A Walk with Jane Austen by Lori Smith
A combination travel book and spiritual memoir, this book kept me interested even though I was occasionally annoyed by the author's retelling of her love-life dramas. (I should have guessed they were coming from the sub-title, which in the British edition is something about a "search for my own Mr. Darcy." Blegh.) Smith, a 20-something girl battling chronic illness, decides to travel to England and visit all the places connected with Jane Austen. In the process, she learns more about Austen, herself, and God.
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L' Engle
How could I help but be intrigued by a first line like this: "There are dragons in the twins' vegetable garden..."?
Eating with Emperors by Jake Smith
A collection of menus from various world leaders, from Queen Victoria to J.F.K., combined with recipes and historical trivia. Fun to read, but I don't think I'll try any of the recipes. Foie gras just isn't my kind of thing.
Around the World in 80 dinners by Bill and Cheryl Jamison
A great idea for a book is hampered by the attempt to narrate from the point of view of two people. Some of the sentences are truly cringe-worthy. It's bogged down by too many details--did I really need to know exactly what went into the suitcases? And the worst thing about this combination food and travel book is that it didn't make me hungry.
An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The last in L'Engle's Time Quintet, it is interesting, but too long.
The Age of Kali by William Dalrymple
Not your typical travel book. Dalrymple's tales of India are weird and heart-wrenching by turns. In this wide ranging collection of essays, he tackles the plight of widows (including an apparent modern occurrence of sati), and interviews terrorists, politicians and a cricket star. These are tales I will not soon forget.
On Rue Tatin and Tarte Tatin by Susan Loomis
Memoirs of an American food writer who moved to France, along with her husband and son, and started a cooking school. Each chapter concludes with a recipe or two. I loved these books! Loomis' rambling style is charming, and I found her observations on settling into another country and culture particularly insightful.
Amy's Bread by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree
I'm a bread lover and a bread baker on the search for the perfect loaf. Something beautiful, crusty and full-flavoured. This book is helping me reach that goal, with lovely pictures and detailed instructions.
The Italian Baker by Carol Field
Another good baking book, this one was especially helpful to me because of the sweet short pastry recipe, which was broken down into parts by weight. (making it easy to memorize)
Blessed are the Hungry: Meditations on the Lord's Supper by Peter Leithart
During the past year, I've been reading this as a devotional during the weeks preceding communion. This method works particularly well with this book, as each chapter is a stand-alone meditation on a single Bible passage. Leithart helped me gain a broader understanding of the sacrament, in particular the aspect of a joyful feast. Highly recommended.
Cat O' Nine Tales by Jeffrey Archer
I came to John one day, wanting to read a mystery but bemoaning the fact that I'd already read all the Sayers, Chesterton and Christie in the house. He gave me this collection of short, humorous stories to try. Enjoyable and unpredictable.