Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Books I'm Most Thankful For

via Pinterest
Lest I be a shameless plaguerist, I'll admit that this topic is not of my making. I got it from an email advertisement, one referring specifically to books. In fact, you can check out the company yourself; I've only found one good book to review from it, and I give a word of caution that there aren't many good books on it, but you never know what you'll find.  When the advertisement came through, entitled "Books I'm Most Thankful For", I was looking for a blog topic, and as soon as I saw the title, I grabbed at it immediately and ran with it.

Certainly taking the time to be thankful is not only a biblical command, but also an attitude that cheers the spirits. And in these dark days of November, being cheerful over our favorite books is the perfect occupation to put a smile on the face of any bibliophile. :)

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18

So, since 7 is the perfect number, I'm going to give 7 fiction and 7 nonfiction books I'm most thankful for, many of which I've reviewed here on the blog.

Top 7 Nonfiction
-Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
Why: It's hard for introverts to talk about themselves. Though Cain doesn't come at the introvert/extrovert issue from a biblical perspective, a careful reading can equip introverted readers to express themselves just as confidently as extroverts. We have just as much to say; we just need a little more time to prepare beforehand. The scientific experiments detailed in this book are very interesting, and as an introvert looking for words to describe myself, I enjoyed it heartily. Nor am I the only one; several introverts of my acquaintance like this hands-down. If you're an introvert looking for a book written expressly for you, or an extrovert looking to understand introverts, Susan Cain's Quiet is the perfect choice.

-Don't Wrestle, Just Nestle, by Corrie Ten Boom
Why: I read this book several times a year to learn to embrace Jesus' finished work on the cross, and get rid of the chains of worry that took over my life. Now I don't read it as often--whether that's lack of wisdom, or merely because I've learned the lesson, I'm not quite sure. I think it's time for another go-round--but during several hard years, Corrie Ten Boom's hard-hitting yet comforting teachings on worry helped me cope one day at a time.

-It's (Not That) Complicated, by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin
Why: Don't look at boys, don't talk to them, and maybe you'll be able to keep your perfect cellophane heart wrapped up for your future husband. That was my motto, until I read the Botkin sisters' It's (Not That) Complicated, and learned not only that boys are real people too, and like talking to girls, but also, it is possible to carry on pure and enjoyable discussions with our brothers in Christ. I've never viewed young men the same way since, and I'm no longer afraid of them (too often) but enjoy rousing discussions whenever I'm in their company.

-Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas
Why: I count Dietrich Bonhoeffer as one of my spiritual mentors, a man who fundamentally shaped my theology. I had the privilege of reading this book fairly close to its release, and I had to read 600 pages in 3 weeks, as there were 11 other people waiting for me to finish with it. In spite of the cramming it took to read it, I eagerly drank up the details of the man who nearly took the life of Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer is a spiritual mentor, and a Christian hero that I highly esteem and honor. As a side note, I'm glad Metaxas wrote such a long biography. It took every page to do the concepts justice that Bonhoeffer's life illustrates.

-The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Why: Bonhoeffer wrote this book as if he were speaking to today's Christians. In a world where the church universal preaches a gospel of cheap grace, Bonhoeffer calls us to a costly dedication to our Lord. A life that lays down and sacrifices, and follows in Jesus' footsteps. This was a concept I always believed and held strongly to, but was never able to put into words until Bonhoeffer did it for me.

-Damsels in Distress, by Martha Peace
Why: This book, written specifically for women, addresses how to take captive our own emotions, and how to navigate the emotions of others. Let's face it: some days are tough days, and Peace teaches through nouthetic counseling how to control our emotions to the glory of God. This book taught me how to deal with manipulation, hit me pretty hard on some feministic ideas that were still hanging on, and also introduced me to the concept of nouthetic counseling, the idea that we give solutions from Scripture instead of focusing on emotions.

