The basket of books near my nightstand contains a mix of inspirational titles and books by Southern authors. Well, mostly Mississippi writers. John Grisham mysteries and Willie Morris memoirs. The marvelous stories of Eudora Welty. The more recent fiction of Mark Childress and Kathryn Stockett.
My husband, who reads more than anyone I know, once suggested that I broaden my literary horizons.
I tried an author from Alabama.
I picked up Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’. Beautifully written, it is a story of his relationship with his mother — from her taking in ironing to feed the family to her trip with Bragg to New York City to accept the Pulitzer Prize. it became one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve read his other family stories — Ava’s Man and The Prince of Frogtown. When my Southern Living comes every month, I flip to the last page and read his essay first before perusing the rest of the magazine.
Speaking of Southern Living, the December 2016 issue has some good reading material–not the home decor and food articles but Christmas memoirs from the likes of Fannie Flagg, another great Alabama author.
It is what it is. I live in the South and like to read about the South.
I do enjoy books about journeys – real or imaginary. I like books by Bill Bryson. Born in Iowa, he writes about adapting to life spent in England and Australia and then adjusting upon his return to the States. My favorite: The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America.
I’ve always been fascinated by people bicycling across the United States and like to read their stories.Two recent ones I’ve read: Two are Better, the story of a couple, who married for the first time in their early 50s and honeymooned on a coast-to-coast trip; and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, how author Donald Miller edited his life by pushing himself out of a post-book (Blue Like Jazz) writing funk and into challenging, life-transforming events including a bicycle trip across America.
Lately, I’ve mostly been listening to audiobooks, not just when I’m riding in the car but also before I go to bed. This fall I finished two that I highly recommend: Hillbilly Ellegy, a memoir written by a Yale grad who analyzes the decline of the white working class culture he grew up in, and The Nightingale, historical fiction exploring the different paths taken by sisters resisting the Nazis in France during World War II. I will say The Nightingale was the best book that I read in 2016.
Audiobooks are great for traveling, and I associate certain books with where I’ve been. (It was the subject of writer friend Judy Christie’s book column in the Shreveport Times a while back.) I also like to read books set in a place I recently visited. After my first ever trip to the Pacific Northwest this fall, I started reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette, set in Seattle and full of Pacific Northwest references. It’s not my favorite. While my daughter and I were touring around the Olympic Peninsula in the rental car, we listened to Twilight set in Forks the peninsula.
Early morning is reserved for Bible reading usually followed by a devotional. It really helps me start the day focused and with purpose. My current devotional book is Shauna Niequist’s Savor. Shauna’s a very powerful writer and speaker especially on the topic of ministry and fellowship around the dinner table.
I have never read the Bible entirely through and am currently doing so with Psalms and Ezekiel to go. I can’t keep up with the pace suggested in most “read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year” plans, so I do a chapter or two a day followed by a devotional book.
I’m nearly 60, and the clock is ticking. I wouldn’t want to stand before God, with all the blessings He has given me and try to explain why I had not taken the time to read his Word.
Do you have any book recommendations to put on my reading list for 2017?