deals with the children of pioneers, how they think, how they turn out, and the conflicts that they have.

The Song of the Lark - The third in the "prairie trilogy" (along with My Antonia and O Pioneers), and definitely the weakest one. I found the heroine shallow and self absorbed throughout. A well written book but the moral compass wasn't quite right and the characters not as compelling.

The Professor's House - I found this book to be endearing. I love the professor and how he is attached to his old study, but I would. I also enjoyed the story within the novel very much. A lot of heart aching beauty and finding purpose in life.

Alexander's Bridge - This one was not very interesting but it is so well written that it I enjoyed reading it. This was one of her early novels, before she found the subjects that she wrote best on. So while her skill as a writer shows, the novel does not shine.

A Lost Lady - This one was definitely tragic. It pictured the best of a time and its decline. The moral degradation of a beautiful character seemed to stand for the degradation of society and culture at the time.

Lucy Gayheart - Another sad but good book though not one of Cather's best. It sends a strong message about the forgiveness and the importance of not giving one's heart away imprudently.

April Twilights - This is a collection of beautiful American Poetry. Her writing style is so well suited to these poems, they are breath taking!

Youth and the Bright Medusa & The Troll Garden - I don't like Willa Cather's Short stories as much as her novels. Though the descriptions and characters are written just as well, they seem to take place in a different reality than her novels. One where the moral compass is askew. I didn't finish reading through all of her short stories because I did not get much from them. But I love her novels and plan on reading most of them again. Such a strange disparity

By Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South, a few times - I absolutely love this book! The love story is just beautiful and it is set in a time full of fascinating social issues. She does an excellent job of showing the changes that the industrial revolution brought to British society and the interaction between the classes. There is a constant striving to see the human person through all of the machinery and power struggles.

Ruth - This book deals with falling into sin and seeking redemption. As a Catholic, I do not agree with every message in it, but I had much fruitful reflection from reading it. It was an important reminder of how easy it is to fall into sin, how important it is to seek redemption, and how important it is to be forgive.

Sylvia's Lovers - This book is hard to describe without totally spoiling it. It deals with love, foolishness, and marriage. It is a rather dark book and I wondered many times where exactly it would end up. But marriage wins in the end and I am glad that I read it. It was an interesting historical and character study to boot.

Cranford - I have to be honest, I thought that this book was boring. It is well written and some of the characters very charming but it just kind of fell flat.

Wives and Daughters - I kept thinking that I did not like this novel only to find myself really invested in what happened in it. The characters grew on me and I loved them by the end! Another thought provoking book about love and marriage.

Cousin Phillis - This one was a novella. It was very vividly written but I did not like the ending. A good read but not entirely satisfying

By Jane Austen (all re-reads)

The first few times that I read Jane Austen's novels, I was so caught up in the plot and romance that I didn't notice just how funny they are! I laughed and laughed this time around!

Emma, twice - My favorite! See why here.

Northanger Abbey, twice - This little novel is climbing in my affections. I love Katherine's heart and Henry is such a lovable hero!

Pride and Prejudice - I don't think I have original praise to give here. It's just amazing.

Sense and Sensibility - I appreciate this one much more than I used to. I think I finally understand Elinor a little bit better and has helped me to appreciate the story.

Persuasion, twice - Oh, Anne! What a model of virtue you are. I am humbled every time I read this by her patience and forbearance

 

More Fiction

Short Stories by Flannery O'Connor: Parker's Back, Everything that Rises Must Converge, The Lame Shall Enter First - Though I loved all three, I found The Lame Shall Enter First to be the most thought provoking. It was jarring, relevant, and twisted in all of the right ways to provoke fruitful thought.

Priestblock 25487 by Bernard Jean - Excellent, inspiring, heart rending book about a priest in a concentration camp. Totally worth crying through to see the heroism and love of Christ in this book.

Mr. Blue by Myles Connolly - I loved this book. It is about a man who imitates Christ in a very Franciscan way while remaining in the world. It is written by a Catholic film maker right at the beginning of the industry and sets out a vision for how that art can help the world. There is so much heart and beauty in this little book!

The Joyful Beggar by Louis De Whol - A very pious book that does a great job of explaining what was going in in a very confusing historical time. But the writing was a bit heavy. I am glad that I read the book but I am not jumping to pick up another of his novels. Though the history was interesting, I also wished he had spent more time writing about St. Francis.

