The Best (and Worst) of 2015 Books

Most maddening book:

“Giant”, by Edna Ferber. If you like being left hanging in suspense at the end of a book, with no idea of what could properly finish the story, then this is just the book for you. After finishing it I had to storm into the hallway and yell at my housemate who had recommended it to me. Who does that?! However, in spite of the (in my opinion) incomplete ending, the writing style is entrancing, and it’s a good look into Texan/Mexican relations in the days of massive ranches and oil industry.


Disappointing books:

The books by Ruth Reichl and Ree Drummond were rather, well, meh. I had read “Garlic and Sapphires” by Reichl in 2014, and it was my favorite of the year, but the others I read this year were not quite as delightful as I hoped. As for Drummond’s book, well, you’re better off reading her blog than her book. I love her humor and her love for butter, but her love story was too full of sappy emotion for my taste.


Very much not disappointing book:

“My Life and Hard Times” by James Thurber. I grew up on one of the stories from this book, “The Night the Bed Fell on Father”, and the whole book lived up to my expectations. If you need some light, quick reading, this is the book for you.


Book you should absolutely read:

“A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken. Trust me on this. It’s like finding that person that makes you say, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one!” I especially like his perspective on the timelessness in Heaven. SUCH a good read!


Best Illustrated book:

Probably that should go to “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick. In fact, a large portion of the story is told through the lovely pencil drawings, rather than writing.


Most Poignant Book:

“Counting on Grace” by Elizabeth Winthrop takes that one. It’s the story of a little girl that had to work in a cotton mill, and the awful conditions, and hopelessness are heart-wrenching. It’s an excellent read however, and well worth your time. Honorable mention goes to “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”.


Weirdest Book:

This is a tough one, since I read a couple that were pretty stretching to my little brain. “Tale of the Flying Dutchman” by Bryan Jacques is a fairy tale kind of weird, and “The Giver” by Lois Lowry just makes you think all kinds of things that had never occurred to you before. Out of the two, I’d say I liked “The Giver” better.


There were many more that I loved, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, of course, and L.M. Montgomery’s are always worth reading, and Hannah Brencher has some very worthwhile things to say, and some of the books I read to my school kids were delightful and should be read many times over. So many books, so little time! seems to remain the problem, as always.


Book List 2015

In 2014 I purposed to read a book a week, and approximately did so, by the skin of my teeth. In 2015 I didn’t set any specific goals, but largely because I read aloud so much to my school kids,  I managed to read sixty-one, and with no skin off my teeth. Hmm, does this mean that setting goals accomplishes less than living spontaneously? Anyhow, without further ado, here is the list of titles I read in 2015.

  1. The Borrowers Avenged- Mary Norton
  2. Understood Betsey- Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  3. The Fellowship of the Ring- J.R.R. Tolkien
  4. The Two Towers- J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. The Return of the King- J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. The Good Master- Kate Seredy
  7. What She Said; and What She Meant- Isabella Alden
  8. Sarah Witcher’s Story- Elizabeth Yates
  9. The Mystery of Marriage- Mike Mason
  10. The Year of Miss Agnes- Kirkpatrick Hill
  11. Follow My Leader- James B. Garfield
  12. The Deadliest Monster- J. F. Baldwin
  13. Giant- Edna Ferber
  14. The Wheel on the School- Meindert DeJong
  15. Caddie Woodlawn- Carol Ryrie Brink
  16. Devotions for Dating Couples- Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams
  17. A Severe Mercy- Sheldon Vanauken
  18. My Life and Hard Times- James Thurber
  19. Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin- Margeurite Henry and Wesley Dennis
  20. The Education of Little Tree- Forrest Carter
  21. Still More Stories From Grandma’s Attic- Arleta Richardson
  22. Eighteen and On Her Own- Arleta Richardson
  23. Brave Kids-Cora Frear- Susan E. Goodman
  24. Delicious!- Ruth Reichl
  25. Strong Women, Soft Hearts- Paula Rinehart
  26. The Invention of Hugo Cabret- Brian Selznick
  27. Counting on Grace- Elizabeth Winthrop
  28. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- Betty Smith
  29. Skipping Christmas- John Grisham
  30. If You Find This Letter- Hannah Brencher
  31. Wonderstruck- Brian Selznick
  32. Danger In the Shadows- Dee Henderson
  33. The Negotiator- Dee Henderson
  34. The Testament- John Grisham
  35. The Penderwicks- Jeanne Birdsall
  36. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street- Jeanne Birdsall
  37. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette- Jeanne Birdsall
  38. The Guardian- Dee Henderson
  39. Boston Jane- Jennifer Holm
  40. Truth Seeker- Dee Henderson
  41. The Protector- Dee Henderson
  42. Tender at the Bone- Ruth Reichl
  43. Tale of the Flying Dutchman- Bryan Jacques
  44. Devil at My Heels- Louis Zamperini
  45. The Giver- Lois Lowry
  46. Boston Jane the Claim- Jennifer L. Holm
  47. The Year of Pleasures- Elizabeth Berg
  48. Jennifer- Dee Henderson
  49. Emily of New Moon- L.M. Montgomery
  50. Daddy-Long-Legs- Jean Webster
  51. Emily Climbs- L.M. Montgomery
  52. Emily’s Quest- L.M. Montgomery
  53. The Rescuer- Dee Henderson
  54. Black Heels to Tractor Wheels- Ree Drummond
  55. Dear Enemy- Jean Webster
  56. Anne of Avonlea- L.M. Montgomery
  57. Anne of the Island- L.M. Montgomery
  58. Jerry- Jean Webster
  59. Anne of Windy Poplars- L.M. Montgomery
  60. The Light Princess- George Macdonald
  61. Blue Castle- L.M. Montgomery

