My Favorite Books From Last Year



Is it too late to write a post about my favorite books in 2019?

I have been slacking quite a bit on recording the books that I'm reading, ever since...well, our vacation, which was in August.  I met my goal of 52 books for 2019, but I didn't record many of them on Goodreads.  But I wanted to at least share a few of the books that stood out to me on here!



Non Fiction

I read a lot of non-fiction books that I really liked, so it was hard to leave some of them out.  These were the ones that stood out - I especially read some great Christian non-fiction, so if you are looking for some Christian encouragement-type books, read on!

Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham

I bought this book when Voddie Baucham visited our local homeschool conference a few years ago, and I finally finished it.  Wow, if you want to be challenged in your parenting and in training your kids up to know the Lord, this is one you should pick up!  I was convicted to re-think a lot about my parenting and refocus on what is really important because of this book.  In fact, it's probably time I read it again.

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

This book is about the smaller sins that aren't mentioned much in Christian circles - we brush over these sins in ourselves and others, we tolerate them.  Bridges challenges us in this book to root those sins out of our lives.  This book is soundly rooted in the Gospel, and I found it not just convicting but very uplifting as well.  I highly recommend it!

None Like Him by Jen Wilkins

I feel like I've mentioned this book a million times between my blog and Instagram, but it was really good.  Wilkins looks at ten attributes of God, but these are not attributes that we can reflect (such as love, grace, etc), but attributes that belong to Him alone.  I found this book insightful and inspiring, and it was biblically sound and very readable.  It's a great book to start with if you are just beginning to dip your toes into theology.  Even though I was somewhat familiar with alot of the attributes she discusses, there were terms I learned and specific points that made me think more deeply about the ways that God is set apart from us.

Devoted: Great Men And Their Godly Moms by Tim Challies

If you've ever wondered if the little things you do for your kids are making a difference, pick up this book!  It's short and sweet, and would be perfect for Mother's Day.  I found it both convicting as I read about different godly moms through history and how they impacted their sons, and encouraging because of the little things they did that made such a big difference.  Highly recommend.

What Wondrous Love Is This by Joni Eareckson Tada

This is a book about hymns, and I used it as an addition to my morning Bible time.  Each chapter covers a different hymn, it's history, the theological breakdown, and it's personal impact on the authors.  I didn't even know half of the hymns in this book, but I would read a chapter and then look up the hymn on Spotify, and it was such an uplifting addition to my morning routine.  I'd recommend it if you also love hymns and are up for learning some new ones!

You Who? Why You Matter And How To Deal With It by Rachel Jankovic

I liked Jankovic's Loving The Little Years, which I read years ago, and finally remembered her as an author this year when I saw this book.  She discusses the "self help" culture, and why it is not the way we should approach life as Christians.  I think I need to read this book again, because I flew through it so fast the first time.  I read it during a discouraging period, and it was exactly what I needed to break me out of my doldrums, but I can't remember everything about it.  I inhaled it the first time, and I'd like to read it more thoughtfully a second time.  But anyway, it was good.

Them: Why We Hate Each Other And How To Heal by Ben Sasse

This book was timely for the current political climate, and the epidemic of loneliness in our culture.  We are more connected than ever, via the internet, but less rooted and less likely to actually know the names of our neighbors.  Sasse discusses why this is, what's really dividing us as Americans, and little ways that we can start to fix it.  I thought his view of why our culture is changing in our level of connection to one another was interesting, and in the end I was so encouraged by this book.  Though Sasse is a Republican senator, the information in this book and the points he makes are bipartisan, so I'd recommend it no matter your political leanings.

Chasing New Horizons by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

I started several space books last year after our visit to NASA, and I'm still working through most of my space books, but I shot through this book on audio!  It gives the history of Pluto, and how we finally sent a spacecraft to that distant planet.  What I found really interesting about this book was how involved it is to fund and plan an unmanned space mission, and all the logistics of sending a spacecraft to such a distant planet (even going as fast as 52,000 mph at times, and traveling almost a million miles per day, it still took 9.5 years for it to arrive at Pluto!).  I listened to it on audio, and I'd recommend reading it that way, I think it could be a little dry if read in print.  But it was a fascinating book to me.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

This book was so timely, since I read it after I decided to go on a Facebook break in December.  It challenged me to think more carefully about social media and how I wanted to be using it.  Highly recommend this book if you struggle, like I do, to put down your phone!



Fiction

As I was looking over my list, I did not have as good of luck with fiction books last year.  I'm going to list the books I really liked first, and then do some "honorable mentions".

