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My Top 10 Favorite Books from 2013

I read 106 books total in 2013 (see the ). Do you know how hard it is to pick my top 10 from that long list? Very hard!

I ended up going with the titles that most impacted me… that I gleaned from, that changed the way I thought about life, and/or that inspired me as a person. So here they are, in no particular order:

— This book impacted me deeply and my life will never be the same as a result. In fact, I was so challenged by it that that I wear almost all the time as a reminder.

Two caveats: the book is not written from a Christian perspective and has a lot of fairly strong language in it. However, it messed with me in such a good way and motivated me to confront the shame in my own life that I didn’t even realize I was there. Powerful stuff that has forever changed how I think and live.

— I believe every Christian should read this book. It caused me to step back and examine what grace means to me and how I’m displaying that grace to others. It’s a very thought-provoking read — even if you don’t agree with all the conclusions.

— I feel like I was the last person on planet earth to read this book and, after reading it, I know why it’s been recommended so highly to me. I love Ann to pieces. She’s so heartfelt, deep, and Jesus-filled. This book is a little piece of her soul… and it’s beautifully inspiring.

I didn’t expect to be so moved by the book, but I was. It challenged me to slow down, savor, and count the gifts that God has given me. And to be a noticer of the little things that we often fail to see as we rush through life.

— Mark Batterson (the author) has a way of writing that powerfully challenges complacency. And this book is no different. I think my biggest takeaway was that we often put God in a box and believe He’s only capable of doing what seems possible to us. But He’s the God who delights to do the impossible — that way He gets the credit and glory! This book really inspired me to pray big prayers and believe God for big things in my life.

— This book takes 1 Corinthians 13 and walks you through how Jesus exemplified each verse in His own life. The section on how Jesus loved Peter in spite of how Peter denied Him, walked away from Him, and turned his back on Him was so convicting to me in my own relationships with people in my life. It’s easy to love those who love us back, but I want to love like Jesus and love those who hurt or mistreat me.

My Top 10 Reads from 2013

Embracing Beauty — I royally surprised myself. Because I loved this ebook! It was breath of fresh air for me. I loved Trina’s perspective on beauty from a Christian standpoint in the beginning chapters. In fact, it really challenged some of my preconceived ideas and beliefs–which I appreciated.

This ebook inspired me to break out of some of my same-old, same-old ruts in what I wear and try new colors, styles, and looks. And believe it or not, I’ve actually found some new styles that I love — and I never would have tried them had I not read this ebook! (Read my full review of this ebook here.)

— I was fascinated by the research in this book and it really inspired me to make sleep a higher priority in my life. My favorite part? Reading about how your body runs on a 7-day cycle and how you can make up for a bad night’s sleep by sleeping extra on another night or during the day — so long as you make it up within 7 days. I’ve been trying to go to bed early and sleeping in and napping on the weekends as a result of reading this book. (Looking for more ideas on how to get a better night’s rest? Check out this post.)

— I was so inspired by this book that I did a month-long challenge here based upon it. If you want to develop the habit of early rising, I think you’ll find this book to be very beneficial and helpful. Andy’s ebook is not for someone who isn’t willing to endure some discomfort and put forth some effort. If you’re happy with how your life is and you’re satisfied with your mornings and your productivity, then you probably don’t need Early to Rise.

Or, if you’re a mom who has young ones and you’re thankful for every second of sleep you can get, you also probably don’t need to read this ebook. {The last thing you need is to feel guilty for getting sleep that your body desperately needs!}

However, if you struggle to get up in the morning and you struggle to be productive during the day wish you could regularly get up earlier and get more done in the mornings, Early to Rise will challenge and motivate you. It’s broken down into easy, manageable steps to get you started on the path to consistent lifelong early rising. Even though I typically get up fairly early, I was re-inspired by it to make early rising even more of a priority in my life.

— This book is a really simple and quick read, but it’s very thought-provoking. I always thought I was a pretty good multitasker. Now I’m not so sure. You see, according to the book — and I’m beginning to be persuaded it’s true — there is no such thing as true multitasking.

Instead, the author makes the case that what we call “multitasking” is really just an inefficient way of switch-tasking. When we are trying to do two things at once, we’re really just switching back and forth between two different things — taking a much longer time to do both.

The author does say that there’s such a thing as background tasking, where you are listening to music while cleaning, etc. But when it comes to tasks that require concentration, he makes a strong case that multitasking is a misnomer.

The more I’ve been testing this theory out in real-life, the more I’m beginning to believe that it’s true. And reading this book has caused me to step back and evaluate how I’m spending my time and how I can be more productive by not trying to multi-task but instead just concentrate completely on one task at a time.

Bread & Wine

— I loved reading . It moved me. It inspired me. It challenged me. And it made me want to spend more time in the kitchen and around the table.

