My Favorite Books of 2013

Jen Bradbury
Jan 03 · 5 min read

Skiier With Bag My husband and I spent the week between Christmas and New Year's skiing in the Canadian Rockies. At one point, as we prepared to ski out of Sunshine Village, my husband joked that my backpack made me look like a skier about to head off into the backcountry, armed with important survival gear. He remarked, "We won't tell anyone that what you've actually got in there is a book." To which I responded, "What are you talking about? Books are my survival gear." 

My Favorite Books HeaderI love to read - always have. (And yes, I really did take a book skiing. That way, when I needed a break, I could sit in the lodge & contentedly read while my husband kept skiing). I read a lot of books in 2013 and today I'm linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy to share my favorites from 2013. 

A few important caveats about this list: 

- These are books I read in 2013, not necessarily ones that were published in 2013. 

- I read a wide variety of books so this list contains my absolute favorites from the year. Some are fiction; Others are non-fiction. 

- Even though this list is numbered, it is not in any particular order. It was already difficult enough for me to choose my favorites! 

- These books are my favorites from the year. As I chose them, I considered how much I enjoyed them, how frequently I've talked about them or recommended them to other people, and how much I've continued thinking about them after reading them. 

What Alice Forgot 1. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. People have been talking about this book for a long time; I finally read it last week on vacation (It was, in fact, the book I took skiing). Having had a miscarriage this year, I was thankful a friend warned me this book deals heavily with that issue. In the end though, perhaps that's why I loved this book. I related to it, a lot. Beyond that, however, this book is one that I've been thinking about nonstop since reading it. Among other things, it left me wrestling with how I can allow my miscarriage to continue to shape me (because it undoubtedly has) without also leaving me bitter. 

Me Before You 2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. This is another book I heard people talking about a lot before I finally picked it up and read it this year. I laughed and cried during it. I also didn't foresee all it's plot twists, which I appreciated. Moreover, even though it's fiction, this book will make you think. 

3. Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland. You can read my full review of this book here. That said, I included it here because I'd classify it as the most important ministry book published in 2013. It's one that I think every church staff should read and discuss, regardless of how multi-cultural your context currently is. 

4. When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over by Addie Zierman. You can read my full review of this book here. 

Necessary Lies5. Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain. I've read Diane Chamberlain's books for years and have always enjoyed them. However, this book puts her in an entirely different category of writers for me. It's characters were riveting and it's subject matter - eugenics - haunts me. 

6. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Adichie is an incredibly gifted writer and indeed, the quality of writing in this book is incredible. This book tells the story of a Nigerian woman's journey to America & back to Nigeria. It is raw, well- developed, and interesting, in particular from a cross-cultural perspective. 

7.  7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. In a nutshell, this book is about living simply. It tells the story of Jen's "experiment against excess". It's incredibly witty and equally challenging. 

Where'd You Go Bernadette8. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. This is another book I've heard people talking about for ages that I finally read this year. It defied my expectations. In a word, it's quirky... And charming... And delightful. 

9. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella. This book is "chick lit" at it's best. It made my list of favorite books this year simply because of how frequently and how hard I laughed throughout it. It's one I read on vacation during the summer and my husband kept asking what was happening because he'd look over and I'd be laughing so hard I was crying. 

An Exact Replica10. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken. In the days and weeks following my miscarriage, I read a ton of books on grief and, in particular, on baby loss. This is the only one of those books I wouldn't classify as Christian, and yet interestingly, it's the one that most comforted and helped me understand my own grief. It's also the one I keep talking about and recommending to other people. You can read my full review here. 

11. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. I'm a big fan of Jodi Picoult. So when you combine her storytelling with the book's subject matter - the holocaust - it's a no brainer to include it in my list of 2013 favorites. 

Bloom12. Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected by Kelle Hampton. This was the very first book I read in 2013 and it was one of my absolute favorites. It provides readers with a window into the world of Down Syndrome and contains breathtaking photography. You can read my full review here.