I enjoy reading other people's lists of their favorite books, or favorite anythings for that matter. In fact, one of my favorite songs is "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things." I particularly like the
I'd love to hear Bobby McFerrin do "Favorite Things." Here's why:
McFerrin is simply an extraordinary talent. Check this out:
But I digress. Which really is a good word to describe my reading this year: digressed. I don't think I've had a particularly great reading year, though I've read some particularly great books. And here are a few I'd commend if you don't mind being uncool because your titles are a year or two behind (because let's face it, the "what we read this year list" hopelessly entraps us in a "I'm pretty smart because I can read new stuff fast" attitude). Okay, now I digress and I get snarky. Sorry.
So, a few of the books I really enjoyed this year, not because I'm smart but because by some miracle I love to read and someone loved me enough to teach me how:
What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng. Heart-rending is too weak a phrase to describe this book. It's an emotional and at times overwhelming look at "the Lost Boys" of Sudan's bloody civil war and genocide. Amazing use of flashback and Ralph Ellison's invisible man-styled narration. Here's a NY Times book review. And here's a link to the foundation named in honor of Valentino.
My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience. My brother Michael Lawrence gave me a copy of this book following our trip to S. Africa this year. South Africa and it's people were amazing. A profound trip. And this is a profound book by a man, Rian Malan, descended from the architects of S. Africa's Apartheid regime. This is a look at the underbelly from an insider struggling with all the contradictions of "race," culture, politics and life. Could not put this one down, though you could feel the heaviness of horror on its pages.
The Kite Runner. Afghanistan before and after the Taliban revolution. War, love, immigration, culture. This novel has it all. When you do book blurbs or reviews, it's tough to stay away from cliches like "page turner." But this one was--a "page turner," not a cliche. Again, not for the faint of heart. but a gripping drama inspired by real life events and the people affected by them. This one has been made into a movie, which I've not seen. Don't want that "can't believe they left that part out" feeling you get when books are turned into movies.
D. Martyn Lloyd Jones (volume one and two). "The Doctor"--not J--but D. Martyn Lloyd Jones is one of my Christian heroes. He was one of the first authors I read as a new Christian, and I greatly admire his preaching. After first reading Lloyd-Jones some 14-15 years ago, I've finally gotten around to reading Iain Murray's two volume biography of Lloyd-Jones. In a word, fascinating. The first couple chapters were a little slow for me, but then the entire biography soared. So glad I read this.
Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. Kevin and Ted are insightful and funny. When I the books opening chapter, I instantly thought of about a dozen people I wanted to give copies to. this is a helpful book encouraging love for and participation in the local church. Well worth the read!