I will, hopefully, have some photos to post from our "Asian Christmas Eve" and other holiday happenings at our house, within a few days. I always have to have Daughter's help in performing such high tech activities as posting photos and she's a little busy right now.
For now I'm going to give you my year-end reading review. Once I finish Nearing Home by renowned evangelist Billy Graham, I will have completed my 24th book for 2011. I know this is not nearly as many as some of you read but for me, averaging two books per month is pretty good. I always have a mental, if not literal, stack of "to read" books and it just takes a while to get to all of them.
Since I mentioned Nearing Home, I will tell you it is a sweet, sweet book full of good advice for all ages from "America's Pastor." He says in the introduction, "All my life I was taught how to die as a Christian, but no one taught me how I ought to live in the years before I die. I wish they had because I am an old man now, and believe me, it's not easy."
Right before this I read Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, one of the strangest books I have read in a long time. It was highly recommended by Wife, Older Son and DIL and as I read it, I kept questioning Wife as to why she was so drawn to it.
As I continued to read, however, I became more and more drawn into the story myself. It's fantasy and science fiction, and I am a fan of neither, and besides that it is WEIRD. But I confess, I could not put it down in spite of myself. The movie is coming out in March and there will be much buildup to it, so I recommend you get it and read it soon. And it's the first of a trilogy. Yes, I will be reading the next two.
My favorite non-fiction of the year was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit), the beautiful story of U.S. Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini. You might remember that I wrote a few months ago about Wife getting to meet him. If you have not already done so, get this and read it. You'll be a better person for it.
On the fiction side, I loved Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, the compelling tale of twin boys born in unlikely circumstances in Ethiopia whose lives eventually take different paths. Great writing and a great
I read Blue Like Jazz for the second time, the book that brought unconventional Christian writer Donald Miller to notoriety. Read this book, Christian or not, and you will alternately laugh and cry and thoroughly enjoy yourself. I wish I could write like Donald Miller.
Also on the spiritual side, I adored Jesus, My Father, The CIA and Me, a memoir by Ian Morgan Cron, whom I met in October 2010 whowrote one of my all time favorites, Chasing Francis. When I met him last year, Ian recommended to me Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain, which I also enjoyed.
The latest installment in The Number One Lady's Detective Agency series, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party (Alexander McCall Smith), certainly did not disappoint. This is number 11 in the series and I can't think of one that did not leave me with a big smile on my face after finishing it.
I read Ayn Rand's classic, Fountainhead, at DIL's urging. This is capitalism at its extreme (and not a pretty extreme, either) and it's a page turner.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot) had to be one of the most interesting books I have read in a long, long time, and if I knew more about science, it would have been even more so. It's an unbelievable (but true) story about an everyday woman whose cells became famous beyond what she would have ever believed.
John Grisham continues to turn them out and I still find his tales gripping, hilarious and compelling from start to finish. The Confession and The Litigators are his two latest and I thoroughly enjoyed both.
If you are an animal lover, you will definitely love The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), written from a dog's point of view, which is especially cool for me because my dog, Ralph, sometimes writes my family's Christmas letter. I think you would like this book even if you're not a dog person. If you are, there's no way you won't love it. I liked it even better than Marley and Me.
Older Son recommended I read Moneyball by Michael Lewis (author of The Blind Side) before seeing the movie. It's a great story about the business of baseball and I loved it. Only thing is, by the time I finished it the movie was gone from theaters, so I am anxiously awaiting its release on DVD.
Finally, I completed two more Wendell Berry stories, Andy Catlett: Early Travels and Nathan Coulter. If you have not discovered this incredible American farmer/professor/author, get yourself to the library, the bookstore or Amazon before you do another thing.
Finally, I must mention The Distant Land of My Father by Bo Cadwell, much of which is set in Shanghai. Great, great book about family and redemption.
OK folks, now I need to know what should be in my "to read" stack for 2012. Let me hear from you.
As for movies, Wife and I always take in a couple or so around the holidays, then hardly go at all for the rest of the year. We saw War Horse and We Bought a Zoo on consecutive nights this week and loved them both. Well worth your time.