I shared my 2013 booklist yesterday. In addition to these books which I read for my own enjoyment and/or edification, I also read seventeen chapter books aloud to my children. This brings my grand total up to 69 books, a respectable number for me.
I do have two disappointments for the year, though: first, I only read 4 1/2 (or so) books from this nonfiction book list. The second disappointment comes in with the aforementioned half of a book: I never finished reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. (I did share quotes here and here.) My Kindle tells me I’ve read 58% of it. I was actually really engaged with it and enjoying it, and then I briefly misplaced my Kindle. By the time Steady Eddie found it for me (which is typical around here–I lose; he finds), I had lost my momentum and moved on to something else. I plan to get back to it sooner rather than later.
Well, that’s enough of that–my booklist isn’t supposed to cause me angst or make me feel guilty!
This year I’m going to pick favorites from both my nonfiction and fiction reads. I read a dozen nonfiction books, and at least ten of the twelve made a pretty big impact on me. (It’s not hard for me to put down a book that doesn’t grab me, so if I read a book through to the end there must be something about it I like. If a book is on my list at all, I must’ve enjoyed it at least a little bit.) My top nonfiction book of the year is uncontested–Contentment by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. is the book that had the biggest impact on my thinking, even if, like all flesh, I am prone to the James 1:23 affliction. I think this one is one I’ll need to revisit soon. Reading this one also makes me want to read Swenson’s Margin.
Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis is another nonfiction title that I loved. I was really surprised by this one–at how captivated I was by Katie’s story, and about how it made me stop and think about my own life. It dovetails nicely with Contentment, too, and I read them close enough to each other that they fed each other in my imagination and spirit.
The Spark by Kristine Barnett is another book that took me by surprise. I checked it out of the library on a whim and positively devoured it. I do not have an autistic child, but this one made me think about how I approach my own children’s educations.
I have to mention, too, the two online bookclubs I participated in in 2013. This was the second year I’ve hosted a Homeschooling Mothers’ Bookclub during the summer here at Hope Is the Word, and this year’s book, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart by Sally Clarkson, was like a long drink of water on a scorching day. I read much of it concurrently with The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer for the bookclub at Ordo Amoris, and these books also worked together to inspire and encourage me. I really enjoyed reading along with other people and being privy to their thoughts, even if it was only online. This experience has helped to inspire me to start my own in-person bookclub for 2014. Stay tuned for a bit more about that in the future!
As for fiction, obviously my year was heavy on the middle grade novel, once again. Only five or so of the books I read this year might be considered works of adult fiction, and even a few of those could go either way–adult or YA fiction (I’m thinking here of the Flavia DeLuce novels). The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood gets top honors this year as the most delightful series I’ve read in a long while. I didn’t review the books separately because I read the first three in quick succession (and really, they can be considered one long story). I’m currently reading the newly-published fourth book, The Interrupted Tale, and it’s proving to be every bit as delightful as the first three.
My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve won the 2013 Batchelder Award, and very deservedly so. This World War II story captured my imagination and my heart, and it’s one I still think about, even ten months later.
The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck deserves a place in my top picks list because Peck tickles my funny bone.
Paperboy by Vince Vawter is one of those coming-of-age novels that will appeal to adults as much as to middle graders, maybe even more. If you like a well-told tale set in the South, and especially if you’re a To Kill a Mockingbird fan, this one’s for you. I loved it.
My last nod goes to Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan. I’m quickly taken in by stories set in exotic locales, and this one has that and a very compelling and beautifully written story, too.
Again, there are only a couple of books on my list that I wouldn’t recommend, and that’s usually because of content issues rather than the fact that the story is poorly written or not engaging. The books I’ve listed here, though, are the ones that have stuck with me the longest.
Other top picks posts at Hope Is the Word are linked below:
What are your best reads of the year?