My Top 10: Best of 2013 Books

My Top 10: Best of 2013 Books

It’s January.   I’m back from an international trip. I’m settling into my new life in Wales and it’s time that I get back to blogging.   So I thought I’d kick off the year with a “Top 10 Best Of 2013” books list.   These aren’t necessarily book that were published in 2013, but they are books that I read in the 2013 calendar year.   Click the book title to read more on Amazon.

Top 4 in Fiction:

Broken Wings: Book 2 in the Angel Eyes series by Shannon Dittemore (The whole series is great.   I should probably tell you that they are written for teens, but don’t let that stop you.)

“I’m a firm believer that books open doors into the imagination and remind us that we should venture there often. We should dream. We should try hard things. We should be fearless. And while there are many obstacles that stand in the way, I hope my stories remind readers that life is to be lived. Pain is to be tackled. Mountains are to be climbed. And while you may fall into dark places along the way, light is as close as the prayer on your lips.” – Shannon Dittemore

I found this book packed full of hope.   In fact, I’m not sure I’ve read anything else recently that has stirred my heart like this series.  The battle is real.  The battle is present.  Worship, love, truth, the testimony of our redemption and faith in the Triune God are our weapons. – Excerpt from my review.

Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale by Ian Morgan Cron

This is the journey of Pastor Chase Falcon.  Disappointed and disillusioned Pastor Chase sets out to find himself and to see God and life and faith with new eyes. He takes a pilgrimage, “a way of praying with your feet.”

I resonated with the tale.   I didn’t agree with every supposition in this novel, but I’ve been on this journey.  No, I never followed the footsteps of St. Francis through Italy, but I have had to embrace “the unprotected life” so that I could learn to see with new eyes.  I too have had to find a way to pray with my hands, with my feet, with my life.

Insightful, historical, spiritual and comical, Chasing Francis is well deserving of 5 stars. – Excerpt from my review

Yielded Captive by Daliana May

This book is a love story. This isn’t your boy meets girl love story, this is a story of God’s never-stopping, never-giving-up mission to reach all nations, tribes and tongues with His salvation. This is a story of real love, the kind that knows unspeakable pain, deep brokenness, struggle and surrender. This is the story of a ripping away of that was good to bring about that which is eternally valuable. Like the story of God’s love for us it’s a story of suffering. It’s a story of pain. It’s a story of hope.  I couldn’t put it down.  – Excerpt from my review

 The Shadow Lamp: Book 4 in the Bright Empires Series by Stephen Lawhead  (Be sure to start with book 1 in the series. This one doesn’t stand alone)

“It’s the possibility of extra dimensions that I am exploring, in my own way, in the BRIGHT EMPIRES series of novels.  Positing a continuous and endless creating of the universe and human history,  I’ve set myself the task of imagining what that might actually look like if a handful of human beings managed to visit worlds that were not, so to speak, their own.  What would they find as they travelled outside their home universe into the limitless omniverse of endless possibilities?  The first Soviet cosmonauts left the only world any of us had ever known and ventured into outer space in the 1960s.  On returning to earth, one famously remarked that they didn’t find God out there.  Were they looking?  I don’t know.  But it seems that the majority of those in the international community of physicists who have invested their professional lives in the examination of both the smallest and the largest bodies in our universe are looking, and fully prepared to find, Something out there, or in there.  Many are pleased to call the object of their quest The God Particle, or the God Field.

I wonder what my characters “Kit, Wilhelmina, Arthur, Xian-Li, and the others” will discover.  Will they be looking? – Excerpt from Stephen Lawhead’s website

Top 6 in Non-Fiction:

Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent by N.D. Wilson

A poetic portrait of faith, futility, and the joy of this mortal life.  N.D. Wilson reminds each of us that to truly live we must recognize that we are dying. – From the book summary

An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling

“I am a recovering speed addict.”  Beginning with this confession, pastor and spiritual director Alan Fadling goes on to describe his journey out of the fast lane and into the rhythms of Jesus.  Following the framework of Jesus’ earthly life, Fadling shows how the work of “unhurrying” ourselves is central to our spiritual development in such pivotal areas as resisting temptation, caring for others, praying and making disciples. – From the book summary

Fully Alive: A Biblical Vision of Gender That Frees Men and Women to Live Beyond Stereotypes by Larry Crabb

“Spiritual formation” has become such a comfortably common phrase in our Christian vocabulary that I wonder if we’ve lost sight of what it would actually mean to have Jesus formed in us. Do we really believe we’re being spiritually formed if we experience the presence of Jesus without being empowered to relate like Jesus? Is effectiveness in ministry the best measure of maturity? Or is connection in community, a kind of connection that at least dimly reveals the relational life of the Trinity, a more reliable indicator that Christ is being formed in us?” ~Larry Crabb in Fully Alive, p. 92

I have found the reality that I was formed as a women in the image of God to display something unique and wonderful about the Trinity through my gender both exciting and freeing. – From my review

With Open Hands by Henri Nouwen

Perhaps one of the best books on prayer that I have ever read. – From my review

Behold the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey

“Russ Ramsey tells a story you’ve heard a hundred times and still haven’t heard enough. With remarkable attention to the facts of the matter–the water dripping from John the Baptist’s beard, the heft of Abraham’s knife, the groans of a girl giving birth on a stable floor–Russ brings to life the story that brings us to life. Here is glory made visible, tangible, audible. Which is to say, here is the Incarnation.”  –Jonathan Rogers

An Advent daily devotional that is as applicable in June as it is in December. – From my review

The Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others through the Eyes of Jesus by John Burke

The reason “sinners” ran from the religious, yet ran to Jesus had everything to do with his heart’s attitude toward people. They could sense Jesus was for them–not against them. Unlike the Pharisees, who could only see the mud of sin, Jesus saw a masterpiece under the mud that was so valuable, he was willing to give his life to restore messy people to the original work of art he created them to be. – From the book summary

And a bonus…Book Number 11…you might want to add this to your must read list for next year at Advent

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

I don’t want a Christmas you can buy.
I don’t want a Christmas you can make.
What I want is a Christmas you can hold.
A Christmas that holds me,
remakes me, revives me.
I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus.
–Ann Voskamp, from the back cover

What were some of the books that you discovered in 2013 that you would place in your Top Ten of the year?