#1. Best Inspirational Read: Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell
This was my all-time favorite book of the year. The basic premis of this book is that our prayers must be focused on God's will and the bigger picture of God's Kingdom and bringing our will into line with that. I was particularly encouraged by the material on suffering and how God uses difficult times to accomplish His will. Chapell is a very gifted writer, able to communicate deep theological truths in easy-to-read language that leaves you wanting to underline something in nearly every paragraph.
Runners Up: The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias
Walking from East to West by Ravi Zacharias
Knocking on Heaven's Door by David Crump
#2. Best Historical Fiction: The Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
Alison Weir is a highly respected historian and a very gifted writer. This is her first novel (she's written numerous non-fiction works), and it is terrific. The book tells the story of Lady Jane Grey who was queen of England for 9 days after the death of Henry VIII's son. Jane was a pawn in the hands of her greedy, power-hungry relatives. In the midst of it all, she grew to be a woman of outstanding character and piety. This is a sad book, but if you are familiar with the history, you already know that and can look beyond the sadness to enjoy this animated glimpse into history.
#3. Best Non-Fiction: A Shepherd's Watch by David Kennard
I was delighted to stumble upon this book, and it's sequel: The Dogs of Windcutter Down. The beautiful pictures, the candid stories of life as a shepherd in the English countryside, and the love of nature that flows through the pages make this book hard to put down. A Shepherd's Watch goes through a whole year in the life of a shepherd and gives vivid descriptions of what is involved in the day-to-day work on a farm.
#4. Best Adventure: The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of Romanones
In this book, Aline tells the story of how she was recruited during World War II to work for what eventually became the CIA. She was sent to Spain where she entered the top society and worked in espionage to help win the war against the Nazis. The book is so fast-paced and interesting that one would think it was fiction, but it is a true-life story! There are two sequels: The Spy Went Dancing and The Spy Wore Silk
#5. Best Novel: Persuasion by Jane Austen
Jane Austen's writing is classic, and it is hard to compete. I know I can turn to her books when I want something good, entertaining, beautiful, and romantic. I'm dying to see the movie "Becoming Jane" which is supposed to be about Jane Austen's life. And, I hear one of the TV stations is about to air some new renditions of several of Austen's novels.
Runner Up: A Good Year by Peter Mayle
#6. Best "Home-Help" Book: Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
By Home-Help I mean something in the category of helps for mothers/wives/parents/couples, etc. :) Stepping Heavenward is written as a fictional diary and traces the life of a young girl in the mid-1800's as she grows through her teenage years and then marriage and into middle age. Although written nearly 150 years ago, this book is filled with such practical wisdom on being a wife and mother -- I ended up underlining page after page.
Runner Up: Each for the Other by Bryan Chapell
#7. Best Biography: Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear
After seeing "Miss Potter" I wanted to get the straight scoop on Beatrix Potter's life. This new biography on Potter gave me all the information I wanted. It traces Beatrix' life through childhood, the loss of her fiance and then her later years as a major landowner in the Lake Country. I had no idea how much of a farmer she became with significant property and large holdings of sheep. She worked very hard to help preserve the beauty of the English countryside and the fell farms.
Runner Up: Marie Antoinette by: Antonia Fraser
#8. Best Cookery Book: The Pantry: Its History and Modern Uses by Catherine Pond
This is not really a cookery book, but it is close to that category. The pantry is filled with beautiful photographs tracing the history of the American pantry from colonial to modern times. It also gives practical ideas on decorating and organizing your own pantry.
#9. Best Travel Book: A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
"The year began with lunch." This opening sentence couldn't have appealed to me more. I knew the book was going to be good. Mayle tells about one of his first years in Provence in a book that goes through each month in the year. His writing is light, humorous, entertaining, and filled with lots of delicious descriptions of food and countryside.
Runners Up: Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle
Mediterranean Summer by: David Shalleck
#10. Best Picture Book: French Country Hideaways by: Casey Blondes
I love beautiful picture books that are well-laid out and inspiring. This book is filled with 5-6 page vignettes of some of France's most delightful grand homes that are also Bed and Breakfasts. It is a delightful book!
Pictures thanks to Amazon.com