My Top 10 Books of 2013

I didn’t make a reading goal in 2013, but I still managed to read 34 books this year. Some of the books were thick and others were slow paced Non-Fiction, so I’m pleased with the number. I wanted to up my geek credibility so I started the year with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I loved visiting Middle Earth this year. Without further ado, here are my top 10 books that entertained me and challenged me in 2013.

1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Years ago when I watched the movies the orcs and Gollum freaked me out, so I don’t remember much of the films. Last year, I read The Hobbit and wanted to continue the story. I now understand why everyone likes Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, Aragorn, and the Elves. I was surprised by the amount of singing in the novel, but I loved getting to visit Middle Earth every day. Gimli and Legolas were hilarious in the book. The books didn’t scare me at all. I even grew to understand Gollum a lot better and the vital role he plays in the story.

2. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

I’ve only read two novels by Kate Morton and she is becoming one of my all time favorite authors. She balances historical fiction, mystery, and parallel time lines so well. She is a descriptive author without being tedious. You get to know the characters well whether you find them endearing or irritating. The Secret Keeper tells the story of two women Dorothy and Vivien in World War II England.

3. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

This is one of those books that will change the way you view the world and Christianity. The chapter I remember most is about a family who felt called to a certain country, but faced several obstacles before being able to go. I remembered that story this year when we faced obstacles and I knew that we were on the right path toward our goals. The book gets very theological in parts. He explains the theology to support his claims, but they can be a bit tedious to read.

4. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the final book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A friend warned me about how Sam and Frodo scenes would become tiresome, but I didn’t find them tiresome at all. The book ends a bit differently than the films. There is an entire battle in the book that doesn’t happen in the movie, so it’s worth reading to see how each character is resolved at the end of the book. I was so sad it was over! I will definitely be re-reading these again.

5. You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth

The book was exactly what I needed to read when I needed to read it. I especially loved the chapter titled, “You may have a God-Sized Dream if…” It was really fun to read this with a mentor and discuss each chapter. I highly recommend reading along with others and being inspired by their stories. At the Atlanta airport I got to meet the author. Holley is as approachable and practical as her writing.

6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Third time’s a charm for this novel. I was able to appreciate Fitzgerald’s poetic writing style once I understood the basic storyline. My book club’s discussion of the novel helped me see the dark themes of the novel. The story itself is depressing, but once you get the themes, then it all comes into focus. You see the damage of selfish, careless people. You see how you can never repeat the past. The book is poetry and achingly beautiful.

7. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I was in the mood for something light after finishing Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. Where’d You Go Bernadette makes my top 10 based on enjoyability alone. Like Confessions of a Shopaholic, the main character is endearing with their quirky behavior. The novel is also well written. I enjoyed getting to know Seattle a little better too.

8. Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae, Sally Clarkson

Every time I opened this book I felt like it told me, “You are a good mom.” I related with Sarah Mae on so many levels. I am not normally one for parenting books, but I really liked the easy to read format. Each chapter included instruction and encouragement from Sally Clarkson. If you have lots of little children, then I highly recommend this book.

9. Foundation (Foundation #1) by Isaac Asimov

This is the first book of the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. It sat on our bookshelf for years, so I decided to give it a go. The story follows the decay of a galactic empire. A man named Hari Seldon predicts the collapse with math and group psychology. He enacts a plan that will shorten the “barbaric period” after the collapse of the empire. The books are a psychological drama. They are smart, but easy to read. They do get a little boring towards the end, but you have to find out if The Seldon Plan is going to work.

10. The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

I never finished Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, because I found it difficult to follow her flowery language on theological concepts. I was given this book at a conference and had no intention of reading it all. Then I came across a blog post explaining that it was a daily advent book, so I picked it up and gave it chance. I ended up loving this book. It reads like an Utmost for His Highest. One thing I appreciate is how the daily scripture reading is printed in each chapter. Each chapter is short enough to be accomplished in 15 minutes and they end with three reflection questions. The Greatest Gift did help me focus more on Jesus during Christmas. I plan to buy a new copy every year, because I am sure that I will learn new things every time I read this book.

Honorable Mention:

Deepening the Soul for Justice (Urbana Onward) by Bethany H. Hoang

At 48 pages this book helps you understand how prayer and reading the Bible will help you ingest the soul-crushing atrocities of this world. This is great place to start if you are interested in understanding more about injustice.

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1-5)
by Douglas Adams

This book is made up of 5 smaller books. The first one or two books are funny and interesting. The book jumps around a lot and requires your full attention. It’s very smart. A subject will be introduced in book 3, but the joke about that subject is mentioned in book 5. I’m glad I finished it and read it, but I was ready for it to be over by the end.

Worst book: Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham

This was a book club pick. There is a scene in the book that I wish I could scrub from my brain. The story is just plain unrealistic and idiotic. It was difficult to finish.

What books did you enjoy in 2013? I’m always looking for new books!