12 Best Reading Lists of 2008

Jared’s Jesus Reading List at The Gospel-Driven Church. No, I haven’t read any of these, but I’d like to try to read at least one of the books on the list this year. Which one does anyone suggest I read first?

Image Journal’s 100 Writers of Faith. I’ve read thirteen of the 100 works listed, or at least attempted thirteen of them. I simply could not get through A Prayer for Owen Meany. I thought the style was annoying and the characters were not enjoyable. Some of the others on the list are favorites of mine, though, including Kristin Lavransdatter and Till We Have Faces and of course, The Lord of the Rings.

Lord Acton’s 100 Best Books, courtesy of Kevin Stilley. This list is good for making one feel uneducated and frivolous in comparison to the well-educated nineteenth century gentleman. Of the 100, I’ve read portions of four: Pascal’s Pensees, St Aungustine’s Letters, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and The Federalist Papers.

Season FIve of LOST premieres Wednesday January 21, 2009. To tide you over until then, ABC and the producers of LOST have a LOST book club with a list of all the books featured, pictured and referenced in the first four seasons. I’m still rather fond of this list at Coyote Mercury, and LOSTpedia also has a list with annotations and program notes. And here’s my LOST books post from last year.

Tullian Tchividjian’s Top 40 Books on Christ and Culture. This list is mostly, maybe all, nonfiction, and I’ve read very few of the books on the list. But I probably should read some of them.

The U.S. Presidents Reading Project has a list of all of the U.S. presidents and suggested reading selections (non-fiction) for each one. The challenge is to read one biography of each one.

Did you know that there’s a new edition of Peter Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and Arukiyomi has a new Excel spreadsheet for tracking your progress in reading the new list? My count for the old list from the first edition: 129. My count for the new list: Not sure yet?

The 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association’s online members. I just found this list this year, so it’s new to me.

The Headmistress’s Worthwhile Reading Challenge with links to others’ lists of 12 worthwhile books to read in 2009.

The Conservative Exiles’ Reading List by Joseph Duggan in University Bookman. I may need to read some of these just to keep myself sane during an Obama administration.

Librarian Nancy Pearl DIps Below the Reading Radar. Almost all of these suggestions sound fascinating.

My very own Semicolon Book Club list which was compiled and finalized in late December 2008, and is now revealed to the sound of a drum roll:

January: Nonfiction inspirational (For January only there are two selections. Book club participants may choose to read either or both of the books.)
1. Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Tyndale House Publishers (October 1, 2004) $16.49 from Amazon.
2. Heaven: Your Real Home by Joni Eareckson Tada. Zondervan (October 10, 1997) $11.69 at amazon.

February: Christian classic novels
The Love Letters by Madeleine L’Engle. This book may be my favorite of Ms. L’Engle’s novels; it deals with marriage, faith, the meaning of love, and forgiveness, alternating settings between twentieth century Portugal and New York and a 17th century Portuguese convent.

March: Biography/History
John Adams by David McCullough. Simon & Schuster (January 29, 2008) 768 pages.
I plan to read this book and then watch the mini-series based on the book.

April: Poetry Month
All poems are about God, love or depression. Susan Wise Bauer in The Well-Educated Mind.
Paradise Lost by John Milton. “Recommended edition: The Signet Classic paperback, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, edited by Christopher Ricks. (New York: Signet Books, 1968, $7.95) This edition has explanatory footnotes at the bottom of each page. These are extremely helpful since Milton uses archaic expressions and hundreds of obscure classical references.” (SWB, The Well-Trained Mind)

May: YA or Children’s award winner
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt is the book I think will win the Newbery Award in 2009.

June: Chunky Classics
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. 1024 pages.

July: Just for Fun and Adventure
River Rising by Athol Dickson.
River Rising is set in southern Louisiana, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, just before and during the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. The characters are residents of Pilotville, LA, a small town surrounded by swampland, and one stranger who comes to town to find out about his parentage. Hale Poser, the stranger, grew up in an orphanage, became a preacher, and now has come to Pilotville in hope of finding out something about his heritage. As soon as Rev. Poser hits town, strange things start happening, odd things like fruit growing where no fruit is expected to be, things that are attributable either to God or to chance or to Hale Poser the Miracle man. I’ve already read this book, but I’m looking forward to discussing it with a group.

August: Shakespeare play
Hamlet. Hamlet is a hero trapped by his own indecision in an insoluble quandary: should he take revenge on his father’s murderer or remain silent, tolerate evil, and live in a world that is “out of joint” —or perhaps commit suicide to escape it all?

September: Prize winning adult novel
Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor.
Pulitzer prize winning Civil War novel brings to life the inmates and the masters of the notorious Andersonville Confederate prisoner of war camp.

October: Love to Laugh
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh. Scoop is a comedy of England’s newspaper business of the 1930s and the story of William Boot, a innocent hick from the country who writes careful essays about the habits of the badger. Through a series of accidents and mistaken identity, Boot is hired as a war correspondent for a Fleet Street newspaper. The uncomprehending Boot is sent to the fictional African country of Ishmaelia to cover an expected revolution. Although he has no idea what he is doing and he can’t understand the incomprehensible telegrams from his London editors, Boot eventually gets the big story.

November: Love to Think
A Walk with Jane Austen by Lori Smith. “In this engaging, deeply personal and well-researched travelogue, Smith journeys to England to soak in the places of Jane Austen’s life and writings. The book is sure to ride the wave of Austen-philia that has recently swept through Hollywood and a new generation of Americans, but this is an unusual look at Jane Austen. Readers will learn plenty of biographical details-about Austen’s small and intimate circle of family and friends, her candid letters to her sister, her possible loves and losses, her never-married status, her religious feelings, and her untimely death at the age of 41. But it is the author’s passionate connection to Jane-the affinity she feels and her imaginings of Austen’s inner life-that bring Austen to life in ways no conventional biographer could. Smith’s voice swings authentically between the raw, aching vulnerability of a single Christian woman battling a debilitating and mysterious chronic illness and the surges of faith she finds in the grace of a loving God.”
(Publisher’s Weekly review)

You are quite welcome to join in the Semicolon Book Club by leaving a comment or shooting me an email (sherryDOTearlyATgmailDOTcom). Just read along, and we’ll discuss toward the end of the month. The physical meeting time for those who live in the Houston area will be the fourth Saturday of the month at my house.

6 thoughts on “12 Best Reading Lists of 2008

  1. How fun that you will be meeting up in person.

    I already sort of committed to reading a lot of Madeleine L’Engle’s works that I haven’t read in 2009, so I’m in for February for sure!

  2. Ah…Randy Alcorn. I hadn’t read any of his books until recently. A friend had bought a couple of his books for children for us, and they had been sitting on a shelf until the inevitable rainy day. When my uncle was killed in an accident on his farm right before Christmas, our children were peppering us with questions about where people go when they die, what it means to die, etc. We were tyring to be so careful as they are young–the oldest is only 6. We pulled out Alcorn’s “Wait Until Then” and it was simply…perfect. It was exactly what we needed.

  3. Thanks for the link to my Lost Book club page. I’m almost caught up from last season. Hopefully, I can get caught up before any new books appear. None so far, but I suspect they’ll feature one soon.

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