What I Read In 2013 — A Booklist Linkup {UPDATED}


This was a banner year, as far as my reading stack was concerned.   Books became my friends, a passport for imaginative travels, and my own personal writing classroom textbooks.   I read 35 books cover to cover this year, and that’s not including the piles of books I started but never finished, or skim read for research.   {Comparatively, I read 13 books last year, which felt like an accomplishment whilst being a full time student.}

End of year booklists are some of my favorite reads, so I decided this year to host my own first booklist linkup.  Share with us what you read, your fave books, the books you’d rather have skipped, and/or the books you’re anxiously awaiting in 2014.  If you don’t have a blog post to link up, please share your reads in the comments section. 

 {And one more little side note about my lists: I’m not the gal who has the patience to read a book I’m not overjoyed by.  For this reason, most of my reads were 4 & 5 stars.  If it didn’t feel like a book was at least a 3 star read, it fell by the way-side.  Just blame it on my adult-ADD.  Also, the affiliate links used will not affect the cost of the book to you, and the pennies earned will go to keeping this blog’s lights turned on – thanks so much!} 



My Very Favorite Reads


Bread & Wine: A Love Letter To Life Around The Table by Shauna Niequist

HANDS DOWN, this was my favorite read this year.  The blend of memoir, food writing, and recipes kept me riveted.  But this book’s heart and soul, the feelings and wisdom that seeped through its pages will bring me back to this book again and again.  I keep a copy in my kitchen, and have made certain receipes {Brannon’s Caesar  Dressing & Blueberry Crisp, for starters} more times than I can count.

Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures At The Table by Ruth Reichl

While I certainly didn’t resonate or cheer for Reichl’s marital infidelities, I was immediately engaged by the incredible writing and stories in this book.  Ruth’s life has been one of adventure, and her experience in the food world long before being a ‘foodie’ was en vogue is captivating.  I loved this book for the food writing, the stories, and mostly – Reichl’s incredible voice.  This book led me on the journey to reading all of her food memoirs this past summer, and I’m looking forward to her debut novel release this spring!

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

I was anticipating this read almost more than any other book this year {except for Bread & Wine}, and of course – it exceeded my lofty expectations.  If for whatever reason, the title turns you off, please don’t let it!  Sarah truly is one of my favorite writers – her voice is so both deeply powerful and peacefully mesmerizing.  Read a few paragraphs, and you feel you know her.  This book addresses a sometimes-volatile topic with grace, beauty, honesty and TRUTH.  Even if you don’t think you’ll agree with her theology, there is SO much to glean from these pages – I can’t stress enough not to miss this read!  I’m honored and humbled to be a contributing writer to the SheLoves Red Couch book club this year, and can’t wait to discuss this incredible book with the online world.

Soil & Sacrament: A Memoir of Food & Faith by Fred Bahnson

Let me clear and upfront here: I am a terrible gardner.  I have been known to kill cacti and house plants with a vengeance.  That being said, this memoir about faith and gardening as vocation was one of my favorite books of the year.  To me, this book felt a little less about food, and a little bit more about faith and seeking and calling.  Bahnson, an exquisite writer, and professional horticulturalist chronicles his journeys to communities around the world of faith and soil.  You know when the best stories don’t necessarily have to be about your journey, but through the lens of their experience, you understand your life a little bit more?  That’s how I felt about this book, though my words hardly do it justice.  If you want to read a contemplative, beautiful memoir, read. this. book.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Being a musical theatre lover and performer, it only seems fitting to me that my favorite novel was written by a Gilmore Girl about the New York theatre world in the 90’s.  Lauren is a wonderfully gifted writer, and this story kept me riveted and laughing right along with her protagonist {and perhaps, somewhat autobiographical?} Franny as she pursues a theatre and film career and love in the heart of NYC.  Franny felt like a friend and a kindred spirit, and this book helped me remember my own New York adventure,  whilst bringing lightness to my heavy heart this summer.

Notes From A Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally In a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider

I know, I’m sorry – I cheated here.  Tsh’s incredible book isn’t due out until this coming February, and I was extremely grateful to obtain an advanced copy, that I devoured in about 3 days. I’ve pretty much decided I want to be Tsh when I grow up {and yes, I’m pretty sure I’m a few years older than her.}  The founder of the blogging empire The Art of Simple {formerly Simple Mom}, this is Oxenreider’s 3rd book and I think her best yet.  Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide–this book made me think, made me dream, and gave me new food for thought on living with intention.  Don’t miss this one.

Honorable Mentions

{Almost-Very-Favorites You Should Not Miss}


Love Story: The Hand That Holds Us From The Garden to the Gates by Nichole Nordeman 

In college, Nichole was one of my favorite Christian singers.  This was the first book I read this year, and I was floored by the depth and beauty of Nordeman’s writing.   Delving into the stories of Biblical figures we all think we know, this book reads less like a treatise on the Bible, and more like a memoir with Biblical insight and honesty.  I hope Nichole writes another book soon.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

I took my time finishing this book, and it narrowly missed being one of my top faves this year.  Rachel spent an entire year exploring various concepts of ‘Biblical womanhood’ with humor, intelligence and honesty that I think has rarely been expressed in typical Christian culture.  She’s a fantastic writer, and my description of this book won’t do it justice – just read it.

