Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Last in the Series of the "New (Old) Slew of Book Recommendations" --- Claire's Picks

Here's the finale' of this series that has listed the Hartfords' book recommendations from last December. The books suggested had come from the last few years of our reading (not counting 2005, of course) and they cover a wide range -- wide enough for you to easily find a few you'd like to test for yourself.

If you want a review of the previous posts (listing both my fiction and non-fiction recommendations), simply hit these links: 1) -- 2) -- 3) --4) -- 5) -- and 6).

Now, incorporating all genres, here's Claire’s dozen from last Christmas.

1) All of the books in the Mitford series by Jan Karon are warm and delightful reads. It is really nice to find a new author whose work you love and whose work is plentiful enough to keep the enjoyment going. Jan Karon has been one of those authors for me in recent years. I recommend her highly and am grateful for first hearing about her from the Christmastime radio programs Denny used to do with various friends and celebrities who gave their book recommendations. Kay Orr, Debra Evans and Janine Lehman all listed Karon and I’m delighted to have followed their advice! I really got caught up in the lives of Fr. Tim Cavanaugh and all the residents of Mitford...and I think you might too!

2) When Character Was King was written by one of our favorite conservative writers, Peggy Noonan. As a speechwriter and friend of President Reagan, she is able to give an insider’s look at the character and the accomplishments of one of America’s best presidents. This is an honest, intimate and very well written book.

3) I know Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillerbrand is one of Denny’s selections but I’ve got to put it high on my list as well. I don’t read a lot of history but Seabiscuit is a riveting examination -- and not only about one of the greatest (though most unlikely) racehorses in the world but also about his owner, trainer, two jockeys, and the America of the 1930’s. It is a gem!

4) The Jeweler’s Shop by Karol Wojtyla is a short but very compelling play about love, marriage, courage, grief, and commitment written by a Polish clergyman who you now know as Pope John Paul II.

5) I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan. Nancy Reagan comments on the letters that the President wrote to her throughout their life together. But the treasures in the book are “Ronnie’s” letters themselves.

6) I agree with Denny about a lot of “book stuff” but among our strongest agreements is that any book by Charles Dickens makes for a fantastic, enriching reading experience – always!

7) Plague Dogs by Richard Adams is more than just another animal book from the author of Watership Down. Although being another animal book from the author of Watership Down is quite a recommendation in itself! This book is a captivating tale of two dogs --- well, that’s enough. I don’t want to take anything away from your enjoyment. (Denny and I never read the forewords to books for that same reason.)

8) A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt is a soul-stirring play about Sir Thomas More and how his refusal to give in to Henry VIII on “the King’s matter” (Henry’s plans for a divorce and remarriage) leads to his martyrdom.

9) In another selection matching one of Denny’s, I also recommend the novel, Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. Randy does a superb job of giving us examples of sacrifice, love of God, and commitment to His truth from Christians undergoing severe persecution in Red China.

10) Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe was a real (and most welcome!) surprise to me when I read it for our reading group, the Notting Hill Napoleons. I had thought it was just a story about surviving on a desert island and, of course, I knew something about the scene with the footprint in the sand. But wow – Robinson Crusoe is a great story, filled with drama, innovation, and profound spiritual truth. A great read.

11) The Human Comedy by William Saroyan is about a California family during World War II. In particular, the fourteen-year-old son, Homer, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as he delivers wartime telegrams. It is another Napoleon selection (as are #s 8, 10, 11 and 12).

12) Advise and Consent by William Drury is a thrilling political novel written in the 1950’s. It was the first of many political novels by Drury and is a favorite of folks like Peggy Noonan Brit Hume…and now, me!