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My reading goal was 60 books this year and I will just be coming in on 40 or so books once I finish out this month.
Each year I  document my reading challenge through GoodReads so I can track my progress while I am doing my reading.
If you are looking for a little inspiration this new year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. Just as a reminder, I read many more  books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of the month here. Even more exciting (for me) this year is that I now have an Author Profile on GoodReads and my book is listed there too! Julia Win, a young lawyer from New York, is on a mission to find out what happened to her father. One day, she finds a very old letter written in the 1940s by his father to a woman named Mi Mi in Burma. This is a love story that will captivate your heart with vivid imagery of a blind man falling in love with a disabled and beautiful woman.
There is a certain richness that comes with great Southern storytelling and this amazing book by Jenny Wingfield is laced with that type of richness I am speaking of and beautiful storytelling that you can picture just like a movie screen. Samuel Lake, his wife Willadee (Moses), and their three children find themselves back home in Arkansas after Samuel finds himself out of work as a minister. The Snow Child takes place in 1920 in Alaska where a city-bred girl Mabel and her husband Jack are trying to make a life for themselves in the isolated woods of an Alaskan farm.
One night, amid the first falling snow, Jack & Mabel have a moment of tenderness and begin playing in the snow. The next morning, their snow child is gone, but they begin catching the glimpse of a child running through the woods wearing Mabel’s items that were once on their snow child.  This child  of the woods contentedly runs around the forest in the freezing cold with a red fox. This is a grown-up fairy tale that is just so beautifully written that your heart will be aching for Mabel and Jack that they can make this child that they have longed for to be their own.  I was enraptured with the story from the first page and I have a feeling you will too! Without giving the plot away the story begins with  Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Of course, with all good stories, things aren’t always as they appear and this story will take the reader on great plot twists that they will never suspect coming. I am  not interested in legal thrillers, but my girlfriend recommended this book to me and I am so thankful she did. A Mississippi plantation mistress, Amanda Satterfield, loses her daughter to cholera after her husband refuses to treat her for what he refers to as a, “slave disease.” In turn of these events, Amanda begins to lose her mind and decides to take a newborn slave in as her own, taking her from her family that loves her. Troubled not only by his wife’s mental illness, but by the plague that seems to be sweeping through his slave population, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave who is known to be a healer.
Seventy-five years later, Granada is now known as Gran Gran and takes in an abandoned girl in her care. I guarantee that you will love this book if you are fans of The Kitchen House, Dry Grass of August, or The Help. I love to read books that are sweep me quickly into their story line, whose words read like lyrics, and prose that reads as beautifully as poetry. They end up settling in the tiny town of Beatrice, Missouri where we meet a cast of unlikely characters who all find refuge in this German speaking town. I loved this book so much that I emailed the author when I finished it to tell him just how much I enjoyed this book. Heft is truly one of the best books that I have read this year and I know that this is a novel that can be appreciated by all.
When Charlene contacts Arthur, out of the blue, to see if he will help her with her son Kel Keller and offer guidance to him to help him, Arthur hires a cleaning service to help him get his house back in shape. The author not only takes you through Arthur’s difficulties in his life, but the story of Kel and his mother Chelsea alternate in these chapters as you see the difficulties that this young man has had to overcome and will leave you begging for the happy ending that this boy so deserves. Beautifully written and great stories that are woven together in such a way that you can vividly picture each of these characters and feel their stories resonate in your own heart. Nothing about, “The Pillars of the Earth,” sounded interesting to me and, to be honest, the sheer size of this book scared me to death. When Tom seeks shelter at a church his life never becomes the same again as he finds work through an unlikely fire that damages the church and then finds that his life is interwoven with the church in more ways than he could ever imagine. A story of good and evil that riveted me and one that will truly captivate you from start to finish, this book moved me and will probably reside firmly in my top ten books I have ever read. I am trying to tackle a few of those books that people say to me, “I can’t believe you haven’t read that yet.” Outlander has been recommended to me time and time again so I decided I would start this year out with a few of the books that I have been intending to read. This story follows Claire Randall, a young combat nurse in WWII who recently moved to Scotland with her husband. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart it is violent and sexually charged throughout. This is historical fiction at some of its finest and I felt like I was transported while I read this. On a stormy night an unlikely couple knocks on an unlikely stranger’s door, when they come to seek shelter from the storm.
