- Books, Literature, and Writing
Joyce T. Mann's Top 10 Books of 2011
My Personal Top 10 Books 2011
Reading -- a favorite activity of millions worldwide. I am no exception. In 2011 I read a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Not all were published books of 2011.
Some books in my reading list are serious works that reflect my worldview and deep spirituality. Others are whodunits; one mystery book features talking dogs and cats who help their master solve the crime! My top 10 books are listed in no particular order. Happy reading, Joyce
(photo courtesy of Piotrus at wikipedia commons)
Catholisim: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith - Top 10 Books #1
My mother was a first-generation Polish American who passed down her Catholic identity to her children. The Catholic faith in Poland dates back more than one-thousand years.
The deep but very readable prose of author Robert Barron takes the reader on an incredible journey into the heart of this often misunderstood Christian tradition. Here is an excerpt: "The term 'adoration' comes from the Latin adoratio, which in turn is derived from 'ad ora' (to the mouth). To adore, therefore, is to be mouth to mouth with God, properly aligned to the divine source, breathing in God's life. When one is in the stance of adoration, the whole of one's life -- mind, will, emotions, imagination, sexuality -- becomes ordered and harmonized, much as the elements of a rose window arrange themselves musically around a central point."
I recommend this book to believers and non-believers alike.
Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion - Top 10 Books #2
Pro-Choice. Pro-Life -- these terms get bantered around continuously. For a moment, let's strip away the convenient buzzwords and focus on what abortion is: a long-term solution to a short-term problem.
Psychotherapist Theresa Burke's ground-breaking work focuses on the myriad problems that surface in women who have had abortions. A short list:
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome; over-protectiveness and stilted parenting of future children; a devaluing of existing or future children -- "Hey, if I got rid of this one then what's so special about the one I already have."; joining the Pro-Choice movement as a way of validating, often subconsciously, their choice to abort.
This book is not focused on women only; much is devoted to the negative effects of abortion on men. Burke points out that the real choice facing couples is this: do you want to live with the aftermath of abortion or not?
Personally, I'd love to see a world in which the mere thought of abortion is as abhorrent as is slavery.
Matar un Ruisenor - Top 10 Books #3
I sneaked this one into my reading list because...well, just because. Matar un Ruisenor is the Spanish translation of the iconic To Kill a Mockingbird. Those familiar with my online writing endeavors know I have written squidoo pages about Learning Spanish Fast and Spanish Immersion in Mexico. (Click on Featured Writing by Joyce T. Mann in the table of contents.)
To improve my Spanish reading skills, I spent some time in 2011 reading one chapter of the book in English followed by the same chapter in the Spanish translation.
In the original, there is a line about Atticus hanging up his hat. In the Spanish version, hat, or course, is translated as sombrero. No, I don't think author Harper Lee had mariachi bands in mind while writing her literary masterpiece.
The Complete Book of Chakra Healing - Top 10 Books #4
In 2004, I was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. I was given a 50-50 chance of surviving five years. A friend recommended a local chiropractor who was also a healer who used chakra healing and other holistic approaches in his work.
When I told Dr. C of my cancer, he said "I want you to think of the name of the first person who comes to mind." I immediately thought of a name and Dr. C replied "that is the person who caused your cancer. For your cancer not to recur, you need to work out the problems and associations you have with this person, whether they are alive or dead."
Long story short, Cyndi Dale's book is a must-read for anyone willing to be open-minded about their personal health care. (Disclosure -- I also went the chemo and radiation route. Seven years later I am cancer free.)
Cat of the Century - Top 10 Books #5
I love a cozy mystery. And what can be better than a cozy mystery combined with talking animals?
"Cat of the Century" is one of almost twenty books in a series of mysteries authored by a cat, Sneaky Pie Brown ** wink-wink ** These lovely stories are set in Virginia hunt country where heroine "Harry" Haristeen lives with her veterinarian husband and her three house pets, cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter and Welsh Corgi Tucker.
Harry is the amateur detective who solves the crime but not without the guidance of her loyal pets. "Cat of the Century" focuses on Harry's sharp-tongued neighbor Aunt Tally who is about to celebrate her 100th birthday. But power struggles, and an unsolved 40-year-old mysterious death confound both animals and humans during a winter snowstorm.
The Ballad of Tom Dooley - Top 10 Books #6
As a child, I recall listening to our kitchen radio and hearing the ballad "Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley" by the Kingston Trio. It was a big hit and was played endlessly by local DJs. It told the story of Tom Dooley who was about to be hanged for murdering a woman.
But not until I picked up the novel "The Ballad of Tom Dooley: a Ballad Novel" did I realize the haunting song from my childhood was based on a true story.
In the rugged mountains of North Carolina immediately after the Civil War, a returning Confederate soldier, a Tom Dula, supposedly murdered the young Laura Foster. Several trials were held. The story became national news and eventually Dula was executed by public hanging.
Sharyn McCrumb's fictionalization of the story is amazing in two ways: First, she researched all the court documents and walked the actual terrain of where the murder took place and came to the realization that Dula was most likely innocent of the crime. Secondly, McCrumb is a master storyteller who can evoke time and place as well as anyone writing commercial fiction today. For the two evenings I spent reading this novel, I felt as impoverished and without hope as did the characters who found themselves surviving any way they could in the Appalachia of the mid-1860s.
Bucks County Inns and Taverns - Top 10 Books #7
If you like a book with a collection of historical, black-and-white photos of Americana, "Bucks County Inns and Taverns" is as good a place to start as any. Bucks County, Pennsylvania is located north of Philadelphia and its eastern border is the Delaware River.
I call Bucks County home. I especially like the cover photo of this book -- the Finland Inn. It was a popular watering hole for my dad and his friends in the late 1930s.
U is for Undertow - Top 10 Books #8
I faithfully read the first twenty of Sue Grafton's alphabet series of whodunits and look forward to reading mystery number 22, "V is for Vengeance." In 2011 I read book number 21, "U is for Undertow." Private eye Kinsey Millhone takes on a case where a young man's uncomfortable memories from his early childhood may or may not be credible. If they are, a decades old missing child case may be solved.
I regard Grafton as America's top writer of the contemporary whodunit.
Churchill - Top 10 Books #9
I love British historian Paul Johnson's writing style. When Johnson writes about an individual, in this case Churchill, you get the sense that you know the subject as well as a close friend or family member. One has to wonder what the outcome of World War II would have been if England had followed the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain instead of Churchill's non-flinching approach to defend Britain no matter the cost.
Fathers and Sons - Top 10 Books #10
"Fathers and Sons" is a literary classic of nineteenth-century Russian literature. I love the writers Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky; Turgenev is certainly of their ilk.
The original title in Russian is "Fathers and Children", but however translated, this story of two very distinctive young men and their respective families is a timeless tale of love and forgiveness.