The Best Books I Read in 2013

My Favorite Reads of 2013 ~ Plumfield Dreams

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My friend Sarah at All Manner of Inspiration is hosting an end-of-the-year linkup so we can all share our book lists from this year. I’m also linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs Darcy.

I read a lot of great books this year. Sometimes you just hit the jackpot, you know? I read a few total flops, too, but I’m not even going to bother listing those. I’d rather discuss the positive.

I hope you’ll join these linkups with your own post, and/or post in the comments here – I want to know what your favorite books of the year were. My TBR stack is never high enough. (Okay…you caught me…it toppled over a long time ago.)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

I like memoirs (you’re going to notice that as you scroll through here). This one is fun and surprisingly insightful. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit of a snob, but I really didn’t expect much depth from this read, and I was pleased to find otherwise. I’ve also read Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and I preferred Kaling’s musings and stories.

Babycatcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

Ooh, I loved this book. Vincent was a midwife for decades, getting in on the ground floor as the movement resurfaced. The book made me laugh and cry, and I reveled in all the lovely life.

Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir

I didn’t expect too much from this one. The title and cover appealed to me, but I couldn’t figure how it would be engaging enough that I would want to wade through it. I was wrong. (Hmm…three books so far, and I was wrong about two of them…this is concerning.) At any rate, this book is beautifully written, one to savor.

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared

Another memoir! This is a quick read about a father and daughter who somehow managed to read aloud every evening from the time she was a young child to the day she went to college. Sweet and inspiring.

84, Charing Cross Road

This little charmer is a very quick read. I think I sailed through it in a couple of hours. It consists of letters sent back and forth between an American woman and the staff of a British bookstore in the years following WWII.

The Mission of Motherhood

I love Clarkson’s writings. When I read this book I felt as though I were sitting with a trusted and well-loved mentor, as she shared her wisdom in a conversational way. Clarkson lays the foundation for the why of intentional mothering, and then gives fantastic practical advice for how.

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

I’ve read something like a bazillion business and communication books, and this was one of the best. If you have something to say in this fast-paced, over-saturated world, I recommend you read this book.

Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn

Oh, my. I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. (There I go again.) Shankle is FUNNY. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more. And then again. I think this one will mostly appeal to moms.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

I read this while I was expecting Noah. Gaskin is full of wisdom and years of knowledge about pregnancy and childbirth. The first section of the book consists entirely of birth stories from patients at The Farm, told in their own words. Approximately the latter two-thirds of the book is Gaskin’s writings. I found the birth stories inspiring and reassuring as I anticipated my own natural birth, and I expect I will reread the entire thing for subsequent pregnancies.

Parenting from the Heights

I heard this mother/daughter writing team give an interview on a local radio station, and I like what they had to say, so I invested in their book about setting boundaries and teaching our children discipline with love. The ladies deflate popular, but ineffective, methods without fear. A good resource.

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?

The answer, in a nutshell, is lie to them. This is a quick read, and I highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of political or religious bent – the book is balanced, and it highlights something we all need to consider deeply.

My Ideal Bookshelf

A coffee table-style book of “ideal bookshelves” as described by a variety of people, celebrity and non-celebrity alike. The drawings are cool, and the insights into peoples’ thinking is interesting. The last page outlines a set of books, and invites the reader to create his/her own ideal bookshelf. I think I’ll do that on the blog one of these days. This is one to enjoy a page or two at a time.

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet

Boo Mama writes one of the few blogs I will read in its entirety every single time she posts, regardless of the topic. She is hi-lar-i-ous, and oh, so real. Her book is beautiful, sweet and funny, a celebration of life. Read it for the feels (as Boo Mama herself might say) (and then she’d write in multiple parenthetical statements, because she prides herself on being grammatically accurate like that).

Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices

L’Engle was a fascinating, confusing woman. Her writings are interesting, whimsical, inspiring. And apparently, those who knew her often found her as confusing as I do. It’s interesting, then, that only one or two of the many remembrances in this compilation are not affectionate.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I reread this one for book club, and I’m glad I did. The book is a fairly easy read, and still has depth and beauty, and a wealth of information about a front in WWII I hadn’t known about (and I’ve read a lot, nonfiction and fiction, about WWII).


Finishing the Hat & Look, I Made a Hat

These beautiful coffee table books are a complete compendium of Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, with his own reflections on the songs and the shows for which he wrote them. A must for any musical theatre buff, particularly if you like Sondheim. (And I’m not sure you can be a musical theatre buff if you don’t like Sondheim.)

