Top 10 of 2012

It’s that time of year again for me to review what I’ve read these past 12 months.  As I looked through my list this year, I am astonished at how different my reading choices have been this year from years past.  I noticed a lot more juvenile fiction (due to the fact that my kiddos are now reading chapter books) and fiction in general (thanks to the book club I was a part of beginning last January).  Furthermore, I tried to be very intentional about reading things that were outside my usual genre(s) of choice–trying to be a broader reader.  As such, I don’t have as many Christian reads as some of you may have come to expect.  Nevertheless, here are my top 10, in no particular order:


The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating


This book was an unexpected surprise for me.  I had passed it by a couple of times on the library shelf and it caught my eye each time.  I finally decided to give it a try, and I’m glad I did.  Like a couple of books on my list this year, this book is a memoir–of sorts.

Based on her time while bedridden due to near-death sickness, the author is given a small pot of flowers containing a snail.  This snail becomes the thing that helps her pass her days as she studies its habits and, with the help of her friends, builds it a habitat that it might be healthy in her home.

This book contains some great information on snails in general and even a handful of illustrations.

It’s an easy book to read, and maybe not entirely life-transforming, but it did make me want to go out and build a terrarium for a snail of mine own.


The Pastor


I can’t begin to speak for everyone’s calling in life, but the calling of full-time ministry is weighty.  It is sacred; it is special; it is supernatural.  Peterson has written his memoir in such a way that it’s not preachy but compelling.  Combining stories of his childhood with theological implications, we are given a front row seat into the heart and mind of a minister who has tried to stay true to God and himself through the passage of time.

Every step along the journey of our lives is one God uses to fulfill his will in us.  Are we aware?  I like Peterson’s awareness.

This book may not appeal to everyone, and I can’t recommend that it be read quickly.  Instead, I think it best to read it slowly with a heart ready to ponder as there is a great deal of spiritual insight to be gleaned in its pages.

As a minister, myself, I was once again reminded of the beauty and sanctity of my own calling.  Not as a skill to be sharpened but as a way of life.  If you are a minister, or have ever wondered about the life of a minister, I encourage you to read this book.


Cutting for Stone


This was not a book I would have normally chosen to read.  I wasn’t familiar with the author, and it wasn’t a subject matter that really appealed to me.  But, that’s the funny thing about being in a book club–your reading repertoire gets changed up a bit.

This book dealt with some dark issues and complex themes, but it was all handled beautifully.   The father, a surgeon leaves his conjoined sons at birth when their mother, a nun dies on her maternity bed.  What follows is the story of the two boys and their lives in the African mission hospital.  The plot was rich and complex, and carried with it the exotic depth of the people and places it’s based on.  If I had to describe this book in one word: CURRY.

There is quite a bit of medical lingo, which can be a bit slowing to some readers, but I tend to skip over medical, legal, and military terms when I read books, knowing that they belong in a field that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and probably never will; therefore, I can still get through the book without being bogged down.

This is a well-written, thought-provoking novel.  It certainly isn’t boring.


The Betrayal of the American Dream


This book was recommended to me by my husband’s very politically-interested uncle.  Because his political leanings are very different than my own, I was wary, but went forward any how.

If you are a middle-class American, then I suggest you read this book, PERIOD.

The economic policies we have in this country do not favor the majority, but instead favor the smallest minority.  Okay, so that might not be a new idea to you, but this book details the ways in which the middle class is losing in America.  This is not a book based on partisan agendas; in fact, both parties in Washington are called on the carpet.

Corporate America.  Global economy.  Taxation policies.  Campaign funding.  Media messages.  These are things that are discussed in this book.  However, it’s not fatalistic.  Instead, the authors believe that it’s not too late.  We can make changes that benefit us all.  Read it, and find out for yourself.


Full Body Burden


How much sewage would you be willing to drink in a glass of water?  (even if you couldn’t see it, smell it, or taste it)

How much rat poison would you be willing to sprinkle on your scrambled eggs in the morning?  (even if they said it was a healthy way to control appetite, in moderation of course)

How much nuclear radiation are you willing to expose yourself to?  How much do you know about nuclear radiation?  Where has your information come from?  Have you questioned the sources?

Part memoir, part research, part conspiracy theory, part whistle-blower–this book is about the nuclear industry, uncontained waste, and the government’s lack of responsibility for and accountability to the American people in it’s quest to dominate through nuclear power.

