Thursday, January 2, 2014

What I Read (and loved) in 2013

One of my goals for 2013 was to read a little bit before bed every night instead of being on my phone. Brandon and I actually did this together and we were really good at it. And then we weren't. Having a baby somehow has a way of changing absolutely everything. Especially bedtime routines.

I read a lot of blog posts and articles on the internet. I'm absolutely positive this number is > 1,000 and this is definitely where a large bulk of my free time/reading time was spent. The number of books I read this year, however, was lower than I thought it'd be and I'm really hoping to change it dramatically for 2014. More on that later.

I'm linking up with Haley for "What I Read in 2013" and Anne for "My favorite books of 2013." 

What I Read in 2013

Below is a list of the books I read in 2013 with ** preceding my favorites. I should note that if I don't get into a book it's pretty much abandoned. Call me impatient or picky but I don't like to waste time reading something I'm not really enjoying. Also, after compiling the list below I realized how many Young Adult titles are present.

**A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism by Sarah A. Reinhard
I truly cherished this book and highly recommend it to any woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant. I sent a copy to a friend about a week after she got married...just in case. *wink* There is a section to read for each week of pregnancy and so it is nice to have as soon as you find our you're expecting. There are also helpful sections on labor, delivery,and baptism. Each time I closed this book I walked away with a deeper sense of purpose, tying what my body was going through physically to a more spiritual experience and understanding. I'd give it three thumbs up if I had more hands.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
This book was read during my first weeks postpartum, typically with the babe nursing or on my lap. I could literally read a chapter an implement what it said that very day. Technically I didn't read every last page because I thought it got a bit redundant, but I'm grateful it was recommended and loaned to me.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
This apocalyptic story is set in my little corner of the world. You can imagine it was pretty neat to have stood in the very places being described, but think of them as on fire or under many feet of ashes. Ashfall was a page-turner for me, but not one that settled well with me after I was finished reading it. Perhaps it's because I'm just not a fan of "end of the world"-esque stories, or maybe it was because I read it during the last month of my pregnancy, but I finished the book and was haunted/disturbed by it for weeks. It was read with a book club and I even won the second title in this trilogy...and still haven't brought myself to read it!

**Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux
There is nothing I could write to explain how eye-opening and fruitful reading this book was to my own faith journey. So I will just remind you that it was literally written by a saint.

The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coehlo 
I read The Alchemist during my freshman year of college and loved it, prompting me to buy a few more of Coehlo's titles. This summer I recommended it to a friend and remembered that I still had an unread The Devil and Miss Prym on my bookcase. I decided to pick it and am glad that I did. It's a neat mix of philosophical, faith-questioning, and soul-searching while still reading like a novel. While I didn't find it quite as mind-blowing as I remember feeling after reading The Alchemist, I still enjoyed it overall.

Mission of the Family by Jon Leonetti
Led a book study through church on this book. Overall I think he has pratical, easy to implement tips for infusing the faith into everyday life as well as thought-provoking information and reflections on being Catholic today and I really enjoyed it. There are a few things that I (and the church) would disagree with, but it's definitely worth the read.

**The Giver by Lois Lowry
Since reading this in 6th grade, I've always touted this as one of my favorite books. Ask me what it was about, though, and all I would have remembered was that it was Utopian...or something. I am so glad I decided to reread this gem. After reading it in just one day I recalled the qualities that made me like it so much the first time.

**Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
This fabulous page-turner wasn't at all what I expected it to be, and that's exactly why I loved it. We hear from both teens point of view throughout and I really enjoyed the dichotomy of the characters and their backgrounds. Highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a little YA Fiction and a good coming of age love story.

Books I started and look forward to finishing in 2014:
Diary of St. Faustina
This is long and dense and absolutely amazing, infused with so much truth and wisdom. I really hope I can find the dedication and discipline to read this book, although it may take me longer than just this year.
Feast! by Daniel and Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas
This is an incredible book/cookbook that discusses the seasons of the liturgical year and gives practical tips on how to live liturgically in your own home. I'm still in the first third of the book but really look forward to reading it in it's entirety!
Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI
It was my goal to read this during Advent and while I started and really enjoyed what I read, the number of DIY Christmas presents I took on hindered my ability to complete it.
The Handbook for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey
This book is meant to be read slowly, as it's in little sections on various topics. So far I've really enjoyed the wisdom and peek into the future it brings, being written by moms who have "been there, done that." It's also been encouraging to me as embark on this journey of being a momma.

Books I started but didn't finish and probably won't:
Emma by Jane Austen
Why did I get bored so quickly? I read Pride and Prejudice in high school and loved why couldn't I get into this one?
Cider House Rules by John Irving
Again, loved A Prayer for Owen Meany in high school so decided to try another one of Irving's books. I liked what I read but wasn't inspired to go back. At this point I'd have to start over. I should probably be diagnosed with book ADD.
The Shack by William P. Young
This book has been recommended over and over to me and I did get about halfway through before baby came. I'd really like to try to reread this again in the future, but just haven't picked it back up since about May.
Anything by Jennie Allen
This was part of a book club which I obviously failed at participating in to my full potential. I liked the topic and what she was writing about, but found that there were many blanket statements made that I just couldn't buy into. I'd walk away feeling confused instead of inspired, so I never took the time to finish.

Early next week I plan on posting my "To Be Read" list for 2014! Any suggestions?



  1. Love your reviews! Added quite a few books to my "to-read" list. :)

  2. I keep hearing good things about Eleanor and Park--it has to go on my "to read" pile. And maybe watching the BBC's/Masterpiece Classic's Emma would help get you back into the book? It's one of my favorites--Emma Woodhouse is such a great character.:)

    1. Towards the end I literally couldn't put Eleanor and Park down...was walking around the house, bouncing my 8 month old while reading. And great suggestion about Emma. It's a book I really thought I'd enjoy!

  3. You probably won't finish Emma?? {{gasp}}

    Okay, I'm not a purist, so I'm laughing as I type this--but I agree with checking out the 2009 Emma with Romola Garai, or maybe even the web series Emma Approved? (although it's currently on hiatus till Valentine's Day. boo.)

    Loved E&P and The Giver. And I've been meaning to read The Story of a Soul for YEARS--thanks for the reminder. And thanks for sharing your favorites!


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