It’s hard to believe that in just a few short days 2013 will be just a memory and we will be living in the New Year! It’s crazy how fast time is flying, it seems that the older I get the faster the years go! But I enjoy taking the time to pause and reflect over the past year as a new year is approaching.
Today I wanted to share with you my top 10 favorite reads from 2013. Books that have challenged me, encouraged me, inspired me, and have even changed me. If you haven’t read any of these books then I hope you might consider putting them on your 2014 book list (next week I’m going to share with you my thoughts on making a reading plan for the year and how to make one).
So without further delay, here are my top 10 books from the previous year that I have loved. There are affiliate links below, you can read my full disclosure here.
1. Million Little Ways, A: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman
Yes, I’m going to talk about this one… again! Since it’s release this fall it’s been hard to have not heard about this book, especially among the Christian women bloggers. Emily Freeman has a beautiful way with words, pointing out that we were created to be artist in everything we do. “Uncovering your art is about uncovering what is really there within in, coming face-to-face with your profound capacity for beauty, as well as sin, your deepest dreams and your longing for God… Uncovering your art is about waking up.” from page 36.
I have never read anything like this, and it did take me a while to read through it because I was underlining so many passages and then going back to re-read and chew on those thoughts. This book to spoke to my heart in new ways. This past fall (in)Courage’s book club Bloom did a really great book study complete with videos, check it out here.
2. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
I read this book in August, and I’m still thinking about it. It was dark and haunting (not in a scary way), mysterious and a definite page turner. It was long, and the story goes back and forth between 3 different characters in 3 different time periods, but it only took me a few chapters to get completely sucked in and I pretty much read it in less than a week. It’s not Christian fiction and there are some mature themes, but there was no language. I’m excited to read two of her other books this coming year.
3. Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa TerKeurst
I’m an emotional eater, and I love to eat. Probably always will, but I know that I have some food issues. Made to Crave helped me to remember what food is, something to give my body nutrition, and that my ultimate satisfaction comes from the Lord. Back in June and July, I posted a weekly book discussion about this book and I still find myself going back and re-reading parts, and am constantly reminding myself that my weight loss goal is peace, not a number on the scale.
4. Embracing Beauty: Practical Style for Every Shape and Season of Motherhood by Trina Holden
When I read this last spring, I was in the stage where I could not no longer justify wearing my maternity pants anymore (my daughter was already 6 months old!) yet I still felt frumpy and not comfortable in my clothes. I loved Trina’s message that even in the season of motherhood, when your body is changing constantly, you can still feel and look great with some simple fixes and tricks. Thanks to her I have fully embraced long, flowing tunic style tops (to hid the mom belly), layering shirts for texture, and wearing scarfs to complete the look. In fact this book is what inspired my own closet purge which lead to my series 31 Days to a Wardrobe You’ll Actually love.
5. You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins
Last spring when I was toying with the idea of starting this blog, I came across this short ebook. I think I read it in one afternoon and I remember thinking, “You’re right! I AM a writer!” It’s a great little pep-talk and motivator if you think that what you write isn’t important. Maybe no one reads my words, but I was reminded that while it’s nice to have an audience, I’m writing for myself because it’s something that I love to do and I believe God can use me in this way. If you are a writer I highly encourage you to check out Jeff Goin’s blog, it’s packed with so much encouragement, inspiration, and great resources. I am also planning on reading his other’s books in the new year too.
6. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
A book that makes you think, challenges and inspires you all while making you laugh is hard to come by, but Jen Hatmaker has an amazing gift with words. While I don’t think I will ever do a challenge as extreme as the Hatmakers did, I was inspired and you all now how I love to live simply. She spends one year focusing on different areas of her life where she will simplify, for example the first chapter she only eats seven different foods for the entire month! She is warm, funny and thought provoking. Jen writes like you are her best friends, and her blog is also written with that same tone as well.This post will forever make me squeal laugh!
I don’t even remember where I first heard of this book, but it was placed on my reading list and I read it. Boy was I glad I did. I don’t even know how to describe this book other than a collection of stories from his life where he shares about he LOVES people and blesses them. I love this description from the back of the book, “When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don’t want to miss.” I actually plan on reading this book again because I found it so inspiring and it really blessed me.
8. Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brain Stelter
One night I left the TV on after the evening news and Entertainment Tonight came on, not something I normally watch. For some reason I was drawn to the story of this newly released book about the ongoing battle for the ratings between the top morning news shoes, Today and Good Morning America, specifically focusing on the whole Ann Curry debacle. Now I have to give a disclaimer, there was a lot of language but I still found this book to be a fascinating read, especially if you like the morning news shows. I read this over our long 4th of July car trip to Oklahoma over the summer. I should also add that I’m a Good Morning America fan (although it has been replaced in our home by Curious George on PBS in the mornings 🙂 ) so I was secretly cheering along with them when they finally beat the Today Show, and I think that Robin Roberts has displayed a lot of courage and grace over the past few years as she has been open with her health battles.
9. Women Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Homeby Courtney Joseph
There are so many books on womanhood that place a lot of emphasis on doing stuff. Keeping this checklist, doing these things around the house, having a quiet time for this amount of time- not that any of those things are bad. What I loved about this sweet read from Courtney Joesph is that it was simple. She reminds us that as women we are pulled in a lot of directions but we should be listening to the voice of the Great I Am, blocking out a lot of the other noises that take up space in our minds. By placing on focus on our relationship with God, then we can pour out our love to our husbands, children, and home. I was fortunate to have been given a copy to read and review before the book came out (you can read my review here), but this is a book that I want to re-visit again and again.
10. Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
As a mom to two little ones I can definitely relate to the feelings of being desperate as I’m sure many other moms can relate to as well! What I loved about this book is that Sarah Mae writes from the young mom’s perspective of sharing her struggles and disillusions all while Sally Clarkson gives encouragement and advice from a wiser older mom who has lived through the trenches of motherhood. There was plenty of practical advice and simple tips to really help you enjoy the seasons of motherhood.
What books did you read this year that has really challenged, encouraged or inspired you? I’d love for you to share them in the comments below. Sharing what we have read with others is the best way to grow your to-read list!
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