Here we are already in 2023, which means it’s time for round up of my favourite reads of 2022! I read 46 books this year, and while I did enjoy many of them, there were only a few that I felt excited enough about to share in this list. In no particular order, here are the books I loved this past year.
Daughters of Fortune by Judith Pella
This series is a re-read, (I first read this series when I was 17 or so). I’ve always had an interest in WWII for some reason, so a fictional story that spans the three areas affected by the war: Europe, the Pacific and the American home-front was right up my alley. The story follows three sisters, Cameron, Blaire and Jaqueline as they navigate the war years. I love the storylines of each sister. It’s one of those books that you get immersed in one storyline and then it switches to the next character and you get mad, but then get immersed in their storyline, only to have it switch on you again! The only criticism I have of the series is that by book Four I honestly think she was getting tired of writing, because there is a huge rush at the end, and then a jump to the epilogue and then the story is over. I felt like we needed a few more chapters to wrap things up, but it’s still a good story despite that. My local library doesn’t have this series, so I was happy when I got my own copies last year as a Christmas gift! I bought them from Thrift Books which is always a bit of a gamble as to the quality, (and then the first book got lost in the mail and I had to wait several months for a replacement copy!) but I like having them on my shelf now, so I can read them again in the future.
Hitler’s Cross by Erwin W. Lutzer
This book has been on my TBR (to be read) list for a year, and it wasn’t one that my library system had. I got this one from Better World Books and I am so happy I did, because this was probably my favourite book of the year. It wasn’t a happy read for sure, talking about how the church in Germany was so weak and became fooled by Hitler, but it was a very prescient book. I see so many similarities between the culture of the German church in the 1930’s and the church in the West today. Which is, of course, why Lutzer wrote it 10 years ago. It is just as relevant today as ever before. It’s one of those books that you are reading along and wanting to underline so many sections (which I never do, but should!) that pretty soon the whole book is underlined. If you’re curious about the culture of the church during WWII this is a great book, and if you’re interested in the culture of the church today, then this is also great book.
ps. I also want to clarify that the anniversary copy I got has a forward by Ravi Zacharias, but the original book does not to my knowledge. That forward, sadly written by a man with a double life, does not change the meat and message of the book.
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas
After I finished Hitler’s Cross, I was intrigued to read more about Deitrich Bonhoeffer, since he was a key figure during WWII and I wasn’t super familiar with him. I then came across this book at a second hand book shop, which was perfect. It was a slow read and it took me several months to work through. (Although some of that time I was sick and wasn’t reading anything.) It’s a slow read, but that’s because it’s so good. This is also one of those books that would be very underlined with hardly any sections unmarked. I learned so much about the Germany, the War and the Church in this book. It also raised so many good questions about what our response should be when faced with those seemingly “grey areas”, as well as the importance of being faithful to God in the small things, so that we are ready when the big things come. This was my other favourite book of the year. I would also like to get Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, for further reading.
Feels Like Home by Marion Parsons
Because this list is starting to be all WWII content (Again! Last year was too!), here’s a change of scene (yes pun intended, of course). I read so many decorating books this year, but my favourite was this one by the blogger Miss Mustard Seed. I loved it so much I got it for my birthday! I had actually never read her blog before, but came across the book first and after reading it, I now love to follow her blog. This is one of my favourite decorating books of the year, though, because it’s not just pictures, but also has so many tips and how-to’s included, as well as the story behind her decorating. Many bloggers (myself included I’m sure) tend to ramble, which comes across OK in a blog post, but can get repetitious in a book. I was very happy that her writing in this book is not repetitious or tedious in any way! If you are stuck in any way with decorating, I’m sure that this book will be helpful. She has it broken into chapters featuring each section or room in the house, “living spaces”, “kitchens” etc and goes through so much information about how to curate your own style. I loved this book so much I also gave a copy to a friend.
The Tale of Beatrix Potter by Margaret Lane
I wrote a post last summer, about the movie Miss Potter, which is one of my favourites, so when I saw this book at our local library I checked it out immediately. Not only is it a beautiful vintage edition, but it’s a lovely read as well! Written fairly soon after Beatrix Potter’s death, and with the help of her surviving husband William Heelis, this book tells the story of Beatrix’s life and art. It’s a beautiful book, with colour illustrations, photographs of her life and even an insert of the Tale of Peter Rabbit story, which was originally written as a letter. I didn’t take a photo of it for some reason, but the reproduction letter was photocopied onto small pages so you could flip through it like it would have been originally when she sent it to her young nephew (who was ill at the time). I really enjoyed this book, and was debating whether to add it to my bookshelf..there are a few vintage editions for sale online, but I haven’t bought one yet.
