Well, I’m late to the party, but I’d also rather be late on these kinds of lists than early. I do not understand all of you who share your favorite books of the year at the start or middle of December – don’t you know you have full weeks of prime reading time left in the year? What if you discover a new favorite between Christmas and New Year’s??

That said, I read lots of great books in 2022. As I reflect on another year of reading, I’m struck by the gift that reading is. Because when I think about a year of reading, I don’t just picture an impressive-looking stack of books (though that’s cool to imagine). I think fondly of places I visited via the pages of that stack, of poignant lessons learned, and of friendships grown and strengthened through reading together. I’m already excited to imagine the gifts that my 2023 reading might have in store, and I hope my 2022 reading recap here might inspire you to travel somewhere new through one of these books, or to experience the delights of an old favorite book again, but as if for the first time. So, here are my lists and nerdy book lover stats for 2022 J

Total Books Read (new to me): 40

Books Re-read: 7 –

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Persuasion by Jane Austen

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Son of the Deep by K.B. Hoyle

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Format Stats:

Read the physical book: 24.5/40 – 60%

Listened to the audiobook: 12.5/40 – 31%

Read the book on Kindle: 3/40 – 7.5%

This breakdown is fairly well back to its pre-2020 normal, but my Kindle is still fighting for its place. And yes, the decimal numbers do mean that I completed one book on 2022’s list –Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh – with both the hard copy and the audiobook. Probably an imperfect estimate, but it’s close. 

Other Fun Stats:

Male-authored books: 16

Female-authored books: 24

Most-read author: a tie between Wendell Berry and Agatha Christie at three books from each!

Shortest book: A Child’s Garden of Verses, 67 pages

Longest book: Anna Karenina, 838 pages 

Favorites of 2022 (in no particular order):

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – My first Russian novel, and wow, what a masterpiece. I was intimidated by the big Russian novels for many years, but I was thoroughly, pleasantly surprised and moved by this doorstop classic. Many know Anna Karenina for the titular character’s immoral choices, but I now think it’s more accurate to say that it explores and contrasts the fallout of a life spent pursuing selfishness against that of a life lived in self-denying service of others. If you want an entryway into the Russian novels, I highly recommend this one. I also heartily commend the discussions on it from the Close Reads Podcast. These episodes require a paid subscription, but I promise it’s WELL worth even just a month or two of investment! These conversations were instrumental to my understanding and enjoyment of Anna Karenina, and I’m confident that anyone would get at least twice as much out of it by reading it along with the marvelous literary guides of this podcast.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry – Will I ever go a year now without reading something by Wendell Berry? At the moment, I doubt it J Jayber Crow is now firmly in my favorites from him. It wrestles profoundly with faith, home, love, loss, family, and community through the eyes of Jayber Crow, the barber of Port William, Kentucky, and even though Berry says many of the same things in most of his work, somehow, he keeps making them shine anew. I read Jayber Crow with a friend (highly recommend that strategy for this one), and she observed that it’s impossible to speed-read Wendell Berry, which I think encapsulates him well. His writing is so deliberate and focused that it compels slowness. As he reflects on the sacredness of ordinary life, I am obliged to do the same, to my continual good.

All Creatures Great and Small Series by James Herriot – “How did you not grow up with James Herriot?” you might well ask. Well, I’ve been asking the same thing for the last year, I assure you! Somehow the delightful tales of James Herriot’s veterinary adventures in rural Yorkshire completely passed me by in childhood, but I’m making up for it now. I discovered Herriot’s stories because of the charming new TV adaptation of his books, but I’m happily staying for the show, books, and anything more. In 2022, I read the first two books in his memoir series, All Creatures Great and Small and All Things Bright and Beautiful, and yes, I’m counting them both in this list item J

Honorable Mentions:

Son of the Deep by K.B. Hoyle – A charming, magical retelling of The Little Mermaid that will make you laugh, cry, and daydream.

The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley – Yet another spellbinding journey through 1700s Scotland that keeps you guessing till the end, in true Kearsley style.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – I dove into Towles’s work in 2022 and was so glad this was my first from him. His exquisite prose and dynamic characters bring 1940s New York to glamorous life on the page.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – A count confined to a luxury hotel at the height of the Bolshevik Revolution? Some might not buy it, but I was there for it. The Close Reads Podcast also discussed this one in 2022 and it was one of my favorite sets of episodes (and they’re available for free!)

The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen – I look forward to my annual jaunt to England with Julie Klassen’s characters. This one provided a lovely escape to the Devon coast, and I’m already excited to go back when the next one in the series comes out this year!

Andy Catlett: Early Travels by Wendell Berry – A moving reflection on the contrasts between our current times and those that came before, explored through the eyes of a young Andy Catlett visiting his grandparents at Christmas. Having lost three grandparents in the last 18 months, I found this one deeply affecting and thought-provoking.

That’s all for now, friends! I hope you find something good to read from among these lists. Please drop your suggestions for my 2023 reading in the comments!

Full 2022 Book List (new-to-me books, listed in the order completed)

Waiting on the Word by Malcolm Guite

The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley

Letters from the Mountain by Ben Palpant

Reading the Sermon on the Mount with John Stott by John Stott with Douglas Connelly

Carved in Ebony by Jasmine Holmes

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

Aggressively Happy by Joy Clarkson

Son of the Deep by K.B. Hoyle

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

The Generosity: Poems by Luci Shaw

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Deeper by Dane Ortlund

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr

The Vanishing at Loxby Manor by Abigail Wilson

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

Of Paupers and Peers by Sheri Cobb South

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

The Gathering Table by Kathryn Springer

Love Practically by Nichole Van

Adjacent But Only Just by Nichole Van

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons

Given: Poems by Wendell Berry

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Harvesting Fog: Poems by Luci Shaw

Crooked House by Agatha Christie

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Six by K.B. Hoyle

Holier Than Thou by Jackie Hill Perry

Beneath His Silence by Hannah Linder

The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen

Andy Catlett: Early Travels by Wendell Berry

The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett

Jane Austen’s Genius Guide to Life by Haley Stewart

My ideas of home and homemaking used to be small. In years past, I associated such words with a comfortable house in suburban America, complete with a husband and a few children. My current self, living in a house shared with three other women in the middle of a big city, would have likely looked like an alien being to my 18-year-old self. While I’ve certainly grieved that some aspects of that youthful dream of home have not yet come to pass, at the same time, I understand more clearly now that making a home is more. I’ve seen that a home is made by loving well and pouring out. Homemaking is the opening of hands and committing to what the Lord gives in each season. It’s cultivating joyful, loving community wherever you are by bringing others in.

Unsurprisingly, stories have deepened my vision of home and taught me much about what it looks like. I hope to take a few posts to reflect on a few such stories. First up is Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry, which, for all its quiet prose and gentle introspection, truly axed me (as a friend and I once said of Wendell Berry).

I read Hannah Coulter in the spring of 2021, just over a year into COVID-19, which forced many questions of embodied community, loss, and home into sharper focus. I live in Washington, D.C., a city known for transience, politicians on the move, and basement apartments. I’ve said many tearful goodbyes in my years here and wondered if this city truly allows one to build a lasting home. In short, Hannah Coulter convinced me that it’s possible, even here.

That may sound odd, since D.C. is fairly opposite of everything Wendell Berry vocally advocates for – rootedness, enduring community, and commitment to a particular bit of earth. But Hannah Coulter moved me deeply because its characters’ fight for those things amidst shadows of grief and impermanence. The setting of Port William, Kentucky, a fictional stand-in for Berry’s own hometown, certainly sees less turnover than D.C., but even this little agrarian town, emblematic of longevity, can’t resist the march of time or the sting of loss.

Hannah of the title narrates the book as an elderly woman reflecting back on her life, now almost a complete tapestry of interconnected joyful and sorrowful threads. Her marriage to Nathan Coulter and the home she has built with him are things of beauty and endurance, but they have grown out of loss. Decades before, World War II took Hannah’s first husband, Nathan’s brother, and years of Nathan’s own youth. “He saw a lot of places, and he came home,” Hannah muses of Nathan, “I think he gave up the idea that there is a better place somewhere else.” So, they look right in front of them for their “place” and resurrect an abandoned homestead, making their own. Out of another’s loss, they make and commit to a home to love and cultivate and share.

Feelings of unmooring and uncertainty loomed large when I first read Hannah Coulter, and they still sometimes do – D.C. culture does not naturally encourage commitment to anything, and more people than usual left the city between 2020 and 2021. But in that season when uncertainty felt so much sharper, reading about Hannah and Nathan’s intentionality in loving each other, their land, their people, and their house grounded and challenged me. They still remind me that rootedness is often found in pouring oneself out for the place and people right in front of you. I don’t have a plot of land to work and keep, but I do have a house and backyard that I can make beautiful, both by caring for it and by welcoming in others with their joys, memories, and pains. D.C. may be a far cry from Port William’s tight-knit farming community, but I do have a church in the middle of the city that not only encourages, but expects and requires commitment. Deep love amongst members has manifestly followed. I expect to keep saying goodbyes for as long as I stay in D.C., but I can still intentionally love the people around me for as long as we’re all here, even though the leavings hurt.