Countless stories of disease, conflicting sources of “reliable” information, and first-hand accounts of growing up in a nuclear boom town make for an interesting read and a look into an issue that none of us should turn a blind eye to.  This is too important a book not to read!


Jumping Through Fires


An average little boy in Islamic Iran becomes an anomaly when his family immigrates to America during a time of political arrest and upheaval in his native country.  Landing in the Christian south, this is David Nasser’s personal account of growing up, finding his identity, exploring his faith, challenging his father, and things in between.

Ultimately, this is one man’s story of finding Christ.  As you read how God played an active part in Nasser’s life, may you be able to look back over your life thus far and see God’s activity there too.

It’s always good to read how God shows up in the lives of others and to be reminded that God Is Not Dead, but Very Much Alive and desires that all of us come to know Him.  This is one of those books.  It’s a quick, easy read, but inspiring nonetheless.




This was another book club pick that I never would’ve chosen myself.  I didn’t choose this book as a Top 10 because I just loved it so so much, but because it offered such a different picture of life than my own.

The author took risks with her life that I could never conceive of taking with my own.  She pushed herself to do things that are completely unappealing to me.  She set out on her own in the wilderness and discovered herself, made peace with her mother’s death, and sought solace from her failed marriage.  And yet, that wasn’t her intent when she planned her hike, but it’s what happened in boots too small and pack too heavy.

This book made my list because it still amazes me what a person can accomplish armed with the barest of knowledge, just a few tools, and determination that makes up the difference.  And despite the growing amount of evil in the world, humanity is still good.  And really, where would any of us be without the help of others along the way?

This was a national chart-topper and one of Goodread’s readers’ top picks of the year so it seems to have resonated with a lot of people for some reason.  If you haven’t read it, maybe it’s time you see for yourself what all the fuss is about.


When Work and Family Collide


I reviewed this book on my blog earlier in the year and you can read that by clicking “here” if you’d like.  But I’ll add a little blurb anyhow.

This book made my list because it holds such a timely message for so many today.  It seems like more and more people are spending more and more time away from the home and the family in the pursuit of a dream that may or may not be beneficial.  Christ poses the question to us:  “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul?” (see Matt. 16:26).

In similar fashion, Stanley challenges us to look at how we spend our time in relationship to our family.  Even with the best of intentions, if the statistics are right, our families are getting the raw end of the deal, because far too often, our jobs get the best of us–they take the best and our families get the left overs.

Is this what God intended?  Is there a better way?  How can we do it differently?

Stanley poses both the why’s and the how’s.  It’s a good one!


Gods and Kings


This is actually the first book in a 5 book series based on the biblical character of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings.

Gods and Kings was actually a free e-book I received and upon reading it decided to get the entire series.  I’ve not finished the whole series, but I listed this book  as a Top 10 because I feel it’s well-written and for a novel, it’s well-researched.

If you read the biblical account of King Hezekiah, you will find that it’s not a huge, lengthy story; in fact, he’s covered in only three chapters.  How then can there be enough information to write even more than one whole book about him?

Well, yes, it is a novel, so there has been great license taken to embellish the story yet not so much to make it unbelievable or even discount the biblical account.  Instead, there is murder, adultery, romance, integrity, conflict, war, redemption, and a whole host of interesting characters that make this king come to life.

It’s an enjoyable christian novel, and a series I look forward to finishing.


Behind the Beautiful Forevers


Katherine Boo spent some years in the slums of India; this is where this book comes from.  It’s written kind of like a novel, but the characters and their stories are true.

The poorest of the poor have their own ways of enterprise.  Their slum neighborhoods are divided like any other neighborhood in the world–the upright neighbors try to steer clear of their seedier counterparts and do what they can to keep their children unsullied by their neighbors’ defective children.  In every neighborhood there are those that will follow the rules and those that live as though rules don’t apply to them, making them up as they go.

While this book is about the people that live and die in the direst of places, this book is written without pity and yet it isn’t cold or heartless.  Instead, it’s a “slice of life” kind of story.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, literally, and this book takes a look at the “trash men and women.”

I read it months ago, and I still think about it.  Fascinating!

Please feel free to share what made your Top 10 List this year.  I’m always looking for something good to read.






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