The War of Art: Break Through The Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

For years I didn’t read about my creative and artistic pursuits – I just did them.  But at the same time, I wish I had read this book years ago, when it was first released because there is such wisdom in Pressfield’s pages of pushing against fear and resistance.  A quick, fantastic read that should be required for any artist.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

I loved this story, and I loved the quirky and inventive tie-in it had to Madeleine L’engle’s  A Wrinkle In Time.  Probably my favorite YA read of the year.

When We Were On Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love & Starting Over by Addie Zierman

I didn’t think I would resonate with this book as much as I did, though I very much grew up in the evangelical Christian culture.  Addie is a phenomenal writer, and draws you into her story {whether you’ve experienced anything like it or not} from the very first pages.  This story inspired me to be intentional about forgiveness, and made me want to tell and live my spiritual story the best way I can.  I’m excited to be featuring an interview with Addie on the blog very soon – come back and check it out!

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

I didn’t expect it, but I honestly think I liked this book by Ann better than her bestselling debut, One Thousand Gifts.    No one writes like Ann Voskamp, and her ‘prosetry’ is lyrical and enthralling.  This is definitely my favorite read for Advent, and one I’ll be returning to year after year.

The Rest of My {Wonderful!}  2013 Reads


What I’m Reading Right Now


Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of A Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber

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

The Voice Bible

Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awaken the Journal-Writing Traveler by Lavinia Spalding

Stepping Up: A Journey Through The Psalms of Ascent by Beth Moore

Prototype by Jonathan Martin

2014 Releases I Want To Read 

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg

The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg {paperback release}

Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith by Michelle DeRusha

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith

Delicious: A Novel by Ruth Reichl

The Antelope In the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life by Melanie Shankle

Wearing God: An Exercise In Enriching Our Spiritual Imagination by Lauren Winner

Tables In The Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost & Found Again by Preston Yancey

Learning To Walk In The Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

  • Children of the Day: Thessalonians Study by Beth Moore

Kiss The Wave by Tara Leigh Cobble

What did you read this year?
Happy Reading & Happy New Year!

{Because a booklist linkup feels like a party to me, I’m joining in with Haley & Anne at their respective 2013 book linkups.}





20 comments on “What I Read In 2013 — A Booklist Linkup {UPDATED}

  1. My books in 2013:
    Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill
    Torn by Justin Lee
    Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin
    Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
    Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
    How Great Is Our God – edited by Mark Gilroy
    Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
    The Praying Life by Paul Miller
    Your Growing Season by Martin Johnson
    Oh Myyyy by George Takeii
    The Saturday Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith
    The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs
    Higher by Neil Bascomb
    Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
    Attention Must Be Paid, But For $800? by Peter Wayner
    The Question That Never Goes Away by Philip Yancy
    The Perils of Morning Coffee by Alexander McCall Smith
    The Cross in the Closet by Timothy Kurek
    The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Bianco
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    The Offshore Pirate by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

    Wow, I read more than I realized!

      1. I need to add that book to my reading list! My Godmom has conducted that musical, and I can’t wait to see it one day! 🙂

    1. Thanks SO MUCH for including your reading list here Laura – it’s wonderful!! I love and miss you – it means more to me than you know that you read and support my blog. I’m adding some of your reads definitely to my stack. I think I’m starting with Justin Lee’s Torn – I read a preview of that book, and loved it! Happy New Year!!

    1. Thanks much for reading! Come back and link up your post if you’d like! I really enjoyed reading your list at Haley’s blog – happy new year!

  2. I haven’t read your list yet, because I want to sit down and savor it – I know I’m going to love it! Thanks for creating this linkup; I enjoyed participating.

    1. Both women are such incredible writers Jeannie – I think you’ll really love their books! Thanks for reading!

  3. I love it!! And I will definitely have to bookmark to add favorites to my “free reading” stack. 🙂 Just finished “Bread and Wine” in December and it was lovely. I’ve already tried a few recipes and as one who is not quick to spend time in the kitchen that says a lot! Only wishing I’d taking your “3 star or less” advice with “Allegiant.” I made myself finish it, but I didn’t care for it nearly as much as “Divergent.” 🙂 Will definitely be referring to this list OFTEN.

  4. Hey Sarah! I hope the unpacking is almost over for you. I’m finally getting back into the blogosphere. I finally pulled my reading list together to post albeit a little late to the party. I love your list –I always find great suggestions. I read two suggested by you this year : Bread & Wine and Submerged. Both were wonderful. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Allie! I am really enjoying A Million Little Ways. (I wrote a review/post about this book if you’d like to hear more.). I’m reading it slowly, and taking notes, underlining and processing those words in a contemplative way – I really think it is Emily’s best book to date, and will probably be one of my fave reads of the year.

  5. Can’t wait to read Tsh’s–jealous that you already have! Glad to hear you enjoyed it. 🙂

    Love all the great foodie books you have here. Next year I’m especially looking forward to Delancey and Reichl’s novel.

    Thanks for sharing your favorites with us!

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