I'm a little late on my traditional January post reviewing the books I've read in the past year. In the year 2014 I read 38 books, many of which I downloaded for free on my Kindle when they were on a special offer. I'll write a brief paragraph about my top 10 favorites and then just list the remaining books. In both cases, the books are listed in the order read, not in the order of most enjoyed.
1. Diamond Fractal by Karen Keegan and Minna Kayser. Karen and Minna are missionary kids, raised by parents working in the same mission but on opposite sides of the African continent. They met each other as adults. Minna had been repeatedly abused as a child. Each time she was abused her mind created a personality to protect herself from the memory of that abuse. This is a fascinating, though sometimes disturbing, story of how her new friend, Karen, was used by God to help her work through her past. I'm sure that neither Karen nor Minna would recommend that a non-professional attempt to help somebody with fractured personalities. This is simply their story.
2. Winter Haven by Athol Dickson is a good nail-biting mystery...a bit Gothic, and very well-written. Yes, the premise is a bit far-fetched, but he makes it believable.
3. Undaunted by Josh McDowell (I believe with a ghost writer) is an excellent autobiographical book. Josh was raised by a cruel alcoholic father and saw his mother abused. Josh himself was abused by a man who worked in their home. As he grew older he became more and more angry and as a teenager was bigger and stronger than his father and was able to use physical force against his father and against the man who abused him. This is an amazing story of how God took an angry, bitter, revengeful young man who had completely turned his back on God, led him to study the Scriptures thoroughly, and then to give his life to God, and to be used by him to minister to youth all over the world.
4. When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. As we look around at the impoverished, hurting parts of our world, our response is to want to help. Helping is biblical, yet sometimes the way we do it can cause more harm than good. The authors show when helping is harmful and how to manage helping that is actually helpful.
5. In the Land of Blue Burquas by Kate McCord (a pseudonym). Ms. McCord worked for an NGO in Afghanistan. In this book she shares how she learned to turn conversations with her M*sl*m friends into chances to share the Gospel. It's an excellent book for learning how to share your faith in practical ways. I read from a borrowed copy and want to buy my own so I can mark it up....sorry, but there are times when a Kindle copy just won't do!
6. The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All other Labor Companions by Penny Simpkin. I read this book hoping that I would be with Suzanne when her baby was born. Unfortunately we were about three hours late to the event! :) In spite of not being able to use what I learned (or re-learned since it's been over 20 years since I've done this), I found this book very helpful and highly recommend it to any dad or anybody else who plans to be present at a delivery. I actually found it more helpful than Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.
7. Nine Hills to Nambonkaha by Sarah Erdmann. Ms. Erdmann relates her story of her time as a Peace Corps volunteer in northern Cote d'Ivoire. She has an excellent writing style and describes so vividly a life similar to ours in our village northwest of here. I wish I could write a book about our time there as well as she has written about her time as a Peace Corps volunteer.
8. And Remember That I Am a Man by John Bushore. Mr. Bushore relates the true story of a slave who bought his own freedom three times. Each time the master he freed himself from took back his offer. This was a really good book showing the extent to which a slave was willing to go to get freedom and the depravity and meanness of some slave owners who considered slaves to be less than human.
9. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a freebie I downloaded on Kindle. It's a classic and is delightfully written with a story that takes place both in London and in Paris. It is one of Dickens' shorter books, so if you've never read anything by him, this is a good place to start.
10. Heroes and Monsters: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be Human by Josh James Riebock. I know, it sounds a bit weird, and it is a bit weird. Mr. Riebock writes intimately about his relationship with God and with the Holy Spirit, but not in traditional ways. So if you will get offended by God and the Holy Spirit called anything but those names, this might not be the book for you. Personally I found it refreshing to stand back and look at God in the way a child might. Mr. Riebock is a masterful writer and this book really helped me desire a deeper personal relationship with Jesus.
And the rest:
11. My Emily by Matt Patterson
12. River Way Home by Jason Wellnitz
13. They Shall See God by Athol Dickson
14. Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith
15. Real Christianity by Wilbur Wilberforce
16. Fatherless by James Dobson and Kurt Bruner
17. The Blind Years by Catherine Cookson
18. The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis
19. A New Promise by Julie Eller
20. Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles by Steven Stiles
21. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
22. The Pastor's Wife by Jennifer Al Lee
23. Facing Redemption by Kimberly McKay
24. October Baby by Eric Wilson
25. A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander
26. To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander
27. For Keeps by Chautona Havig
28. Here We Come by Chautona Havig
29. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
30. Faith, Hope, and Love by Kimberly Rae Jordan
31. All Things New by Lynn Austin
32. Surviving without Romance by Mary Lou Cummins
33. Water's Edge by Robert Whitlow
34. Impact My Life! Biblical Mentoring Simplified by Elisa Pulliam
35. Out of Africa & Shadows on the Grass by Karen Blixen
36. The Witch Doctor's Wife by Tamar Myers
37. The Faithful One by Michele Chynoweth
38. Broken Pottery by Jennifer Ann