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Stack of books at the bookshop

Two Christmases ago my husband gave me a “big-girl purse.” I’d gotten through most of my life with hand-me-downs and 20-dollar bargains and was content to do so. But this was the real deal. Kate Spade, black, mega, kickin’ and stylin’. Other than suddenly noticing the purses of other women around me (and feeling pleased-as-punch about my own), I credit this single gift with launching me into a literary marathon.

You see, for a year and a half I had commuted for nearly two hours a day and had barely read a handful of books. How did I account for this colossal waste of time? Not very well. The best of days were spent in a mish-mosh of music, prayer, and sleep, the worst in day-dreams, people-watching, general grumpiness, and commuter malaise.

But with my husband’s gift came a change! I suddenly had the means by which to carry very large books with me to and fro from work! It took a little while, but on April 18, 2016 I began reading in earnest. Between then and now I read fully 40 books, ranging from timeless classics like Bronte, Lewis, Hugo, and Dickens, to the lesser-known classics like Robert Penn Warren and Agatha Christie, to my new-found favorites, Louise Penny and Georgette Heyer. These forty books were read mostly, (if not always exclusively), on the bus, train rides, and lunch breaks of my daily work-life.

Can one oversized purse make such a difference?

I share this not to make busy-mothers or over-loaded students feel guilty about not being able to read for pleasure. There are far better things than even reading which one can do with one’s time. But I say this to encourage my fellow commuters who currently may be loosing perfectly good time to as silly an excuse as mine was: not having a big enough purse to carry a book in.

So grab your knapsack of choice and start reading!!!

Below is the list of books read (not including scripture). I’ve separated them into genre to make my clear preference for “Fiction” less obvious. (Truth be told, Fiction won hands-down, 36-to-4…. Oops.) In the next few days I will share some book/author reviews and a few of the insights and thoughts which I’ve had after a year of reading. Part 2 & Part 3 to come!

Books read in entirety between 4/18/16 – 4/18/17

* = first time reading
! = recommend to all
# – recommend to select audience
^ = Well that was a waste of good time


Crocodile on the Sandbank – Elizabeth Peters*
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie#
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith*
Devices & Desires – P.D. James*
Cover Her Face – P.D. James* ^
Death Comes to Pemberly – P.D. James* ^
Still Life – Louise Penny* #
A Fatal Grace – Louise Penny* #
A Rule Against Murder – Louise Penny* #
April is the Cruelest Month – Louise Penny* #
A Brutal Telling – Louise Penny*
Bury Your Dead – Louise Penny*
A Trick of the Light – Louise Penny*


When People are Big and God is Small – Edward T. Welch*
The Excellent Wife – Martha Peace* !
Beyond the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo*
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert – Rosaria Butterfield* !

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling !
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling !
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling !
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling !
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling !
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling !
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling !
Out of the Silent Planet – C.S. Lewis !
Perelandra – C.S. Lewis !
That Hideous Strength – C.S. Lewis !
Dune – Frank Herbert*

Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome* !
Castaways of the Flying Dutchman – Brian Jacques
The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer* !
Pistols for Two – Georgette Heyer*
The Talisman Ring – Georgette Heyer*
The Civil Contract – Georgette Heyer*
The Reluctant Widow – Georgette Heyer*
Hannah Coulter – Wendell Berry !
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens !
The Hunchback of Notre Dame –  Victor Hugo* ^
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte ^
All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren #