You know in the movies when prisoners or people that have been long apart from their homeland sail into shore and they are so overwhelmed that they actually kiss the ground? Yeah, I’ve always thought that was gross. BUT, I kind of feel that way about coming back to my blog. We’ve had kind of a hiatus and slim postings last year but this year I vow to do better. And it’s nice to be typing again…not worth a mouthful of dirt, but still. Nice.
“How was your Christmas?” If I had a nickel for every time I heard this question (or asked this question), I’d probably have enough for a couple of gumballs. It’s a way to catch up over a long holiday absence. Usually within the first two days of returning from vacation, I’ve got my answer down pat. In my back pocket I have my varying level of response…small and succinct for the passerby or quick break room catch up, medium and engaging – just the highlights for friends in a hurry, and the long and involved-usually reserved for those that actually do want to hear the extended version with special features.
This year’s short and succinct response? “It was really relaxing! I slept, read about 7 books, watched TV/movies, and had some really great time with my family.” And boy, was it true.
In my childhood, there are few things that I remember better than the books that occupied much of my time. As I grew up, I enlisted my sister to help buy the books and we “split” ownership of them 50-50. That made things…well…interesting when it came to moving our stuff out of the parent’s home. The solution? Most of the books (any that we couldn’t sneak into our bags on subsequent stays) stayed behind to be left in the neutral safe zone of Mom and Dad’s bookcase.
When I go home for Christmas, one of my favorite things to do is re-read some of my favorite books. It’s comforting and totally mind relaxing…like watching an old familiar movie. Also this year, in keeping with last Christmas precedent, I read a Christmas title called A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid. It was light and holiday-fluffy as well as heartwarming. Have I mentioned that I really like this new tradition? You should get on board.
Speaking of books, my roommate Liz Johnson’s website now appears on my blogroll (www.lizjohnsonbooks.com) and I’m so excited for her because she has a book releasing this year! I’m in awe of her ability to actually stick with it and write a full book…my skills extend to blog posts, the occasional note and a short story or two. 🙂 Check out her website (and her book) and help a sista’ out!
I thought I’d take this time to highlight my favorite reads from 2008 because, in the words of my facebook flair, “I like big books and I cannot lie…” Be forewarned, I primarily read fiction, so that’s the majority of my list. 🙂
- This year I discovered a few new authors, one of which is Kristen Billerbeck. I read through her Spa Girls and Ashley Stockingdale series, laughing most of the way through her character’s journeys. If you like a good chick-lit novel, these are the best I’ve read. Hilarious and light-hearted.
- Second only to Kristen Billerbeck on this front is Tamara Leigh. I read Perfecting Kate in about a day and then anxiously awaited Splitting Harriet and Faking Grace.
- Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd was probably ranked below the others, but still a good read, but the sequel Bon Appetit is leaving me verrry anxious for the third installment. Hurry up, Sandra!
Young Adult (YA)
I’m a sucker for a good YA book…makes me long for the good ‘ole days when playing outside with neighborhood friends was the extent of my things to do list.
- The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers swept the globe this year and thanks to my friends Katie and Stephanie, I was one of the ones caught in it’s undertow. While I don’t really think these books belong in the YA section and wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to younger readers, they were definitely a captivating journey into a different fictional world that I really enjoyed. There’s just something about a peephole into a world similar, but vastly different to my own that I find alluring…I found it in the Harry Potter series and in this one as well, though the writing really isn’t comparable.
- Peculiar Treasuresby Robin Jones Gunn took me down memory lane. I was ADDICTED to the Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen series when I was a teen and though I’m all grown up now, I still loved this next installment with Christy’s BFF Katie Weldon. The second book in this series is called On a Whim and though I haven’t read it yet, it’s on my wish list.
- The Shape of Mercyby Susan Meissner. Oh. My. Goodness. I picked this up right before I left on Christmas break and couldn’t put it down. I know this author is writing another book coming this year and I CANNOT wait. Check it out. You won’t be sorry!
- The Sisters of the Quilt series by Cindy Woodsmall. This is Amish fiction like you’ve never read it before. I have to say that I was never a huge fan of other Amish fiction books, but this series proved my prejudice wrong. In a BIG way. The story was fresh and the characters were real…though their lifestyle differs drastically to mine, I still found common ground and a piece of myself in several characters. This was the first book I read in a LONG time that I genuinely didn’t know how it would end. There’s something refreshing about that, no? I mean, yes. There is.
I generally find it difficult to read non-fiction. I know there’s lots out there that can be helpful to me, but it takes a significant drive for me to start AND finish a serious nonfiction book. This year, though, I’ve read a few that have impacted my life, so here they are. This list is always growing because it takes me so long to get through one book. I’ve included a “to read” section below.
- Crazy Loveby Francis Chan. I LOVE Francis Chan. He was always my favorite speaker in chapel at The Master’s College and I just am always challenged by his ability to cut to the chase and really live out his faith…no pretensions about it, whatever it takes. This is his first book and I hope that there are MANY more.
- UnChristian by David Kinnamen and Gabe Lyons. Wow. This was a good book for me to read. In a nutshell, it was a survey of unbelievers, church-goers, and evangelical Christians asking each section’s perceptions of the church. The information was compiled in an accurate, but read-able way and focused on the practical ways we can impact the world around us.
- From Pride to Humility by Dr. Stuart Scott. This was a re-read for me…I read it about every year at least once. It’s a super small pamphlet-looking size book that has probably impacted my life more than any other book besides the Bible. Concisely? We all are full of pride and need to be humble. Period.
- Bad Girls of the Bibleby Liz Curtis Higgs. I’m actually reading this now with a couple of girls from work.
- The Road to Lost Innocenceby Somaly Mam. I’ve had this on my “to read” list for quite a while, but haven’t made it through to it yet. If everything I’ve heard is true, this book is the chronicling of an amazing woman whose story will no doubt make me cry and want to influence the world around me.
- Living Rich for Less by Ellie Kay. Let’s face it…all of us want to! And with my budget being one of my top priorities this new year, this book is sure to offer me lots of tips to make me happy.
Aren’t books awesome??