Facepaint by Lisa Eldridge
My sister was the one who introduced me to Lisa Eldridge’s videos and this book. I’m not a huge makeup devotee, but I do enjoy wearing it and especially learning about the history of it! In the first part of the book, she covers the three main colours of makeup: Red, White and Black. I had never thought of that before; even though we have a rainbow of colours in makeup now, for most of history all makeup pretty much narrowed down to these three colours. She covers the history of makeup from the ancient Egyptians (some of the most famous historical makeup!) up to the modern era. In the second part of the book, she covers the trends and styles of each decade of the past century, featuring celebrity makeup icons of each. I learned a lot about makeup, especially how it transitioned from taboo to respectable. I also had no idea that some brands such as Rimmel and Maybelline were so old! The other nice thing about this book was it’s size and glossy pages which made all the images pop. If you like makeup or history or both, then you will definitely enjoy this book. (Also, the makeup featured on the back cover is from her personal vintage make-up collection; so many beautiful and interesting makeup packages!)
Welcome Home by Myquillyn Smith
This was the other good decorating book I read this year. It was one of those ones that really feels like a breath of fresh air as you’re reading it. I read it, and then I read a whole bunch of sections to my mom and sister because I liked it so much. Written by another blogger, whose blog I also didn’t know about, the focus of this book is on hospitality and celebrations. She talks about how we can often get so caught up in wanting our homes to be perfect, and our holiday decorations to be festive, that we can unwittingly put so much pressure on ourselves and our imperfect homes that we never even end up celebrating and hosting because things aren’t quite as good as we think they should be. It was a gentle reminder to me of the importance of hospitality, which from a Biblical perspective is nothing like “entertaining”, but is rather focused on serving others and sharing our homes with one another in a spirit of love. The book is divided into four seasons, and each chapter is named after a different hymn that corresponds to the topic of that season- I loved that! She had a lot of great ideas for how to simplify each season to really enjoy each holiday, and ways to share these holidays with others.
In the Midst of Life by Jennifer Worth
This was one of the first books I read this year, and it got the year off to a good start, even though that seems odd considering that it’s a book about hospice and palliative care. After she was a midwife, Jennifer Worth, the author of the “Call the Midwife” books, left midwifery and went into end-of-life nursing. This is her book about that field of nursing. It was a very thoughtful and thought-provoking examination into how we treat death and dying. She talks about how in times past, people died of “old age” and were left in relative peace to do so, but how in the modern era, everything is treated as an illness that must be cured, despite the fact that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. She shares stories of some of her patients and their experiences in hospice as the end drew near, and does so with compassion. I also thought her section on assisted death was rather prescient considering the epidemic of medically assisted suicide here in Canada, and the wake of grief many loved ones face when people opt for assisted death. I really wish that I had recorded some of her quotes, because she has a good way of putting things. I might need to get this one out of the library again.
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
The final one on this list, is my favourite book by L.M. Montgomery. And that is saying a lot because I love so many of her stories! However, this one featuring a “spinster” heroine is not just my favourite of hers, but also one of my favourite books of all time. I read it first about four years ago, and have re-read it a couple of times since then. I did this year because I told my mom to read it, and then after she was done I had to refresh my memory so we could talk about it together (and laugh at the funny characters and situations). I read a biography of Montgomery a few years ago and discovered that most of her books were written about real places and based on her own experiences. While the story is not based on her life, the setting of the story, the Muskoka region of Ontario, is based on a trip she took to Bala, Ontario in the summer of 1922. I love this story; it’s one of those that you simultaneously don’t want to end, but also want to find out the ending! I rate it 6 out of 5 stars.
Well, there is my list for this year! I’m already looking forward to next year’s list of books, and planning which ones to order from the library or pull from my shelf. And I’d like to branch out into some other topics, as I seem to have gotten into a rut with WWII! Some that I’ve got on my list for 2023 are David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, (that will be an audiobook), The Seamstress by Allison Pittman, a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Slave Trade by Hugh Thomas and, as always, a few Agatha Christie murders thrown in for good measure! I really enjoyed this post, about reading a book a week. While I can’t quite do that, since I get a lot of my books from the library and have to wait for them to come in via inter-library-loan, I am still planning a list of books to request, and then will fill in the gaps with ones I already own. While I still did read a lot this year, I also opted to read on the internet a lot more than I read physical books, which is something I’d like to change for the next year.
What books did you enjoy reading this year? Do you have a list of to-be-read books for 2023, or do you just plan to read as you come across something that interests you?