Hello readers! Yes, it is me! No, I have not died or fallen through some stones and landed in 1745 Scotland! I have simply, well, gotten busy. Very, very busy. I just completed my first year of teaching. If you have never completed year 1 of a teaching career, then you cannot fully comprehend the absolute insanity involved. Many things fell by the wayside over the past year - this blog, weight loss plans, the cleanliness of my house...but now the summer is upon us, and it is time to pick myself up off the mat and get going again. I love teaching, I love writing, and I love reading, and there is no good reason why all those things should not get to happen at the same time.
Other things are happening with this blog. I have volunteered to write a blog (this one) for my local newspaper, The Morning Sun, so not only will my readership widen, but hopefully the accountability will keep me writing! Yay!
This past week I was swamped with attending workshops for professional development purposes. One of the workshops I attended was devoted to motivating students to read. It was a lovely morning all about why it's wonderful to read and how we can get kids to feel the same way. One of the strategies discussed was making sure students knew what YOU loved to read. There is something called the "psychological phenomenon of the teacher blessing the book." That's a fancy way of saying that if kids know you love a book, they are more likely to read it themselves. We were encouraged to think of our own top ten favorite books list and display it in the classroom. I thought doing this would be a great way to kick-start my blog again.
Now, as all book lovers know, the top ten list can change day-to-day, if not hour-to-hour. So please do not hold me to this list for life. But for right now, for these purposes, I present to you my Top Ten Books list.*
*I did not include the Bible. It deserves it's own list. It's own shelf. In it's own room. It's another level of book all unto itself.
1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I have already written about my love affair with GWTW. This book has been my constant companion for almost 20 years now. It's different each time I read it. It is a true timeless classic. It's not just about love, or slavery, or war. It's about human nature, and relationships, about survival and selfishness, about who we are as a nation and who we are as humanity. It has a heroine that you can't respect or even like but that you can't help but cheer on. It is The Great American Novel.
2. Rebecca by Daphne DeMurier
One of the first reviews I did on this blog was of Rebecca. It's the first grown-up book I read. It's deep mystery and shadowy romance keeps me coming back to re-read it all the time. The fact that Maxim looks like Laurence Olivier doesn't hurt.
3. At Home in Mitford and the rest of the Mitford series by Jan Karon
Sometimes you just need to curl up with coffee and a book that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Sometimes you need to go somewhere to sit in a diner in a small town and watch all the people you know go by. Sometimes you need to meet a dog that can be controlled by Scripture and a rector who strives to be the best man he can be in a fallen world. The Mitford series is like coming home for Christmas. They are like a hug in a book. It's a Christian series without being a "Christian series." Well written, much beloved.
4. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
This thin little book has chapters that are only a few pages long, but it takes forever to read because you have to set the book down after every paragraph and ponder the great truths you just read. Everyone should read this book. It is a great revelation into the nature of God and the nature of Man from one of the greatest apologists and theologians of the 20th century.
5. Outlander and the rest of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
When you hand someone Outlander for the first time, you are handing them a lifestyle. A lifestyle of sleepless nights, forgetting to eat, neglecting silly things like house cleaning and personal hygiene, and above all else, a sense of mourning and longing when you finish the last book in the series and realize it takes her years to write these monsters, so there's nothing to do but go back and start all over again while you wait. The saga of Claire and Jamie has captured the imagination of millions around the world, and for good reason. What is this series about? I don't know - romance? Religion? Science fiction? Naked Scotsmen? Hard to say. All I know is, everyone wants to travel time and distance with Claire and Jamie.
6. The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis
Why are we here? Why do we long to be part of something more? Because we were created to be part of the Great Story of God. We were made to be romanced by the King of Kings. We were designed to be close to the Heart of God - the One who created the universe and everything in it. It is a journey fraught with dangers, for there is an enemy that seeks to destroy our Story. The Sacred Romance opens the eyes of those longing for more, knowing we were made for so much more than what we experience, and invites us to embark on the adventure we were all created for - the adventure of the Heart. I wish I could get each and every person I know to read this book. It changed my life.
7. Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and Captivating by Stasi Edlredge
Our culture has done much to destroy what it really means to be a man and a woman. I'm not talking about the fight over sexual preference, I'm talking about being created in the image of God and what that really means for men and women. Wild at Heart explores the adventure that men were meant for, and Captivating invites women to believe they truly are the beauty they long to be. Both books give men and women permission to be who they are in Christ, which is the greatest freedom anyone can find.
8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I read this when I was a sophomore in high school. It may be the only book I like that year. (That's the year we read Lord of the Flies and Of Mice and Men. Yeeech.) I love how Dickens right, even if he is long-winded. (Hey, give the guy a break, he was getting paid by the word!) This is a great historical classic tale of intrigue. Makes me sad that I never actually got around to reading David Copperfield my senior year. Someday!
9. When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon K. Penman
Once upon a time, I was wandering through our local library, perusing titles, when I stumbled across this novel with a red cover and an intriguing title. Years later, I am totally addicted to Sharon K. Penman and her works. Her historical novels on medieval England birthed a love for a whole new genre for me. When Christ and His Saints Slept is set in the time of King Stephen and Queen Matilda's battle for the throne of England, and its story proves that real life is often better than anything we could make up. This is my favorite place and time in history to read about, and it all started with this book.
10. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Someday I'll make a top ten list for young readers. This book will be the top pick on that list, so there's your preview. I first discovered Annemarie and her family sometime in grade school - maybe second grade - and I have loved her ever since. This incredible book about the bravery of the Danish people during World War II in the face of the evil that threatened to take over the world should be required reading in every grade school. I have taught it as a unit and plan to do so again. This book opens the eyes of children to history and to the world around them. One of the most impactful books on my young life.
So, that's the list for now! As I mentioned earlier, I will be updating this thing on a more regular basis, so come back and check it out! Should be fun!
What's up next: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Top Five TBR:
1. Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick
2. The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family that Shaped Britain by Allan Massie
3. Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert
4. The Story of Britain by Rebecca Fraser
5. Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman