November 11, 2013

Best Reads of 2013

I often get asked what I'm reading, or what recent books I recommend. So I started the tradition here on my blog to narrow down my favorite books off my reading list for each year... and it just might spark some Christmas gift ideas ;) 

Morning and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon. Those who know me personally have probably at some point in time heard my little rant on not being a devotional book fan. It hasn't changed in the course of the last 9-10 years of my life. I re-gift devotionals... and I feel bad about that... sorta... OK, not really. By now, I'm sure Goodwill has made a few bucks off my old devos. Rant aside though, I can honestly say that this devotional book is worth having in your bookcase, and absolutely worth reading over and over and over again. Spurgeon does THE one thing well that the majority of other books of this genre are seriously lacking: depth. It's deep, meaty, and rich writing. He pulls out wisdom and understanding from the scriptures like no one else... and in quite a poetic manner I might add. (Read some quotes from this recent post: Spurgeon and Writing in Honey)

Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus by Jared C. Wilson. The gospel is far more vast and deep than we tend to recognize. It's not just about Jesus dying on the cross (which is 100% true), but it's also a lens by which we see and approach everything in our lives. We cannot exhaust it's message. Think of it like a diamond with numerable facets to admire, or an ocean with no end to it's deep waters. Wilson, for me at least, put back the awe that at times goes missing in my view of the gospel; he made me want to worship deeper.

The Cure: What if God isn't Who You Think He is and Neither are You? by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, & John S. Lynch. This book truly, and clearly, expands on what justification by grace is: Being made righteous before God because of Christ and the cross. I don't know about you, but sometimes I think in church we're confused by exactly what all that entails though, or how exactly it's married to sanctification. Through the use of allegory the authors shed some light on the matter wonderfully. And I promise it's an allegory a heck of a lot easier to follow along with than Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us by Beth Moore. It's my understanding that you cannot be a Christian woman living in America and not have read Beth Moore. (I'm exaggerating a tad there, but who are we kidding? It's almost 100% true.) I've read quite a few of her books in the past couple of years, but this one took the cake. It's easily my favorite from her... EVER. As the title suggests, she goes in depth on attacking insecurity at it's roots, and every woman I know struggles with insecurity in one ugly fashion or another. Even if you think you don't battle it all that much, you'll read this book, and find out you actually do... because man, it is one heck of a cunning, poisonous snake. (That I vote we smash.)

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table and Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist. I wrote a full review of Bread and Wine back in the spring which you can read here, but Cold Tangerines was another one of her books that I read and enjoyed as well, which illuminated the joy found in the ordinary things of this life. I often find myself perusing a bookstore and thinking, "I wish Shauna would write a new book... she simply doesn't have enough." ;D

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. This book was the salt lick I needed after hitting a rut in my reading mid-August. My favorite reading genre lately has been memoirs about peoples faith journey with Christ. (Think books along the lines of Donald Miller and as just mentioned, Niequist.) I so enjoyed all the added literature and poetry elements Weber wove through her story (quite fitting, since she was a professor of literature at Oxford). Weber beautifully shares her story of coming to Christ while studying at Oxford with hints of humor and word pictures that make you feel like you're there in the old hallways of the university yourself alongside her. It was hard to put this one down and my perfect cup of tea to read. 

The Big Story by Justin Buzzard. If you follow me on Twitter you might have caught on that I like to re-tweet Buzzard regularly. I think he has a great knack at keeping the simple truths of the Gospel at the forefront for people to rest in. Through this book he guides the reader to see how God's story is the grandest one we'll ever be a part of. I'd recommend this book for new Christians or just for those who are curious about Christianity.

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman. I did not think this book would be for me when I first saw it, but I decided to read it and follow along Bloom's Book club as they've been going through it with the author. I was dead wrong. I thought the book would be about art and being more creative, which has been a recent trend in the blogging community lately, and one I've grown a bit tired of recently. However this book, was way more than that. It's about living an artful life. A life that acknowledges that I'm a work of art by God, and that I create to reflect the Creator. And that comes out in a million little ways. We don't just make art, we are art, and live art daily.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. I had this book sitting collecting dust for the past 8 years. Don't ask me why, since it's considered a bit of a classic christian living book now, and favored by many. There are times in a Christian's life where grace looses wonder and its beautiful weight and glory. This book is a beckoning to take that diamond, the gospel, and re-examine some of it's beautiful facets. 


  1. Ahh! I cannot decide which one to read first!

  2. I so enjoyed this look at your bookshelf, from your heart's perspective! How you shared where you were when you read it, and how you changed after. I've now added a bunch of these to my to-read list, and kinda want to change some of my book goals for 2014 just so I can add a few of these, haha. ;)

    P.S. I'm glad I'm not the only one who re-gifts devotionals!!! It's sad how the poor thrift stores can't hardly move them. ;)

  3. This is great! I've heard about a few of these, but have not ready any of them . . . so now I know what to add to my list of books to read! Is this the first year of listing books like this or did you do it previously as well? because I would love to see other books you have recommended in the past years too

    1. I have one from last year too if you want to check it out:

  4. Hi Natalie! That Beth Moore book looks interesting...I can always get better at turning away those voices that tell me I'm not good enough. And for you to find a devotional that you like, that speaks volumes for the Spurgeon book. I have seen that name around other blogs too.

    Maybe I'll add these to two to my Christmas list! Thank you for your reviews. So helpful :)

  5. Natalie, I'm definitely going to check out So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us. More for my mother, than myself, truthfully. She's a beautiful woman of God inside and out, but she just can't see herself the way we all do. Love the book list!

  6. i'm glad you shared these and I hope my book is on your list one day! I am hoping to start it after the first of the year, we'll see...
    I really want to check out that Spurgeon book--I've only ever read his quotes...
    Hope you are well my dear! OH and you should read WHAT'S THE POINT by Misty Edwards in 2014!!!


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