A friendly schoolteacher answers her door and finds that she has opened the door to a journey she never could have anticipated. Lynnie is returned to the school, Homan runs away and is thought to have been dead, and Martha is left in charge of a child when she has never had a child of her own. The premise of the story is captivating and the love story between Lynnie & Homan is beautifully told. Although the book is slow in parts, the story is worth pushing through and would also lend itself well to book club discussions since it is the kind of book you just want to talk about when you are finished with it.  Definitely add this one to your to-be-read piles! Honolulu was one of my favorite books, but I had heard from other readers that Alan Brennert’s Molokai, was even better than the first book that I read of his.
When Rachel’s sister gets in a fight with Rachel, she calls her a, “leper,” and the authorities are immediately notified that Rachel is suspected of leprosy.
I have to say that this book was one of my favorite reads this summer, simply because it is deliciously fast-paced chick-lit at its finest. Once she starts the process, there is no turning back and Anne finds herself traveling to a Mexican resort where she will meet and marry (all in the same weekend) her “perfect,” guy. This book has great twists and turns that you will really enjoy and after devouring this book in a mere day, I can’t recommend it enough for a fun reading escape! Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Hello, there!We are building a free shopping app that will help you get discounts on the products you like.
Mike: Agreed, but wouldn’t an attractive person find an equally attractive person average? Mike: Neanderthals need love too, I guess, but I joking aside I think the right side faces are average looking.
I forgot to include A Tale for the Time Being to my list, it definitely kept me glued to the book and thinking about things.
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Beyond the helpful insider’s glance from the autistic point-of-view, there’s a larger vision here.
This book is the perfect antidote to the prosperity gospel, both the gauche ones we see on TV and the subtler shades of Baalism we find in our own hearts.
Of most interest to me was Haggard’s reflection, showing up so often in his songs, on the life of his father.
The book didn’t prompt me to think, “Take that, you false teachers!” It prompted me to think, again and again, “Thank you Lord for your mercy to this sinner.” That’s always worth the price of a book. This book is the testimony of one who traveled from socialism to so-called “neo-conservatism,” through a life working with figures from Sargent Shriver to Ronald Reagan. When I was a youth minister back in the 1990s, I would start every Bible Study time or student activity with a quote from Handey’s Saturday Night Live-era Deep Thoughts.
As one deeply influenced by the Kuyperian tradition, I was waiting a long time for this intellectual history of the great Dutch theologian and politician’s life to come to my door. At the same time, the book points out the personal side of this great man, with both heroism and flaws. I like the book because I like Calvin and Hobbes, but I liked it also because it highlights some important lessons for all of us. I put this book down several times to find myself in the strips in one of Watterson’s collections. I don’t remember ever hearing the Battle Hymn of the Republic sung in the patriotic services at my church growing up. Contemporary progressives don’t tend to like hymns with militant imagery (see the controversies over “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “In Christ Alone”), and it’s hard to get more militant than “stomping out the vineyard where the grapes of wrath are stored.” But this book shows that the song was controversial with conservatives, such as J. The first time I ever read Rod Dreher, I think in the pages of National Review, I found a kindred spirit.


Wherever you’re from, whether you’re right next door to “Mama and them” or connected only by Skype and memories to your roots, this book will give you much to think about.
The book is about how all of us exercise power—regardless of whether we are an unemployed janitor or President of the United States—and how this power will be directed either for or against human flourishing. About Russell MooreRussell Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. If you are looking for the best books to read for next year this list of the best books of 2012 are the perfect place to start for creating your reading list. I admit that I am a little short of the planned and lofty goal I had this year, but I am still really proud that I managed to squeeze in that many with such a busy year. If you are planning to make a reading goal yourself, be sure to sign up for a reading challenge you can create your own goal too through GoodReads and track your own progress. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another.
An address in Kalaw is all she needs to follow her instinct and begin a search for her father. It is a love story that pulled at my heartstrings and was so moving that I still cannot stop thinking about it. When tragedy strikes, the family bands together in unlikely ways and find their faith is challenged to the core of even God’s most faithful. More than anything Mabel & Jack have longed for a child, but have remained childless and are beginning to drift apart.
