Saturday, January 6, 2007

1995 - Best Books of the Year

Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, ed. Christina Buchman and Celina Spiegel
A collection of essays responding to, playing with, answering, questioning different stories in the Bible, arranged in chronological order. 351 pages.

Dakota: A Spiritual Biography, Kathleen Norris
One of the writers featured in the book above, Norris writes about returning to live in her grandmother’s house in South Dakota after living in New York. 232 pages.

Little Girls in Church, Kathleen Norris
Poems by the same author. Accessible, thoughtful. 79 pages.

The Serpent’s Gift, Helen Elaine Lee
A novel following the lives of a contemporary Afro-American family. Best-written book I’ve read for a long time. Lyrical, humorous, heart-wrenching. (Didn’t shine as bright on the second reading. Wonder why? I’ll have to try it again.) 374 pages.

Overcoming Co-Dependency through the Elimination of Human Relations: The Mildly Depressed Person’s Guide to Daily Living, Mona Lovejoy and Sunny Knight (actually, Donlu Thayer and Patricia Pelissie)
A very funny book about dejunking your life—starting with anyone who makes demands on you. Tongue-in-cheek. 128 pages.

The Ramsay Scallop, Frances Temple
A young adult novel about going on pilgrimage in the medieval ages. A thinking book with action and romance as well. 310 pages.

The Taste of Salt, Frances Temple
Another YA novel by the same author, this one about two young people in Aristide’s Haiti. Courage and idealism. 179 pages.

The Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes
Postmodern literary theory that actually demonstrates the Pleasure-principle of reading through its pleasurable writing. 80 pages.

Mother Russia: The Feminine Myth in Russian Culture, Joanna Hubbs
Ethnographic, historical, and literary study of the central role of the myth of “Mother Russia” in the history of Russian culture from prehistory to the present. 324 pages.

The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation, Harold Bloom
Bloom, among other things, sees Joseph Smith as the most fully developed genius of the American religion. A stimulating read. 288 pages.

Old Turtle, Douglas Wood
A picture book about God and the earth. Made me cry with its insistence that people are sent to the earth as a message and blessing and not as a disease. (unpaged)
(1995 continued)

Words under the Words, Naomi Shihab Nye
Probably my favorite book of poems. A passionate, compassionate, original take on life. 157 pages.

October Palace, Jane Hirschfield
Rich, exotic poems. 93 pages.

Haste, Lisa Orme Bickmore
Understated poems reflecting a life along the Wasatch. 64 pages.

The Man who was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton
A philosophical novellette, highly humorous, about the nature of God. 198 pages. Also any of the Father Brown mysteries.

My Name is Sus5an Smith: The 5 is Silent, Louise Plummer
An amazingly good YA novel about a teenage girl growing up in Springville, Utah, who comes of age in her painting and her approach to life when she goes to live with her aunt in New York. 217 pages.

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman, Louise Plummer
Another hilarious YA novel by the same author. 183 pages.

Life after God, Douglas Coupland
A collection of short stories that function like a meditation on the horrors and beauties of life and ultimately on our reliance on God—but in a very Xer sort of way. 368 pages

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, Douglas Coupland
This is the novel of my generation of twenty-somethings. Details a set of anxieties more like the private places in my head than I would have thought possible. 183 pages.

Making Peace: Personal Essays, Eugene England
A collection of thoughtful, highly principled essays by one of my best-loved BYU professors. 260 pages.

How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children’s Books, Joan Bodger
A family travels in England — this is the right kind of travelling, quirky and following a private passion. 249 pages.

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