A reader’s dozen.

For the past two years I have challenged myself to read at least 12 books a year, preferably one book a month. Initially, I thought my “challenge” would be easy, but I soon discovered that I am BUSY and a book a month can take time, dedication, and some sincere scheduling. That said, I have successfully completed my second year of reading 12 books a year. And, like last year, I will give my book report of sorts below. Enjoy!

1. The Illustrated Man (Ray Bradbury)

One of my favorite books I read this year, this is actually a collection of science fiction short stories. If you’ve never read Mr. Bradbury, this is a great place to start. Each story is only about 10-15 pages and all are riveting and mind-stokers in their own right. My favorites were The Man, Kaleidoscope, and The City.

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2. Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)

My YA read for the year, this cute but serious novel follows a girl during her first year of college who write fan-fiction for this universe’s version of Harry Potter. More than that, it tackles topics like drugs, alcohol, suicide, depression, and budding sexuality. The main girl is also a twin and deals with growing apart from her twin sister, which I found particularly upsetting. I also dabbled in a bit of fan-fiction in high school, so this was a fun, mildly relatable read for me.

3. The Worthing Saga (Orson Scott Card)

As a huge fan of the Ender-verse, I didn’t know quite what to expect from Mr. Card when he ventured out of it. But boy was I impressed. Spanning several generations, this begins with one man’s challenge to populate a new world using several hundred people who have just accidentally had their memories washed. The rest of the novel spans the several hundred years that follow and how the legend of Mr. Worthing and his “children” affects this new world. Overall a fascinating look at human nature, and what it would be like to truly play “God”.

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4. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery (Eric Metaxas)

Last year I read Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, so I decided to continue on to his biography of Mr. Wilberforce. A very compelling history of the fight to end slavery and the slave trade in England. I most enjoyed how much Metaxas included Wilberforce’s spiritual side, which was the main driving force behind his campaign. A great, historical read.

5. The Time Machine (H.G. Wells)

Ah, the classics. I threw this one in here so I could check it off my list of books I should read as a human being. It was a charming read, not super engrossing, especially since I already knew most of the story either from films or hearsay. But I guess you can’t really judge Wells too harshly since he was one of “the greats” of science fiction.

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6. Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission (Tim Chester and Steve Timmis)

I read this book as part of a summer Bible study with my new church plant. Although we had yet to find a space to host our Sunday morning services, we wanted to meet together in groups leading up to our “launch date.” This book served as the core of our discussions as we worked to develop a church that lives outside of a building and is lived every day, not just on Sundays.

7. Foundation (Isaac Asimov)

If you haven’t guessed yet, I have been on a science fiction kick this year. To further my love and appreciation of classic science fiction, I chose to read what is often considered to be the best syfy trilogy of all time written by one of the top three syfy authors of all time. Needless to say, I enjoyed it immensely and found the concept intriguing and the story compelling, especially since this first book spanned several generations. However, I still constantly confuse some details of this series with those from The Worthing Saga.

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8. Foundation & Empire (Isaac Asimov)

After finishing book one in the series, I immediately bought the second one and it was awesome. Seriously, read it. It continues the story of the Foundation, a civilization that began as a small group of physicists sent by a master “psychohistorian” to help shorten the time it would take between the destruction of the original empire and the next empire. The Seldon Plan takes into account actions by masses, not individuals, and helps guide the Foundationers through a series of sociopolitical crises. In the sequel, a mutant called The Mule totally messes up the plan, since his actions couldn’t have been taken into account. Sound confusing? It’s awesome, trust me.

9. Rendezvous with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke)

I took a break from the Foundation Trilogy to read another classic science fiction author. This novel is on a lot of people’s lists of best syfy books, so I gave it a go. This fascinating narrative follows a spaceship that intercepts an enormous alien space-ark (Rama) as it prepares to pass by earth. Although no aliens are ever discovered/seen, the description of the spacecraft itself is amazing and really makes you think about the implications of discovering the remains of an alien culture. Ultimately, the reader is left to determine for itself the purpose of Rama and if any lifeforms still exist.

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10. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (Claire North)

A recommendation by my sister, this book is about a man who is a kalachakra – someone who, upon death, is born again to the same family in the same place and in the same time. The world in which he lives is the same, but he can choose to live his life differently each time. But, someone is changing history, and in each new life, the world is ending sooner and sooner. Who is changing history? Harry August knows.

11. The Meaning of Marriage (Timothy Nelson)

My boyfriend I read this as part of our pre-engagement prep – yes, we are doing pre-pre-marriage prep. We think it is important to do as much preparation as possible for something as serious as marriage. Anyway, this came highly recommended as the best book on biblical marriage. And it was both challenging, encouraging, and inspiring. Tommy Nelson gave biblical principles on how to prepare for marriage and practice marriage once married. Ultimately, I found it very profound and life-changing.

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12. Second Foundation (Isaac Asimov)

To end this year, I finished reading The Foundation Trilogy. Set 400 years after the Seldon Plan started, and 50 years after The Mule seemingly messed up the plan, this novel covers what happens when Seldon’s second Foundation comes into play. Again, awesome. Seriously, read this series.

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