They decide to make a snow child and add little additions from Mabel’s wardrobe to wrap her in. Mabel and Jack are left wondering…is this a real child or is this a fairy tale child that they are simply hallucinating? Gone Girl was a book that sucked me from the very first page and offered one of those amazing journeys as a reader.
Amy has carefully wrapped gifts and is making the perfect breakfast for her husband when she suddenly disappears one seemingly ordinary morning.
Although, I found the ending of this book to be a bit flat and it didn’t wrap up the way I had hoped, I still believe this is one of the best thrillers I have read this year. This is one of the best thrillers I have read since Before I Go to Sleep, and left me hanging on the edge of my seat for the entire book.
My heart ached for this family who is now ostracized from their friends and coworkers, while the other part of me ached that Jacob would be proven guilty of the crime. I highly recommend this read for book clubs because it gives readers a chance to think what they might do to protect their child.
She renames the little girl Granada, and begins to parade her around in her daughter’s clothing and allowing her to be part of family dinners, despite her husband and their friends discomfort.
When Polly sets eyes upon Granada, she knows that she has the gift and requests that Granada be removed from the home so she can shadow Polly.
To help the girl to come out of her shell, she shares with her the powerful story of learning to let go of the girl that she thought she was to be to the mistress, to the amazing road of being a healer herself.
The story is achingly beautiful and written in such a way that you will long remember it in your heart. Alex George offers a book that you will long remember that has been elegantly and eloquently crafted in a way that I have not read in many years. Frederick quickly woos Jette in a whirlwind love affair and Jette discovers she is pregnant, forcing the couple to leave as quickly as possible from her family’s disapproving eyes. The book chronicles the journey of their family through prohibition, the Great Depression and the Kennedy assassination. He immediately replied with heartfelt thanks for the compliments, which makes a reader like me feel even more connected to this amazing story. It is a story that leaves you rooting for some of the most unlikely characters and showcases the beauty of unlikely friendships.
He is now  a 58 year-old man who cannot leave his home due to his incredible size of 500 pounds. His house is a place that has been grossly neglected because Arthur has lost the will and lacks the energy to clean it, due to his size.
You will have a hard time putting this one down and I look forward to reading more from Liz Moore in the future!
Our book club selected this book though and as others in our book club read it, they shared how amazing it was. The building of a new church brings together unlikely characters and a determined character who threatens to destroy it all. While they are out hiking one day, Claire accidentally passes through the stones of an ancient stone circle and awakens to find herself in 16th century Scotland. At times I felt like I was reading a Harlequin romance novel as some of the love scenes were a little fluffy for my usual taste, but the good in this book definitely outweighs the bad. Lynnie, a woman with an intellectual disability and Homan, a deaf man, have run away from a brutal institution where they have been placed because of their disabilities. The story chronicles forty years following each of these characters as their lives take an unlikely path. The challenges faced by each of these characters with disabilities is told with sensitivity and offers unique insight into what it would be like to be deaf or intellectually handicapped. Rachel is living a typical life of a little Hawaiian girl- she has spats with her sister, she dreams of getting out of Hawaii, and she is beloved by her family. When she is taken to the clinic for testing and the results come back positive, Rachel is taken from her family and moved to the island of Kalaupapa, a quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i.
Rachel’s spiritedness pulls her through the devastation of losing her family as Rachel begins to find a new family among an unlikely cast of characters. What should have been a book of heartbreak has you walking away with such positivity about the human spirit and its ability to overcome tragedy.
Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? You will be able to request a discount for any product you like, whether you found it online or in your feed added by another user. Ward memorializes five men who died too soon, examining the traits that link their deaths: being Black, Southern, and male. When the editor-in-chief of a major dictionary goes missing just before the launch of its last print edition, his daughter falls down the rabbit hole in her search for him. A lunchbox containing the diary of a depressed Japanese teen washes up on the Canadian shore, where it is found by an author with writer’s block. Set in an alternate version of England, the students at the Hailsham school are told they have a special purpose in life. A blind French girl and a German boy with a talent for fixing radios cross paths during WWII.
