Way back in 2005 a friend mentioned that she read over 80 books a year. I was really surprised by that number, but had no idea how many I read in a year. So I started keeping track and I've done that ever since. It is interesting to see how many I read in a year and to also be able to look back and know if I've already read a book or not.
So, I found that on average I read 25-26 books a year, which is about two a month. Another friend recently mentioned in a blog that she read over 80 books last year. These friends must read a lot faster than I do! It's not like either of them have more time in a day than I do. What about you? Do you think you're a fast reader or a slow reader? How many books a month do you read?
Here are my books from 2011:
Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians by Stephen Haynes and Lori B. Hale. I've heard a lot about Bonhoeffer, but was afraid of biting off more than I could chew. I was afraid he would be hard to read. So I read this autobiography and became even more interested in Bonhoeffer and his writings. I am currently reading one of Bonhoeffer's books....but that will be for next year's list!
Crisis by Robin Cook. Cook writes medical thrillers that are always a good read! If you like mysteries and medicine combined with a lot of suspense, you'll enjoy Cook's books.
The Missionary Wife and Her Work by Joy Turner Tuggy. This was written in the 1960's, so is a bit out-dated. Still, I think missionary women were some of the first "liberated" women who have always worked hard, not only at home, but also in their ministries.
Going Dutch in Beijing by Mark McCrum. McCrum gives examples from around the world about mistakes one could make in the local culture. The example he titles his book from is that it would be a serious insult to your Chinese host if they offer to take you out for dinner and you said you'd pay for your own meal. If they offer to take you out, they are honoring you and do not want you to pay for yourself.McCrum does make some generalizations, though. Like he'll say, "In Niger, they have a practice called ______". The word is clearly in one of the local languages and not ALL Nigeriens call it that and may not even have that practice. So if he did that for Niger, he probably did it for other countries as well. Still, it was a really interesting book about different cultural practices.
The Price of Guilt by Margaret Yorke. Margaret Yorke is a British writer and many Americans may not be familiar with her writings. My dad put me on to them. She writes psychological thrillers. Her books are a little different than most mysteries, dealing more with the psychology of the perpetrator than with the crime itself.
Two Souls Indivisible by James S. Hirsch was an excellent book about two Viet Nam POWs. One was a well-to-do southern boy and the other was African-American. The Viet Kong put these two men together in the same cell. At first they fought about everything and really disliked each other. But as one became seriously ill, the other took care of him and fought to get him better health care. The two became true brothers. The book also describes many of the horrors of the Viet Kong POW camps.
The Brushstroke Legacy by Lauraine Snelling. Well, if you really don't want to think, read this book. It was ok, but not outstanding in any way. Kind of a typical Christian romance novel. I mean, really, they met and got married in about three weeks without knowing anything about each other. Is this the kind of romance we want for our daughters?
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Adichie is a Nigerian author who writes masterfully about the Biafran War which took place in Nigeria in the 1960's. Her characters are well developed, the story is compelling, and the setting is well-detailed. It is graphic in places, both sexually and as to the horrors of war. But it was an excellent read and I highly recommend it with the caveat that it is not always a pretty book.
The Runaway by Eleanor Rowe. This was given to me by a personal friend who wrote it herself. She did a good job with it, though there were places where it was sometimes confusing as to the characters.
The Cruelest Journey by Kira Salak. Ms. Salak writes about a kayak trip she took down the Niger River in Mali, with Timbuktu as her final destination. At times her fear seems a bit overdone, but then I've never taken a trip like she did, so maybe I'd be afraid, too. I did enjoy her descriptions of the river, the villages, and local life as it was very similar to life here in Niger.
The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. Smith wrote the Ladies' Detective Agency books, which I liked better than this one. He does write about three pages of what the person is thinking....stream of consciousness I call it....before he finally gets to the point. He does have an engaging manner of writing and I found myself enjoy the book even though it did seem to go on and on a bit.
Critical by Robin Cook. Another great Robin Cook read.
Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers. Once again Francine Rivers has put together two excellent books. Her characters come alive and feel like personal friends. She traces the lives of four generations of women, with their struggles, failures, and imperfections. Of course each woman also has strengths and positive qualities. But it is interesting to see how these traits and problems are passed on to the next generation.
A Common Life by Jan Karon. If you've read any of the Mitford series, this is about the wedding of Father Tim. This was a very light, easy, quick, but enjoyable read.
Radical: Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. This is one I would highly recommend that every American read. In fact, anybody in a materialistic society could benefit from it, though it is very American based. Platt challenges us to lay aside the American dream and build lives of faith that live out what the Bible teaches.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Stockett writes so well about life in the 1960's in the deep south. The Help are the African-American women who work in the homes of the white people. Some were treated as slaves, though they were technically free. These women cleaned, cooked, and raised the children of these families. This is the story of how one white woman and several of The Help write down their stories. I highly recommend that you read this book before watching the movie, and I also recommend that you do both!
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I first read and fell in love with this book when I was in high school. I've lost track of how many times I've read it! Also, I was disappointed in the most recent Jane Eyre movie. I just felt that it didn't do the book justice.
What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey. Yancey writes in groups of two chapters. In the first chapter he talks about a difficult situation, such as the shooting at Virginia Tech. Then the second chapter is a talk that he gave at that place, addressing the situation that had taken place there.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The book contained some graphic scenes and crude language, but the story itself was excellent, if a little bizarre, and Zafon is a talented writer. It takes place in Spain.
The Missing by Beverly Lewis. This is one of Lewis' Amish-based novels. Again, there's not a lot of depth, but it's a good easy read for when you're too tired to read anything too deep.
The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser. I enjoyed this book that took place in the 1930's about a girl who nearly loses her faith through a series of events that took her sister's life and nearly takes another sister's life.
Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. This was one of Bell's earlier books. I started his Love Wins book and didn't finish it because it belonged to Theo and I didn't have time to finish it before he had to take it back. I did not find the writing style of Velvet Elvis to be nearly as annoying as that of Love Wins and I found little that I objected to in Velvet Elvis whereas there was much I disagreed with in Love Wins. Apparently his thinking has changed over the years.
Dangerous to Know by Margaret Yorke. Another psychological mystery by Margaret Yorke.
So, if I had to narrow it down to five books to recommend that you really should read, they would be:
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
Half of a Yellow Sun
Two Souls Indivisible