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I’ve read 71 books in 2013, and a lot of them were WONDERFUL! Some of my favorites this year were The Fault in Our Stars, Bread and Wine, A Homemade Year, Victim of Grace, There You’ll Find Me, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, The Amish Midwife … and more.
I think since I’ve been so bad at updating my page of “Read This Year” here are VW, I’m just going to Pin books I’ve read for 2014. You can find that board here.
And now, if you’re interested, mini-reviews of what I read in 2013.
If you prefer, you can see this on Pinterest instead.
1. 100 Pound Loser by Jessica Heights (e-book)
2. Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
3. Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner – I am still sorting my feelings on this particular tome. I feel kind of like I did after Julie and Julia – I really liked the writing, but I don’t particularly like the narrator. Which makes me sort of ambivalent. But watching Winner struggle with faith is an interesting journey.
4. The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould – I LOVE Clark, and this book was no exception. What’s not to like? Amish life. Birthing babies. A family mystery.
5. There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones – After reading Jones’s exceptional Katie Parker YA series last year, I might be on a mission to read all of her books. She touches something that’s not usually found in YA fiction, especially of the Christian variety – truth, real life, with a good dash of humor.
6. Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott – I was expecting more from Help, Thanks, Wow. It’s very short – just about 100 pages, really a gift book. I can see where if you were struggling with faith and prayer, it might help make prayer accessible. For me, it just didn’t hit home very hard.
7. Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel – I’m sort of at a place where I’d try anything with my preschooler. Tons of ideas here, good and bad.
8. The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler – While Tyler is usually one of my favorite authors, this one didn’t hit home for me. It’s more novella-length, not long enough to develop the characters very well, and a little too predictable. Glad I got it from the library and didn’t pay $12.99 for my Kindle.
9. Peony in Love by Lisa See – I always enjoy reading See’s novels, no matter when they are set. She’s written about such vast periods in China’s history and all the novels seem so well-researched and are fascinating.
10. Lots of Candles Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen – Other than her views on religion, which I felt were mostly unnecessary in this tome, I really appreciated Quindlen’s eloquent thoughts on life, marriage, friendships, women, and more as a 60-year-old.
11. Smitten by various – I thought this was a Kristin Billerbeck novel, but it’s four novellas, one by her. Light romantic reading.
12. Sophie’s Heart by Lori Wick – One of my top 5 favorite books ever. I was in need of some comfort reading.
13. Kate’s Song by Jennifer Beckstrand – I am on an Amish fiction kick, I guess. This one started off really good but got a little predictable.
14. How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher – I think you might have to be a food geek to love this, but I did. Especially considering they show her edits from 10 years later, with lovely self-deprecating commentary.
15. A Time to Love by Barbara Cameron – This one started out pretty well, but I found the last third to be rushed and not great.
16. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – What IS this book? Scifi? Sorta. But I find it was more about religion, friendship, linguistics, and sex. I didn’t race through it, obsessed, but I thought about it A LOT. It’s about a Jesuit mission to an unknown planet (in 2017! But the book was written in the mid-90s.) and the return of the lone survivor.
17. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan – YA fiction about a young girl in a fenced village surrounded by zombies. Interesting … I’ll probably read the sequels. I think I’d be afraid to see the movie they’re making from it!
18. The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love by Jill Conner Browne – One from the keeper shelf at home. A little humor never hurt anyone, especially a 36-week pregnant lady.
19. Secretly Smitten by various – You know when you spend the whole time going, “Why on earth am I reading this???” I am just not a romantic novella kind of person.
20. Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner – It’s been years since I read anything by Weiner, and this just didn’t do it for me. Perhaps I’m too prudish in my old age (30!) and perhaps it teetered a little too much on the trashy side of chicklit. She’s a good writer, but I was disappointed.
21. God Save the Sweet Potato Queens by Jill Conner Browne
22. The Amish Nanny by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould – I didn’t like this nearly as much as the prequel, but it was still a good story and good read.
23. Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Really good futuristic retelling of Cinderella in the YA genre. Looking forward to sequels!
