Favorite Reads of 2011

It’s time for my Epic Favorites week!

My list from 2010 is here. 2011 was a good year for “reads.” Some of these books were my Book Club selection (Love those girls! They challenge me, stretch me and make me laugh so hard I spit up my wine…..okay, moving on.). Some of these books were required reading for my Spiritual Formation program, and one was a novel I grabbed off the library shelf because I liked the cover. So here we go:

EPIC FICTION FAVORITES

Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

I read one a day on the beach at Hilton Head this summer. I wanted to read them to be current and know what all the buzz was about. I’m not usually a fan of science fiction, but this trilogy grabbed me. Each is a super easy read about a teenage girl living in what was once the USA  in the distant future. An annual tradition requires two children from every area to fight to their death in a televised event. My hesitations in reading this trilogy were  A)I love children, B)I hate violence, and C) Violence against children makes me ill. I held onto the first book for almost a year before I read it for those reasons. But I was pleasantly surprised that the topic was so creatively written that I felt detached from the violence, I connected with the main character, and I couldn’t put any of the books down.

The Winner by David Baldacci

This book is, well, a winner. The pun is absolutely intended. I found it on a little book shelf of donated paper backs in the condo where we spent our vacation. If you enjoy thrillers with twists and turns, this is for you. I loved it.

Shanghai Girls: A Novel by Lisa See

This novel is about two young women from Shanghai in the 1930s who emigrate to the US during the Japanese invasion in 1937. The novel chronicles their adventures and experiences. I learned much about a culture I am not familiar with. I’ve read other novels by Lisa See. She writes so vividly, and definitely does her research before each book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Ladies Auxiliary by Tovis Mirvis

I am fascinated by all things Jewish because of the way it makes me connect to the human Jesus. I also appreciate the culture and their deep sense of roots, their reverence and and the ways they live out the rhythm of the year.  In this novel, a free-spirited woman moves into an Orthodox Jewish community where her actions and motives challenge and are questioned by the other woman. The book’s theme really can translate to any other legalistic or rigid group that honors rules and rigidity above heart and relationship. Loved it, related to some of it, highly recommend it.

EPIC NON-FICTION FAVORITES

Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

For about four years, I followed A Guide To Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants in my daily devotional time. It follows the scriptural verses of the church’s liturgical year, and kept me in the Word every day, knowing my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world were reading the same things on the same day.

This year, I felt like I needed something fresh and new. I don’t want my devotional time to ever feel stale or in a rut. I get antsy if I do the same thing over and over again, although I do require some structure.  A friend recommended Seeking God’s Face to me. It was just what I needed. It’s user-friendly. Every day includes an Invitation, as Psalm, and a Bible reading, following the season of the year. A few points lead you into a very gentle Lectio Divina time of listening to God’s voice in the scripture. Then follows some specific prayer points, free prayer and a blessing. It’s very user-friendly. All the scripture reading is included, so it’s not a problem if your Bible is not on hand. It makes the habit of daily prayer and Bible reading very simple. Find the day’s date, and there you have it. I.Cannot.Recommend.This.Book.Enough.

Invitations from God by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

I met the author on a retreat. I used her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook over and over again, so I read this with interest. As a self-declared control freak, It radically changed how I view interruptions or changes in agenda, or even rest. God offers us invitations every day, and stands by as a gentleman while we choose to accept or not. I will blog more on this subject later.

Are You My Type? Am I Yours?

I learned about the Enneagram on another retreat, and it has reframed how I view myself and others. The premise is that all people fall into one of nine types, with a specific motivation for why they do what they do. This teaching has changed my life, helped me to understand myself and others, and freed me up in many ways. There is so much more I could write about this……just read the book, or another one on the topic, and be enlightened.

I must state a disclaimer that it’s possible I’ve read books over the past year that I have enjoyed more than these. I am at the stage of life when I forget everything, so it is entirely possible that I have left out some amazing books from this post. For that reason, and also just for fun, I decided that I am going to write down every book I read in 2012. If anything, it will be interesting to me to see how many I read. Happy Book Devouring!

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