Reader's Journal 2017

It's that time of year! Next year I plan on publishing this list on Dec. 1st as per a few requests.  It seems it might be helpful when thinking about Christmas gifts to post this before the holidays instead of after.  I agree.

So, do tell me what you think!  Have you read any of these?  Did you post a list of the books you read this year?  Please link in the comments! The comments on the Reader's Journal posts are some of my favorite discussions.

1.  Mariner - A Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Malcolm Guite

This recommendation really needs its own post.  I didn't know what to expect when I picked up Guite's tome.  I've always been slightly fascinated by Coleridge and have read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner a few times. But what I found was a feast! He so deftly weaves the mystical and strange poem together with Coleridge's own life journey and shows us how Coleridge comes full circle back to faith. Sad that most of what I knew before was tied to his addictions. Guite's writing and insight kept leading me along and I was sad when it was over. Bravo!

2. The Genesee Diary - Report from a Trappist Monastery by Henri J.M. Nouwen

When both Kate and Marcia recommended this book to me, I knew I had to read it. Nouwen spends 7 months in a monastery and we get to read his thoughts during that time.  His insights, especially when it comes to traveling and speaking, resonated deeply with me. Reading this theologian's struggles with his faith and belief were so down to earth and real. It ends during Advent which is also when I fittingly finished the book. Lots of commonplace entries from this one!

3.  Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard

So I guess I'm a Millard fan now.  I loved Destiny of the Republic, River of Doubt, and now Hero of the Empire. Millard takes  lesser-known events from lives of the  famous and turns them into...page turners!  This is an astonishing book about the early days of Winston Churchill when he was a prisoner of war and his amazing escape. Lots of biographical information that was new to me. This one went directly to dh's nightstand.

4. The Curve of Time by Muriel  Blanchet

The wonderful ladies from the Charlotte Mason West - Conference at Puget Sound presented me with this book as a thank you gift.  I could hardly put it down. It is the story of a widow, Muriel Blanchet, who decides to sail along the coast of British Columbia summer after summer with her 5 children. I was constantly amazed at her harrowing experiences.  I wondered if it could be done in today's day and age without someone turning her in. There were truly scary events and I was amazed that they came through all of them unscathed. There was also beauty and wonder and she expresses all of it so well. So good.

5. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Did you know that assisted living was a new term coined in about 1983? Having recently lost a loved one and also moved a set of parents into assisted living, Gawnade's book about end-of-life living was an eye opener.  I feel like I understand more clearly what is most important. Please read this before your relatives get close to this stage of life - it will help you navigate things with more compassion and understanding. Thank you, Cindy.

Here's the rest of the list!  An "*" means I highly recommend it.

6. Heaven's Ditch* by Jack Kelly (no relation!)
7. Hillbilly Elegy* - A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
8. The Young Travelers Guide to England and Wales by Trease (wrote about this here)
9. The Gown of Glory by Agnes Sligh Turnbull
10. The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
11. Lab Girl* by Hope Jahren
12. The Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster
13. Hannah Coulter* by Wendell Berry (my 3rd time through?)
14. Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
15. Soul Survivor* by Phillip Yancey
16. Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Hudson Taylor
17. Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard
18. Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson
19. Plan B by Pete Wilson
20. The Living* by Annie Dillard
21. A Gathering of Larks by Abigail Carroll
22. A Fierce Love by Shauna Shanks
23. A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
24. Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
25. The Alphabet of Grace by Frederick Buechner

Past lists of reading goodness:

This is a record of the books I read mainly at night when I retired for the day.  It does not include the books I read for our school nor does it include the dozens of books I read only portions of.  Some I blogged about, most I did not.  The Bible, devotionals, CM's 6 volume series, or research stuff - none of that is included here. I learn something from everything I read but  I don't necessarily like everything I read.

Teaching from Peace,


  1. What did you think of Miss Buncle's Book?? :) It's so hilarious!!

    1. It was a fun read! It would make a good romcom, I think. Did you read the others in the series?

  2. I did a double take and looked up the Jack Kelly title thinking it was your son! Ha. :D You have an intriguing list, many I've never heard of which makes this an extra delicious list. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the Guite book so much, that makes me want to bump it up on my list. However, I'm especially intrigued by the Nouwen and Blanchet titles! :) I'll be back soon with mine. Thank you so much for sharing. I really do look forward to this list every year.

