UPDATE: I keep remembering more books that I've read, so I've been adding to this list over the past few days.
Deathbed Conversions by Karen Edmisten
Loved this - especially since I'm already a pretty big fan of the biography/memoir category.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This was just a lovely book in every way - interesting concepts, great characters, beautiful language, amazing perspective, etc. etc.. I bought a bunch of copies of this book (and Karen's book too!) to share with friends last Christmas.
We really enjoyed the movie as well. While movies typically fall short of the book (for pretty understandable reasons, though the liberties taken are at times egregious!), I particularly recommend this movie to those who enjoyed the book, because the quality of the unique characters shines through SO beautifully. Emily Watson and Geoffrey Rush are absolutely fabulous in their thoughtfully understated roles of Mama and Papa.
The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel
I picked up this book a couple of years ago because I had a music teacher in high school (at Kolbe Academy) who was involved in discovering one of the huge Nazi art depository caves outside of Paris. It was more fascinating and engaging than I expected, and appropriate and of interest to the kiddos too. We all went and saw the movie as well, which was good, but not quite great. I'm also looking forward to reading the sequel, Saving Italy.
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
I enjoyed this little book. I don't remember it as well as I'd like, except for the fact that I had wished that more of the book focused on the boy and his experiences than it did. I am hoping to see the movie too.
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
This was a re-read for me for a high school literature class that I help out with. I think is the fourth time I've read this book, and I love it more each time I read it. The way she loves her characters (of all sorts) shows through everywhere, and with wonderful humor in addition to it. We had a particularly interesting discussion about how this book had a big impact on the culture of the time and who exactly it was written for. We decided that it was aimed at people like the maiden aunt from Vermont that came to help her brother's family in New Orleans (can't think of ANY of the names at the moment), which is an interesting and surprising comment, in my opinion.
12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
The book is very gripping, as well as an important first-hand account of slavery in the U.S. Solomon Northup was a free slave (born free), happily married with three children, when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south. I have more mixed feelings about the movie because of an unnecessary and incongrous opening scene (of a sexual nature) that seems contradictory to the book. Other than that, the movie is really well-done, but extremely intense, which is understandable, given the nature of the material (and the reality of history!).
Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
This is a very engaging and thought-provoking story, in the same (or at least similar!) genre to the Hunger Games. While I didn't enjoy it as much as the Hunger Games (which I need to spend some time writing about sometime as it seems to come up in conversation frequently, and I liked it even more the second time around), there was really a lot to like, and some parts of the story really blew me away! (Recommending a maturity level here is tougher than with the Hunger Games because there's quite a bit more in the way of sensuality involved in the story line.) Terri and I also saw the movie.
Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter by Michael White
And in a totally different realm, I rather enjoyed this thought-provoking and somewhat audacious book about one priest and his pastoral associate's attempts to revamp a dying parish. I didn't necessarily agree with everything in the book (when do I ever?) but found it quite worthwhile and eye-opening on the whole. In particular, I appreciate the distinctions made about the attitudes we ought to have regarding our parishes and the church in general (such as trying to get away from a consumer mentality).
Books in Progress:Momnipotent by Danielle Bean
Already blogged about this book here.
Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler
I'm eating this one up, but had to slow down as I decided to start reading it aloud to the kiddos. It's turning out kind of funny, actually, because I was switching back and forth today between this book and Harry Potter.
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
I'm a fan. Really liked The Happiness Project too.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Family re-read-aloud in progress.
Abandonment to Divine Providence Jean-Pierre De Caussade
I've been working on this one for a long time, as I find the material so dense that I digest it best in small doses. I generally read a chapter (or section, or whatever) each week at adoration.
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Slow, often-distracted read-through in progress, but I do love this book.