However, the phrase that stuck out to me most was: Present Not Perfect. Shauna shares how we can get so wrapped up in trying to make life perfect — to get all our ducks in a row and keep them that way — that we miss the present.

We rush through life with our plans, our goals, and our lists. We check things off. We pat ourselves on the back for being a powerhouse of productivity. And we forget to breathe. To slow down. To soak up the moments. To savor the here and now.

Present not perfect. That’s how I want to live.

photo credit:

What were your top reads from 2013 and why? I’d love to hear!

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44 Comments

  • says:

    Thanks for the great reading list! I read some of the books off of the list you posted last year and really liked them. Many of these look like must-reads as well! My favorite read of 2013 was “Love Does” by Bob Goff. I love the simplicity and fun that Goff tries to bring through his writing, encouraging us to be whimsical lovers of God and people. There are so many good books out there!

  • Johanna says:

    I think my favorite book for 2013 is “Nephilim the Remnants” by David Henderson and “Undaunted” by Christine Cain
    Those looked like some great books 🙂 I am going to have to read the first book you mentioned…looks intriguing! Thanks Crystal for your helpful reviews:)

  • says:

    I have been wanting to read Daring Greatly forever, but our library doesn’t have it! I’m definitely saving my Swagbucks for it now. I loved Bread and Wine, too! I’m going to add a few of these to my list.

  • says:

    Love this list! I’m working on Daring Greatly. I’ve read 1000 gifts and Bread & Wine (Shauna’s Dad is the pastor of my church!). Have to add the other books to my list.

  • KristaB says:

    Gospel by JD Greear. Life Changing book on the Gospel being not just the way to salvation but the basis on which every minute of our life should be lived.

  • says:

    As I mentioned in a different post, LOVED Bread & Wine!! 🙂 Just reserved Daring Greatly from our library and I can’t wait to read it!! Thanks for sharing your list!

  • DelRae H says:

    I’m excited to read some of these based on your reviews. I was looking for some really good books to add to my dwindling list. The best book that I read in 2013 was a book called “Oola: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World”. It was hilarious and thought provoking at the same time.

  • Christine says:

    No fiction?? I couldn’t live without fiction.

    • Guest says:

      Two fiction that I really enjoyed this year (if you’re looking for suggestions!) we’re Edenbrooke and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand!

  • says:

    Great ones. I loved Shauna’s book, especially. Her best work yet.

  • Nice says:

    This was an OUTSTANDING list and I’m motivated and excited to read pretty much all of these. Looks like my New Years resolution will be to read more books and become the best, most educated form of myself! Thanks so much for all that you post! I look forward to your posts each day!

  • Rebecca says:

    Slim pickings for someone who isn’t Christian, but I’ll manage. 😉
    I’m more of a fiction person any-who. Only non-fiction I read is textbooks. I once had a class that required us to read one of the “Five Love Languages” books – ugh. It’s been 2 years since then and I can say that I don’t remember anything about the book except thinking that I knew that stuff already.
    Give me a good fantasy book and I will read, read, read. I read the whole Wheel of Time series. That’s 14 books. BIG books. I mean HUGE. They make Lord of the Rings look like a children’s picture book. That’s my kinda read.

    • Crystal says:

      I think it was my year for deep books… last year, I read a lot more practical and fiction. We’ll see what kind of a book year this year turns out to be! 🙂

  • says:

    I always love when you post your reading lists and recommended books. I’ve found a number of great ones from you! I’m putting some of these on my wish list from the library and Paperback Swap.
    Thanks!

  • says:

    I had a hard time picking out my favorites this year too. You have some good ones, and I haven’t read any of them so I’m excited to add them to my list. Here’s my list:

  • Jenny says:

    Thanks for sharing! So, I’m curious, do you buy all of these books?!? Or do you rent from the library, find them free, etc? Thanks a lot!

  • Anna says:

    I have similar topic books on my list and have read a few of these–all worthy books. I also have read other books related to things I enjoy in life. I had a garden for the first time this year and learned to take care of it by reading books. I also do crafts and broadened my horizon in the crafts and needle point by reading books on the topic. I read for lots of reasons but also to learn how to do new tasks or things as well.

  • says:

    I loved Bread and Wine and Daring Greatly this year as well! Both were really helpful and inspirational for me.

    I haven’t made a list of my top books, but I did list all the books I read (46) this year on my blog.

    Thanks for sharing your favorites, putting a couple of these on my to read list!

  • Lora C says:

    Early to Rise was a favorite and The Lighter Side of Large–this one is a fictionalized version of the author’s life and deals with her weight and family issues. I didn’t do much reading last year, but I have it as one of my goals for this year and have started out with a much needed book that I already love–The Power of Praying for your Adult Children by Stormie Omartian. I am also leading a study of 7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.

    Thanks for your list of top reads–they all sound interesting. I was planning to read Daring Greatly too–glad to hear your review of it.

