Best Books I Read in 2013

January 3, 2014
I’ve grouped together my favorite reads from last year. I had a hard time narrowing down books I liked with books I loved for my kids with books I just loved to read. So, I’ve included a smattering of all three. Normally, I would separate fiction from non-fiction, but today, I thought I’d live on the wild side.
YOUR Favorite Books of 2013 | Modern Mrs Darcy
With the Kids:

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
Easily one of my kids’ favorite books of the year. I love the message this book sends, and I love the sing-songy, silly lyrics.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs: As Retold by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is the best. This book is one of his finest. It’s hilarious for kids and adults alike.

The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition
My husband and I read this book with the boys, and they loved it. The world of The Phantom Tollbooth is magical, ironic and funny. It’s a classic for a reason.

My Reads:

The Secret Keeper: A Novel
I learned to trust Kate Morton in 2013. She develops her characters well with super tight plot elements. The Secret Keeper was my favorite.

Jim Henson: The Biography
Hanging out behind the scenes of The Muppets and Sesame Street is just as fun and zany as one might expect. Jim Henson remains a man of paradox. Also, Frank Oz has a mouth on him (which when I read his blurbs in the book, I always imagined the voice of Miss Piggy or Fozzy and laughed harder). But if that sort of thing bothers you, just wanted to let you know. I wrote about this one over at the Library Adventure.

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy)
The world of this book is intriguing. It’s a fantasy world but somewhat reflective of feudal Russia. I hope the library gets the second book in soon because the third one comes out this year. And, looks like Shadow and Bone is only $2.99 in the Kindle store for today.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel
I read this book in a few hours. It’s beautiful and eerie, absolutely magical and thought-provoking.

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter
This book prompted me to read Persuasion again, one of my favorite of Jane Austen’s six completed novels. One man in his twenties examines all of Austen’s novels for a graduate school course, and he allows Austen’s words to help him grow up. This is a must-read for all fans of Jane Austen. It does use modern-day life situations and language.

Um. My favorite of Jane Austen’s novels. And it’s free or close to free on Kindle, just look through the versions available.

What Alice Forgot
This is a book that I enjoyed reading, but I pondered over for months and weeks afterwards. What happens in the span of ten years? How does a marriage evolve in that time?

A short eBook with a powerful punch. This book should be a must for any writer.
I reread this favorite American novel in anticipation of the movie. The book is still a favorite.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun: I need to reread this book soon. Gretchen Rubin packs truth on every page of this book. There’s almost too much to soak in. I’m still gleaning nuggets from her observations about the pursuit of happiness and what that means in everyday life. It’s a great book for the New Year.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Every woman around my age says the same thing about Jen Hatmaker: “I want her to be my best friend.” She speaks to the heart of women and communicates exactly what we need to hear. She’s hilarious and brutally honest in this journal, where she documents the excess in her life.
Anna Karenina (Oprah’s Book Club) (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
I had never read this novel until this year, despite its “essential reading” status for most English majors (I never had to read it for a class. Go figure.) I loved it. You need to read a good translation. Trust me on this one. I linked to the one I liked.
This is a fun Young Adult Science Fiction series with a twist on classic fairy tales. The third one comes out in February.

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (30 Minute Spiritual Series)I need to buy this book and read it every day. Anne is a writer’s friend, and she’s the perfect voice of Christianity for me: funny, humble, convicting, and transparent.

I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and other book-loving bloggers today, so you are sure to get a wide range of books for your To Read Pile. Also, remember that these links to Amazon are affiliate links, so if you buy any books or download any for your Kindle, I get a little bit of money from it. Win for you. Win for me. Can’t beat that!

What were your favorite books from the year? Share in the comments!

Kelly Wiggains

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Kelly Wiggains, a high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom, likes to surround herself with good literature, beautiful things, and big ideas, and she wants her home to reflect those things, too. Here at she talks about everything From Literature to Living., 5 eBooks for $7.40!

16 responses to Best Books I Read in 2013

  1. I loved Help, Thanks, Wow as well and most things Anne Lamott writes. But I just read her most recent book, Stitches and didn’t love it. I just discovered Kate Morton this year and read several of her books. Here are my favorites from the year:

  2. Caroline Starr Rose January 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I SO want to get my hands on the annotated Phantom Tollbooth! I’ve listened to an interview with editor Marcus Leonard that was just lovely.

  3. I love the Pete the Cat books. I haven’t read the Groovy Buttons one yet, but will get it soon.

  4. I loved 7!!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. SO true about Jen Hatmaker! Can’t she just be all of our best friends??? And love the list! Adding What Alice Forgot and The Happiness Project to mine- I love books that stick with you for a time.

  6. That can only mean that you haven’t finished *Till We Have Faces* yet, since it WILL be on your favorite books list.

  7. There’s a Jim Henson biography? I had no idea. I would expect that to be really interesting! The Secret Keeper is my favorite Kate Morton too, and I’m so glad you liked A Jane Austen Education!

    • Anne, The biography came out back in the fall. I skipped through some of it to get to the end, but I found most of it really interesting, especially the earlier sections about how much Henson revolutionized television. If you are a Henson fan, you should check out his memorial service on YouTube. It’s remarkable.

  8. We have such similar taste! I’m adding what I haven’t read on this list to my to-read immediately. I don’t think I read any Austen at all in 2013 which might be the first time that’s happened in this century. I’ve read something by her yearly since the late 90s. Epic oversight.

  9. Nancy Griffin Burton January 10, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Two of my favorites from 2013 were The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin and The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. I found myself thinking about them long after I had read them.

    Love Jen Hatmaker! And yes, I think she’d be a fabulous gal to call friend.

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