-Dream Big...But Beware of Dream killers, by Todd Wilson
Why: I was always a terrified little dreamer before I read this book. But the summer my mother bought it for me at a homeschool conference, it gave me the courage to keep going on my novel, Which is still going today, and might not have been written otherwise. Todd's book helps me not only to forgive dream killers, but also to keep on dreaming during the dark days. Of all the books here, this one has probably had the most practical day-to-day impact on my life, and I'm mightily grateful for it.

Top 7 Fiction
-Jane of Lantern Hill, by L.M. Montgomery
Why: One of my childhood griefs was slowly growing older than Jane. It hurt to be older than her. I wanted to stay her age forever, and be the best of friends, and follow her adventures every summer as she went to visit her father on Prince Edward Island. I don't know that I learned any startling, life-changing lessons from this book. But it's always been close to me, and it hits a soft spot whenever I see it on my shelf.

-Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
Why: I picked this book off our library's used book shelf at 12 years of age. It's a ghastly edition; it has a blurb (thankfully no pictures) advertising the infamous Gwyneth Paltrow movie spin-off, with, um, inappropriate stuff to say the least. Don't look it up, bibliophiles. But in spite of the advertisement, this book started me on the very first story by the man who would later become my favorite fiction author. That's a pretty momentous moment, and I'll always set store by the book that first introduced me to the complicated characters and dramatic plots of Charles Dickens. :)

-The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Why: I liked Tolkien very much before I read Sil. Who wouldn't like Lord of the Rings? But Sil gave me a firmer grasp on Tolkien's worldview, and turned me into a die-hard fan. This man has the soundest fantasy I've ever read in my life, and his world and cultures are staggering to read about. If you want to read biblically-based fantasy, read Tolkien. He's worth a life-time of study, and the Sil explains a lot of questions and reservations that people have about LOTR.

-Guns of Thunder, by Douglas Bond
Why: I don't read this book often. It always sends a little shiver through me when I pick it up. It's a fantastic story, but the first time I read it I was going through a pretty tough stage of life. In spite of that, I will always thank God for it, for during the time I read this book I jumped out of the baby Christian stage, into a full understanding that Christianity required out and out surrender and commitment. God's grace is completely grace, and completely undeserved, and though I came to a full realization of my sin during this book, I also came to a full confidence in Jesus' righteousness imputed to me. And since then, I've never looked back.

-Freckles, by Gene Stratton-Porter
Why: Who wouldn't love Freckles? I love him at any rate, and though he's rather like Jane and I haven't learned any huge spiritual lessons from him, I'm still thankful for this book, just for the sheer joy of it. I need to read it again. I've walked the old Limberlost trail many times with this warm-hearted young Irishman, and fought with him, and loved with him, and seen him fail and triumph many times. He's a definite favorite, and I wouldn't trade his acquaintance for a room full of bookshelves.

-The Fisherman's Lady/The Marquis' Secret, by George MacDonald
Why: Malcolm is a hero worthy of all lauds and accolades. A straight speaker, a sincere Christian, a brawny fisherman, and a man who loves his womenfolk with all purity and honor. Very few men could lay claim to a better character that that. Besides some corking great plot twists, and none of them too tragic, (just a little for the spice of it), the characters that populate his adventures make lovely acquaintances. Dark villains war against chivalrous heroes, and throughout all of it, Malcolm's simple, great-heartedness keeps people relying on him in all their troubles. I've read these books many times, and this summer, I was blessed to secure my own copies at no cost.

-Pollyanna, by Eleanor Porter
Why: If you asked me who my best friends were around the age of 11, I probably would have said Jane (see above) and Pollyanna. I loved them to bits. These two girls--one who loved her father so much, and one who was so joyful all the time--were yearly must-reads throughout my early teens. Pollyanna's choice to be glad in all circumstances is one still near and dear to my heart today. I held strong by her, and defended her, and wanted to be as joyful as she was, and she definitely had a major impact on my childhood.

These books, each in their different way, shaped my childhood and young adulthood, and therefore have shaped a great deal of who I am today. I love them all, and have read them cover to cover many times.