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I have to be honest, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book.  I have seen the movie before and the characters weren't exactly likable, and there was alot of debauchery, cheating, etc.  But what made this book worthwhile for me was reading while also listening to the Close Reads discussion of The Great Gatsby.  Because of reading the book while listening to that podcast, I noticed so many things that I wouldn't have otherwise, and I realized the message of the book is completely different than what I originally thought it was.  I ended up really liking it!  You can bet that if I ever have my kids read this for school, it will be assigned WITH the podcast.  Here are the links to the episodes if you're interested:

Chapters 1-3
Chapters 4-5
Chapters 6-7
Last Chapters


1984 by George Orwell

Does anyone really like 1984?  I'm not sure that's quite the right word, but I did get alot out of this book.  Some of it was creepily similar to aspects of our political environment today.  It's not like any book I would normally enjoy (more sexual aspects of the plot than I expected, and the ending was NOT uplifting), but I have to include it here because I think every adult should read it.  Very interesting.

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

The first book I've read by Montgomery that wasn't an Anne book, and I loved every second of it.  It was completely delightful.  I especially liked the nature writing and the ending.  This book didn't feel anything like Anne Of Green Gables to me, but the writing was the same ol' Montgomery-style that I loved from the Anne series.

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

I love every Schmidt book I've read, and this is no exception.  A boy opens the door one day, and finds out his family has "inherited" a butler from his grandfather.  The butler starts putting the family in order and teaching Carter about cricket.  Really fun and delightful while also wrestling with some deeper subjects.  If you haven't read Gary D. Schmidt, you just should.  I usually recommend The Wednesday Wars first, but I loved this book because it had the same feel.



Honorable Mentions

A couple more books I read and enjoyed alot...

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

All the "book celebrities" (ie. Anne Bogel and booktubers) mention this book all the time, and I finally read it.  It didn't completely blow me away, but I did thoroughly enjoy it.  It's a post-apocalyptic book, but it imagines how art might survive in a post-apocalyptic world through following a traveling orchestra.  I think I enjoyed it even more because I've never quite read another book like this, so it was something new.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I listened to this book, and I'd recommend it in that format, because I think it would get slow in print (and also, the narrator was very good).  Whoever recommended this book to me said I should go into it without reading the synopsis, and I'm glad I did.  But let's just say if you are into time travel plots, you might like this one.  It's more character-driven than plot-driven.  Even though it's a slower-paced book, I still really enjoyed it.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Horror books aren't really my speed, but this one is a classic, and I'm glad I read it.  I understand vampire references in pop culture so much better now.  That Gilligan's Island episode where Gilligan is bitten by a bat?  Makes so much more sense.



There we go, my favorite books from 2019!

What did you all read last year?  Any stand-outs?






Halfway Through (Happy Birthday To My Oldest)



My Dear Wyatt,

Buddy, you are nine years old!  I can hardly believe how much you have grown this year.  I looked at you the other day and saw with fresh eyes how tall you have gotten.  

You are all boy, and a smart, thoughtful boy too. I frequently find you tucked away by yourself in your room, reading a book about birds, or nature, or science experiments, or history.  Sometimes you'll read something in a book that you want to try, and you'll emerge with tons of ideas spilling out.  You'll go track down the supplies you need and start bringing your ideas to life.  Right now you are anxious for spring, when you can use your new bike lights (which you got for Christmas) to ride your bike when it's dark.  On your birthday list this year is an "adventure kit" (containing binoculars, a compass, and a flashlight, for all your birding adventures), a new watch, and Audobon bird stuffed animals with authentic sound effects.  




I love how adventurous you are when you get a new idea in your head, but I can still tell when you get nervous in new situations by the way you hang back next to me.  Sometimes if something is bothering you, you'll come and sit by me a while until I gradually get it out of you.  You need me less and less these days, so I have to hang on to the little ways that I can help you.

You are a funny kid, and you are constantly making your sibling laugh with your silly stories and jokes.  You are an organizer of games, especially imagination games, and I love to see the stories you all come up with together.  They all look up to you so much.  




I love your interest for so many subjects and how curious you are about the world, but I love even more how I see you growing in your faith.  You have made a very specific effort to start reading the Bible every day, and you just made it through the book of Genesis.  It gives my heart so much joy that in all your learning, you are making learning about the Lord a priority.  

Ten years is an exciting year for kids since they hit the double-digits, but nine is a landmark year for me as your mom.  This year you are halfway through your childhood. I find myself looking back on the last nine years with tears in my eyes, wondering where it all went.  But I'm looking ahead to the next nine years with excitement, because I am so proud of the young man you are becoming.  I can't wait to see what the future holds for you, my darling boy.  I couldn't ask for a more wonderful boy who made me a mama.  I love you more than every feather on every bird in the world.




Love,
Mama


Currently | February 2020


Currently...

Grateful...That we are not sick!  I started off January with that awful chest cold, and then a couple weeks later the entire family got a stomach bug.  This was a rare occasion when Derek and I were sick at the same time, so there was no one to take care of either of us.  Wyatt and I were the only ones who didn't throw up, we just lounged on the couch in misery for two days.  Fun times.

