Monday, December 30, 2013

What I Read in 2013


I was so excited when Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas said she was going to host this link-up! My running goal for the past few years has been to read 50 books per year--a much easier feat when I was in grad school and required to read a book a week. This year I completed 41--not too shabby, considering we moved AND I gave birth to twins. :) That number includes several issues of Dappled Things Most (all?) of my reading in the past 6 weeks has been on my Kindle, since it's a lot easier to use while nursing. (I think I averaged a book every three days when the twins were first born. Lots of couch time.)

But, reading has slowed down the past week or so as the babies have woken up a bit more ... as has blogging time. So I've picked some of my favorites from the longer list to write a few words about. (Surprisingly, most of them are nonfiction. Generally I read more fiction than nonfiction because ... well, because I'm addicted ...? It's part of why I read so quickly. My husband just sent me link to this article that talks about the effect of reading novels on your brain chemistry.)

The Presence of Grace, by J.F. Powers

I didn't discover J.F. Powers until this year, and I can't even take much credit for it. Keith bought me this book last Christmas. This is a collection of short stories, all of which feature priests as the main character. (Except for two of them that feature a pastor's cat. Those are my favorites.)

In Praise of Homemaking: Affirming the Choice to be a Mother-at-Home, by Connie F. Zimney

Unfortunately, this book is out of print. But if you can get your hands on a copy, do so! My mom lent it to me, and it is a beautiful reflection on motherhood and the meaning of homemaking.

A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin

I got sucked into Martin's fiction this year, both the books and the HBO show. This series is not for the faint of heart, partly because it is a commitment (I mean, those books weigh like five pounds apiece) and partly because everyone you love will die. In particularly gruesome and/or unfair ways.

All that to say these are well-written books. The HBO series does a good job of adapting them, but ... well, it's HBO, so be prepared to avert your eyes!

The Summer House, by Alice Thomas Ellis

One of my favorite, favorite authors. This is actually three novels about the same event from the perspective of three different characters. If you like Flannery O'Connor, you HAVE to read this author; I'm not sure why more people don't know her, but she deserves to be read. And if you don't like O'Connor, you should read her too; she embodies the things people like about Flannery (the operation of grace among and through very imperfect and often less-than-virtuous human beings) without the grittiness and violence that depresses some folks. Also, she has a wicked sense of humor. (I'd recommend starting with her book The 27th Kingdom, unless you want to save the best for last.)

My Sisters the Saints, by Colleen Carroll Campbell

I read this with a group of other Catholic moms. Her writing is very engaging. I'm hoping to read some of Edith Stein's writing this year because of this book.

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning, by Simcha Fisher

Simcha is one of my favorite people that I've never met. Some of the material in this book I'd read before in some of her blog posts, but all of it is wise, funny, and worth reading many times.

Pope Awesome and Other Stories, by Cari Donaldson

This was one of the books that I read while nursing, and I am so glad. I think I would have zipped through it even if I hadn't been stuck on the couch breastfeeding. Cari's experiences and insights are great, and some of them were exactly what I needed to hear at the moment I read them.

Mariette in Ecstasy, by Ron Hansen 

I'd been meaning to read this book for ages. It did not disappoint. I love how it is structured according to feast days and prayers, how it moves with the rhythm of convent life. I love how you don't know whether Mariette is holy or crazy, and yet either way it's clear she loves. A beautiful book.

The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy

I started this book because 1) Keith downloaded it, and 2) I felt like Walker Percy was an author I "should" read. I have to admit that I spent the first half of the book disappointed and unimpressed, because I feel that Percy's fiction is a lot like his nonfiction. More an illustration than a story. But by the middle of this book, his characters and their actions took on more force for me, and I can say that I'm glad to have read it.

2012 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction

Excellent stuff. Especially the winning story, "Eyes That Pour Forth"--wow. I highly recommend buying it: it's good stuff, short stories are easy to read even if you're really busy, and you'll be supporting a small Catholic press.

How Do You Tuck in a Superhero? by Rachel Balducci

I read this book. Then suddenly I had three boys under age 2. I think it's Rachel's fault! ;) (Seriously though, this is a funny and heartwarming book, and I certainly recommend it to any mother of boys!)


  1. Love Flannery O'Connor so I'm excited about Alice Thomas Ellis! Just added her to my list :)

    Love so many of these other titles, too!

  2. sounds like a lot of great books! blessed new year! May the Mother of God protect your young family!!!

  3. Thanks for linking up! This was so fun to read :)