Looking Back at Books

Monday, February 17, 2014

I  found out about a link-up happening over at THIS blog during the month of February. I already had a general idea of what I'd be blogging about this month, but I decided to fill in the blanks with some of her prompts.

The prompt I'm tackling today is "Five Favorites".

Let's talk about my five six favorite books from 2013. 

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This one is first because it is my very favorite book from 2013. I know I'm behind the times. I picked this book up at a used book sale the summer before last. I think it took me a little over a week to finish.

Skeeter is a character that I just "got". Her Mother makes me laugh. And as for the cast of "help" - well, the story was close to home. I have seen the strange "dance" of white and black in the south first hand. My own grandma had "help" for as long as I can remember. I've see the "invisible" lines. I've sensed the pain. I think Stockett did an excellent job of telling so many stories in the pages of one novel.

I'm glad I read it and it's one of those books that's on my "read it again someday" list.

Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir by Carolyn Weber

Next up is a book that I read just as fall was beginning. I tend to read by the seasons because it seems to help. I remember sitting on the back patio wearing a sweatshirt and huddling under a blanket as fall began to settle in. The shadows and the quiet were magic for me as I journeyed to Oxford and found in its walls what so many others have found there before me.

I loved the conversations that Carolyn had with "TDH". They showed me a clear picture of what it might be like in the mind of someone who truly questions what it is to believe in God. TDH's responses helped me to see that it's okay NOT to know all of the answers...In fact, I learned from TDH that it's humility that really makes the difference in the lives of others.

This book was so good that it made its way onto my Christmas list. I can't wait to mark up the pages so that I won't quickly forget the lessons I learned from Weber and Oxford last fall.

Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris
Four years ago Harris came out with a book called "Dug Down Deep". I remember cracking it open for the first time early one morning while I was staying out of town with my friend Amber. 

"Dug Down Deep" was really good, but "Humble Orthodoxy" told the rest of the story. As I read Harris's attempt to convince Christians of their responsibility to live with right thinking AND right attitudes, I was encouraged and challenged. Knowing what I believe is great. Acting on those beliefs comes next. What I must not forget is caring for people who may or may not know or believe or act. 

Reading this book in April felt refreshing. Spring was here and I was just breaking in a new journal. April was a month of transition after living with Heidi...I was in my home more and spending my free time getting the flower beds ready and continuing to help her as I was able. The reminder to care came from Harris just when I needed it. 

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff 
 I read this book in one sitting on the evening of December 17. It is a quick read, so I'm sure you will do the same if you ever pick it up.

I'll warn you, if you're a crier, you will cry during this one. It's really not all that sad, it's just MOVING. This collection of letters covers a lot of ground, the budding and blossoming of a friendship, a friendship that even carries over onto the people who only experienced the effects that that friendship has on the people they know.

This short book gave me a look into a little bookstore and the difference it was making. It reminded me how exciting books can be, but more than that, it reminded me of the way that words connect people.

The Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
 My friend Shauna recommended this book to me after she discovered it last year. I saved it until November. November is the month where life settles down and fall routines become comfortable. The gardening is done and there is extra time to sit and be. It also happens that November (2010) was the month that I began to savor Cape Cod...So, going back three years later through Taylor's mystery was pretty much perfect.

This work was first published in 1931. If I remember correctly, it was written when Taylor was very young (late teens, early 20's) and caring for an ill relative. What I saw in these pages was a wonderful detective story. I enjoyed the mystery so much that I passed the book on to both my Mom and my sister.

Going back to New England in days that were very different was the real fun. The characters, the dilemmas, and the setting being Cape Cod had me excited before I even opened the book. Taylor did not disappoint in the slightest.

Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble
This was the first book I read after Heidi's husband came home. It was the beginning of August. The days were still long and the end of summer was coming too fast. Those next few weeks were really lonely for me as I attempted to give them space but missed them all like crazy. Naturally, I made a trip to the library and looked for something to read. 

I remember realizing that this was the first book since "The Help" that I couldn't put down last year. I was nearly halfway through with the novel early one evening. I had spent at least an hour laying in the grass enjoying the last bits of sun before the trees began to shade the backyard. I took a break to start dinner and then after it was in the oven, I dove right back in. 

The setting for this book was the North Carolina shore - another place that holds many memories making it close to my heart. Coble wrote about secrets and grief and disappointment and HOPE. This book was something that God used to help me through those first few days of feeling "lost" for the first time in 2013. Any book that can be enjoyed in the midst of those feelings MUST be good! 

 Blog Everyday in February

So, there you have it. Six great books to check out in 2014 or any year that may follow! 

Why don't you tell me about some of your favorite books?

Do you read by the seasons?


  1. colleen coble is fantastic!
    and i loved "the help" movie so i'm sure the book is 10x better!
    great picks!

  2. Dug Down Deep and Humble Orthodox by Joshua Harris sound really good. I've added those to my wish list! :)

    I've never really read by seasons before, but that actually sounds like a really good idea! I guess I somewhat did this during Christmas when I read A Christmas Carol. haha I really enjoyed reading that one beside a Christmas tree while drinking hot chocolate, so I think that is a new tradition for myself. :)


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