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is it. Shortly you can expect a commentary on the outstanding ones.

As a P.S., for those interested, I’ve also included my 2014 book list.

  1. The horse and his boy- C. S. Lewis
  2. Swan house- E. Musser
  3. Mary Emma and company- Ralph Moody
  4. Toby Tyler-?
  5. Masquerade- N. Moser (stupid)
  6. Pied pier of Helfenstein- E. McCarthy
  7. Miracle for Jen- L. Barrack
  8. Gray Matter-?
  9. The Littles- J. Peterson
  10. Garlic and sapphires- Ruth Reichl (my favorite)
  11. The jungle- Upton Sinclair (horrible, but worthwhile)
  12. Daddy-long-legs- Jean Webster
  13. The tale of Despereaux- Kate DiCamillo (the movie is better)
  14. The good day mice- Carol Beach York
  15. Dear enemy- Jean Webster
  16. Mr. God this is Anna- Flynn
  17. The mistress of Shenstone- Florence L. Barclay (I liked)
  18. The magician’s nephew- C. S. Lewis
  19. Let me be a woman- Elizabeth Elliot
  20. Shaking the nickel bush- Ralph Moody
  21. The dry divide- Ralph Moody
  22. Carry on Mr. Bowditch- Jean Lee Latham
  23. Leota’s garden- Francine Rivers (waste of time)
  24. Biking across America- Paul Stutzman
  25. Across China- Peter Jenkins (meh)
  26. Mama’s bank account- Kathryn Forbes
  27. The great and terrible quest- Margaret Lovett
  28. The best Christmas pageant ever- Barbara Robinson
  29. Little women- Louisa May Alcott
  30. The pocket book of Ogden Nash
  31. Do you think I’m beautiful- Angela Thomas
  32. Big mountain, bigger God- Duane and Cindy Mullett
  33. Voyage of the Dawn Treader- C. S. Lewis
  34. Understood Betsy- Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  35. Choosing to SEE- Mary Beth Chapman
  36. Miracles in the ER- Robert D. Lesslie M.D.
  37. One thousand gifts devotional- Ann Voskamp
  38. Walk across America- Peter Jenkins
  39. Son of Hamas- Mosab Hassan Yousef
  40. The borrowers- Mary Norton
  41. Hansi, the girl who loved the swastika- Anne Hirschmann
  42. Let there be clothes- Lynn Schnurnberger (fun read)
  43. Hitty, her first hundred years- Rachel Field
  44. The borrowers afield- Mary Norton
  45. Papa Dolphin’s table- Dorothy Gilman Butters
  46. Honeymoon for seven- Alfred Toombs (funny)
  47. Hurry home, Candy- Meindert DeJong
  48. Preacher’s kids- Grace Nies Fletcher
  49. The borrowers aloft- Mary Norton
  50. The best Christmas pageant ever- Barbara Robinson (oops, double)
  51. O ye jigs and juleps- Virginia Cary Hudson