Favorite reads of 2011

Bloggers all over the web are posting their favorite reads of the past year. Ever one to copy a good idea, particularly one that will revive the blog however temporarily, I thought I would follow suit. Here are some of my favorites among the books that I read in 2011. It is not a “top ten” list per se, in that I’ve listed them in some sort of ascending preference; it’s too eclectic of a list for me to rank a top favorite! Rather, these are the books I most enjoyed reading or that I learned the most from or both. I didn’t include books that I had read previously (though certainly books like The Help and Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice and Peace Like a River, not to mention The Hiding Place and Through Gates of Splendor, are favorite reads in any year!).

MY FAVORITE READS OF 2011 (in no particular order)…
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillebrand
Um, wow. Everyone raved about it and for good reason. If you haven’t read it, you should, and the less you know about it the better.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
A beautiful, haunting story of two women in war torn Afghanistan. I was hesitant to read it but I’m glad I did.
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
A beautiful, haunting story of the battle of Gettysburg, so beautifully written. I am so glad I stumbled upon a recommendation via a friend’s Facebook status.
I think I told you of my threefold response after reading this memoir: 1) I want to visit Oxford. 2) I feel dumb. And 3) I am encouraged by the reminder that my faith is, among many things, also intellectual. In other words, it sustains careful thought and critical examination. I loved this memoir!
The big story of the Bible, the broad sweep of the gospel story from Genesis to Revelation, this book is a helpful examination of what Christians believe and why they believe it. Recommended by Rebecca of Rebecca Writes, this is an encouraging, faith-building, instructive read.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Perhaps my most surprising favorite! I mean, it’s like 900 pages or something! But, I liked it. A lot. Especially when accompanied by the Masterpiece Theater miniseries.
As a (sometime) Bible teacher, this book was perhaps the most sobering as well as the most helpful book I read last year. It’s like hermeneutics for dummies, like myself. I need to read it again.
March by Geraldine Brooks
A compelling and interesting novel about Mr. March of Little Women fame and his years in the Civil War.
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Theology 101, enough said.
Girl Meets God: A Memoir by Lauren Winner
Though Lauren and I would not agree on all points doctrinally, I found her memoir of her conversion to the Christian faith to be winsome and engaging. I enjoyed it very much.
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
I said I wasn’t going to pick favorites but if I were to pick a favorite novel that I read last year this would probably be it. Not so very plot driven but written with such beautiful language and with such a compelling voice that I loved it. I cried at the end, which, for those of you who know me, is saying something.
Though Staci and I are blog friends, I’m not picking this as a favorite because she is a favorite but, well, because the title says it all. And because I need to read it again. And again.
The gospel making sense in my daily life. Yes and amen.
Practical Christianity presented in clear, practical language. Another book I need to read again. And again. 
The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg
This is, I think, my favorite of Bragg’s memoirs. He is a true artist with the computer keyboard and I love not only his prose but his stories of “my people,” those of us from the South but not of the aristocracy that sometimes is identified as the Southern constitution. In this book, he alternates between stories of his father and his own struggles as new stepdad, both of which are sometimes hilarious and sometimes bittersweet.
What are your favorite reads of the past year? Do you have any recommendations for my 2012 reading list?

Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

21 thoughts on “Favorite reads of 2011”

  1. Love your list!!! I bought the Organized Heart when you first mentioned it, but I never read it. Need to pull it back up. Also just bought Surprised by Oxford for my Kindle so that I'll remember to read it too!!

  2. The Killer Angels is a great book, adn you can see why Michael Shaara won the Pulitzer for it. His son Jeff carried on the series, completing the Civil War and then covering a bunch of other conflicts in American history; you might try those as well if you liked the first one.A book I just finished that I am planning to recommend to everyone who will listen is The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley. He writes a compelling case for living in the Spirit and not falling prey to living under a set of rules (no matter how easy they may appear). While he and I might part ways on the Calvinist/Arminian debate, this may be the most important book I've read in years.Cheers,TimP.S. I followed you over from Aimee Byrd's Housewife Theologian. Isn't that another great blog? She even allowed me to do a guest piece there a couple weeks ago (Anticipation), after she saw my effort over at Jenny Rae Armstrong's website (another great blog). You have a nice site going here too, Lisa. I hope to stop in often.

  3. I have The World-Tilting Gospel on my Kindle. I need to get to that. And Think by John Piper. And Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore. And Bleak House…*sigh* So many books, so little time.

  4. Just getting around to checking out your list – going to print this out and take with me to the library tonight. I'll be learning how to check out ebooks. Maybe one of these will be my first šŸ™‚ LOL – also, I downloaded Pride & Prejudice the other day (never read it yet!) and thought of you šŸ™‚ I'll definitely get to it this year!

Join the conversation! I may not always reply directly but I do read and appreciate every comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s