May 9, 2013

Books I Enjoyed Most in 2012

Category: Literature :: Permalink

Last year, I must have been exceptionally industrious.  I see that I managed to post my list of favorite reads from 2011 already in January 2012.  This year, I’m a little behind.  But here it is, at last, listed alphabetically by the author’s last name.

* Louis Berkhof & Cornelius Van Til, Foundations of Christian Education.  Great essays; often outstanding insights.

* Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children. Fascinating and very helpful stuff on, e.g., the effect of praise on children, children’s intelligence tests lacking validity, how kids learn to speak, the importance of sleep for children.

* Walter R. Brooks, The Clockwork Twin.  Read to kids.  The fifth Freddy the Pig novel; some passages had me howling with laughter.

* John Buchan, The Three Hostages.  One of my favorite authors.

* G. K. Chesterton, The Collected Works, vol. 27, The Illustrated London News, 1905-1907 and The Defendant.  Wonderful essays.

* Elizabeth Coatsworth, Away Goes Sally, Five Bushel Farm, and The Fair American.  The first three in a series of books about a young girl in Maine in the late 1790s.  Read to Theia and Vance, with much enjoyment.

* Joy Davidman, Smoke on the Mountain: The Ten Commandments in Terms of Today.  Insight after insight.

* Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows.  A masterpiece.

* Stanley Hauerwas, Carole Bailey Stoneking, Keith G. Meador, and David Cloutier, eds., Growing Old in Christ. Very helpful essays, many of them rich with insights.

* C. J. Hribal, Matty’s Heart and The Clouds in Memphis.  Stories that can break your heart.

* Rachel Jankovic, Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches.  Not just for mothers; I need to read this one every year.

* Walt Kelly, Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Yonder: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, Vol. 1.  I grew up reading these in books my parents had collected.  It’s great to see them coming out in a nice hardback edition.  There has never been another comic strip like Pogo.

* C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle.  Great stuff … though I’m glad the eschatology Lewis presents for Narnia isn’t the eschatology of Earth.

* C. S. Lewis, Miracles.  I remember trying to read this when I was much younger (a teenager?) and not getting very far.  Loved it this time through.

* Richard Lischer, Open Secrets.  An enjoyable memoir of the first year of a Lutheran pastorate in southern Illinois; some very good passages on pastoral work, including an interesting and helpful chapter on the often positive function of gossip — “speech among the baptized” — in a church community, as it sorts out people and relations and evaluates them.

* Eloise Jarvis McGraw, The Golden Goblet.  Read to Theia and Vance at the same time I was teaching Theia about ancient Egypt.

* A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. Read them to the kids … again.  There were times I could hardly stop laughing.  I ought to read these every year.

* E. Nesbit, The Story of the Treasure Seekers.  Hilarious.  Why didn’t I read Nesbit when I was a kid?  Especially puzzling, given that I loved C. S. Lewis and Edward Eager.

* Patrick O’Brian, The Thirteen Gun Salute, The Nutmeg of Consolation.  The thirteenth and fourteenth in a series that never gets stale.

* Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping.  Slow but deep.

* P. Andrew Sandlin & John Barach, eds., Obedient Faith: A Festschrift for Norman Shepherd.  I first met Norman Shepherd when I was in seminary and he was a member of the board, and it was an honor to be able to edit this volume for him.  There are some very good essays in here.

* Lynn Stegner, Because a Fire Was in My Head.  Very realistic and very sad.

* Victoria Sweet, God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine. Very interesting account of a doctor at the last almshouse in America and the change from “inefficient” to “efficient” medicine, with some interesting stuff on premodern medicine, medical politics, etc.

* Hilda van Stockum, A Day on Skates.  Very enjoyable.

* J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.  Second time through with the kids.  Maybe I’ll tackle The Lord of the Rings this year.

* Lars Walker, Erling’s Word.  Blogged about it here.

* Laura  Ingalls Wilder, These Happy Golden Years.  Read to the kids with as much enjoyment myself as they received.

* N. D. Wilson, Leepike Ridge.  Had the kids on the edge of their seats a lot of the time.  Or their beds.  Wherever they were sitting, it was the edge.  Someday, they’ll read The Odyssey and remember this story.

* N. T. Wright,  The Epistles of Paul to the Colossians and to Philemon: An Introduction and Commentary.  I find Wright’s approach to the so-called “Colossian heresy” quite persuasive.

If there’s one thing to learn from this list, I guess, it’s that most of the best books I read last year were the ones I read with the kids.

Posted by John Barach @ 12:33 pm | Discuss (3)

3 Responses to “Books I Enjoyed Most in 2012”

  1. Ben House Says:

    Great list. I discovered quite a few books when my kids were smaller. I miss that joy of reading to them.

  2. Troy Lizenby Says:

    Thanks, John. I look forward to your list every year.

  3. Heather Says:

    Thank you for sharing this list with us! Found some new ones I didn’t know about which is always wonderful. Also glad to know that you don’t mind reading books intended for children or mothers. 🙂 I wish more men felt the same way.

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