Hannah Coulter showed me that homemaking is pouring out those very gifts of place and presence. It showed me a tangible example of how loving a place and its people go hand in hand. And that pouring out is perhaps especially important in a place like D.C., where things like deep community and commitment are so much scarcer. Hannah reflects, “There is no ‘better place’ than this, not in this world. And it is by the place we’ve got, and our love for it and keeping of it, that this world is joined to Heaven.” Her story has certainly strengthened me to “love and keep” the place and home I’ve got, city or otherwise.

Hello, friends! I’ve mentioned loosely here and there about my recent experimentation with writing poetry. Reading it has proved so valuable to me over the last two years that I’ve been compelled to try it for myself. Below are my latest attempts, wrought from miscellaneous prompts and desire to capture moments of beauty from life. I hope you enjoy them in all their amateurish eagerness.

“Sunrise in Maine”

Sheltered in a rock face,
Braced against the clifftop wind,
Looking east to promised warmth,
I’m watching, waiting.

Above, a velvet blue canopy,
Flecked in a thousand diamond lights,
Bids frosty welcome to those below.
They’ve traveled far to wait and watch.

Hemmed in by loyal company,
I hold my breath as dark recedes,
And ruby gold outshines night’s crown.
In wordless awe, we stand and watch.

Blazing autumn paints the mountains,
The sea awakens in shimmering dawn.
Watching souls sit soaked in glory,
Enthralled by new mercies
Numerous as the hues of morning.


Cabin lights dimmed,
Air sucked dry,
Time suspends
With the wings’ slow dip.

Rolling sore joints,
I peer at the glass,
Smallest of portals
To new country below.

Sloping emerald
Arrests my gaze –  
Stories abound,
Both written and waiting.

Dawn’s blue mist
Recedes in welcome
As England’s wild hills
Transfix me quite.

Gliding still lower,
My spirits rise,
Thrilled with hope
Of the tales I’ll find.

“Sacred Wednesdays”

It’s usually the same
When Wednesdays come around.
We’re taught the sacred Word,
We eat and hug and laugh.
And all the while I sit and marvel
At the gift of so much good.
The same good and sacred
Gifts keep giving
When Wednesdays come around.


I often forget the small things,
Like my charger or umbrella,
But, blessing or curse, I never forget
The bigger ones.

Where I met you, whether
You welcomed or shunned,
Throwaway words, if you
Remember my likes,
Your humor and quirks,
My own deep secrets –
For better or worse,
I won’t forget.


Savory soup and tranquil tea,
A fragrant candle or opening bloom,
Stirring tales and tantalizing song,
Ever beckon, softly call:
Taste and see.


Image via Masterpiece PBS on Facebook

“Home” conjures up varied images and phrases. “Home is where the heart is” may now ring with trite familiarity for many. Dorothy Gale ensured that generations would grow up knowing “there’s no place like home.” Philosophers, authors, and filmmakers alike keep returning to it, tapping into a yearning for “home” that I think is innate in everyone.

The new TV adaptation of James Herriot’s delightful veterinary adventures, All Creatures Great and Small, has captured the age-old narrative of search for home with fresh vibrancy and charm. Inundated as we are with information and noise, the many shots of northern England’s rolling hills perhaps speak to our modern souls’ longing not only for escape, but for a lost era of greater simplicity and quiet. Many young viewers also likely feel affinity for James Herriot himself, a fresh graduate of veterinary school, eager to find his place in the world and prove himself.

James’s desires for belonging and stability run like a bubbling current beneath each episode. He initially leaves for Yorkshire simply hoping for steady work, but in the months following, finds himself wrestling with where his true future lies. In clever narrative irony, his bustling hometown of Glasgow represents familiarity and security, while far-flung, unsophisticated Yorkshire brings new possibilities he didn’t know to look for.

Possibilities like… giving life-saving treatment to a struggling widow’s cattle herd twice in the same year, and thereby rescuing her and her children’s livelihood. Offering hope to a farmer whose livelihood rests on the recovery of his only cow or only herd of sheep.