24. Page from a Tennessee Journal by Francine Thomas Howard – A glimpse into the life of a sharecropper family in 1913. I liked this … but then some parts read like p*rn to me, so that was disappointing.
25. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – Second book in the Lunar Chronicles YA series. Loving this series! Hate that the next won’t be out for almost a year! The mix of sci-fi and fairy tale is really appealing to me.
26. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – Wow. Powerful novel about the rounding up of Jews in France, shown through the story of a young girl. A modern-day journalist learns about her story and it changes her life. A must-read!
27. Matched by Ally Condie – The concept was good. It wasn’t as well-written as I had hoped, though.
28. Chocolate Beach by Julie Carobini – Despite the main character’s oblivion and crazy best friend, she’s kind of endearing and fun to read about.
29. Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle – Funny, charming, and sweet, with a little sprinkle of spirituality. I enjoyed this – but I wish it were longer! I feel like sometimes bloggers get away with writing supershort books.
30. Crossed by Ally Condie – I keep reading this trilogy because I love @Parenting Miracles and she loved these, but I’m not sure about it. I felt the writing/storyline was better in this one than in Matched. And I’ll read the third book to find out what happens!
31. Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving by Neighbor by Jana Riess – Author Jana Riess takes on one spiritual task each month for a year, like fasting, centered prayer, and observing the Sabbath like a traditional Jew. Interesting, and more enjoyable toward the end as I got to know the author.
32. Echoes by Maeve Binchy – One of my favorite books of Binchy’s. The stories of a small-town girl in Ireland from a poor family who has great aspirations, and how her story intertwines with the doctor’s son. Small-town politics in the 1950s and Binchy’s beautiful storytelling make it perfect.
33. Truffles by the Sea by Julie Carobini – Read this sequel because I liked the first book in the series. Did not love this one. Plus there was a plot twist at the end of the first book that the author never even mentions??
34. Livvie’s Song by Sharlene MacLaren – Sweet, Christian love story between a young widow and an ex-convict in the early part of the 20th century.
35. Bossypants by Tina Fey – OK, honestly, this wasn’t as funny to me as I had hoped it would be. Maybe just not my sense of humor. I did enjoy some parts, especially about improv.
36. Reached by Ally Condie – I think this third in the trilogy was actually my favorite. As the Rising and Society battle it out and it’s evident everything is infiltrated, how will the three main characters continue on?
37. Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn – Beautiful autobiography intertwining the author’s journey as a writer with stories from women in Scripture. As one of the endorsements says, if Gunn published her grocery list, I would read it. She’s fantastic.
38. Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn – After losing her husband to a senseless accident and dealing with an overbearing twin sister, Carolyn is ready to “get a life.” She visits her mother in the Canary Islands and reconnects with an old flame. I always enjoy reading RJG, although I was slightly disappointed that the relationship between Carolyn and her twin was not really resolved. Maybe in a future book?
39. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister – Mouthwatering vignettes about students in a cooking school.
40. Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman – On French parenting of young children. A lot of good tips and a really interesting read.
41. Duchess by Susan May Warren – This was my least favorite of the trilogy, but still a pretty good read about a movie star in the 1920s and 30s.
42. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – I love something innovative and different, and this definitely was! The author incorporates old photographs to help with the telling of this wild story about a young narrator finding out about his grandfather’s past.
43. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides – I liked the first (long) chapter of this, which is why i kept reading it. But when you slam a book down and yell, “I’m FINALLY done” when it’s over … I don’t think that’s a good thing.
44. Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple – Unique, witty read mostly in epistolary form. Good beach read and one I’d recommend.
45. Insurgent by Veronica Roth – Will it be a riot if I admit I don’t LOVE this series? It’s OK, but I don’t get all the hype. To each her own, though, right?
46. In Leah’s Wake by Terri Guiliano Long – This was a decent read. I feel like if the author had cut it by about a quarter it would be much better. Too much unnecessary detailing (people going to the bathroom, etc … we don’t really need that). She also attacks a LOT of issues and it’s hard to keep up with. But the writing is good and it’s a subject that needs to be dealt with in literature.
47. Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin – I felt very encouraged by authors Brooke and Stacey. Great for those who feel so bogged down in the day-to-day of mothering.
48. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Yep, pretty much everything everyone said it was. Utterly readable, kind of creepy … since no one gave anything away about it to me, I’ll give you the same courtesy!
49. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – With the story being about two teen cancer survivors falling in love, you know it’s going to be sad. But most of it was laugh-out-loud funny, too. I loved it and zoomed through in a day and a half.
50. Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola – As Shiloh’s world crashes around her, she finds herself at her late mother’s house in Staunton, Virginia, trying to pick up the pieces and learning maybe God does love her. Really enjoyed this story and I’m glad it’s a trilogy!
51. The Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson – I read the old, 70s version, but it’s still a good resource for biblical discipline given in great love.
52. Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs – Jacobs focuses on one area a month for 24 months in his plight to be the healthiest man in America. Funny, touching, and honestly got me thinking about my sedentary lifestyle.
54. Family Pictures by Jane Green – Green has grown up from some of her earlier (albeit very enjoyable) books. This one explores family, eating disorders, parenting, and finding one’s true self. I liked it a lot.
55. Fatty Legs by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton – A novella about the author’s haunting childhood experience in a missionary school in Canada. The illustrations are what really makes this book. It’s also about a historical period/event I had absolutely no idea about. I wish there was more to read!
56. Wool by Hugh Howey – SO not your typical dystopian world. This is a five-part book that was self-published. Read the first part (for free on Kindle!), it’s 40 pages and your mind will explode. So great!
57. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I love to read anything that’s original and interesting. This was! Loved the poetry, imagery, the magic. Beautiful.
58. The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier – In the 1850s, a British Quaker moves to America and finds herself seeing slavery through the lens of her new family and neighbors. Chevalier is an exquisite writer and this one will stick with me for a long time.
60. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt – Fantastic coming-of-age story about a girl growing up in the 80s in the wake of her uncle dying from AIDS.
61. Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos – I’m a few years behind on this one, but loved it. A young woman’s life is turned upside down when she meets a man resembling Cary Grant … and his daughter.
62. Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist – This may be one of my favorite books ever. Jesus, cooking, recipes, a woman’s story of struggles and love and community. I am definitely buying a couple copies for Christmas gifts.
63. Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar – Nehemiah’s cousin, Sarah, is a scribe in the palace at Susa. She’s fallen away from faith for work and prestige. But then her life is twisted out of her hands as a “favor” from the queen. Afshar is an exquisite writer and she has a talent for weaving New Testament truth into Old Testament stories, too. Loved this!
64-66.The Trouble with Tulip & Blind Dates Can Be Murder & Elementary, My Dear Watkins by Mindy Starns Clark – I reread this great mystery trilogy. Clark is one of my favorites.
67. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – With the movie opening, I decided to reread this scifi classic, which I hadn’t read in about 10 years. It’s still excellent and I think I probably enjoyed it a lot more now than I did at 20!
68. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – Well, this is no The Fault in Our Stars. The story is actually pretty interesting, about two high-schools boys with the same name whose lives intersect. My main issue was the language was SO bad I had a hard time getting through it.
69. All I Have to Give by Melody Carlson – Carlson’s Christmas novella tells a modern-day version of The Gift of the Magi.
70. Shift Omnibus by Hugh Howey – This is the sequel to Wool, which my husband and I both LOVED. Both are technically sci-fi, but this one got a little too sci-fi-y for my tastes, really. And sometimes was just kind of gross. Still enjoyed the story and Howey is a great writer, I just didn’t like it as much as Wool. But that tends to be the way with the middle of a trilogy, doesn’t it?
71. A Homemade Year by Jerusalem Jackson Greer – I cannot express how much I LOVE this book! Greer’s essays are exquisite and honest. The idea of adapting the liturgical year even when you’re not Catholic is so appealing to me. We are celebrating Epiphany today!
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