Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read in 2012 (x2)

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I've included here the top ten new reads and rereads (so twenty in all) of 2012. They are arranged in reverse order, 10 through 1, in ranked order, along with a quote, if I happened to write down any quotes from a book.

(Provisional) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: I haven't finished it yet, so I can't give it an actual rank, but I already know it's going to be in the top ten.

9. Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan: I love making (and eating) jams, pickles, and condiments, and one of these days I'll buy canning equipment and cook my way through this book.

8. Curtain by Agatha Christie: I actually liked Poirot in this one. Although published in the 1970s, Christie wrote this in the 1930s, and it's one of her best.

7. Kenilworth by Walter Scott: Incredibly biased in favor of Elizabeth I, who according to Scott could do no wrong, but still a very complex-yet-readable story of court intrigue and secret marriage.

6. Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis: First in the Space Trilogy, and the least interesting. This is not necessary to understand the rest of the trilogy, but it is the story that came out of a deal Lewis made with Tolkien to improve the state of science fiction in the 1930s.

I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.

5. Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh: The perfect book for any introverted Protestant (particularly Evangelicals), although probably useful for Catholics as well. Examines the pervasive extroverted cultural standards and how they cause introverted Christians to feel unwelcome and even unholy.

4. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim: I think I've mentioned this in every TTT thus far, so go read it already! (This is the story of four broken women who find healing in a castle in Italy. It's not nearly as dopey as it sounds.)

3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: Another much-mentioned book here. This book is about absorbed cultural expectations and the perceptions of intellectuals by society.

Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warn pool of light. And with each swallow, time is sublimed.

2. Perelandra by C. S. Lewis: The second part of the Space Trilogy. Very theological and philosophical novel in which the hero tried to prevent the Fall of Man from repeating itself on another planet. Truly brilliant.

I am His beast, and all His biddings are joys.

1. That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis: I'm still working on a blog post about this book, so suffice it to say that this is one of the best books I've ever read. It's also the third part of the Space Trilogy, although it's perfectly understandable without having read the first two books.

However far you went you would find the machines, the crowded cities, the empty thrones, the false writings, the barren beds: men maddened with false promises and soured with true miseries, worshipping the iron works of their own hands, cut off from Earth their mother and from the Father in Heaven.

Top Ten Rereads of 2012

10. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde: Part of the Thursday Next series, a sort of absurdist historical-science-fiction-fantasy-comic novel. Very out of the ordinary and well worth reading.

9. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde: First in the Thursday Next series, and probably my favorite. Did you know that prior to 1985, in an alternate universe, Jane Eyre actually married St. John?

8. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes is...

7. Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: the series that got me hooked...

6. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: on mysteries as a child, and...

5. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle: I love him dearly.

4. The Apology of Socrates by Plato: Socrates (or Plato, because he liked to put words in Socrates' mouth, and since Socrates was dead, he couldn't argue about it) speaks here at his trial, defending himself against the charge of corrupting the youth of Athens. He speaks to the role of education in society and the role of public officials in relation to truth and justice.

I ask you this: when you're an Athenian, and so belong to the greatest city, the one with the highest reputation for wisdom and strength, aren't you ashamed of caring about acquiring the greatest amount of money, together with reputation and honours, while not caring about, even sparing a thought for, wisdom and truth, and making your soul as good as possible?

3. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien: Is there really...

2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien: anything left...

1. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien: to say about LOTR?


  1. NORTHANGER ABBEY! Yes, yes, yes! Love so much!

    The Enchanted April is on my to-read list now!

    I really need to read Sherlock Holmes, and I'm glad you loved LOTR!

    1. Do read Sherlock Holmes. All the stories are great, but some are definitely better than others.

  2. So many great books on your lists! I love love LOVE Northanger Abbey (and Austen in general, of course). Speaking as a Catholic, Introverts in the Church sounds interesting, although my experience is that Catholics tend to be more introverted than evangelical Protestants when it comes to their faith. On another note, you may have convinced me to read The Enchanted April -- the "it's not as dopey as it sounds" comment kind of sold me! :)

    1. McHugh holds up Catholicism as the most introvert-friendly form of Christianity. I've been to Mass all of twice, but I think I agree with him. (Most of my closest friends are Catholic, so I'm fairly familiar Catholicism.)

      Of course, being an Evangelical Protestant, my particularly branch of Christianity is all about "witnessing" to people. Since I feel much more like a Mother Teresa type person, just quietly meeting people's needs, than a Billy Graham sort, it's sometimes discouraging. And when one can find articles in publications such as Christianity Today saying that introversion is a sin and introverts need to pray to God to "heal" them, well it's hard. I really like that McHugh emphasizes that God made introverts as well as extroverts, and that we need to work within our natural temperaments, at least most of the time, or we risk burnout and other emotional issues, but he also emphasizes that we can't use our personalities as an excuse to not do the will of God.

      And yes, you should most definitely read The Enchanted April. It's rather short, so it shouldn't take too much of your time.

    2. That should read "... fairly familiar *with* Catholicism." Why is it that the typos are never obvious until after something is posted?

  3. I do want to read the LOTR series, I had started to read the series back when the movies came out, but I couldn't separate the movie from the books, but I think I could now.


    1. You should try them again; the books are so much better (and longer) than the movies!

  4. Tolkien, Lewis, Conan Doyle... you have excellent taste. I will have to look into the other books you've mentioned.

    1. Thanks! Lewis is more or less my favorite author ever. I think I could read The Four Loves and That Hideous Strength over and over again to the exclusion of all other books, and still learn something new every time.