In the not-so-distant future, a sentient race of aliens is discovered, and the Society of Jesus mounts an expedition to their planet to make first contact. The wife of a famous author reflects on her marriage and the sexual double standards that led to the stifling of her own artistic talent. The daughter of a wealthy Haitian man is abducted and held at ransom. She is kept in captivity for 13 days, and when she is finally released, she struggles with PTSD and her altered relationship with her family.
I really want to read All the Light We Cannot See and Dept of Speculation, they both sound fantastic! But All the Light You Cannot See was really great, and I have A Tale for the Time Being on my TBR pile. I'm Leah, a mid-twenties Buffalonian with a penchant for offbeat literary fiction, outdoor adventures, and making as many Hamilton references as possible. They are not all 2013 books (though most of them are), but they’re all books I found especially meaningful this year.
The subject is a man I came to know in his elderly years, and whose theology, especially in his tract The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism changed my whole life. The book closes with Haggard, late in life, playing “Okie from Muskogee” at a concert, introducing it this way.
The book highlights the brilliance and prophetic insight of Kuyper as a thinker and activist. This book pictures the author of the strip Calvin and Hobbes as something of a loner, who grated at the publicity his work brought, sometimes to the irritation of his fans and colleagues. Watterson alienated many around him because he refused to turn his strip over to sellable cliches, and to cash in the strip for the plush toy and animated movie market. The author suggests that the little boy and his tiger in the strip my have been named based on Horace White’s observation that the United States “is based upon the philosophy of Hobbes and the religion of Calvin. They’re often boring because they’re abstract, disconnected from the lived-out questions of most people.
Maybe that’s because it was seen as a “Yankee song,” and the 1980s were too close for south Mississippi to the close of the Civil War.


Gresham Machen who found it to be a Christless, gospel-free anthem of crusading progressivism. But this book traced a fascinating series of cultural divides in America, and reminded me how what we sing embeds itself in our hearts, sometimes driving us apart and sometimes bringing us together—and sometimes both in different ages.
In the years since then, we’ve been in touch often through technology and though we’ve yet to meet in person, I think of him as a friend. I planned to read a little at the time, expecting to like it because I’ve loved Andy Crouch’s previous work Culture Making.
You will wince at some points as you see how your use of power is more Pharaoh-like than Christlike, or at least I did. There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there!
Once she arrives in Kalaw, she is approached by a gentle man in a restaurant  named U Ba, who seems to know all about her even though Julia has never met him before.
The book offers the story of spunky Swan Lake (yes, her family did name her that), an unlikely little boy that the family takes in as their own, a town villain that has made it his life’s mission to make their family’s life miserable, and Toy, Swan’s uncle, who becomes her unlikely hero. Mabel is in the throes of a deep depression and Jack is beginning to wonder if their decision to move to Alaska was a sound one. Nick is quickly under suspicion since he appears completely unemotional with the news of his wife’s disappearance and has no real explanation for his whereabouts when Amy has disappeared. When a murder happens at his son’s school, he is among the first on the scene and is ready to help bring vindication to the murderer. Andy doesn’t want to believe that his son could commit such a heinous crime, but as mounting evidence points towards Jacob, he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It is a book that I found myself reading paragraphs aloud to my husband, simply because they were written in such a descriptive manner that you felt as though you were watching a movie. The year is 1904, Jette and Frederick board a ship to New Orleans instead of their originally intended boat to New York when they discover that the boat is full.
Despite the depth of the book and the plots it carries, it moves swiftly and is well-executed, leaving the reader hanging until the final page. Since 2001 he has managed to stay within the confines of his home relying on services like grocery and food deliveries that can be ordered from his own computer. When a young 19 year-old Yolanda shows up on his doorstep, he can never know how this will change his life. I just knew I had to take the plunge despite my misgivings that it was going to be a boring read.
A book of this size has never been devoured so quickly and I don’t think my family saw me for three weeks while I worked on this one. Confused as to what has happened to her Claire’s path crosses with a Highland warrior named James Fraser that forever alters Claire’s path and begins a love story that rivals any other that you may have read. I loved this book from start to finish and appreciate everyone recommending this one to me!
When a rose colored mark appears on her leg, her mother pricks her leg and finds that Rachel does not react.
This is a powerful, heartbreaking book about grief and the way society failed her loved ones. In poetic vignettes, a woman muses upon her marriage as she deals with everything from a colicky baby to bedbugs to infidelity.
