Top Reads in 2013

Last year, in 2012, there were eleven fiction books and nine non-fiction books in my top reads.  In 2013 there are nine non-fiction books and three fiction books in my top reads. The total number of top reads is down from twenty to twelve.

Once again, only one book made it to five-star status.  {I did not count the top book from 2012 which I re-read in 2013, Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts.}

This first review is purposefully brief, as the book is of a political nature, and I prefer to limit political content on my blog. I recommend that everyone read this book, regardless of political persuasion.

No Higher PowerNo Higher Power by Phyllis Schlafly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Actually listened to the audiobook from the library. Excellent. What an eye-opener. Thank you, Mrs. Schlafly.
If you’re interested in the status of Judeo-Christianity under the current administration, read this book.

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The rest of the books were a four-star rating which means ‘really liked it’, alphabetically listed by author, fiction first, then non-fiction.


Hannah CoulterHannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Library copy.
This is the first book I have read by Wendell Berry. I think I just saw it on the shelf in my public library. Some of the best books I’ve ever read have been shelf finds, without looking. This is one of those.

It is amazing to me that a man could write so well from the point of view of a woman. Well done! I love the writing style. I love that it’s clean. I love the story. I love the characters — they are so real. I love the premise and the realizations of the point of view character, which is Hannah Coulter. I love the history of it, including the family tree outlined in the book. I love the book! And I understand there are others about other characters in Hannah’s life.

I also like the way he wove — well, let’s just say the layers. The book has depth, and I like that in a book. The thing I liked the best was their life view of giving and taking from their place, their land, and above all being satisfied with what they had. Excellent!

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His Watchful EyeHis Watchful Eye by Jack Cavanaugh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Library copy.
Fascinating reading about WW2 Germany. Some of it difficult to read. Characters are wonderfully done, even the children. Many points of view. The book ends as though in mid sentence. I hope the next book continues on. No spoilers.

Mr. Cavanaugh’s writing is so realistic and believable. When it comes to faith as well. Most characters are nominal in their faith. But one always stands out. ‘Park’ in this one. Can’t wait to read the third in this series.

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mine. Not my first read.

Good, as always, but oh, so real! First in a series.

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Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We TolerateRespectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My copy. We are using this book in our Sunday School class. Excellent!

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To Fly Again: Surviving the Tailspins of LifeTo Fly Again: Surviving the Tailspins of Life by Gracia Burnham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Library copy. 248.86 B935t
Wonderful book! Reads too quickly 🙂

Wonderful truths from God’s Word lived out in life. Draws from her experience as a hostage for a year in the Philippines with her husband, Martin, who is with the Lord, and her simple motherhood and life in general.

Tremendously practical, honest, and uplifting and encouraging and teaching. Couldn’t be better unless it were longer.

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A Path Through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship Between God's Mercy and Our PainA Path Through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship Between God’s Mercy and Our Pain by Elisabeth Elliot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Library copy. 242.4 EL57p
Absolutely wonderful. Themed on Lilias Trotter’s nature sketches and talks. Devotional style. Good reread or to own.

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Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated WorldAmish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World by Suzanne Woods Fisher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Devotional style writing. Nice. Informative and reflective — why do we think the English (non-Amish) way is better? Not necessarily.

Forgiveness is lived out. Relationship with God is center of life. Church has no building, meets in homes every other week; once a year would indicate 26 families. When a church gets too big they split off. Don’t pay taxes, no social security or any form of government dependence. Sounds wonderful!

Not easy, but stress directly from God, not humanity or society, as it should be. Live among the English, not apart; separate from English practices, but not from the English.

Excellent! Definite re-read. Highly recommend.

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Still WatersStill Waters by Jennifer Lauck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Library copy. 921

This is book #2 in her memoirs. Blackbird was Part I, up to 12 years old. This was age 12 to present.

WOW! Such beautiful writing, the style I mean. Graphic, in the true sense. You can see and hear and feel what she saw, heard and felt (physically).

Won’t spoil the story. This is the way I’d like to write. It’s such compelling reading and ends looking to the future. She sought peace and found it.

Hope she keeps writing. Highly recommend this author.

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End of the SpearEnd of the Spear by Steve Saint

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Steve’s father, Nate Saint, was killed by the Waudoni people in 1956. This is the story
of Steve going to live with the same people, at their invitation, for a year and a half (and
his family). Wonderful story, well told.

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How to Blog for Profit without Selling Your SoulHow to Blog for Profit without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Obviously this is my copy. I don’t think you can borrow ebooks from the library, can you? 🙂

I only paid ninety-nine cents for this ebook. Not a bad investment. It is well done. Well worth the $3.99 or $4.99, whatever the regular price is. If you are interested in monetizing your blog, and concerned about doing it tactfully, this is the book to read. It is, however, the only book I have read on the subject.

What I like best about the book is its honesty and openness. The author obviously benefits from people reading this book. But it is written in a tone which is for the reader’s benefit, not the author’s profit. She tells what is available, what she does and does not prefer, what works for her, and what works for others. The amount of information shared far outweighs the cost of the book.

The book also gave me hope that I would be able to accomplish this. Yes, it is a ton of work, a long and arduous process, but an achievable one. I now know what is before me. I know to take it slow. I know that it is possible to burn out if I don’t listen to those who’ve gone through the process, and I know that the process is subject to change with the trends, particularly with social media changes.

The fact that the author, Ruth, is a Christian, and that her website and social media sites are available to learn from, is a great encouragement to me. Her emphasis on what she is by principle willing to do (or not do) is stellar. I will be referring to this book in the future as I journey down this path.

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