  • Debbie Owen says:

    My favorite books of 2013 were Give It All To Him by Max Lucado and The Jesus Life: Eight Ways to Recover Authentic Christianity by Stephen W. Smith. They both spoke about Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I think that was a theme for me in 2013. One of my highlighted quotes from The Jesus Life – “Are you tired? worn Out? burned out on religion? Come to me. Get Away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest….”

  • says:

    Loved Andy’s book. I’ve been waking up early, excersing, reading and/or writing for months. Great list.

  • says:

    I really loved Secret Daughter by an Indian woman. Gave me real insight into foreign adoptions, from biological and adopted mothers’ viewpoints!

  • says:

    I’ve added a few of those to my Amazon wish list Crystal, thanks for sharing! I listed mine above, yours made my favorite in the category of Personal Growth.

  • says:

    We’ll now, my book pile just grew 😉

  • says:

    Thanks for sharing – I’ve read some of these, and added some of the others to my “Books to Read” list. I too loved Bread & Wine – definitely one of my favorite books of 2013!

    • Michelle H. says:

      Thanks for posting your favorites. I’ve already added a few to my hold list at the library. Always happy to get some new recommendations for books I wouldn’t have found on my own.

  • says:

    My favorite book was Secret Daughter by Shilpi Gowda. It is a beautiful story about foreign adoption told by biological and adoptive mothers. I bought t the book for niece my niece who is adopting a Haitian baby.

  • MS Barb says:

    I have enjoyed several of Chautona Havig’s books this past year–my favorite was “Past Forward” This story incorporated Christian relationships; suspense; grief and happiness; love and hate; & how to live “off the land” amongst other life lessons!

  • says:

    Love that you’re sharing these and especially love to see Daring Greatly and Bread and Wine on this list!

    I just requested The Myth of Multitasking from my library. How had I not heard of that one before?

  • says:

    3 of my favorites from the year: The Unburdened Heart by Suzie Eller, God is Able by Priscilla Shirer, and Epic Grace by Kurt Bubna . Love your list! Got a few for this year from it. 🙂

  • sona says:

    For those of us who like history (non-fiction) I very much liked Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy.” Have not read “Killing Jesus.” It is written up as a history book not theological. All have been on the NY Times Best Seller List for months….if that carries any weight??? 🙂

  • says:

    Crystal, I’m honored to be in that group of books and I’m eternally grateful for you generously sharing it with your community. That book was written on a whim and it has changed my family’s life forever. You featuring it on your site was a huge part of that. I’m very excited to release Early To Rise Experience For Moms in February featuring many of the women in your community. Bless you friend – Andy

  • says:

    Bread and Wine was one of my favorite reads of this year, so now I want to read some of her others. And Philip Yancey’s “What So Amazing about Grace?” is one of my favorites, too. One of my favorites for this past year were Dee Henderson’s new books. I’m not normally a suspense person, but hers are so brilliantly written. I curl up and read them in one long stretch to find out what happens!

  • says:

    Crystal, I’m honored and delighted to be on this list! Wow! So glad you’ve found more joy and beauty in the art of dressing. Wish we could go shopping together sometime! 😉

  • Carrie Morley says:

    I am going to admit when I read this at first, I was like “How many books?!” and kind of felt annoyed that I don’t have the time to do that. I used to love to read and just can’t find the time anymore. The next day, though, I decided I needed to give myself and attitude adjustment and remedy my obvious unhappiness with lack of reading to something positive. I have decided that it is realistic of me to read 1 book per month. That’s 12 per year. It probably sounds like ‘nothing’ to avid readers but I just don’t have the time and then gave up reading altogether, which has made me sad. 🙁 I am very excited to achieve this goal and I would like to thank you for inspiring me. I am going to start with Daring Greatly and I just had it delivered to my Kindle. THANK YOU!

  • says:

    Quiet by Susan Cain – I had always thought my child was “just shy” but reading this book opened my eyes to the fact that she is an introvert. And I learned my husband was too. It has helped me be a better mother and wife knowing who they are and how to relate to them. It is a must read for anyone with an introvert in their life, which is pretty much everyone. 😀

    A Double Story by George MacDonald – this is one of CS Lewis’ favorite authors and one of his favorite books! That made it a must read. We read it in book club and it was the most highlighted children’s book we had all ever read. I read it to my kids and STILL use word pictures from that story when teaching my kids. I took away so many lessons from it, and so did my kids. You will not be disappointed adding this to your reading list of one to read to the kids. 😀

    • says:

      I TOTALLY forgot about two other books (oh how I wish I had the Paperwhite integration of GoodReads in 2013!)

      Firstly was Tell Your Time. It was your recommendation that caused me to read it and I am forever grateful. This book was life changing! I had never thought about telling my time what to do like I told my money what to do. 😀

      As was your book 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life. This book let me know that I CAN make MAJOR changes in my life, just slowly. And to not bite off everything at once. This book finally helped me get my house on the way to order, one 21 day step at a time! 😀

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