Today I am talking about books and linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy and her link-up to share my favorite books from 2013. Now these are not books released in 2013; I always just seem to be a few steps behind. These are my favorite books that I read in 2013.
For someone who has never considered myself much of a reader, I managed to read 70 books this year. This surpassed my goal of fifty-two books, and if you don’t mind me bragging on myself a little, I must admit I am pretty proud of myself. Still my goal for 2014 is still fifty-two books. Because Denmark.*
Also, all the fiction books I read I actually kind of cheated. I know. It’s fourth grade all over again when I put the sticky note on my chair during the test over the 50 states.** I cheated because all the fiction books I actually listened to on audiobook. I love audiobooks. I mainly listen to them while driving back and forth from Kansas and North Dakota, but I also listen while I am working out. It’s just a really great way to accomplish two things at once.
Favorite Fiction Book
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I don’t read a lot of fiction. Actually I think this year (and with audiobooks) I read more fiction than I probably ever have in my whole life. Save for maybe when I was in second grade and was reading Babysitters Club books. Or when I read American Girl books.
I read this in preparation for the movie based on this book. Even though I have yet to actually see the movie, I really enjoyed this book. It did make me cry. I really recommend this book. The story sucked me in, and I could stop reading until I finished it.
Favorite Young Adult
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This one is hard because it was almost a tie between The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. They both really stuck with me. I think you should pay attention when you can’t get a book out of your head. The Fault in Our Stars has been made into a movie that will release later this year. Also, since I’m a youth pastor and was previously a youth ministry intern, I consider all reading of young adult fiction as part of ministry. I remember when one of my fellow interns did not read The Hunger Games, and she missed a large opportunity to discuss the books with the teens.
I read all John Green wrote this year and I enjoyed the others, they did not make me cry. Of course, I will now officially read anything John Green writes.
P.S. If there was a runner-up for this category or if I created a category for favorite series, it would be Divergent. It’s no Hunger Games, but I also feel like it’s not fair they always get compared. The Divergent trilogy was really great.
Favorite Spiritual Memoir
When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman
I am a little younger than Addie, but I still remember listening to the song “Shine” by the Newsboys. When I became a Christian, I submerged myself in all things Christian subculture. I appreciate her sharing about the evangelical culture, but it’s more than that. It’s really a story about someone finding her own voice and identity. It’s a story filled with love and loss, doubt and faith. It’s a story about growing up.
I enjoy reading memoirs, and I especially enjoyed this one. It’s incredibly honest and real. This book should be read by pastors because it does help open your eyes to people in the church who may have been hurt by those outside and inside the church.
Favorite Anne Lamott Book
Stitches by Anne Lamott
Okay, so fine. She only released two books this year, so there were only two from which to pick. This is my blog so I can make up whatever categories I want.
I love Anne Lamott, so I will read whatever she writes. I think the sign of reading a good book inspires ideas within your own mind. Whenever I am reading Anne Lamott, I am constantly thinking of blog post ideas or sermon ideas. I finished reading Stitches while waiting for my car at a tire and alignment shop, and the notes app on my phone was filled with half-finished ideas I simply wanted to write down so I would not lose them.
Favorite Humor Book
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
I really enjoyed this book. This was the first fun book I completed after graduating college. It was a good choice; it made me laugh. Mindy Kaling is hilarious, and she writes with a great combination of smart and funny. She mentions humorous and thought-provoking situations that have happened to her. She includes lists (or, pliests), and as a lover of lists, I enjoyed them. I also enjoyed reading about her attempts at babysitting and her inclusion of discussing N’Sync. She even writes about some painful experiences like during a photo shoot for People magazine where only dresses in size 0 were available. She makes even those more painful experiences hopeful. You can tell she’s being herself. She makes you wish you were friends with her.
Favorite Youth Ministry Book
Better Safe than Sued: Keeping Your Students and Ministry Alive by Jack Crabtree
As a youth pastor, I am always looking for youth ministry-related books to read. There are a lot out there, so I appreciate recommendations that help sort out the riff-raff.
This book is one of the necessary reads for those in youth ministry. I was required to read it for one of my classes, but I really enjoyed it. This book discusses practical issues that might be overlooked. Some things in youth ministry are fun, but they could be more dangerous than you would think. It is always important to prevent any horrific consequences.
It’s not like I read a lot of biographies, so I am not the biography expert, but this biography on Erik Erikson was brilliant. It was long, but it was extremely detailed. It helped me understand Erikson on a new level, and it also made me appreciate Erikson a lot more.
Before reading Erikson’s works, it would be incredibly helpful to first read this. It may seem like an intimating read at 592 pages, but don’t let that stop you. The author, Friedman provides a lot of insight into Erikson’s professional and personal life. I’ll be honest, I did not read this in its entirety, so I did not read the introduction or first part of the book. I really enjoyed the majority of the book I did read.
Favorite Book about Church Issues
Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh
As an introvert working in a church, this books was much needed. I actually think all people (especially extroverts) would benefit from reading this book.
McHugh confronts the extroverted bias that exists in church culture. We need both extraverts and introverts in the church, and we would better benefit from each personality if we better understood them. It is very practical and pastoral. It is a must-read for all pastors.
What have been your favorite books this year?
*What? That needs further explanation? I remember reading an article about Denmark being the happiest country because they have low expectations. I don’t know if that’s scientific (it’s probably not), but I think there is a lot of truth behind it. That’s why when making the ten-hour drive from Kansas to North Dakota, I convinced myself I’ll arrive home an hour later so I am pleasantly surprised when I am home early. That’s also why my reading goal for 2014 is not higher.
**Yes, that’s real life. Also yes, I am not proud. Okay, maybe I’m a little proud of my fourth-grade self for the creativity and for getting away with it. No, I won’t tell my future children about this until they are older.