Courtesy of Jenny and subsequently Dakota (a friend of mine), I was introduced to Rosemary Sutcliff in the form of her historical fiction novels, 'The Eagle of the Ninth' (and a bonny fine book it was too!) and 'The Silver Branch' (this one was just so good). Sutcliff was a great writer, and I love the spice she put in describing the little things that have almost a sentimental link to the overall theme of each of her books, which when hearkened to will transfer you into the instinctive understanding of the characters you read, and see with their eyes the land of Britain as they see it, and the scenes before your eyes of burning huts, flaming orange sunsets etc, etc. I am definitely glad I got introduced to her during the past year!
For over two years, I had been eagerly keeping up with Elizabeth Rose's updates on her lovely blog as she wrote her debut novel, Violets are Blue. Around last March she had it self-published and many months later, I finally purchased my own copy! While I'll concede that the story and plot-line were at times less than perfect and perhaps the writing a tad repetitive in some bits (No blaming her here, for my writing at thirteen/fourteen was far worse!), I truly enjoyed reading 'Violets are Blue', if nothing else, for the way Elizabeth captured the essence of faith and family life and siblings so accurately and beautifully! I found it fascinating to read a story set during the time of 'Titanic', and because she really got the historical/social info right, it made the reading very satisfying. Also I loved the main character and Violet's close relationship with her friend, Lilian. Overall, a really lovely story!
Until last year, I had only read the seven titles in 'The Chronicles of Narnia' for C.S. Lewis. In 2012, I went about changing that, by embarking on reading his Space Trilogy, a fascinating/thought-provoking series and an extraordinary introduction to the genre of science-fiction, which after some getting used to, I found I rather enjoyed, which was strange considering I had expected to dislike it. Seeing that my Dad had only a copy of the second book in the trilogy, I first read Perelandra; it was very different, beautiful, imaginative, a bit strange and philosophical in some bits and overall it made me think a lot, which is always a good thing! I thought the theme of the Fall and Redemption were quite beautifully handled. Next, I got my hand on the first title in the series, Out of the Silent Planet, which I gobbled up hook and sinker, and I found very enjoyable and fascinating indeed--I sympathized and loved Ransom best in this book probably because I was as bemused as he when he was transported onto that space ship thing, and it seemed to me more in line with a fantasy/science-fiction novel, than his two other books in the trilogy. That Hideous Strength came naturally last, and to be honest, for a long while I did not understand a lot of it but I got pulled along by the captivating story-line and my sympathy for Jane and Mark and Mr. and Mrs. Dimble kept me hooked right through the 500 something pages, and it made me realize more than ever what a capital novelist Mr. C.S. Lewis really was! That Hideous Strength overall was very intriguing and again, thought-provoking, but I think I'll have to reread it to grasp more of its full meaning and depth. It was last year as well that I purchased my own copy of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' series, so in the process I reread a few of the titles in the books (or at least parts of them): The Horse and His Boy, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle. One other title I got to read for C.S. Lewis was 'The Screwtape Letters', a book I had been meaning to read for a long while but never got around doing. Now... now that is a really good book (highly recommended!), and I came out of the reading of it convicted and challenged in my walk with God.
If you've read so far, than hurrah for you, seeing how detailed I've gone in recording my thoughts on each of these books! A few other titles I got through reading in 2012 was Ben Hur by Lew Wallace (I had read the book some years ago when I was about eleven or twelve, but never really grasped or appreciated the full depth of it until now), I also read the few selected stories from 'Sherlock Holmes' which I had not read yet, though the particular titles escape my memory now; I do recall I read 'The Valley of Fear' which was one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's longer stories. For pleasure I reread 'The Bronze Bow' by Elizabeth George Speare, as well as 'Pollyanna' and 'Pollyanna Grows Up' by Eleanor H. Porter. I read a lot of fiction written by authors of the early to mid twentieth century, and the hallmark of course has been Tolkien's sagas. So overall, it was a good reading year! I do regret that I did not apply myself to reading more works of Christian apologetics/theology/philosophy etc, or devotionals (though I did read 'Jesus: A Dialogue With The Saviour' written by a monk of the Eastern Church which I found to be a great blessing). This new year, I hope to improve on that point. I did start a couple of other titles, but having not yet finished them, they hopefully will land in the 2013 pile of reading material I hope to consume. Want to know some of the titles I have in mind?
The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman Empire - T.R. Glover
The Best of Father Brown - G. K. Chesterton (started, but not finished)
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
Let Me Be A Woman - Elizabeth Elliot
Recapture the Wonder - Ravi Zacharias
The Everlasting Man - G. K. Chesterton*
The Mind of the Maker - Dorothy L. Sayers*
The Ballad of the White Horse - G. K. Chesterton*
But who knows what this year's readings might bring? I bet we'll all be surprised!
What books do you plan on reading this new year?