It's good to remember our foundations. Good to remember where we've come from, and why it means so much to us. This is what these books mean to me, and why I chose to review most of them here on My Lady Bibliophile. I praise God for them, and take delight in them, and hope to read them many more times in the years to come.  And I hope that you all find them to be the same good reads that I have.
 
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. ~Colossians 3:15


Which books are you most thankful for? You certainly don't have to list this many (or you can list more!) but I would love to know, if you care to share. :)

Blessings,
Lady Bibliophile

12 comments:

  1. Oh dear...let me see! I would say the top 4 non-fiction books of the year would be:
    1.The Living Forest Series by Sam Campbell
    2.The Clans of the Scottish Highlands by R.R. McIan
    3.The Siege of Boston by Allen French (although it has rare instances of language with exact quotes and all that)
    4.The Story of the Great Lakes by Edward Channing

    And my top 4 favorite fiction books of the year in no particular order:
    1. Pollyanna-this is on my list too!
    2. Title not yet published. ;) I think we both really enjoyed this one! ;) :D
    3. Knights of Arrethtrae by Chuck Black
    4. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    I'm sure I have more favorites but those are the ones that came to mind. ;)
    Have a happy Thanksgiving!!!!

    Love,
    Sister

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    1. Excellent list, sister. And DEFINITELY not-yet-published. I would have mentioned it up top, but didn't want to tantalize my readers. :D

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  2. Oh, oh, CG, which one is the title not yet published???
    I have a feeling that I am thankful for it too.... : )
    --Emi

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    1. You're thankful for your own story, Emi? :O ;) Just joking! :D It's a great story and it's one of my favorites of the year! :D
      --CG

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    2. Of course I am thankful for it. ; P And I am very thankful that you like it so well. You guys are great! ; )
      --Emi

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  3. It would take a long time to list all the books I am thankful for, but here is a smattering:

    My Utmost for His Highest, by Osward Chambers. Compiled almost entirely from sermon notes taken by Mrs. Chambers as her husband preached. She had them edited and published after her husband's early death in November, 1917.

    The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. A book I try to read once a year. There is so much wisdom (and wit) within its pages; with each reading the Lord uses something to convict me.

    The Christian in Complete Armor, by William Gurnall. A tremendously rich book that I have still not read all of (mine is a 3-volume version). Every time I delve into it I am comforted, challenged, and reminded clearly of God's truth.

    The Discipline of Grace, by Jerry Bridges. Another one that I am in the midst of reading. It has exposed unbiblical ideas that affect my daily life and pointed me to the truth of the Word. It exalts Christ and the grace of God in a beautiful way.

    My King, by Frances Ridley Havergal. This is a falling-apart antique with no publishing date given to me by friends a few years ago. It is a devotional by the author of hymns "Take My Life and Let It Be" and "I Gave My Life For Thee". Her passionate love of the person of Jesus Christ glows through every page, and has left a great impact on my heart.

    Heroes and History, by Rosemary Sutcliff. An interesting examination of men such as Arthur, Robin Hood, William Wallace, Owen Glyndwr, and Jamie Montrose. Miss Sutcliff retells various legends as they have developed through the ages, and puts forth historical evidence related to each one, however plentiful or sparse it may be.

    The Beowulf. Odysseus and Roland are nice, but Beowulf will always be the king of epic poetry to me. Read it in as many translations as you can find. : )

    Books by J.R.R. Tolkien. I could talk about The LOTR and The Silmarillion, but I want to mention some of his less commonly read works. The Fall of Gondolin is one of the most stirring pieces of epic narrative I have ever laid eyes on. Smith of Wootton Major, the last story he wrote, is thoughtful, personal, and painfully poignant. Since discovering it, my imagination has never been the same. The Nauglafring is especially interesting to a student of history as a study "how wars get started", and enlightening to anyone curious as to Elf/Dwarf relations through the ages. The Disaster of the Gladden Fields is incredibly heroic. And I should stop there. : )

    The Caged Lion, by Charlotte Yonge. This book is a perennial favorite of mine. It takes one of my favorite historical settings (Henry V and the Hundred Years' War/James I of Scotland) and brings it lovingly to life, and the spirit of it is so winsome and noble that I can forgive historical errors and differences in opinion. Miss Yonge opened my eyes to a realm in which I have spent many hours, many tears, much laughter, and much ink; and for that I am grateful.

