[Ed. note: this was originally posted on my professional blog, before it was solely a professional blog. All comments were lost in the transfer- sorry!]
I couldn't celebrate my 29th birthday properly without compiling a new list of favorites. Last year was top 28 CD obsessions, the year before: 27 top books. Nerd that I am, I keep a list of the books that I read each year. I am a voracious reader and it's nice to see what I've accomplished. This year I read 77 books- go me! Granted there was a bit of fluff in that list but sometimes mindless brain candy is just what you need after a long day of work. I'm sparing you the pain of a bad book (although you might not agree with all my favorites) and letting you in on my favorite reads of this past year, presented in order read. Enjoy!
1. The Divide- Nicholas Evans (1/4/08)
Haunting tale as a family pieces together their estranged daughter's life when she is found dead.
2. Splitting Harriet- Tamara Leigh (1/14/08)
I like Leigh's version of Christian chick lit. They're easy, engaging reads that keep me laughing and commiserating.
3. The School of Dying Graces- Dr. Richard Felix (1/27/08)
I read a few books after Grandma died but none spoke to me as much as Felix's experience through his wife's battle with cancer. His examination of the gifts we gain from persevering through suffering was both inspirational and encouraging.
4. The Princes of Ireland- Edward Rutherford (1/30/08)
Interesting blend of fact and fiction tracing Ireland's origins.
5. Dumping Billy- Olivia Goldsmith (1/31/08)
Dump Billy and you get married...but what happens if you don't want to dump Billy? Funny chick lit.
6. Immediate Family- Eileen Goudge (2/1/08)
Friends reconnect at their 15-year college reunion; the choices and decisions they face lead them to see what friendship is really made of and, inevitably, how they define family.
7. Fifth Seal- Bodie and Brock Thoene (2/6/08)
Vivid picture of Mary, Joseph, and the birth of Jesus. The Thoene's bring familiar Bible stories alive.
8. The Story We Find Ourselves In- Brian McLaren (2/6/08)
A continuation of A New Kind of Christian, McLaren delves more fully into the creation vs. evolution debate. I didn't agree with everything but he definitely gave me some things to ponder.
9. Silence- Shusaku Endo (2/11/08)
We read this for Book Club and had a very thought-provoking discussion about apostasy and what might cause us to deny our faith.
10. The Boy Next Door- Meg Cabot (2/12/08)
Cabot's novels are light, frothy reads about the trials and triumphs of our every-day heroine. However, this particular tale is told through a series of emails, journal entries, etc.
11. Now and Not Yet- Jennifer Marshall (2/14/08)
One of the best books written for Christian single women written by...a Christian single woman. Marshall looks at singleness with a fresh, more sociological perspective.
12. Ireland- Frank Delaney (2/22/08)
Delaney focuses on Ireland's fading oral tradition, "telling the country's tale to her people in stories handed down since God was a boy." A beautiful tale.
13. Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World- Bill Clinton (3/13/08)
I was heartened to learn more about Clinton's philanthropic endeavors and his efforts to mobilize each of us to do our part and celebrate those who already are.
14. East of Eden- John Steinbeck (3/29/08)
Another Book Club read. The first 100 pages were torturously slow but my perseverance paid off.
15. The Wheel of Life- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (4/18/08)
Many people are familiar with Kubler-Ross's work in the field of loss and bereavement but know litle about her life. Her biography and her life choices are intriguing, as well as perplexing at times. I scratched my head in confusion a couple of times but was still left grateful for her contributions to my field.
16. Persuasion- Jane Austen (5/1/08)
This was the only Austen novel I hadn't read and it turned out to be my favorite! I loved seeing the characters' lives intersect and how a misplaced or purposeful word here and there could alter the course of their lives.
17. The Thirteenth Tale- Diane Setterfield (7/28/08)
Simply fascinating from start to finish! The mystery kept me guessing the whole way through and when I finished I felt the need to go back through and figure out what clues I'd missed the first time around.
18. Chasing Harry Winston- Lauren Weisberger (8/16/08)
Not quite as good as The Devil Wears Prada but one of the main characters is named Leigh.
19. The Song Reader- Lisa Tucker (8/21/08)
A woman uses music as therapy- by reading a person's favorite song, she unlocks the key to their happiness. Inevitably, her gift fails her and everyone is affected. An interesting premise and believable outcome.
20. Mercy- Jodi Picoult (9/11/08)
You might be firmly against euthanasia but, as always, Picoult turns the issue on its head.
21. How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls- Zoey Dean (9/20/08)
Imagine my delight when Privileged (WB) debuted this fall a week after I'd finished the book it was based on! I had no idea a series was in the works and, true, they changed some important details but the show is entertaining. Of course, the book is better!
22. Special Topics in Calamity Physics- Marisha Pessl (10/11/08)
You will need to talk to someone when you finish, so call me! Very unusual writing style and unique main character. Add a huge plot twist and you'll see why discussion is a must.
23. Stuff White People Like- Christian Lander (11/4/08)
The best of Lander's entertaining blog in book form. See how many categories you fall into, whether you're white or not.
24. Many Waters- Madeline L'Engle (11/16/08)
If you loved A Wrinkle in Time, you'll love this continuation in the series.
25-28. Twilight series- Stephenie Meyer (11/20/08-11/28/08)
Clearly I sped through this series that I resisted reading in spite of a year of recommendations. I'm obsessed and wish there would be more! I never thought I'd like a book about vampires but it truly is so much more than that. I could identify with some of Bella's hopes and fears and fell in love with Edward along the way.
29. The Historian- Elizabeth Kostova (12/26/08)
I didn't intend to read another book about vampires (I've certainly never read books about them in the past!) but I was mesmerized by this fictional account that traces the history of Dracula, leading our heroine to believe that he lives even today. The sociologist in me appreciates a good research project and what we can dig up when we search our past.