Books Read in 2013

Here is what I read (or re-read) this year. Because of life circumstances I didn’t review books throughout the year. If you are curious about my thoughts on a specific book, feel free to ask me in the comments or on Facebook.

I’m still deciding how to do reviews for next year, so if you have any ideas of what you’d like to see, feel free to tell me!

Theology/Christian Living

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

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy by Timothy Keller

Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free by  Tullian Tchividjian

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller

Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis


How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl

Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting through the Ages and Stages by Laura Knost

Whispers Through Time: Communication through the Ages and Stages of Childhood by Laura Knost

Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader by Melissa Taylor

The Duties of Parents by J.C. Ryle

How Children Raise Parents: The Art of Listening to Your Family by Dan B. Allender

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax

Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child by Maja Pitamic

Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year by Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer

Smooth and Easy Days by Sonya Shafer

What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read With Your Child—and All the Best Times to Read Them by Pam Allyn

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen


Miscellaneous Non-Fiction

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control Of Your Life by Henry Cloud, John Townsend

Daring Greatly: How The Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

A Simpler Season by Jessica Fisher

Xenophobe’s Guide to the Scots by David Ross

What the Most Successful People do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off by Laura Vanderkam

The Unwired Mom by Sarah Mae

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin

The Rough Guide to Travel with Babies and Young Children by Fawzia Rasheed de Fransisco

Writing / Blogging

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield

Blog At Home Mom: Balancing Blogging and Motherhood by Christin Slade

A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freemon


Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn

History/Historical Fiction

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel by Alison Weir

Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson


If you are interested, here is what I read in 2012. And here are the chapter books I read aloud to the kids this year.

Disclosure: These are my affiliate links. Purchasing through these links benefits my family. Any pennies we get will probably go toward buying books. :-) Thank you!


  1. Andrea Cavanaugh says:

    I’m curious to hear your thoughts about a few:

    – The Greatest Gift (because I sometimes can take Ann Voskamp in only small doses)
    – Glorious Ruin (because this book is on my Kindle and I haven’t read it yet)
    – Bread and Wine (because I’m reading it now and it’s not living up to my probably-too-high expectations)
    – Happier at Home (because I’m about to read this and I loved The Happiness Project)

    And of the parenting books you read this past year, is there one you’d recommend to me as I look ahead to motherhood? One that might be good to help shape my outlook/approach?


    • I am completely with you about Voskamp which is probably why I still haven’t read her highly popular first book…This one, though, because it is daily readings for advent was a good read. The short readings with Scripture were a great addition to advent this year.

      Glorious Ruin was very good. Recommend. He had a refreshing view of suffering stating that Christians tend to either moralize or minimize suffering in order to be “spiritual.” Suffering is just that-suffering. It was my first book by him, but I’m looking forward to reading his others.

      Bread and Wine. I loved it, but I read it early on before I’d seen a lot of reviews so maybe I didn’t have high expectations going in? What I loved, was not so much her story, but how it made me think about how important food is to community and how I can implement that in our home/life.

      Happier at Home is good, but don’t go into it expecting a whole lot different from her first. In many ways her subject matter -the home- was more relatable to me, but I liked her first one better. Probably just because the idea was new to me, and the second book seemed a little too similar. However, I love her writing. She is thoughtful and funny and I always come away with lots to think about how I can implement things in my own life so it is well worth the read.

      Parenting: How Children Raise Parents was an excellent read. Highly recommend as one that gives the big picture/vision for parenting. Later on when you have older kids, How to Talk so Kids will Listen, though not Christian, was extremely helpful.

      Do you have some top reads from this year?

  2. Great list! I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the parenting books you read this year…perhaps in a future post? I enjoyed reading Two Thousand Kisses a Day this year but haven’t read her other book.

    • I’m thinking about doing a post about parenting books. But my thoughts and reality often have a big gap these days. 😉

      In the mean time, I really appreciated How Children Raise Parents for a good biblical vision for parenting.

  3. Great list! I’m wondering what you thought of Book Love? (I have a reluctant reader.)

    • Honestly, I didn’t feel like it had a whole lot of “new” that you wouldn’t already know or find easily in blog posts. I did see that she has a revised edition (I had the old), so possibly she has added a lot more information.

      The one main thing that I did appreciate from her book is the idea of not being “snobby” about books especially with reluctant readers. I.e. if comic books are what engage the child that’s okay. Eventually, they’ll move on, but you need to meet them where they are at and where their interests are.

  4. Wow, I’m impressed with all the reading you did in 2013! I have read a few of these, and several of the others are on my to-read list.

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Johanna! These lists are something I look forward to every year! We overlapped a lot this year, but I’m enjoying see further recommendations.

    I’m still debating on how to review books, too. I tried to keep up with reviewing each book, but obviously, didn’t have time to review every single book. (Or even my favorite books–some of the best I put off because I wanted to give them more time, and then ended up with nothing at all.) From a personal standpoint, I’m super thankful for the way Goodreads enables me to keep track of books, and perhaps when I don’t have time for a blog review, I’ll simply write a couple sentences over there? :) I’ve been glad to follow you on Goodreads and know what books you’re reading. :)

    • Have no idea how I’m going to review this year, but, yes, thankful for good reads! Loved your list, too!

  6. Kate Sherrard says:

    Hey Johanna:) I was looking back at your list and wondered if you had any favorite, must-reads from this past year. I am NOT a big reader but wanting to do a better job of getting through a few this year. We have How Children Raise Parents and Joey loved it too so I’ll put that first. Any other ones that are can’t miss reads? Thanks!!

    • Not knowing your style too much this is a little hard. We should talk books sometime and then I could do a better job recommending. But I’ll give you some of my favorites.

      Another good parenting but much shorter is Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony

      Bread and Wine by Shaunna Niequist– wonderful connection of food, community, life (memoir)

      The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin–great book about small changes you make to enjoy your life more.

      And some fiction to curl up on a cold Scottish night.
      The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery is a really good read if you haven’t read it and if you enjoyed Anne of Green Gables books.
      The Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is another light very good read.
      I just enjoyed I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
      If you like a little mystery The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton was really good and not too intense. ( I don’t do intense…)

      Hope that gives you a good start. Let me know what genres you enjoy most and I can probably do better at recommending. :)

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