I'm so tired of Advent. Blog posts about cookies and crafts and candles fill my Facebook feed, and my eyes glaze over. Last month on an impulse I bought some of those chocolate Advent calendars at Trader Joes for my kids. They made me nostalgic - I loved them when I was little. But as we've journeyed through Advent this year, I've been struck by what a horrible metaphor such calendars are: Advent is not about having one small treat each day, leading up to the big treat. It's about waiting for deliverance from a God who often seems to be totally silent and unreachable.
I'm sick of waiting for deliverance. I'm tired of hoping that salvation will come. I just want it to come now, before any more children die. I'm tired of lament and want to move to joy.
Maybe that's the true spirit of Advent - being fed up. I don't know. But I wrote about my frustration with labor pains that don't seem to bring any progression towards the birth of new life, and you can read it over at my friend Christie's blog, if you're so inclined.
Now on to my year in books! To be clear, this is not a list of books that came out in 2014, or of books with the most literary merit. These are just my favorites of the books I encountered this year. (I read about 70 books this year, and way too many were fluff that I barely even enjoyed, way too few were substantial and challenging. You can check out the complete list on Goodreads.) I've bolded what I think is the must read in each category.
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie
- Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer
- Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor
- Lila by Marilynne Robinson
- Overturning Tables: Freeing Missions from the Christian-Industrial Complex by Scott Bessenecker
- The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon
- This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
- Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery (At night when I can't sleep, I re-read LM Montgomery's books, since they are free on Kindle. Some have been disappointing, but this one was particularly interesting because so few books wrote about World War I from the perspective of the women at home.)
- Girl Meets God and Still by Lauren Winner (I read bits of these prior to meeting Lauren this summer, and was amazed by how well they stood up over time.)
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett (I read this to Rosie. She liked it, but seriously, SO LITTLE HAPPENS. So much flowery language.)
- On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I did not enjoy re-reading all of this series, but I did like this one.)
- The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (So much better than that title leads you to believe. This is one of those books that made me excited about Rosie learning to read so that I can give it to her in five years or so.)
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (I also read all of RR's books this year, and totally enjoyed them.)
- The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny. (Truth, beauty, what it means to be human, jealousy, addiction, art, love - and endearing characters, bowls of cafe au lait, a snowy village.)
The Missionary Books:
I've been reading through these, and others, for context for various projects. You can read about my reflections on re-reading Amy Carmichael here, and I'll have more about "The Missionary Myth" at Books and Culture next month.
What were your favorite books this year?