My Favorite Books of 2013

I read some phenomenal books this past year and I wanted to revisit some favorites. This is really hard, some had me laughing so hard I was crying (or laughing out loud sitting alone in public, which always looks normal). Others just had me full-fledged crying and they lingered in my mind and heart long after the last word. I read some stunningly written work and captivating stories. If I had to pick 5 today, I’ve narrowed it down to these:

the hiding place

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom – This book is more than 40 years old and the events took place 30 years before that. Corrie Ten Boom and her family lived in Holland during the Nazi invasion and as Christ-followers were committed to hiding any Jews that sought refuge. Without sharing much about the story, you follow her all the way to an extermination camp in Germany, but the things this woman (and her family) did and the legacy that followed gave me chills and brought me to tears page after page. Many people read this in high school, if you slipped past, this is an MUST read!

kisses from katie

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis – This is about a young woman (Katie Davis), now 24, who moved to Uganda after graduating from high school and completely left a former life of privilege to pour all of herself into a community of people that has absolutely nothing. In addition to providing food, education, and jobs for sustainable living, she has adopted 13 girls! I have to admit, this is not the most well-written book I’ve ever read and certain phrases got pretty repetitive; but the raw, heart-breaking, and awesome stories more than make up for it. Plus, I think the repetition was just trying to clearly convey her heart for the Lord and that all that she does his for His glory and not out of her strength. Along with the Hiding Place, this book is convicting in that as Christ-followers we are to place others, and most importantly Christ, before ourselves. They give clear perspective on the privilege of our circumstances and how the vast majority of the world’s population experiences life much differently.

walking with Gid

Walking with God by John Eldredge

I read this as part of my daily devotions. The author writes it much like a journal, but the point is focusing on how we are to acknowledge and walk with God on a daily basis in EVERYTHING. The emphasis is how we are to be in deep, rich, DAILY communication with God through prayer. He highlights that throughout our lives and based on our experiences, we’ve made different “agreements” with God about ourselves, others, or who HE is. He takes his daily experiences and breaks down how he bring them before God and then…LISTEN!

let me be  a woman

Let Me be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliot writes with clear conviction of who we, as women, were created to be according to the Bible. She wrote it as an open love/instructional letter when her daughter was getting married in the 70’s. I highlighted words on just about every page as she shared about Biblical womanhood, motherhood, marriage, and homemaking. I loved reading this perspective, because not only was it about these topics, but by a woman who was widowed twice, of a different generation, and just a well-spring of wisdom.

A tree

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

I didn’t devour this book. I read it slowly. A chapter or two each night. And every night it left me falling asleep thinking of what it would have been like to live in this other place and time; and appreciating all that I so easily take for granted. It is a gorgeously written story about a young girl growing up in poverty in Brooklyn before WWI. The book is lovely, she simply recounts stories of mundane daily life – what school was like, what they did on weekends, what they ate (and how her mother worked so hard to earn their money and stretch their food). Smith writes of poverty, despair, loss, and hardships; but also the importance of family and the simple beauty and pleasure in the everyday.

the paris wife

Bonus Pick: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I just had to include The Paris Wife. It is a fictional account (but heavily based on true stories, letters, etc.) of Hemingway’s marriage to his first wife (of 4), Hadley Richardson and their time together living in Paris. They were young, poor, he was beginning his writing career, and they were loving life among other creatives. It was captivating to read the whole experience from her perspective. I took a class on Hemingway when I was in college. He is far from a shining example of upstanding character; but I am always intrigued by people’s lives and how their experiences shape who they become. Love or hate him, he gets people talking and this book does the same.

Given one of my goals for 2014, I’m in the process of creating a reading list. What were your favorite reads from this past year? Or all-time? 

~ Becca

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Sharing this with: Nancherrow, Modern Mrs. Darcy, The Better MomThe Modest MomMoms the WordA Mama’s StoryAdventures in Mindful LivingCornerstone ConfessionsTime-Warp WifeGrowing HomeRaising ArrowsDeep Roots at HomeWomen Living WellA Wise Woman Builds Her HomeWalking RedeemedServing JoyfullyUpside Down HomeschoolingRaising Mighty Arrows, & Christian Mommy Blogger
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33 Responses to My Favorite Books of 2013
  1. Amy
    January 3, 2014 | 4:32 pm

    Oh my goodness, Becca. We must have the exact same taste in books! I have The Paris Wife on my bedside table from the library as we speak. Kisses from Katie and Corrie Ten Boom’s book is on my bookshelf to-read. I definitely want to check out that other John Eldredge book. Thanks!

    • Becca V
      January 3, 2014 | 4:44 pm

      Too Funny! Well, now we know where to keep tabs and get some good recommendations!

  2. Steph @ BeEmbraced
    January 3, 2014 | 4:32 pm

    The Hiding Place keeps working itself into conversation lately so this is further confirmation that I NEED to read this book in 2014!

    • Becca V
      January 3, 2014 | 4:42 pm

      Oh, Steph! You really do! It is breath-catch-in-your-throat amazing!

  3. Krissa
    January 3, 2014 | 4:52 pm

    I enjoyed the Paris Wife too! I love novels set during that time period. Here are some of my favorites from this past year:

  4. Danielle
    January 3, 2014 | 4:58 pm

    You read some great books this year! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  5. Caroline Starr Rose
    January 3, 2014 | 6:16 pm

    I went through a huge Elisabeth Elliot phase in college. This one was lovely. And Francie Nolan has always felt like a personal friend.

