books: 2008

  1. The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
  2. Falling Angels, ibid
  3. Chronically Happy: Joyful Living in Spite of Chronic Illness, Lori Hartwell
  4. Please Understand Me: Character & Temperament Types, David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates
  5. Katherine, Anya Seton
  6. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott
  7. Victorian London: The Life of a City, 1840-1870, Liza Picard
  8. Elizabeth’s London: Everyday life in Elizabethan London, ibid.
  9. Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey, Allison Weir
  10. The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, Jonathan Harr
  11. Thunderstruck, Erik Larson
  12. Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Storm in History, ibid
  13. The Warrior Queens, Antonia Fraser
  14. Mary, Queen of Scots, ibid
  15. Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King, ibid
  16. Journey From the Land of No, Roya Hakakian
  17. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Rebecca Wells
  18. Little Altars Everywhere, ibid
  19. Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal, Alexandria Johnson
  20. The Hidden Writer: Diaries and the Creative Life, ibid
  21. Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, Edward Sellner
  22. Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self, Joyce Rupp
  23. Praying by Hand: Rediscovering the Rosary as a Way of Prayer, Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O.
  24. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society, Henri J.M. Nouwen
  25. Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life, Nouwen, et al
  26. Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir, Joan Chittister
  27. The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, ibid
  28. There is a Season, ibid
  29. The Story of Ruth: Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life, ibid
  30. The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Inner Growth, Gerald May, M.D.
  31. Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal, Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
  32. How Much is Enough? Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture, Arthur Simon
  33. The Challenge and Spirituality of Catholic Social Teaching, Marvin L. Krier Mich
  34. Cloud of Witnesses, Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday
  35. Joan: The Mysterious Life of the Heretic Who Became a Saint, Donald Spoto.
  36. The Bible: A Biography, Karen Armstrong
  37. How Firm a Foundation: Leaders of the Liturgical Movement, Robert L. Tuzik, ed.
  38. Prayers of the Women Mystics, Rhonda De Sola
  39. Woman, Why Do You Weep? Spirituality for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Sandra M. Flaherty
  40. Touching the Holy: Ordinariness, Self-Esteem, and Friendship, Robert J. Wicks
  41. Thirsty for God: A Brief History of Christian Spirituality, Bradley P. Holt
  42. Pilgrim’s Almanac: Reflections for Every Day, Edward Hays
  43. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
  44. Hitler’s Willing Executioner’s: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
  45. Wait ‘Til Next Year, Doris Kearns Goodwin
  46. Light a Penny Candle, Maeve Binchy
  47. Tara Road, ibid
  48. Quentin’s, ibid
  49. Scarlet Feather, ibid
  50. Silver Wedding, ibid
  51. Evening Class, ibid
  52. The Glass Lake, ibid
  53. Firefly Summer, ibid
  54. Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, Geraldine Brooks
  55. People of the Book: A Novel, ibid
  56. The Chronic Illness Experience: Embracing the Imperfect Life, Cheri Register
  57. Dim Sum, Bagels, and Grits: A Multicultural Adoption, Myra Alperson
  58. Lincoln: A Novel, Gore Vidal
  59. Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents, Deborah D. Gray
  60. Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest, Christina Baldwin
  61. Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language From the South of France, Kristin Espinasse
  62. Coastliners: A Novel, Joanne Harris
  63. Five Quarters of the Orange, ibid
  64. Chocolat, ibid
  65. A Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel, Judith Merkle Riley
  66. In Pursuit of the Green Lion: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel, ibid
  67. The Water Devil: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel, ibid
  68. The Birth of Venus: A Novel, Sarah Dinanat
  69. Murder in the Rue De Paradis, Cara Black
  70. Murder in Belleville, ibid
  71. Murder in the Marais, ibid
  72. Murder on the Ile Saint-Louis, ibid
  73. Murder in Clichy, ibid
  74. Murder in Montmartre, ibid
  75. Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, Debra Oliver
  76. Hardball: How Politics is Played by One Who Knows the Game, Christopher Matthews
  77. Lean Forward Into Your Life, Mary Anne Rademacher
  78. The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
  79. Good Living With Fibromyalgia, Arthritis Foundation

All while typing this list I kept thinking of two of my favorite readers: Emilie, and my mom. “Oh, I’ve got to tell Emilie about this one,” I’d think, only to remember…I’ve had more time to get used to my mom’s death, but I still can’t help wanting to call her on the phone to tell her every time I discover an especially intriguing, complex, mystery story.

But still. Today, this is how I honor them, and the legacy they’ve left me, a legacy filled with love and appreciation for the power and mystery of language. And I’m grateful, too, for the many friends with whom I still share a mutual love of books, of delight in a cleverly turned phrase, in that magical feeling of discovering something new and traveling on a magic carpet–all thanks to our common love of the written (and spoken!) word.

And mom, it’s taken me many years, but I finally–well, mostly–forgive you for all those horrible puns.

(For an example of another friend who loves words, too, check out Liz’s beautifully written recent post.)


the big read

Finally back on the internet, and eager to re-involve myself with the wider world, I’ve decided to follow the lead of my literary friends Emilie, Liz, and Liz by jumping on the bandwagon of the The Big Read. Apparently, the Big Read (a program of the National Endowment for the Arts) guesses that the average adult has only read six of the top 100 books on this list. I didn’t do too badly, I guess, but not as well as I would have liked. Oh well–I won’t have any trouble coming up with new books to read over the rest of the summer!

