Books I’ve read over the past few years or so that I think are worth sharing – not an exhaustive list:

2017:

2016:

  • The Beast Side: Living (& Dying) While Black in America, D. Watkins
  • The Comedians, Graham Greene
  • Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, Courtney E. Martin
  • The End of the Affair, Graham Greene
  • Tracks, Robyn Davidson
  • Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish, Sue Bender
  • Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid, Jessica Alexander
  • The Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey
  • American Childhood, Annie Dillard
  • Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lammot
  • Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage, Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls

2015:

  • The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith, Stuart Murray
  • Laughter is Sacred Space: The Not-So-Typical Journey of a Mennonite Actor, Ted Swartz
  • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • My Bright Abyss: Meditations of a Modern Believer, Christian Wiman
  • The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry, Henri Nouwen
  • Travels with Charley: In Search of America, John Steinbeck
  • Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey
  • The Motorcycle Diaries, Che Guevara
  • A Grain of Sand, Tagore
  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo
  • Contemplation in a World of Action by Thomas Merton
  • The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery by Henri Nouwen
  • Community & Growth (Revised Ed.) by Jean Vanier
  • The Little Prince
  • Lilith: A Romance by George MacDonald
  • My Friend, the Enemy by William E. Pannell
  • Home, the outstanding companion to the similarly superb Gilead, a Pulitzer Prize winner by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Intentional Christian Community Handbook: For Idealists, Hypocrites, and Wannabe Disciples of Jesus by David Janzen – a great resource for those interested in intentional Christian communities and the New Monasticism movement

2014:

  • If This is a Man and The Truce by Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish chemist who survived Auschwitz
  • The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam – an indispensable read about the Vietnam War, written and informed by the firsthand experiences of Bao Ninh
  • Earthkeepers: Environmental Perspectives on Hunger, Poverty, & Injustice  by Art & Jocele Meyer
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  • Matilda and Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl – in fact, anything by Dahl, including his short stories and autobiographical writing as well as the rest of his fantastic and fantastical children’s books.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I kind of had a problem w/ Zusak’s style; it seemed a bit forced and extremely wordy to me, and therefore kinda clunky, but the story was moving and, in spite of myself, it moved me to tears.
  • Momo by Michael Ende
  • Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • The Woman in the Mountain: Reconstructions of Self and Land by Adirondack Women Writers – I haven’t actually had the chance to finish reading all of this book yet, but from what I have read, it seems a worthwhile anthology of selections from various women writers who spent a significant amount of time living in the Adirondacks, compiled and edited by Kate H. Winter. Winter also provides pertinent biographical information on each of the writers, as well as some interesting literary criticism. Of particular interest to me are Winter’s comments regarding the interest that several of these women take in Thoreau’s Walden, a book that has become important to me in this past year.
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – an absolutely beautiful and stirring document that I can hardly believe I haven’t read before now; the courageous account of a Jewish girl who spent over two years in hiding with her family in Holland during the Holocaust, before being discovered by the Gestapo in August of 1944
  • Gift from the Sea: An Answer to the Conflicts in Our Lives by Anne Morrow Lindbergh – Philosophical musings prompted by the time the author spent living on the seashore, and by her quest to become a more whole human being and to live an authentic life
  • Dream Days by Kenneth Grahame – another delightful and imaginative work from the author of The Wind in the Willows; quite funny, too
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot – hailed by some as the best novel written in the English language. Interesting, and a good, ironically thought-provoking read for anyone contemplating marriage at some point in their lives
  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen – the moving and beautifully-told story of the years Danish woman Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen) spent living on her coffee farm in Kenya before returning to Denmark and becoming a writer; hailed as Dinesen’s masterpiece
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George – a Newberry Honor book telling the tale of young Sam Gribley’s move from New York City to the Catskill Mountains, earning him the nickname “Thoreau” and an incredible year as he makes a home for himself on his side of the mountain
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau – see my post on this book here. One of the best prose works in all of American Literature, and definitely a classic of the Amer. Lit. canon; reflections based on the two or so years the author spent living in a cabin he made himself in the woods near Walden Pond
  • Waiting for God by Simone Weil – theological/philosophical reflections from Frenchwoman Simone Weil, an incredible political thinker and social activist figure whose adulthood fell in the WWII years
  •  Winter’s Tales by Isak Dinesen – more enchanting and fanciful tales from the woman who wrote Out of Africa

2013:

  • Thirst – a collection of amazing poems by Mary Oliver filled with imagery from nature
  • At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald – A classic work of children’s literature; originally published in 1871 and set in Scotland, this book centers around a young boy named Diamond and his encounters with the enigmatic character North Wind
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien – a more thorough narration of the rich mythology of middle-earth from the author and creator of the more famous Lord of the Rings
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – This 1967 work by Columbian writer Marquez (who went on to win the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature) kind of shocked me. It is a chaotic and profound work of magic realism detailing the complicated and complex history of the fictional Buendia family. Parts of it are hilarious, and others, heart-wrenching
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy – a disturbing and fascinating work of fiction set in a post-apocalyptic world, and winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; a so, so beautiful story exploring the tenuous relationships between fathers and sons, and between the narrator and his hometown of Gilead; beautifully written, too
  • Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts – I think my favorite part of this one was actually the title, which pretty much sums up the whole gist of the book. Not by any means a necessary (or even very enlightening) read for aspiring vagabonds, but it does contain extensive lists of potentially helpful resources at the end of each chapter; bordering on becoming a bit dated, too
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard – a 1975 Pulitzer Prize winner and similar to Walden in its author’s approach of living close to nature and then using her experience to produce introspective and provocatively philosophical prose exploring such weighty themes as what lessons exist around us and finding meaning in an often surprising world
  • Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney – the oldest poem we have in the English language; this tale of a boastful but endearing hero in a rapidly changing world caught between old feudal values and newly introduced Christianity is a must-read for students of literature and pleasure-readers alike – or those who identify as both 🙂 Translated from the Anglo-Saxon by former poet laureate Seamus Heaney; the bilingual edition I have is a fun one, with the Anglo-Saxon and modern English printed side-by-side
  • O Pioneers! by Willa Cather – the triumphant story of daughter-of-immigrants Alexandra Bergson’s struggle to keep and manage her family farm on the prairie frontier as she also faces other difficult trials in her life and relationships
  • Song of the Lark by Willa Cather – coming-of-age story of a young artist and her transition from her childhood in rural Colorado to her womanhood as a fully-dedicated musician and performer in the city
  • Leavings by Wendell Berry – lovely poems
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame – a classic tale for children and adults alike, starring Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad in their adventures, and some mis-adventures, too. I’m so glad I finally read this. It is much more profound and delightful than the simple names of its characters may imply. This book was also a favorite of C.S. Lewis’ (author of the famous Narnia chronicles and many other works)
  • The Night the Bells Rang by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock; illustrated by Leslie W. Bowman – a children’s book that tells a simple but serious and lovely tale set in rural Vermont during WWII

2012:

2011:

  • Entire Harry Potter series – my first time! (Was definitely missing out before…)
  • The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Ed. R.W. Franklin
  • Emily Dickinson & the Art of Belief, Roger Lundin

2010:

  • My Ántonia, Willa Cather