my favorite books of 2013

Not all of these books were published in 2013, but each of them found its way to me this year, and isn't so much of the magic of a book finding the right book at the right time?

In no particular order:

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
A fun, smart novel, this is the story of 15 year old Bee Branch’s attempt to understand what happened when her misanthropic mother disappeared without warning on the day before they were set to leave for an Antarctic vacation. Compulsively readable. (Full review here.)

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher
Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, and part hagiography, journalist Dreher’s book is the story of his saintly younger sister’s untimely death, his return to his small hometown in Louisiana, and his struggle to understand what it means to live a Good Life. (Full review here.)

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Remember in highschool how you felt like you were different from everyone, and then you found that group of kids at summer camp who were interesting? Artistic, unconventional, gifted, "on-fire," aspirational, rich - whatever?  Remember how for the rest of your life you were trying to make sure you fit into that group, even at the expense of your own happiness? That's basically what this novel is about.

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang
This two-part graphic novel tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China, first from a peasant's perspective, and then from a missionary's perspective. So moving and disturbing I had trouble sleeping and then bad dreams after reading it.  Always the sign of a good book, right?

Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves
I had always thought first of God as Creator, but this book convinced me to see him first as Father, or as self-giving Love.  I read this with the Taylor freshman in Foundations of the Christian Liberal Arts, and it truly deepened my understanding of the Trinity's importance.

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
This was the first of several of Sara Zarr's YA novels that I tore through this year. If you, like me, love good realistic YA with strong female characters and spiritual themes, you need to check her out.  Beautifully written.

The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling or whatever her pen-name was
I'm a sucker for a good British mystery novel, and this was certainly that.

Booked to Die by John Dunning
The other best mystery novel I read this year.  A former cop turns used-bookseller but still gets embroiled in murder investigations.

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton
Doubtless this book would not have affected me so much if I hadn't been house-hunting while reading it.  Some lovely thoughts about the ways that architecture can shape our identities. (I wrote quite a bit about it here.)

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate by Justin Lee
Regardless of which side of this debate you find yourself on, you should read this book.   It clears up a lot of misconceptions about homosexuality that are common in Christian circles, and does so winsomely, with grace.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene
I think everybody already knows about this book, which is being made into a movie, but if you don't, you should read it!  Unless you don't like to read about kids and cancer. Then maybe skip it.

Previously: my favorite movies of 2013 
and my favorite albums of 2013 
and my favorite tv shows of 2013