Loving...Quiet times before the kids get up in the mornings.  After Christmas and all that sickness, we have finally got back to a routine.  I usually wake up before the kids and drink coffee, and read my Bible, and read a book or blog before the kids get up.  Some days I get an hour to myself, some days I get five minutes, but it's nice either way.

Wearing...Alot of sweaters this week, because we got 8 inches of snow!  It's been in the single-digits with temperature, and this house does not have great windows, so I've been shivering my way through the days.  Last weekend I could have been wearing a t-shirt in the 65 degree weather.  We went on a family hike, and it felt like Spring!  But that clearly didn't last long.







Tasting...Hmm.  Well, not sugar, I can tell you that.  My eating habits have been questionable for the entire month of January, and it's time to lose the who-knows-how-much I gained over Christmas.  When I need to reset my eating habits, I go without sugar for a week or two, and it's been going well. My jeans are no longer cutting into my sides, so that's good.

Contemplating...Finally getting around to sharing my favorite books from 2019, and catching myself up on Goodreads.  For some reason I quit recording things on Goodreads after we went on vacation last year.  I just completely lost motivation.  Then last month I read a book called Reclaiming Conversation, and one of the points the author made was that the list of books that you check out from the library is confidential, because people (ie. the government) do not have a right to know what you are reading unless you want them to.  And that got me thinking, do I really want Facebook and Google spying on my reading list via Goodreads?  They already know a disturbing amount of information about me.  I'll probably still add my books on Goodreads for now, but it's something to think about.

Embracing...These wintery homeschool days.  Winter is hard with so many kids, we all get cabin fever.  But I've been keeping the apple cider brewing and snuggling on the couch while reading books to the kids, and it's been kind of lovely.

Working...On meeting my goals for the month of February.  Particularly the goal of memorizing Hebrews 5, and starting a prayer list page in my bullet journal.  Progress will be made today, I am determined.

Reading...The Last Of The Doughboys by Richard Rubin.  If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see that we saw 1917 in the theater a couple weeks ago, and Derek and I decided to read more about World War 1 together.  I saw this book at the bookstore and decided to give it a chance, and I'm so glad I did!  It's written by a man who interviewed World War 1 veterans in the early 2000's, when they were over a hundred years old.  It's been a really fascinating look at different experiences of the war, but also a fascinating look at centenarians.  I highly recommend it!  Derek is reading this one, in case you were curious.  Next on my reading list...A Farewell To Arms, All Quiet On The Western Front, and The Guns Of August, because about a million people recommended those to me.

Watching...The Bachelor.  I wasn't sure I even wanted to watch it this year, but I got sucked in again.  What is the deal with this group of girls?  Maybe we should stick with the over-28 crowd for the next Bachelor go'round.  These girls all seem too...young.

The kids are currently watching The Great Mouse Detective, which is bringing back alot of memories for me.

Preparing...For Wyatt's birthday next week, on which day he will turn nine years old, and officially be halfway through his childhood.  I don't really want to talk about it.

What have you all been up to lately?

Long Before Luther - A Review


Affiliate link below.

This book, Long Before Luther: Tracing The Heart Of The Gospel From Christ To The Reformation by Nathan Busenitz, caught my eye late last year.  I had recently heard someone claiming that the Reformers basically "made up" a new doctrine when they formally established the doctrines of "by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone" as the means by which we are saved.  The claim was that no one before in church history had viewed salvation the way the Reformers did - that Luther, Calvin, and others were unsupported by previous church history and theologians.  I didn't believe that, but I am not completely familiar with church history either, so I wasn't sure what to think about that claim.  When I saw this book, I snagged it.

This book is pretty scholarly, but it has to be to address some of the specific charges of Reformation theology being unsupported previously.  The author does a great job of breaking down Reformation theology into three specific points - the forensics nature of justification, a distinction between justification and sanctification, and the imputed righteousness of Christ.  Each area is explained in a clear and accessible way, and then the author goes about showing that there are evidences of theologians before Luther who held views in line with these doctrines.

I really loved that the author starts with showing where Scripture itself is in support of each of these doctrines.  The Bible is our ultimate authority, and I love that the author clearly laid out how Scripture presents these issues of justification, sanctification, and salvation.  After firmly grounding us in Scripture, the author then presented his evidence from pre-Luther history, showing how many theologians held similar views to the Reformers in each of these areas.

I thought the author's presentation was thorough and convincing, while also being honest and fair in explaining the ways some of these theologians differed from the Reformers.  But my favorite section of the book was the Appendix, where the author includes 100 quotes from pre-Reformation theologians and church fathers that support the idea of being saved by grace, through faith in Christ, apart from any works.  The book itself thoroughly explains how these theologians viewed each of the specific Reformation doctrines the author was investigating, but the Appendix compiles all the evidence in one place, and it's really compelling.

After reading this book, I feel confident that the next time I hear someone claim that the Reformers were making up new doctrines, I will know there are specific church fathers and theologians that we can look at to prove otherwise.  Excellent book if you have ever wondered where the true Gospel was before Luther.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.