Here are the instructions:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline (or mark in a different color) the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I’ve read quite a few of Shakespeare’s plays, yet I certainly can’t claim of have read all of them–but then who can, apart from Shakespearean scholars?)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s WifeAudrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Ronald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

I have to admit I’d like to have a little chat with whoever compiled this list, though. WAY too much Dickens. And including The DaVinci Code but NO Hemingway, Faulkner, Twain or Vonnegut–come on, people!!

books: 2007

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, so I hope Liz and Emilie won’t mind if I borrow their idea and post a list of the books I read this past year! As I typed this up, I kept thinking about how much my book choices for 2007 revealed about my life at the time, my interests, my hopes– books about grief and loss, spirituality and church history, medieval histories and biographies, novels and essays. I’m already looking forward to compiling my 2008 list next January, and hoping it will include a few happier choices!

  1. Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed and Hope Dwells, Mary Treacy O’Keefe
  2. Seven Ages of Paris, Alistair Horne
  3. The Year of Pleasures, Elizabeth Berg
  4. In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction, Judith Kitchen & Mary Paumier Jones, eds.
  5. The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, David I. Kertzer
  6. Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Kathleen Norris
  7. Rasputin’s Daughter, Robert Alexander
  8. Basilica, the Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter’s, R.A. Scott
  9. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, Jonathan Kozol
  10. The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler
  11. Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria, Julia P. Gelardi
  12. 1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeaux Tapestry, Andrew Bridegeford
  13. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Jon Krakauer
  14. Pope John XXIII, Thomas Cahill
  15. After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England, Leanda deLisle
  16. French Women for all Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, & Pleasure, MirelleGuilano
  17. Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors, James Reston, Jr.
  18. The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000, A.D., James Reston, Jr
  19. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitious 14th Century, Barbara Tuchman
  20. The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time, John Kelly
  21. The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca, Tahir Shah
  22. The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914, Barbara Tuchman
  23. Holy Fools, Joanne Harris
  24. Alexandra: The Last Tsarina, Carolly Erickson
  25. A Thread of Grace, Mary Dora Russell
  26. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
  27. The Hundred Secret Senses, Amy Tan
  28. The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Amy Tan
  29. Saving Fish From Drowning, Amy Tan
  30. Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying, Maggie Callahan and Patricia Kelley
  31. The Innocent Man, John Grisham
  32. The Alpine Scandal, Mary Daheim
  33. The Ungrateful Daughters: The Stuart Princesses Who Stole Their Father’s Crown, Maureen Waller
  34. The Orphaned Adult, Alexander Levy
  35. The Rise of Benedict XVI: The Inside Story of How the Pope Was Elected and Where He Will Take the Catholic Church, John Allen
  36. All the Pope’s Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks, John Allen
  37. Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church, John Allen
  38. A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America, Peter Steinfels
  39. Le Divorce, Diane Johnson*
  40. Le Mariage, Diane Johnson*
  41. L’Affaire, Diane Johnson*
  42. Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of an European Eccentric, Veronica Buckley
  43. Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times, Rabbi David Wolpe
  44. When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Harold Kushner*
  45. Battery Commander: Five Battle Stars (A World War II Memoir–October 1941 to December 1945), Captain James McLeod*
  46. The Pope’s Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice Della Rovere, Caroline P. Murphy
  47. Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England, Alison Weir*
  48. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Alison Weir*
  49. Welcome to My Planet* (*Where English is Sometimes Spoken), Shannon Olson*
  50. Children of God Go Bowling, Shannon Olson*
  51. Snobs: A Novel, Julian Fellowes*
  52. The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory*
  53. The Queen’s Fool, Philippa Gregory*
  54. The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova*
  55. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt*
  56. The City of Falling Angels, John Berendt*
  57. My Invented Country: A Memoir, Isabel Allende*
  58. Marie Antoinette, Antonia Fraser*
  59. The Fig Eater, Jody Shields*
  60. What the Dog Did: Tales From a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner, Emily Yoffe
  61. The Wives of Henry VIII, Antonia Fraser*
  62. America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines, Gail Collins*
  63. Remembering the Good War: Minnesota’s Greatest Generation, Thomas Saylor
  64. Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7,1944, to May 7, 1945, Stephen Ambrose*
  65. Voices of Valor: D-Day, June 6, 1944, Douglas Brinkley and Ronald J. Drez
  66. Irish Girls About Town, Maeve Binchy et al*
  67. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi*
  68. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffennegger*
  69. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott*
  70. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott*
  71. After Long Silence: A Memoir, Helen Freemont*
  72. Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire, Amanda Foreman*
  73. Packinghouse Daughter: A Memoir, Cheri Register*
  74. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, Erik Larson*
  75. Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand
  76. Catherine deMedici, Renaissance Queen of France, Leonie Frieda*
  77. On the Threshold: Home, Hardwood, & Holiness, Elizabeth Andrew*
  78. Our Greatest Gift: Meditations on Dying and Caring, Henri Nouwen
  79. The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen
  80. Mary Daheim mysteries*
  81. The Not-So-Big Life, Susan Susanka
  82. The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm, Juliet Nicholson
  83. Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe, Nancy Goldstone
  84. Ladies in Waiting: From the Tudors to the Present, Anne Somerset
  85. Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science, and Art From the Cults of Catholic Europe, Thomas Cahill
  86. Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III, Flora Fraser
  87. Singing Mother Home: A Daughter’s Journey Through Anticipatory Grief, Donna S. Davenport
  88. Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life, Ira R. Byock
  89. A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis*
  90. Praying Our Goodbyes, Joyce Rupp
  91. The Needs of the Dying: A Guide for Bringing Hope, Comfort, and Love to Life’s Final Chapter, David Kessler
  92. The Pearl of Great Price: Gospel Wisdom for Married Couples, Julie McCarty
  93. Motherless Daughters: Legacy of Loss, Hope Edelman

*reread in 2007

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