This is a bit off topic, but I love the lists that The Millions does on author’s recaps of their years in reading. I obviously would never be asked by The Millions for my list, but I thought it would be fun to share it here nonetheless. I tend to reflect back on time based on what book I was reading or thinking about at that specific time. I read Things Fall Apart and Democracy in America for different in classes in college at a time when my personal life was really rocky, and I weirdly associate both books with part of my healing process. I read The Irresistible Revolution after hearing our senior pastor at Grace mention it, and now I reference Claiborne once a month, if not more. I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle just after we moved into our house, so I associate that time of getting settled with bombarding Grant with garden plans and 24-7 research. I read some great books this year, so I thought I would share them here, even though many of them aren’t food/gardening-related, in case you’re looking for a good read (or a gift). So here goes…my 2013 in reading, in no particular order:
I’ll read anything Michael Pollan writes, so I was really excited about Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Pollan’s first new book in a few years. It did not disappoint. In Cooked, Pollan lays out a treatise on cooking, urging us all to get back in the kitchen, much in the same way that The Omnivore’s Dilemma urged us to consider where our food comes from. He begins with this, which I loved: “To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption.”
Our book club chose Come To My Table: God’s Hospitality & Yours for our November selection, and it was a perfectly practical handbook on hospitality. Read my longer review at Englewood Review of Books and pick up a copy to give as a host/hostess gift for all of those holiday parties you’re attending.
I read some great fiction this year, which was a resolution of mine for 2013. I’ve been recommending two young adult novels to everyone this year: The Fault in Our Stars and The Age of Miracles. The Fault in Our Stars is set in Indianapolis and written by a Butler professor, so I especially loved recognizing Indy references (read it soon before the movie comes out next year!). I loved The Age of Miracles. It’s one of those books that really sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading it. I just finished Life After Life, which totally lived up to the hype. I loved the first offering from Burnside Books, Thin Blue Smoke, a story about community and simple faith – and barbecue. I love Barbara Kingsolver and Flight Behavior might be her best yet. It personalizes and humanizes climate change in a way that non-fiction never could. I’m sure this is one I’ll be coming back to.
Grant and I did a Whole30 back in May, and I read Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It during that month. I found it so fascinating that I picked up the longer, more in-depth version, Good Calories, Bad Calories, although it is a much denser read. I’m still not sure where I come down on the grain issue, other than trying to minimize it where and when we can, but the book is definitely worth the read.
What We Talk About When We Talk About God made my head spin – in a good way. I need to get my hands on a copy (I originally checked it from the library) because I think I need to reread it about three more times. Bell’s handling of deep and complicated subjects, like the space time continuum and theories of relativity (stuff that I normally would never willingly read about) really stretched my faith, in the best possible way.
Brene Brown is everywhere these days, and for good reason. I read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead on a plane ride for work. I found myself underlining what felt like every third sentence. I think everyone would find the book helpful, but I think it is an especially important read for women.
My favorite book of the year was Rod Dreher’s The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life. I’ve followed Dreher’s blog for a number of years, so I anticipated enjoying his memoir of his sister’s life. I didn’t expect to love the book so much and become so attached to the characters and the community Dreher writes about. Grant read and loved it too, and he tells everyone that it is the best book on practically living out our faith that he has ever read, and it’s not a book with any kind of overtly churchy/preachy message or tone. I’m buying copies for everyone we know for Christmas. Read it, so we can chat about it!
What were your favorite books from 2013?