Quarter in Books

Due to a hospital stay and bedrest, I got a lot of reading done in the first quarter of 2013.  All together I read 57 books, plus edited two full length books–one fiction, one non-fiction–for friends (and can’t wait for them to be published so I can tell you how great they are!)  However, due to space limitations, only 36 of those were reviewed in January, February, and March, and the rest are scheduled well into May, so I’ll just include the reviewed ones for now, organized below into categories (Culture, Life and Time Management, Education, Parenting, Fiction, Writing, Nutrition/Cooking/Home) with a snippet about each and a link to the longer review.  Starred titles are particularly great and highly recommended:


  • To Change the World* – a UVA professor’s excellent treatise on what it really requires to change a culture, and how to have an impact on the world.
  • Sabbath* – Nuanced, deeply thoughtful exploration of the meaning of Sabbath (not superficial rule keeping or indifference, in case you were wondering).  Highly recommended.
  • Radical* – Challenging, thought-provoking book on what it would really mean to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.  Exceptional, and guaranteed to jar you out of complacent Western life.
  • The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order – An interesting way to read scripture and get more insight into what was happening when in the sweep of biblical history.
  • Lean In – A balanced look at women, work, and society, with profound implications of how we raise our daughters (and our sons).

Life and Time Management

  • Getting It Together – How a centralized home/life management binder can simplify your life and save you time.
  • The Do What You Can Plan – How to take incremental steps to change your life and achieve your goals.
  • Simple Living – A helpful guide for paring down your possessions and commitments to make room for what’s really important for you.
  • Amazing Things Will Happen – Kind of overhyped, almost unhelpfully short book on pulling your life together.
  • 18 Minutes – Quite helpful time and life management advice on how to figure out what the right things are, so you can just do those things rather than trying to do “it all.”
  • A Whole New You* – Surprisingly helpful ways to get to the root of what you really want out of life, map the gap between where you are and where you want to be, and create plans to actually get there.


  • The Joy of X – The amazing story and history of math, readable even for non-math types.
  • Moonwalking With Einstein – An engaging piece of participatory journalism on memory.
  • The One World Schoolhouse* – If you have even a passing interest in education, you MUST read this book.  This is what the future of education ought to look like.



  • The Old Curiosity Shop – In true Dickens fashion, the characters are over-the-top and the social criticism is in full swing.
  • Wolf Hall* – Completely amazing, award winning historical fiction about the Tudor era.
  • Bring Up the Bodies – Sequel to the above, just as amazing, just as award winning, and rightly so.
  • 1356 – Engaging, fun, and educational historical fiction about the Battle of Poitiers.  Much more interesting than the title would suggest, and a must if you like battle scenes.
  • A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea*– Lovely literary fiction about family, love, and culture set in Iran.
  • Sense and Sensibility – A classic, but worth re-reading.
  • The Casual Vacancy – Great themes, but relentlessly dreary characters make it hard to recommend.
  • The 3am Epiphany – Helpful writing exercises mixed with more helpful advice.
  • The 4am Breakthrough – Follow up to the above, less helpful but still worth it if you like writing exercises.

Nutrition, Cooking, and Home

  • Young House Love – An awesome book of inexpensive, low time commitment, high impact ways to update your home.
  • 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality – Getting to the root reasons for why we should practice hospitality, rather than just entertaining.
  • It Starts With Food – A well-researched, well-organized book on nutrition that offers a readable explanation of what’s wrong with the standard Western diet, as well as an alternative that doesn’t mean deprivation.
  • Well Fed* – My new favorite cookbook, full of healthy, whole food, easy, quick meals that are flavorful and interesting (lots of great ethnic food too).
  • Cooking Light Five Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook – Kind of blah for my tastes, and I didn’t have enough to say about it to actually give it it’s own post (so the link is straight to Amazon, and it’s an affiliate link FYI).  But I read it, and did try three of the recipes.

2 thoughts on “Quarter in Books

  1. As always, I love the reviews and recommendations. It’s nice we all get to benefit from the bedrest too. Hope for a good delivery for you SOON. Looking forward to seeing pics of the Gillespies as a family of six!

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