Well, with only 2 days remaining in the year and a giant home improvement project in the works, it appears that my finished book list will stay at 62 books for the year. Not bad--some were shorter than "real books", and that's why the total is so high.
Looking back over the list for this year and last year, I would say that last year's reading was far better than this year's. However, there were some keepers in the list. So, on to the 2nd annual Mama T book awards:
Best thing I read this year? Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley. Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for drama. A play about a priest and a nun--is he an abuser, or is she reading more into the story than is called for. I think this play is genius.
Runner up: And this is a close one: Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger. I needed to read an epic swashbuckler that also taught by example the redeeming power and beauty of goodness and honor. Absolutely excellent "old-fashioned" book, with a more serious story than first appears.
Best non-fiction of the year? God and the World by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. I am consistently blown away by the clarity of his thinking and writing. The more I read of the Pope's works, the better I like him--and I liked him plenty to start with.
Runner up non-fiction: Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles by Raymond Arroyo. How she brought EWTN from nothing to something--and a radical reliance on Christ--make for thought provoking reading.
Coziest book of the year? A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge. This was a lovely escape into a warm and wonderful place, where everything works out and love wins in the end.
Best new (to me) find? Angela Thirkell. I read the first 3 or 4 of her books this year. I wouldn't want to read one after another, but the are perfect little bon-bons of books--to read after you've read something hard. But there is this little, oh, edge to her books that make them even more enjoyable to me. I have another one on the wait list, waiting for the appropriate time.
Funniest book? Three Men in a Boat. This is the book that most divided our book club--1/2 the women thought it was one of the worst books we had ever read ("How could you slog through this tedious mess?") and 1/2 thinking it was hilariously funny. Obviously I was in the second camp. I will never look at a can of peaches and can openers the same way.
Worst book of the year? Cat on the Scent by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. Apologies to those of you who are cat lovers, but this one was just dumb. Plus I hate it that the humans in the books never really solved the mystery. I thought that was lame.
Two others that don't fit anywhere else, but that I was impressed by: The Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. I wish I could write a first novel like this one. Inventive and very different from what I expected when I heard the book was about a girl and a spelling bee. And second, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. No action, much, just a portrait of a man living out his call to God in the Midwest--with a wife and son who came to him so late in life. I think many people would dislike this book because "nothing happens" but it stuck in my head.
So, there you have it. Another year of reading. I've listed all 62 books in the extended entry so you can see them if you'd like.
1. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
2. Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church by H. W. Crocker III
3. Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
4. Little Altars Everywhere by Rosemary Wells
5. The Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
6. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
7. In the Beginning There Were No Diapers by Tim Bete
8. The Endless Knot by William Biersach
9. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley
10. The Fat Fallacy by Will Clower
11. The Color of Water by James McBride
12. The Inn at the Edge of the World by Alice Thomas Ellis
13. The 27th Kingdom by Alice Thomas Ellis
14. Mr. Blue by Miles Connolly
15. Helena by Evelyn Waugh
16. Lord of the World by Msr. Robert Hugh Benson
17. Cat on the Scent by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
18. Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk
19. High Rising by Angela Thirkell
20. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
21. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell
22. The Raphael Affair by Iain Pears
23. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
24. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
25. Lancelot by Walker Percy
26. Summer Half by Angela Thirkell
27. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
28. Higher by Neal Bascomb
29. Close to Home by Peter Robinson
30. Code to Zero by Ken Follett
31. Bellwether by Connie Willis
32. Sister of My Heart by Chitra Divakaruni
33. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
34. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
35. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
36. Belly of the Beast by Judith L. Pearson
37. An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
38. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
39. The Ball and the Cross by G. K. Chesterton
40. God and the World by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
41. Burn Unit: Saving Lives after the Flames by Barbara Ravage
42. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
43. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
44. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
45. When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakeable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances by Carol Kent
46. Are You There Alone? The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates by Suzanne O'Malley
47. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
48. The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
49. A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge
50. The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
51. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
52. Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley
53. Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger
54. Deafening by Frances Itani
55. Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles by Raymond Arroyo
56. Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? by John R. Powers
57. Unveiling by Suzanne M. Wolfe
58. A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
59. The Mirror Crack'd by Agatha Christie
60. A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
61. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (reread) by C. S. Lewis
62. The Next Step in the Dance by Tim Gautreaux