Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 :: By the Books

I love reading end-of-the-year bookish wrap-up posts. Generally they feed my never ending pile of books that I want to read (I'm not saying that's a bad thing!) It's been several years that I've done one so I thought I would give it a stab for 2013. My total 2013 reading list is linked here - if I counted correctly I managed to read 62 books this past year. That's a big number, but it is more quantity than it is quality. I read very few non-fiction books this year and reread two longish (7-8 books each) series. I'm hoping that I am a bit more focused this next year in my reading but there were still some gems in there.

2013 by the books

Best fiction:

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. This was a read-aloud I did with the girls last spring and it was hands-down my favorite fiction of the year (either adult or children). We have now read this book of hers and The 5 Children and It and E. Nesbit hasn't disappointed yet.

Best non-fiction:

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson (Boomama). I've read Boomama's blog for several years now and her book, which is a series of essays on southern family life and food, was just wonderful. I literally laughed out loud multiple times when reading it. I loved reading about some of her family memories and recipes and it reminded me of some of my own that I need to write down to share with my own kids (though I don't have aspirations of a book!)

Best new (to me) author:

I read Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse on Amy's recommendation and I'm looking forward to reading some more of her books this coming year (I hope!) And I get to reread this one and host it for the Reading to Know book club in March which I'm very excited about.

Book that made me cry / Book that made me laugh out loud:

Both of these would go to A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. I laughed, I cried, it moved me. Seriously.

Book that changed my perspective on something:

A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman. This book surprised me with how much I resonated and needed its message. To very briefly sum up: it encouraged me and nudged me to think about what inspires me and how I love creating. That that is something that God put in me and I need to be thinking about how I can use that for His glory. I'll be revisiting this book again.

Best homeschooling book:

Did I read a homeschooling book this year? I don't think I did, unless I reread The Core by Leigh Bortins and didn't record it. I'll be rectifying this in 2014.

Worst book:

I was not impressed with Divergent by Veronica Roth. (I may be the only person who thinks that). I read this book to find out what the fuss was about - it was popping up on blogs everywhere I turned. Without giving away too much for the two people out there that still haven't read the book, I found it very violent. More so than the Hunger Games. And where the main character of the Hunger Games found herself in a situation where she had to defend herself, she didn't seek out violence. This character did. That turned me off from the series. I don't anticipate reading the rest of it.

Best surprise plot twist:

I don't know if this would qualify, but I was surprised with how much I enjoyed Redwall by Brian Jacques. I had a hard time putting down book 1 in the series, and went on to read books 2 and 3. The series goes on (almost) forever so it will still be there when I feel like going back to it.

Most disappointing / Most over-hyped:


Most challenging:

By far, both the C.S. Lewis books that I tackled this year stretched my reading chops. This summer I read Out of the Silent Planet and it took me quite a while to get into the story. (And wrap my brain around the fact that it was written by the writer of Narnia!) Secondly, I just finished The Screwtape Letters. That book was amazing and so chock full of stuff that I probably should have read the book with a notepad handy. I did better when I read it out loud to Travis on a recent road trip as it helped me concentrate more. Another book I should probably go back to sooner rather than later.

Best cover:

I've been eyeballing this book for sometime and finally picked up a used copy and devoured it in about two days. I think the reason that I loved this book so much was her writing style. She wove stories from her family and life seamlessly together and tied it with food and memories in a way that sucked me in completely. Such a good writer.

Best young person's book:

That's a hard choice, but I'm going to go with the fourth book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. I've enjoyed books 1-3, but it felt like book 4 picked up the pace and bit and tied up a few loose ends (though there are still many more that makes me anxious for book 5!)

Book I’ve been meaning to read for years and finally got to:

The Wind in the Willows. I read and hosted this for the 2013 Reading to Know book club this summer and was glad to check this one off my list finally.

Best book on homemaking:

This seems to be another category noticeably missing from my list. A-hem.

Book I have recommended the most this year:

I don't know that I recommended much of anything from this year, but I've loaned out my copy of The Core to at least one (if not several more) folks this year.

Best philosophical or spiritual book:

The Screwtape Letters, hands down. I've got big plans to read more C.S. Lewis in 2014!

If you wrote a bookish wrap up post for the year, please let me know! If not, what was your favorite book that you read recently? 

Prompts borrowed from Sarah at Amongst Lovely things. Amazon affiliate links used throughout this post.


  1. Oh man, you didn't like Divergent!! Bummer! Looking at the series overall, I don't think it was more violent than Hunger Games. But, I totally got into the story so I'm not even sure I thought about that aspect of it...

    I really want to read Boomama's book too!!

    1. I know! I was prepared to really be sucked in because I was for Hunger Games. I just couldn't get into it, though. I don't think I was invested as much in this girl's character as I was for Katniss. Ah, well.

      Boomama's book is wonderful!!!

  2. Anonymous8:10 AM

    I loved your list. I, too, really loved A Million Little Ways. It has changed how I see the mundane parts of my life. As far as Divergent goes, I agree with you. I did like the story. It sucked me up into it but then it let me down in the second book, Insurgent. I have read that the third book is even worse but I haven't delved that far yet. The other aspect that bothered me was the romantic aspect of the book. I was pre-reading this for my teenaged daughter and didn't want her reading all of those details.

  3. Going to check out A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet -- especially since she lives right up the road from me! And I bought the Boxcar Children during the big Kindle sale. I think Olivia and I are going to add that to our read-together list.

    1. Except you said The RAILWAY Children -- sorry, my blonde is showing. We listened to the audiobook of that one last summer and loved it too!

    2. Ha. : ) We have Boxcar fans here as well so it could apply that way as well!

  4. Well, I will be adding some of your picks to my TBR list. (Which, of course, doesn't mean I'll get to them any time soon. . . ) I'll avoid Divergent if you think it's violent--while I loved Hunger Games, it's about as violent as I'm comfortable reading.

  5. Definitely putting A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet on my 2014 lineup!

  6. The Railway Children! I haven't thought of this in years.

  7. Your thoughts about Divergent are fascinating--I never thought about it being more violent that the Hunger Games. For some reason, I liked Divergent better in that it had more a moral compass than the Hunger Games. I am also interested in Boomama's book. Big mama's was good, but I'm glad I bought it on sale.;)

    1. I have Big Mama's first book on my kindle (snagged it on sale, too) but haven't read it. I may need to move it up in the queue. I think you will love Boomama's - super, super sweet and heartfelt.

  8. I loved A Homemade Life and am so glad you enjoyed it! And I never read The Wind in the Willows as a kid and was glad to finally check that off MY list in 2012. I've never read Divergent, or I'd weigh in there. :)

  9. What fun prompts! I just did a list of my top 10 books for 2013 ( but these prompts would have been more fun.

    I enjoyed some of your favorites--Screwtape Letters is one of my favorites, Wind in the Willows and The Railway Children are some I have very much enjoyed with my children--and I chose not to read Divergent because I was just sure I wouldn't be glad I did. Thanks for validating my opinion. :)

    (I'm just finding your blog from Carrie's Bookclub, and enjoying your recent posts. :))


Thanks for commenting!

One of my goals this year has been to diversify my reading. As I've spent the last 17 years homeschooling anywhere from 1-4 kids, I woul...