    1. I edited it to add "no relation"! Thank you, Amy. I look forward to reading your list, too!

  3. Sooo glad you enjoyed Curve of Time! Being Mortal is on my list of "to reads," your recommendation just pushes it into the 2018 column! I've read Nouwen's Road to Daybreak, which is fabulous, but have yet to finish any other of his books (halfway through Life of the Beloved).

    1. I really loved it! Now that would make an amazing movie! I enjoy Nouwen's writing as well.

  4. Alright. ;) https://hearthridgereflections.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/the-deans-watch-by-elizabeth-goudge-pied-piper-by-nevil-shute-and-more-favorites-from-my-2017-reading-year/

    1. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your list with us!

    2. Fascinating list...many I hadn't heard of before!

  5. I very much enjoy reading your list and hearing your thoughts on your year in books, my friend. As I look back I had a heavy fiction year, my favorites of which were Island of the World, Brideshead Revisited, The Moonstone, and Gilead. I also loved Don Quixote, although this was an audiobook rather than an official read. I also completed by first Dostoyevsky - Brothers Karamazov - and enjoyed it. My favorite non-fiction was the Martin Luther's A Simple Way to Pray. I have also very much enjoyed Twelve Ways Your Phone is Changing You, but will not finish it in 2017. Finally, as a family it was the year of Swallows and Amazons, as you well know.:) We finished 9 of the series as audiobooks in the car this year, and began the 11th in the series this week. While some series become tiring as they continue on, we never tire of the adventures of Captain Nancy and the rest of the crew.

    1. Ohhh...lots of good ones in your list! I need to read Twelve Ways, too. And I have Island of the World but just haven't read it yet. Maybe this is the year. I think I need to add a "books read as a family" category each year. You will be sad to see S & A end. Satisfied, but sad. Thanks for sharing, Dawn!
      -Captain Nancy

    2. Yes, I know! Then again, series never really end for us. While we're listening to Picts & Martyrs in the car they still pop in the previous books into the CD player in the house. :)

      I think you will enjoy Island of the World, and I base that on your appreciation of the book Silence. Island, too, is a very hard book, but oh so worth it. It has been more than 10 months since I finished it, and I still am impressed by the author's ability to impress on the reader the sanctity of life at all stages and in many different circumstances. There is a definite sense of respecting personhood threaded throughout the book. It is definitely worth the read!

    3. Island of the World was my favorite read this year! I’m still thinking about it.

    4. Looks like it just moved up my list!

  6. Thanks for always inspiring me! Here's my list: http://putonthearmoroflight.blogspot.com/2018/01/2017-book-list.html

    1. Your Mariner book looks fascinating, especially since recently I've developed an interest in the troubled life of Coleridge. I also am curious about Being Mortal, as well as DeYoung's Crazy Busy. Thanks again for inspiring me to read more, to be a better teacher, and to gather my titles together! I remain amazed at how much reading can be done in a year.

  7. What a wonderful collection. I am particularly interested in The Curve of Time and Being Mortal, so thanks for those recommendations!

    My list is here: https://thejoyfulhouse.blogspot.com/2018/01/2017-reading-list.html

    Happy New Year!

    1. Interesting list, Polly! Thanks for posting; it's great to see so many lists. That 7 Worst Things Good Parents Do title piqued my interest. I like that you have such a variety. Happy reading in 2018!

    2. The Curve of Time was just fascinating! I kept saying to myself, "I could never do that! Where did she get her fearlessness from?!" Plus, her writing is beautiful and the spiritual aspect, depending on how you look at it, was...well, I'll let you read it. Her description of the Native American village was gripping to me. I will skip over to your list later today! Thanks for sharing, Polly!

  8. 25 books! That's incredible! As If I don't have enough on my plate already, now I want to read a truck load of new titles! :) I started keeping a list of what books I read in the year. In 2017 I read: "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand, "Desperate" by Sally Clarkson & Sarah Mae, "You are What you Love", "Barrie & Daughter" by Rebecca Caudill, and "Kisses from Katie" by Katie Davis (just finished, churns my heart for overseas missions all over again!). May be missing one or two since I don't have my list on hand. Mostly lighter reads intermixed with CM's Vol. 1 & Vol. 4 as I don't feel I have brain space for too much these days.