Books for the New Year

In November I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Kara Anderson.  We’ve been working together for over a year, but this was the first time we got to meet.  She found me in the airport before I even texted her that I had arrived, even though my flight was early!  That made me feel totally welcome and surprised in the very best way.

form our last afternoon together …picture taken with Kara’s fancy phone that also told us to drive through the river.

We spent a lot of time together in the car.  Our conversation ranged through birthing and La Leche League and books and homeschooling and good work and everything in between.  I made a list of books that I thought Kara would like, books and ideas that were woven into our weekend together.  Thought I’d share it here too!

Laura Vanderkam

Maybe you’ve read 168 Hours, but Laura’s blog is a goldmine!  She talks honestly about writing and family and work/life balance.  The struggle is real, and Laura is winning it!  If you want thoughtful, smart writing about time management, this is the place to be.

Terry Tempest Williams

I can’t rightly recall what led to this recommendation–other than just the spectacular nature of her prose.  Leap is my favorite, but might be a little too much for a first foray.  Start with Refuge and then come back for Leap and When Women Were Birds.


Kara was a newspaper reporter, and this movie is like a love letter to journalism.  So good.  Also, it stars Michael Keaton…whose first job was an intern for Mister Rogers.

Around the Year Saints

We talked briefly about marking saint days.  If you only had this book and a pot of tea (and some peppermint Jojos) you would be all set.  For the whole year!  Plus, it’s illustrated by Ben Hatke.  And he’s a revelation.

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Rea Berg the Magnificent quoted extensively from this Tracy Kidder biography of Paul Farmer at Wild + Free Texas.  Farmer does everything that traditional development work frowns upon.  And it works.  The first few times through this book, I was reading as a returned Peace Corps volunteer, someone who had chosen the side of the poor.  After hearing what Rea emphasised, I want to read again as a parent and educator, someone who wants her children to choose the side of the poor.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

After you read Mountains, read this.  Lia Lea’s story is expertly, lovingly told by Anne Fadiman.  Read everything she’s written.  This book always reminds me of William Stafford’s poem “Ask Me.”

Some time, when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

This list has become long and unwieldy.  But there’s a new year opening up, and you’ll need something to read.  These books (and a movie!) are worthy companions for the coming year.


  1. I love the writings of Terry Tempest Williams – beautifully poetic. And I am looking forward to checking out your other recommendations. Happy New Year!

  2. So glad to *see* you here, Laurie…and today’s December Glimmer is one of my favorites. Apricity is a new word for me. But for such a familiar and beloved phenomenon!

  3. Oh my goodness – this touches my heart like nothing else could. You sweet lady. I’m going to read every one of these in the new year, and feel loved when I do. Thank YOU.

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