Monday, January 15, 2007

2006 in Books, Part One

2006 was an eventful year in my life which meant that, unfortunately, I did not read quite as much as I would have liked to. The final count, including re-reads is 258 books. My goal, as for every year, was 365. Still, the year had several bookish high points. So let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).

The Open Gate by Kate Seredy: When I was younger the library in my old home town had this book in their children’s section and I loved it. Then they got rid of it and for years I suffered its lack in silence. Finally I realized that I needed to read it again and so I asked for it for a Christmas present. My copy is very old and in a protective cover and my father told me that it was extremely difficult to find so I am very careful with it. It is the story of an American family who lives in a modern apartment filled with “push-buttons” until the day that Gran drags them to a country auction. Highly recommended for all ages (if you can find it).

The Art of Prayer by Igumen Chariton of Valamo: This is an Orthodox Christian anthology, largely taken from the Philokalia, on prayer. It includes sections from St. Theophan the Recluse, St. Ignaty Brianchininnov, and others. Highly recommended, although more for Orthodox than non-Orthodox.

In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden: This was passed along to me from my grandmother who was moving herself. It is the story of a convent of nuns in England in the middle of the 20th century. I enjoyed the characters, particularly the main character, Philippa (later Dame Philippa) who was once a successful business woman. I also enjoyed a look into a community which I would not otherwise have had. Highly recommended for slightly more mature readers (i.e. approximately 15 up, depending on your family’s standards).

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter: I believe that this was the first time I actually finished this book. It is a must-read for any serious Tolkien lover. It gives a much more comprehensive view of Tolkien’s character than any other work, including Carpenter’s excellent biography. It includes some wonderful letters to his sons which are very personal and also many which shed light on different aspects of the writing of his books. Highly recommended for anyone who has read his works. It does contain a few minor swear words, I believe.

The Trapp Singers by Maria von Trapp: This is the original book, the real story behind “The Sound of Music.” I remembered liking it when I read it years and years ago and so I re-read it and was amazed. It is ten times better than the movie. The Trapps were a very faithful family and Mrs. von Trapp is very honest about their vision and beliefs. She is also an extremely entertaining writer. Highly recommended for slightly more mature readers.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare: We read this in my AP English Literature class. It is now my hands-down favorite Shakespeare play. Yes, everyone dies at the end. But it is complex, beautiful, full of great lines, and even funny in parts. Highly recommended for more mature readers.

Part Two here
Part Three here

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