2013 in Books

Book wrap-up

The list of books I read in 2013 that I have assembled in my head seems a bit more impressive than the actual list of books I read this year. Maybe that’s because seven of the thirty-nine were re-reads of the Harry Potter series, which I enjoyed digesting while food didn’t sound good during my first trimester. It could also be that when I look back over the books I read in 2013, I’m also looking back at the amount of time I was watching Frasier, White Collar, and Friends instead of reading. Or maybe it’s just that I have a whole passel of amazing books still in my to-read queue.

Regardless, this year has been a great year for books. I’m linking up with Sarah, Anne, and Haley with this unorganized post about the books I read this year. (This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.)

Fun Facts

  • 19 non-fiction, 20 fiction
  • 28 different authors, 23 of whom I hadn’t read books by before this year
  • I used Goodreads faithfully all year (thanks to the recommendation of the lovely Lindsay.)
  • I also compiled a list of life-changing books.
  • I started participating in Twitterature (short, casual book reviews with a link-up hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy)! You can find my Twitterature posts for the books I read in 2013 here.

My Favorite Books of 2013 (that I read in 2013, not necessarily published in 2013)

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

A beautiful memoir of food, family, and friendship. Her prose are effortless, the themes are relevant, and the recipes are delicious. I loved everything about this book. I loved this book so much, I geekily wrote an expanded discussion guide for the book. You can find them here: Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Adam: God’s Beloved by Henri Nouwen

I’m always immensely challenged by Nouwen’s words and this was no exception. Adam rocked my worldview.  I won’t ever look at physical, mental, or emotional disabilities the same. Nouwen’s heartfelt tribute to a dear friend is poignant, playing on themes from previous works like Life of The Beloved.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet was insightful on so many levels. As an introvert, I learned much about myself and how I interact with others. But, Cain makes it clear that her book is less about one personality type overpowering the other and more about empowering people to be comfortable in their personality skin. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, the content of Quiet forces you to take a closer look at yourself and those around you. (Also $2.99 on Amazon right now!)

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

An extreme but realistic look at what could happen on a third-world mission trip from the perspective of 18 year old Cori. I appreciated the not-so-perfect ending. Plus, the teen romance factor wasn’t cloying or annoying. I was totally immersed and engaged.

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman

Hard to pick between this one and A Million Little Ways, but GGG was just so pertinent to who I am. I need a constant reminder to let go and let God. I heard her message to come out from hiding behind girl-made masks loud and clear.

There’s a couple more, like The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp and Packing Light by Allison Vesterfelt (full review here) that are on my favorites list, but five seemed like such a nice number to highlight.

I would also like to mention two note-worthy authors that I read for the first time this year: Tessa Afshar and Alison Strobel.

  • Tessa Afshar – I already wrote a whole post about her and her books, so I will keep this brief… She writes wonderful Christian fiction and her three books were some of my favorite this year.
  • Alison StrobelComposing Amelia and Reinventing Rachel were good books, but what I really appreciate about Alison is how she portrays the typical Christian perspective. I found myself rolling my eyes at some of the cultural Christian responses of her main characters before pausing to examine if my own responses to life ever appear that way to others. She also doesn’t shy away from gritty topics like mental illness and addiction, which I like especially from a youth worker perspective.

 What were your favorite books of 2013? What should be on my 2014 to-read list?

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24 thoughts on “2013 in Books

    1. It’s so good, Megan! Let me know when you read it! :) I really loved all three books that I read by Tessa Afshar. Harvest of Rubies/Gold made me go back and reread Nehemiah. So enjoyable to get a different perspective.

  1. The one book I read this year that really stuck with me (for good reasons) was The First Christmas Carol by Marianne Jordan .

    Also, if you read e-books (that’s really all I read) you should check out http://www.onehundredfreebooks.com. You can search by genre but there are hundreds of free ebooks found on Amazon. I read a lot (average 100 books a year) so I am always looking for free books, this is the site I like the best.

    1. I am so impressed Lanel! I will absolutely check out that site. I generally prefer paper books but you can’t beat the price of ebooks so I use the Kindle/Nook apps on my iPad.

  2. I always enjoy reading about books that other girls have enjoyed. Thank you for sharing! I also read “Quiet” this year and found it very liberating for me personally, but I liked the fact that Susan Cain doesn’t rubbish other personality types and I closed the book feeling that it was good to be any combination of extrovert / introvert. As for “Grace For the Good Girl” … it’s GOOD!

    Happy New Year! :)

  3. Love this post Emily – thanks so much for linking up! I love the fun facts you included about your reads – I should probably look at those types of statistics for my own reading stack. I think I’ve moved away from reading much fiction these days – I’ve turned into a hard core non-fiction reader. I love Henri Nouwen as well – so much wisdom in his words. Bread & Wine was my very favorite read this year–so, so good. Happy New Year, friend!

  4. Two of your books – Bread & Wine and Quiet – are on my list for 2014, and they are a couple of the books I am most eagerly awaiting reading! Thank you SO MUCH for the recommendations on the two new authors. I’ve never heard of either of them, and they are going on my list!

    1. Those two books might have been my total favorites from last year! Let me know what you think of Alison Strobel and Tessa Afshar if you end up reading any of their works.

  5. A Million Little Ways is high up on my list; I hear it is Emily’s best work yet! I have seen Bread and Wine & Quiet everywhere, seems like I need to get my hands on them. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Judging by my perusal of your blog, I think you would really enjoy Bread and Wine! Her other two are well worth reading as well!

  6. I found you from Sarah’s site. I also read Bread & Wine and loved it this year and Goodreads is awesome. I’ve used it for years. I’m really interested in several of your reads — Henri Nouwen’s book, in particular. Quiet has been patiently waiting to be read. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I particularly liked the part about identifying your sweet spot – that balance of social interaction and alone time. It made so much sense and helps me to balance my schedule properly so I don’t end up with a day full of social engagements.

      Life of the Beloved is SOO good!

  7. I loved your list. Her Hands Came Away Red is a good read but hard in some places. I have a couple of Tessa’s books on my kindle that I was able to get free. You have motivated me to read them sooner not later.

    1. HHCAR was hard in some places. None of my overseas missions experiences were quite like the one described, but it is certainly plausible and important to consider, I think. I would definitely bump up Tessa’s books! I devoured them…

  8. I love the way you highlighted the new-to-you authors. They’re new to me, too (although I feel like I’ve seen Strobel’s name in a twitterature link-up recently) and your thoughts make me want to find out more.

    (Yay for Quiet and Bread and Wine! And this reminds me it’s been ages since I read any Nouwen.)

    1. Nouwen is always good – I need to read more of him. I have a couple on my bookshelf that I should read.

      I snagged both the Strobel books for free on Amazon. I feel like those two in particular are often offered for free. Worth catching when they are.

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