On a deeper level, James finds an unexpected family at Skeldale House, which serves as both the veterinary office and an inviting place to live. Mrs. Hall runs it with steady, no-nonsense care and efficiency. Amazingly, she still manages to let eccentric head veterinarian, Siegfried Farnon, imagine that he’s the one directing everything. Siegfried’s lovable and roguish younger brother, Tristan, brings needed humor and easy friendship to James’s life. And perhaps most tender of all, James falls in love with local beauty, Helen Alderson, capable and gentle and whip-smart, almost as soon as he arrives in Darrowby. She challenges and encourages James with an honesty he’s never before encountered and, as for so many others in the Dales, farming runs in her blood.

In tending the farm animals of the Dales and settling into Skeldale House, James forges trust with this community, generative farming folk who, while perhaps a bit stuck in their ways, demonstrate unwavering devotion to their home, for home it is. The land isn’t simply a means of provision, but an identity and a way of life. The farmers don’t simply work the land, but know it deeply.

Similarly, Siegfried and Tristan and Mrs. Hall don’t merely live in Darrowby, but know its every quirk and tradition and occupant. The people depend on them and they repay it in kind by offering their home as a place of care for the community’s animals, as well as of refuge and rest for the people when needed. Every Christmas, it transforms into a haven of festivity and companionship. Many in Darrowby find a friend in both their joys and sorrows at the hearth of Skeldale House. In short, the people of the Dales take the time to really know one another.

I think that’s what James finds in Yorkshire when he didn’t even realize he was looking for it. I think it’s what so many of us want in a home. A space to know and be known. A Mrs. Hall to notice when we just need a chat and a cup of tea. A Tristan to make us laugh or a Helen to challenge us to higher things. A community to truly know and serve well with our work and resources. And to the delight of many eager Anglophiles and romantics like myself, James does eventually recognize that these are the things that make a home. Glasgow may offer comfort in the traditional sense, but Yorkshire’s unruly farmlands and quirky people have brought him in and shown him family in a far deeper way.

A few weeks ago, I sat in rapt pleasure as I watched the closing episodes of the recent second series of All Creatures, in which James finally realizes that he’s found a true and lasting home in the Yorkshire Dales. His heart now swells with knowing affection when he casts awe-inspired eyes over the undulating emerald hills of the Dales. The farmers and laborers of Darrowby have worked their way into his heart with their stubborn traditions and bone-deep affection for the wild, unpredictable land. Skeldale House has become not only a place of employment, but a sanctuary of warmth, peace, and companionship. In the episode’s final moments, not even the foreboding buzz of war planes overhead can dampen the spirit of celebration and comradeship inside Skeldale House. Whatever joy or sorrow may be ahead, James has come home.

I wrote recently about my favorite books read in the last year and noted that I was pleasantly surprised that the list included several poetry volumes. Ever since Wendell Berry’s poetry came to my aid at a crucial point in 2020, I’ve made an effort to include more poetry in my regular reading. I’m by no means an expert in poetry by now, but I’ve found it steadying, soothing, and able to get me thinking about big and beautiful ideas in different way than prose does. So, here are a few of my favorite poems from my recent reading. I hope they help you stop and think and marvel. Click the titles to either read them, or in one case, to buy the volume :)

“Heaven in Ordinary” by Malcolm Guite

I read this one in Guite’s volume titled “After Prayer,” in which he composed a series of poems that respond to George Herbert’s famous poem “Prayer.” This one reminded me of the magnitude of how Jesus has hallowed the lives of his followers, even in the seemingly ordinary moments.

“Foretaste and Tell” by Carolyn Weber

Carolyn Weber is my favorite memoir writer, and her honest and vivid style there bring her poetry to life just as beautifully. This one paints a gorgeous picture of the little tastes of heaven we get here on earth, whetting the appetite for the day that all will be actually perfected.

“Mary's Song” by Luci Shaw

I have my friend Mary Giudice of Take This Poem (on which I got to be a recent guest!!) to thank for introducing me to this one and thusly to Luci Shaw overall. If you want to ponder just how wild and marvelous the incarnation of Christ is, this poem might be a good place to start. Shaw shows how huge and incomprehensible it really is by wrestling it into words that somehow only show just how insufficient words are to describe it.

“In Memoriam [Ring out, wild bells]” by Alfred Lord Tennyson

This one struck a sweet chord with me when I read it on New Year’s Day. It epitomizes how humans long for renewal and restoration and how a new year can often make us aware of that searching. In these tense times, it’s also a poignant reminder that there’s nothing new under the sun.

This is the poetry corner in my house. What should I be adding to it this year??