Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Top Books of 2020

 This year I have read between fifty and sixty books. They fall into several groups

-children's books. Some of these, I have read aloud to my children and others have been prereads before using with a children's book club that I run; using for book recommendations or prior to reading aloud with my children. 

-adult fiction. This has been dominated by Agatha Christie, this year, as my younger daughter has discovered her books and likes to have someone to discuss them with. Reading them isn't a hardship!

-Christian books which I have read to learn more about the faith or for  encouragement.

- adult non-fiction. This is a bit of a ragbag.

I grade the books that I read from 1 to 5. Looking through, no books have received a one this year. This is probably because there have been books which I haven't bothered to finish. Anyway, onto the best.

Children's Books

I enjoy reading children's books and this year, some have been particularly worthwhile.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a classic set in a fictional time in history. What or who are the wolves? It has an encouragingly happy ending. Ideal for children aged about 9-11.

Stella by Starlight is a book that deserves to become a classic. This is set in North Carolina in the 1930s in a black family. It details the struggles of the men of the community to register to vote against a background of Klu Klux Klan activity. 

Next term's read with the book club is Out of the Smoke which I reviewed earlier.

A friend recommended On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. I'm not usually a big fantasy fan but this is written particularly well and my youngest has been very keen for us to start the next volume. 

The faithful spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the plot to kill Hitler was ,again, read at the instigation of a friend. This is a reflective comic book aimed at older children. There is so much to think about in this book: theology, history, pacifism, loyalty to country and when to stand up and be counted. I don't agree with Bonhoeffer in everything, certainly not theologically, but this is a book that I am booking forward to reading and discussing with my children.


Adult Fiction

Agatha Christie has been fun and the best of the year was And then there were none although it is definitely creepy. 

I guess that I need to read some more fiction, next year. Suggestions are gratefully received!


Christian Books

This year, I have reread some of Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. I don't know how many times that I have read these but they are straightforward, helpful commentaries on the text which don't strain the meaning.

A Passion for the Impossible:the life of Lilias Trotter is the biography of a wealthy Victorian artist and friend of John Ruskin who gave up all her hope of becoming a famous artist to go as a missionary to Algeria. 

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: a Devout Muslim encounters Christianity 

This is the raw testimony of a a Muslim lad to starts to work through the truth of the information that he has always believed about Christianity and then the foundation for his Islamic beliefs. A thoughtful book showing the beliefs that many Muslims have about Christianity, Nabeel's love for his family and the cost that he paid to follow the Lord Jesus.


Adult Non-Fiction

Tyneham: a Lost Heritage

I picked up this book which had belonged to my Mother in law and wasn't sure whether it would be worth reading. It is Dorset local history and I wasn't sure that it would grip someone not born in the county but it was definitely a keeper. Tyneham is a village which was taken over by the military in the Second World War and never returned. Lilian Bond tells the story of growing up in the manor at the turn of the twentieth century and a world which has gone forever and a place which has changed beyond recognition. 


I have written short comments about the books which I have read in this year's book list. As always, I have some books on the go

  • Wonder  by R.J. Palacio
  • Prisoner's of Geography: Ten maps that tell you everything you need to know about Global politics
  • More than Conquerors: an interpretation of the book of Revelation
  • Spurgeon's Devotional Bible- My husband and I have been reading this together for a couple of years and, God willing, will finish this tomorrow. This might be heresy but I prefer this to Spurgeon's Morning and Evening as the comments follow the text more closely.


Please feel free to recommend books for me for next year! 


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Monday, 14 December 2020

Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain

 So much of British history is around the characters and actions our monarchs but knowing who was who and the order in which they reigned isn't always straightforward. Personally, I find the order during the Middle Ages particularly confusing.

Anne and Paul Fryer have just produced a pocket sized book, Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain which has an evocative, amusing illustration and short summary of each monarch in chronological order, from Ã†thelstan to Elizabeth II. This is an ideal book to have around to let children read and also as a reference; a quick guide for when no one is quite sure about who King Stephen was or can't remember the details of the Henrys.


This book would also fit well with the tea towel with the corresponding illustrations of the monarchs which the Fryers have also produced. Having both the book and the tea towel in the kitchen might spark some interesting conversations.

This book would make an ideal stocking filler for an older KS2 or any KS3 child and would be a useful resource for the parents too.

Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain can be purchased from Lulu or Amazon. The Kings and Queens tea towel is available from the History of Great Britain website.

If you are looking for a longer history of Great Britain for children, then look up Anne and Paul's first book, The Great History of Britain, which is an ideal introduction to British history for younger children.

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are my own.