A Girl Named Zippy

Zippy grew up in my parents’ generation (or pretty close to it) in Indiana, the state in which I’ve resided my entire life. This is a beautiful ode to a bygone era. Also, it’s funny.

Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem and the Joys of Motherhood

I LOVE this book, and the one that preceded it, Loving the Little Years. Jankovic is inspiring and challenging, pulling no punches in bite size chapters perfect for the busy mom who needs a reminder about why she is doing what she is doing.

The Fault in Our Stars

I’m probably one of the last people in the world to read this book, so you may not need me to tell you about it. And I’m not really going to, except to say that it’s about a teenager with cancer, and yeah, it’s sad, but it’s also funny and fun and you should read it. (That is, if you haven’t already.)

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Okay, this is the last of the “I didn’t think I’d like it this well” books. It’s well-written and engaging, and far smarter than I thought a book by actress Lauren Graham would be. (I know, I know – I really am a snob.)

The Greatest Gift

Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite writers. This advent book does not disappoint. If you weren’t one of the people who made it the #1 selling book on all of Amazon (how cool is that?! It’s an advent book!), I highly recommend you purchase it for next year. You can send me a thank you card next December. Oh, and buy the hardback – you want to hold this one in your hands.

The Women of Christmas

Higgs writes in such a chatty tone as she takes the reader through the Christmas story verse by verse. I love that. She goes into detail about the culture and history surrounding the story, taking what many would make dry and making it engaging. (Okay, I love that sort of thing, so I would find it interesting any way, but really, truly, I think any woman interested in the topic would enjoy it.)

What were your favorite reads of 2013?

14 thoughts on “The Best Books I Read in 2013

  1. Haha – you’re not the last one… I still haven’t read TFIOS yet 🙂

    So many books I will be adding to my read in 2014 list, which has also completely toppled over. I’ve heard such great things about Sparkly Green Earrings and Surprised By Oxford.

  2. Love your post Katy – so much good stuff here! 🙂 I loved Surprised By Oxford, The Greatest Gift & Someday, Someday, Maybe too! 🙂 I started reading Bossypants, and honestly, didn’t get into it like I thought I would, but I think I would love Mindy Kaling’s book. And I must say, I LOVE that you included the Sondheim books – so, so good! {And I agree – how can one be a musical theatre lover, and not love Sondheim?} I’ve pre-ordered Melanie Shankle’s new upcoming book (in Feb.) on marriage. I figure I’ll read that one first, since I don’t have children yet – but I’ve heard such great things about Sparkly Green Earrings too. Thanks SO MUCH for linking up this post friend – Happy New Year!

    • Thank you, Sarah! I was excited to link up with you on this one! I’m glad you took the step to create the linkup!

      I felt the same way about Bossypants. If you do read Kaling’s book, I’m interested to hear what you think of it.

      I didn’t even know about Melanie’s new book until I glimpsed the title as I scrolled through your post the first time. I’m so excited!

  3. We’ve read many of the same books this year…I especially loved Boo Mamma’s “Salty and Sweet” and I laughed so hard while reading Melanie Shankle’s “Sparkly Green Earrings” while running on the treadmill I nearly fell off. I’m excited to see “Fit to Burst” on your list…I’m simply envious of Rachel Jankovic’s wisdom and writing ability! Thanks for a great post and happy reading in 2014!

  4. Awesome list! I’m currently reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and Sparkly Green Earrings!

    Want to read The Mission of Motherhood and Fit to Burst! We have a few similar styles of books, I guess!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • It looks like it! I hope you enjoy them all as much as I did! Great reads. (I can’t recommend Sally Clarkson and Rachel Jankovic strongly enough; they are probably my two favorite authors for moms.)

  5. I’m popping in from Sarah’s site. You’ve listed two of my very favorites: 84 Charing Cross Road and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I’ve also read several others on the list and liked them as well. I haven’t read The Fault in our Stars so you’re ahead of me. Loved browsing the list and finding new titles to topple my TBR stack : )

  6. So much good stuff here–books I’ve read and books I’d like to. (I FINALLY read Guernsey just last week, possibly making me the last person online to finish it.)

    Of the ones I haven’t read, the Sondheim ones are the most intriguing. I bet I could page through those for hours. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your favorites with us!

    • I think I am going to get the Sondheim books for my coffee table (in a year or two when we finish our home renovations and I actually have one…details). I would love to look through them again at my leisure. (In my head, “leisure” was pronounced there the way Donald Sutherland says it in the new Pride & Prejudice. Just in case you’d like to join me in hearing it that way.)

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