    Conquest, by Juliet Barker. A superb historical narrative on the Lancastrian Occupation of France in the 1400s. Juliet Barker's research is thorough and her writing sensible. This book features perhaps my all-time favorite cast of historical characters in the epic struggle to sustain/bring down the English Kingdom of France.

    Last but certainly not least, The Shining Company, by Rosemary Sutcliff. This is in the running for my favorite novel of all time. Heroic, triumphant, deeply tragic; it is based on a historical event (the Battle of Catraeth, c. 600). And it is the stuff of legends.

    Words, books, and languages are some of God's most powerful gifts to mankind, and I am tremendously thankful for them.
    Thank you for the post, Lady B.!

    ~The Philologist

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    1. I can't believe I've only read two of the books on this list, and they've been such a big impact to you! I see my book list expanding exponentially. ;) Ditto on Screwtape!

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  4. One book that comes to mind for me is Ten Ps in a Pod by Arnold Pent III, how the Pent family revered the Word of God and lived outside the conventional box. It touched on Bible reading, scripture memory, and daily trust in the Lord for everything.

    Another one is A View From the Zoo by Gary Richmond. I love how the Lord uses the animal kingdom to reveal Himself to us.

    Dune Boy, by Edwin Way Teale, was one of the first of his books that I read. His books introduced me to the natural world and the human stories that intertwined. I found them fascinating and learned to love geography through them (yes, you can learn to love geography!)

    Thor Heyerdahl's books, The Ra Expeditions, and Kon Tiki, introduced me to the world of modern-day exploration.

    There are obviously many more, but these are ones within the last decade. They all helped me to embrace good non-fiction books along with fiction! :)

    (Many thanks to Junior B for helping me figure out how to italicize my titles. It makes me feel smart!!)

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    1. These were all fun family reads. Thor Heyerdahl was quite intriguing, and I have fond memories of Dune Boy as well. :)

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  5. How do you italicize your titles?

    ~The Philologist

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    1. This article taught me italicizing, bolding, and html in blog comments. ;) http://mike.brisgeek.com/2006/08/30/simple-html-for-formatting-blogger-comments/

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  6. Great post, Lady B!
    When I first saw it I wanted to comment immediately, but
    we had a birthday that day so I couldn't. But anyway, I was thinking through my list and realized how few books I had actually read this year, so I've come up with a combination of ones that I've read over the years and really liked and a few key ones from this year.
    Nonfiction:
    -The Secret Army by J. Bowyer Bell
    -Seamanship in the Age of Sail by John H. Harland
    Both great research books for me this year and I had a great time going through them, and I probably will again.
    -My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
    This book has been a great blessing to me for many years and has been
    instrumental in my spiritual growth.
    -The Bible
    This rather goes without saying, but recently I have been reminded of how great a blessing it really is and I had to put it on here.

    Fiction:
    -The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    -The Shining Company by Rosemary Sutcliff
    -The Shield Ring by Rosemary Sutcliff
    -San Domingo the Medicine Hat Stallion by Marguerite Henry
    The first three books were books that stood out as ones I loved from
    the two authors that helped me the most in shaping my writing style,
    and the fourth I just threw in because it has been a favorite for many
    years, and when you get a very poignant story involving the Pony Express,
    a wonderful horse and a boy who is mentored by a Irishman who loves horses, it is hard not to love.
    And there is a title that is not yet published that I am very, very thankful for.... ;)
    -Emi

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