This novel follows a small group of friends as they navigate schoolyard politics and their roles in society. This is an incredible novel about the devastating consequences even the best intentions can have.
Any book that so expertly draws parallels to The Bell Jar is bound to be a favorite of mine, and I LOVED this novel. The author contends that we have a hard time with disability because we have a hard time with limitation, especially in an American Dream culture that says our possibilities are endless.
The author is my friend since the days we were neighbors in Southern Seminary housing and fellow research assistants in the basement of the President’s home.
The book is a sophisticated cultural history, tracing Haggard’s experience as the son of “Okie” migrants to California, as despised and stereotyped as other immigrants were in other times and places. Westerholm doesn’t write like a partisan, defending his tribe, but as a faithful witness seeking to find where his interlocutors are right and wrong. Woven through a fascinating personal history is a series of brilliant insights on everything from why socialists could never be persuaded that socialism was wrong to why conservatives shouldn’t be so quick to bash popular culture. It also shows some flashes of a path forward for Christians in a rapidly pluralizing American society. The book reminded me to show some mercy to the grumpier among us, and to resolve to try not to be that way myself. Whether you think Watterson was right or wrong, he stood with his artistic convictions, and that’s one reason why so many of us love his work. They’re often dated because they can’t keep up with the whirring nature of technology and culture. I don’t know, but I remember hearing it first as a child in Elvis Presley’s “American Trilogy,” in which he fused it with “Dixie” and a Bahamian lullaby, seeking to transcend lyrically the Mason-Dixon line. Of course, the Battle Hymn returned during the civil rights era, linking the just cause of the Freedom Marchers and others with the earlier abolitionists. Rod sent me this book when it was in early manuscript form, and I was drawn in from start to finish.
I read through the whole thing almost in one sitting and found it plowing through my heart, leaving idol shards everywhere. In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.
Does he hide the evidence he finds that he knows that the police might be after or let the justice system decide the fate of his child? He has no friends, no family, and the only bit of human contact he receives are letters occasionally sent to him from his old student, Charlene Turner. An unlikely friendship unfolds and brings new purpose to Arthur’s life that he never expects. He argues that O’Connor’s limitations, lupus and the resulting need to stay at home in Georgia, made her who she was.
It also traces his Forrest Gump-like life of cameo appearances in almost every important historical trend of the last forty years.
In the end he shows persuasively from the Scriptures how Augustine didn’t invent the concept of an “introspective conscience,” later picked up by Martin Luther and superimposed on Paul. This book seems to be a collection of “Deep Thoughts,” with a narrative strung between them, maybe even done on a bet.
It is a story that confuses Julia and causes her to realize that the man she knew has her father, is not who he really was.
It is a book filled with amazingly developed characters, fabulous plot twists, and historical fiction at its finest. In fear of protecting her daughter, she covers the mark and hides other marks that appear on Rachel’s body.
After her best friend announces her engagement and her latest relationship ends, she decides to take a risk and contact a dating service in hopes of finding the perfect match. Thornbury shows that Henry’s biblical orthodoxy matched with philosophical savvy and cultural mission wasn’t a fluke of the last century, but is needed more than ever. He was imprisoned at an early age, though not quite doing “life without parole.” He was pardoned by Gov. Mitchell traces why moral philosophy isn’t just for specialists but for the whole Body of Christ. I could not put it down, I had to know how it would all work out, and I was captivated from the opening paragraph until the very last page.
It is the family’s dark secret since all people afflicted by leprosy are quarantined and taken from their families. Upon her first appointment with the dating service though, she realizes that it is not a dating service at all, but a matchmaking service for an arranged marriage. He explains with clarity the various ways of approaching these questions, and offers ethical reflection that isn’t ashamed of the gospel or embarrassed to claim, “The Bible says.” I plan to give this to lots of budding young ethicists, preachers and leaders.
And part of it is that we come from roughly the same part of the world, and I feel every day of sense of loss that I’m not at home in Biloxi. His “Okie from Muskogee” and “Fighting Side of Me” became anthems of the Nixonian “Silent Majority” in the culture wars, though Haggard himself was never much of a culture warrior.



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