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Year End Book Review

It's been a good year of good readings. I'm not one to create lists but here it goes. The following books are in no particular order; just those that I have read over this past year and wanted to pass along to you.

1. Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan - This is a book I'll read again. Chan gives account to scripture after scripture reminding us of the powerful Holy Spirit while revealing the complacency of many Christians today who are too weak and too fearful to unashamedly follow the Holy Spirit. It's a convicting, challenging and an inspiring read.

2. Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World by Gary A. Huagen -  Haugen speaks with authority over injustice through the three parts of his book: Part I: Taking up the Challenge, Part 2: Hope Amid Despair: God's Four Affirmations About Justice and Part 3: Real-World Tools for Rescuing the Oppressed. Haugen not only presents the problem of evil in today's world but he also offers practical suggestions on how the every day Christian can participate in God's mission of justice.

3. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali -  Set in Yemen, Nujood tells her story of marriage to an abusive man who was three times her age. She was only 10 years old when she wed. Nujood manages to escape her abusive husband and his demanding and oppressive mother and she finds her way to a courthouse in the city. She is soon discovered sitting in the lobby of the courthouse by a friendly lawyer who listens to her tell her horrific story. Through ups and downs and family tension, Nujood finds her young voice and speaks out regarding the abuse she has endured. At age 10, Nujood became the youngest woman in the world to be granted a divorce. Because of her fight and perseverance, she has encouraged many other young women in Yemen and surrounding strict Muslim countries to stand up for their rights and to not allow such slavery and injustice to take place. Nujood is a strong young woman and was named a Glamour Woman of the Year in 2008.

4. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar - This novel takes you on journey through modern-day India and into the lives of two very different women. Sera who is an upper-middle-class Parsi woman who bears years of scars and calluses over her abusive marriage. Bhima lives in a slum, is illiterate and has worked in Sera's home as a servant for more than 20 years. The Space Between Us is an eye-opening read to the realities of life for women and their families and relationships with one another in a world where social economical classes still seem to rule the air.  It's a story of heartache, of love, of loyalty, of survival and of the relentless fight for justice.

5. Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee` Ilibagiza - Wow! This book was intense. Rwandan genocide survivor, Immaculee` Ilibagiza tells her story of how she survived the Rwanda genocide as a Tutsi when nearly 1 million of her people were slaughtered, including her parents and 2 of her 3 brothers, not to mention the many other cousins, aunts and uncles. Immaculee` shows courage and a strong faith in God who not only protected her from the Hutu killers but who also gave her the strength to forgive them. This is a difficult read and one that left me longing for the faith Immaculee` has in the Lord. It's a story of forgiveness like none other.

6. Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist - I laughed a lot reading this book. Shauna shares from her own life through a series of short stories that find the good in a variety of life's circumstances. My favorite chapters are the one she writes on turning 30 and starts writing in pen rather than pencil and the chapter when she shared about wanting to keep some things always hidden and secret like her basement and her butt. Shauna is hilarious and real. This was a quick, refreshing read.

7. Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall and Denver Moore - If you haven't read this book yet you must live on a deserted island without a bookstore around. Ron and Denver tell their story of becoming like brothers despite their insurmountable differences. Ron is a rich white man living the high life and Denver is an illiterate black man who grew up a slave in the south and calls the streets his home.  Only God could have brought these two very different men together. Their story of friendship is raw, real and emotional. I think everyone should read this book.

8. Not For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It by David Batstone - Batstone takes his readers on a journey around the world highlighting pockets of modern day slavery in a number of countries before circling back around to the problem on American soil. You'll read stories of modern day heroes who are working tirelessly to end slavery in their backyards and you'll be inspired by the stories of survival of the victims who have found freedom. Batstone offers a list of helpful organizations in the back of the book for those interested in getting involved in the modern day slavery movement.

9. Her Mother's Hope (Marta's Legacy Part I) by Francine Rivers - In part 1 of this two part series, Francine Rivers tells the story of her grandmother and her mother as she recounts through letters and journals they kept during their lives. Set in the beginning of the 20th Century, taking place mostly in the Central Valley of California, Marta's Legacy is a heart-wrenching story of the trials and rewards found in the relationship between mother and daughter.  It's not an easy read but it is one that exposes the reality of relationships when they are easy and not so easy.

This is not an exhaustive list of the books I read this year but these are some of the more inspiring, thought provoking reads I thought I would pass along to you. So far my 2011 list of books I'll be reading includes CL's very own Kristin Ritzau's A Beautiful Mess, Her Daughter's Dream (Marta's Legacy Part II) by Francine Rivers, The Dangerous Act of Worship by Mark Labberton, Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes us Just by Tim Keller, Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matter Most by Wes Stafford, Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen and Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson.

What makes your list of good reads for 2010 and what are you looking forward to reading in 2011?

Happy readings!


It is such a great feeling to have a year that was so great. I am very thankful for your posts in the past year, they were truly awesome. - Steven Wyer

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I drink coffee, read books, and travel. I’ve been able to drink coffee and discuss books with friends all over the world, simply because someone built a bridge and I made it east of the Mississippi and beyond. For this reason, I love bridges.