4th Quarter in Books, 2013

I read and reviewed 25 books from October – December this year.  They are categorized below with snippet reviews,  but with links to my longer reviews.  Particularly excellent choices are starred.

Fiction

  • Off World – Apocalyptic technology fiction that could have included deeper treatment of ideas/philosophies, but still basically entertaining.
  • The House of Mirth – Not much mirth, but incredible pacing and character development.  Well deserving of classic status.
  • Madame Bovary – Glad I read it, but can’t say I enjoyed it.  It’s a classic and all.
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – A super fun and highly enjoyable story about a lady whose life gets turned upside down.  Loved it.
  • The Giver – Very interesting dystopian YA fiction – much cleaner and better written than most.
  • Gathering Blue – 2nd book in the Giver Quartet, with oblique reference to main character from The Giver, also well done.
  • Messenger – 3rd book in the Giver Quartet, much more ominous and violent, focusing on main characters from the first two books.
  • Son – 4th book in the Giver Quartet, tying up all of the loose ends in a really great story, except that the ending was sort of rushed and slapped on.
  • The Eyre Affair– A funny, silly mystery/crime/time travel book set in an alternate version of the 80s where the Crimean War never ended, dodos are not extinct, and crimes against literature are a matter of national security.  
  • The Historian – An excellently crafted novel about history and travel, also about Dracula albeit in a non-grisly way.
History
  • Unbroken – Amazing story of the Pacific front and being a prisoner of war in WWII.
  • The Last Days of the Incas – A long but highly readable account of the clash between the Incas and European explorers.  I learned a ton.
  • It’s Not About the Tapas – Technically more of a travel memoir than a history, but containing elements of history, the book chronicles the author’s bike tour of Spain.  She was a little whiny, but it was interesting.
  • Internal Time – This is really more of a science book, but it does take historical information about time and sleep into account.  It’s sort of dry, but tries hard to be readable.  Sadly the book does not get around to offering any insights into how to fix your sleep issues.

Life Balance/Writing

  • Dare, Dream, Do – I hate to say it but this book is basically everything that’s wrong with the self-help genre.  Actual quote: “To make our dreams happen, we sometimes need an eagle.  An eagle who has wings…”
  • Crazy Busy* – Insightful and biblical (yet funny and practical) treatise on how to handle busyness.  Recommended.
  • Wired for Story – A really strong, practical book on writing.

Parenting/Education

  • Mind in the Making – Fascinating look at neuroscience and child development with an eye toward helping kids develop the skills to succeed in a volatile job market, but also for life in general.  Super relevant for parents and educators or those interested in habits.
  • Duct Tape Parenting – Practical, relevant advice on how to prepare your kids to be confident, independent adults.
  • Beyond the Birds and the Bees – Excellent and thoughtful insights on teaching children of all ages about, well, the birds and the bees.

Theology

  • Imagining the Kingdom* –  An incredible book on how character is formed through stories and liturgy (both secular and religious).  Possibly the best book I’ve read all year.
  • Desiring the Kingdom* – Tied with the book above for best book of 2013, this one technically comes first, and talks about habits and character and liturgies through the lens of understanding how our definitions of the good life impact who we are.  Phenomenal.  Do not miss these two books.
  • How to Control Your Emotions So They Don’t Control You – a Biblestudy of the Psalms with applications for parenting, other relationships, workplaces, etc.

Health

  • The Shift – Sort of a memoir of successful weight loss, but sort of more about owning your own responsibility to find solutions to your problems.
  • Trim Healthy Mama – A phone book sized amalgamation of nutrition and fitness ideas, plus some other lifestyle stuff and recipes.  The recipes are not all worthwhile and the diet could be complicated for some, especially if you haven’t previously tried carb cycling.

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