Middlemarch by George Eliot - I am so glad that I finally read this. It was fascinating and, of course, very well done. But I found myself unconvinced of the ending. I just wasn't convinced that the hero at the end of the novel was actually so great and worth the heroine's affection. I was almost convinced by her but certainly not by him.

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens - I haven't read a Dickens novel since I was in 9th grade. I loved him then, and I love him now! This book was funny, heartfelt, and full of dynamite characters. It was true entertainment in the best sense!

Love Among the Chickens by PG Woodhouse - This is the first Woodhouse novel that I have ever read. I picked it because it looked funny. It was, delightfully so. Pick this one up if you need something lighthearted and well written!

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte - I read this one right after Gaskell's North and South because I read that they are considered similar. I am glad that I read Shirley and enjoyed the comparison but I have to say that North & South is my favorite by far. The thing that really got me about Shirley was that she kind of drops the hero and heroine that she starts out with in favor of another half way through the novel. When she returned to the original hero and heroine to tie things up, it was hard for me to really believe the ending because I hadn't spent enough time with them and they had changed. I found the love stories in this one much less satisfying too. From what I can tell, Gaskell was a happily married woman and it shows in how she writes about love. Bronte writes love with some strange and slightly disturbing qualities, in my opinion.

Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge - I think that it was worth the read: enjoyable, thought provoking, and an interesting historical period. But I am not satisfied with it. I think she tried to make a good point about self-sacrificing love but missed the mark. I don't like deception and one of the main characters used it frequently. I didn't believe the ending as a result. I thought that the characters also did not give their hearts fully to their vocations, they gave their lives but not their whole heart and soul. Though it was good food for thought, I found the particular way in which that played out disturbing.

A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh - Well done and engaging satire. The only problem is that I just can't seem to find a book about marital infidelity funny. I understand why it is supposed to be funny but I don't find it at all funny. I'm looking forward to the discussion on this one at the book club that I belong to. Hopefully there is something that I'm missing!

Here, There, and Everywhere by Dorothy Aldis - This is an old book of children's poetry that my kid's and I just adored. It is delightfully funny and well written and the vintage illustrations are so cute!

Non-Fiction

Preparation for Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary - I read the original and loved it as well as the consecration. Belonging to Mary is sweet indeed!

Guiding your Catholic Preschooler - Lots of good practical ideas in this one. I found it encouraging with manageable projects and applicable advice.

Feast! - I love the real food as well as the reflections on the liturgical year in here. It helped me settle into the liturgical seasons mentally as well as giving me great recipes for celebrations!

The American Frugal Housewife - A charming book about how to keep house in the 1830s. I love homesteading stuff so this book was right up my alley! Good practical advice in here and a peek into how things were cooked so long ago. My sourdough is currently benefitting from her tips.

Modern Essentials - Currently my favorite essential oils book. It is published by DoTerra and I don't buy from them but the information in here is very easy to access and apply.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood - Some of the science in this book seemed a bit funny to me but I did get some good tips from it, especially on cheap and creative diffusing ideas.

The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward Smith - I am currently somewhat obsessed with planning a garden for next year and I adore this book. Natural, common sense methods meet beauty and order. The scientist and artist in me both love it!

American Needlework by Rose Wilder Lane - This is a wonderful book with great instructions on how to do many kinds of needlework. There are diagrams and it is written clearly. It's so neat that it is written by Laura Ingalls Wilder's Daughter too, There is a history of each kind of needlework. I have to be honest, I didn't read all of that and I don't know if it is well done from a historical perspective, but this book is worth it just for the needlework instructions and great illustrations.

In Progress

The Story of a Family - The story of St. Therese's family. My husband and I are doing this as a read aloud and it is excellent. We just keep getting interrupted. Hopefully this will be the year that we finish it!

The Little Oratory by Leila Marie Lawler - I love every bit of this book and I cannot wait to finish it! Auntie Leila is just so wise and creative.

The Rule of St Benedict (re-read)- This has always been powerful for me. It isn't just for religious either, I learn a lot from it as a married woman.

I'd love to hear about your favorites of 2014!

 

6 comments:

  1. This is an awesome list! I'll be coming back to it!

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  2. This is an amazing list! Thank you for the suggestions! How do you sneak away time to read in your day? I am curious since you have quite a list of accomplishment!

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    1. Hmmm...i think my reading time comes from the fact that I am an introvert, I don't watch TV, and I read really fast. Not that I never get out, I just like quiet evenings :-).

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