    • Becca V
      January 3, 2014 | 7:50 pm

      That is the perfect way to describe it! Francie is like a dear, personal friend. One you absolutely love, feel for her hurts, but are empowered by her strength!

  6. Emily C. Gardner
    January 3, 2014 | 6:20 pm

    The Hiding Place is phenomenal! A tree Grows in Brooklyn and Les Miserables were two of my favorite reads from high school. I’d be interested to read it again with a different perspective.

    Anything by Shauna Niequist would be worth reading in 2014!

    • Becca V
      January 3, 2014 | 7:49 pm

      It is absolutely worth re-reading; I might do it frequently, what an amazing reminder of God’s hand on us even in the midst of tragic circumstances and when nothing seems to make sense. I’ve never read Les Mis, it is one of our favorite musicals and love all the movie versions of it.

  7. Corrie Anne
    January 3, 2014 | 8:11 pm

    Yay the Hiding Place! I’m named after Corrie ten Boom. :)

    • Becca V
      January 3, 2014 | 8:22 pm

      AMAZING!! What a namesake!

  8. Ginger G
    January 4, 2014 | 2:47 am

    I also loved Paris Wife and I have a Tree Grows in Brooklyn marked to read this year. Let Me Be a Woman looks good too. Great suggestions!

    • Becca V
      January 5, 2014 | 3:00 am

      Yay! A Tree Grows…is definitely a classic for a reason!

  9. Stacey
    January 4, 2014 | 5:19 am

    I have had The Paris Wife in my Kindle App for awhile, but have been put off from reading it because some of the reviews I’ve seen described it as depressing. Your review makes me want to give it a try!

    • Becca V
      January 5, 2014 | 2:59 am

      You’ll have to come back and let me know what you think! It definitely is depressing in many senses, but hope you enjoy, haha :)

  10. Melissa
    January 4, 2014 | 5:44 pm

    “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers is one of my all time favorites. It’s based on the book of Hosea.

    • Becca V
      January 5, 2014 | 2:56 am

      Ahh, Melissa DITTO! I’ve read it three times (actually somehow I was drawn to it and read it each time I was pregnant). Definitely an all time fave!

  11. Allie @ Days Like These
    January 5, 2014 | 8:53 pm

    I’ve never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! Maybe in 2014:)

  12. Sheila @ The Deliberate Reader
    January 5, 2014 | 9:23 pm

    I reread The Hiding Place last year, after reading it for school. It was so worth reading again – I had forgotten so much, and it had so much more impact on me reading it as an adult.

    I debated reading The Paris Wife after reading A Moveable Feast last year, but decided I wanted a break from Hemingway.

    • Becca V
      January 6, 2014 | 4:31 pm

      Oh, Yes, Shelia! I read them in the opposite order, Paris Wife and then re-read A moveable feast it was MUCH more enjoyable than the first time I read it. Yes, definitely an author I need a break from, too; but Paula McClain’s style is nothing like his.

  13. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy
    January 7, 2014 | 2:07 pm

    Big sigh. I’ve been meaning to read The Hiding Place and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for going on twenty years. Thank you for the reminder, and I’m encouraged to hear these books are “favorites” material. :)

    • Becca V
      January 8, 2014 | 2:41 am

      Anne ~ You would love, love, love them. Both of them – they are so entirely different they are incomparable, but Corrie’s story and faith are completely convicting and inspiring and the character of Francie Nolan in a Tree Grows…is so dear and loveable. I hope you get around to them this year and look forward to hearing what your review.

  14. Lisha
    January 8, 2014 | 2:33 am

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn & Let Me Be A Woman are two that I’ve grown very fond of over the years! Kisses from Katie is on my to-read list. Right now I’m slowly making my way through Hinds’ Feet on High Places (Hannah Hurnard) – incredible!

    Thanks for sharing. Book lists are a favorite of mine. :)

  15. Deanna
    January 8, 2014 | 5:50 pm

    Love your list! I really liked A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as well. It was my companion of choice during my 3 hour glucose test in April. I should do a reread of Let Me Be A Woman and The Hiding Place. The Paris Wife sounds really great, I’m going to have to check it out. Thanks for sharing.

    • Becca V
      January 8, 2014 | 8:03 pm

      I can imagine you could bite off a good chunk during that test – something to keep from thinking of food (fasting is not the hungry mama’s friend :)

  16. Kath
    January 8, 2014 | 9:02 pm

    Great blog and great books!
    Nice to meet you :-)

    • Becca V
      January 8, 2014 | 9:04 pm

      Thanks, lovely to meet you too!

  17. Christi
    January 9, 2014 | 2:08 pm

    I thank you for sharing your books. I am going to have to check out Kisses from Katie soon. I see it everywhere so it must be good.
    I also need to revist The Hiding Place! That was one of my favorite books when I was in high school.

    • Becca V
      January 10, 2014 | 2:46 am

      Yes! It really is am amazing book and I think everyone can grow deeper in their walk with God through reading the sheer purity and depth of her faith.

  18. Lauren Parsley
    January 12, 2014 | 9:24 pm

    I love the Hiding Place. Some of my favorite that I have recently read are Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. They are fictional books based off of stories we know in the Bible. I could give a bunch of recommendations but I’ll just stop there. ;)

    • Becca V
      January 12, 2014 | 10:27 pm

      Redeeming Love is one of my all-time favorites; read it three times and just gave it as a gift, haha! I’ve never read A Lineage of Grace, if it is any bit as good as RL, I’ll have to get to it soon :)

  19. […] I shared a little about What’s on {MY} bookself and gobbled up the Divergent series! And skipping ahead to January shared My Favorite Books from 2013! […]