One year’s books:

Looking through the list of my posts, I found some I would not remember if I hadn’t blogged about them, some by favourite authors, some on important topics; a haphazard list. So here are my Best Books of the year:

Important Books:

Half The Sky: Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn.(Blog 3/23) What is happening to women and girls worldwide, what women are doing about it and how we can help. If you only read one book on my list, this would be a major contender.

Neighbor: Christian Encounters with “illegal” immigrants: Ben Daniel (1/22) Ben Daniel was the speaker at an ecumenical clergy retreat which we attended. Everyone needs to think about immigration in ethical and in personal terms, because it is a political responsibility to act with justice and an informed conscience.

1491: Charles Mann (2/21) History of the Americas before Europeans. If what you know is school history and “general knowledge”, this will change your worldview. It did mine.

The Better Angels of our Nature: Stephen Pinker (5/12) Pinker makes a solid case for the lessening of violence throughout our history. I wouldn’t have believed it either, until I read this. It may have been helpful to evolutionary survival to see danger everywhere, but we see only a tiny part of a long and diverse history. Read history and don’t watch TV news! (5/12)

Hope for the Animals and their World: Jane Goodall (9/4) Tireless in the struggle to conserve our natural world, she makes a case by case study of endangered creatures and tells how people have brought animals back from the edge of extinction.

Fun Books:

British Food: Marks and Spencers (2/6) A browse through recipes I have made and/or eaten. My granddaughter’s English Cook Book.

Dogs of Windcutter Down: David Kennard.(5/22) The story of the farm and dogs on which the children’s TV series Mist was based. Those dogs have more character than the “characters” in many novels.

Dash- Bitch of the Year: Andrew Dilger (7/22) Set in the area I live in, with a main character that could be my sister’s dog. Can’t help loving this one!

Shades of Grey: Jasper Fforde (10/21) NOT that numbered shades of grey. Much more fun, and by a new ( to me) fun author.


The first Americans: J.M. Adovasio and Jake Page.(11/23) The story of the first humans on this continent, focussed on a Pennsylvania site 16+ thousand years old. Also an introduction to modern archaeological techniques.

Lone Survivors: How We Came to be the Only Humans On Earth: Chris Stringer.(12/1) Like the last book, only earlier.Updating of information and discoveries about human origins.

Grave Secrets of Dinosaurs: Phillip Manning.(10/17) Like the last book, only earlier! Back to dinosaurs. Wow! Do we know more than we used to!

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England: Ian Mortimer (10/30) If all history were written this well and were so fascinating to read, no one would read historical fiction.


Love Wins: Rob Bell (3/16) About all those things everyone “just knows” that Christians think ( like “You will go to hell”) that even this evangelical Christian doesn’t.

12 Steps to a Compassionate Life: Karen Armstrong (7/7)  One of my favourite authors calls all faiths to common ethical action based on compassion and the Golden Rule.

First Light: Jesus and the Kingdom of God: John Dominic Crossan (7/4) A shorter version of God and Empire. This is one of those books that change the way you see reality. Anything by  Crossan and Borg is excellent.

A.D.381:Charles Freeman (8/9) For anyone who has trouble with Christian Creeds. How the Empire shaped (shapes?) the Church.


Blindspot:Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore (2/17) Set in the time of the American Revolution, and full of what  the characters don’t see, both personal and historic.

Bring Up the Bodies: Hilary Mantel (11/19) Anne Boleyn. Powerful and convincing reconstruction of a tiny slice of English history.

Birdsong: Sebastian Faulks (5/31) One of the best novels about WWI.

And anything by:

Terry Pratchett, Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Jodi Picoult, Toni Morrison, Ursula Le Guin



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3 Responses to One year’s books:

  1. ahuntca says:

    Glad for this list and the reminder as I don’t remember many of them from blogs. several appeal to me, as I sit here falling asleep in the last bits of day light. Time to turn the lights on… started a new J. winspear Maise Dobbs mystery last night… I was commenting to a friend that I just couldn’t get connected to Downton Abbey and she said but you like Maise Dobbs, they are the same period… and I thought, yes but they are worlds apart… in that Maise is a mostly solitary person with a foot in both worlds upstairs and down and belonging to neither… Maise carefully and quietly reasons her way through the puzzles of life where the DA crowd never reasons at all as near as I can tell… there is life but not soap opera with maise. While both may offer a view to the same English world… I am more comfortable seeing through Maise’s eyes than any of the eyes of DA… Plus there are just too many plots to follow… I guess I like life that way as well. blessings!


    • readingmater says:

      I watched season 1 because a friend is really keen and I liked it but not as much as I liked Upstairs Downstairs, as it seemed like a bit more of the same. Must try Winspear sometime soon, but I am getting behind on three big books right now 🙂


  2. ahuntca says:

    so what do you think of Downton Abbey… ?


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