Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Top Books of 2012

I love to read. Mostly I love reading escapist fiction books that take me away to a different world but I occasionally venture out of my comfort zone into non-fiction too.

I've often thought if I had to give up my TV stories or books which would I be willing to loose. I love a few TV shows and Joe & I often enjoy them together along with movies. Every time I contemplate this conundrum (of my own invention) I realize that books win. They take me away into my own imagination- one of my favorite places to be- and open new worlds up to me.

So without further ado here are my favorite books that I read in 2012:

This was my beach read in June while my boys took swimming lessons and it was awesome. 7 is the true story of how Jen took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. At the heart of the book was a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that draws you to a radically better existence. I love Jen's snarky voice that questions, challenges & invites you to consider your own excess and what changes you can make. This is a topic I'm well acquainted with but still felt I learned more about from Jen. 

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo

This book reads like a novel about the poorest slum dwellers of Mumbai. From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo this amazing work of narrative nonfiction tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.
This was another beach read for me during my spring break trip to Florida. I read that this was one of the best books of the year so I thought I'd give it a try and I ended up absolutely loving it. Boo introduced me to a world I knew nothing about and made it real and sympathetic. With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects people to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries you headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions  by Rachel Held Evans

I love Rachel Held Evans. I started reading her blog and found her a fresh voice about faith. Evans adds her unique perspective to the ongoing dialogue about postmodernism and the church that has been going on in the Christian community in recent years. She's not afraid to ask the tough questions of the Bible and the church. She doesn't have all the answers but in our culture where new ideas threaten the safety and security of the faith, Evolving in Monkey Town is a fearlessly honest story of survival.
As a result of reading this book I considered my own doubts and found my faith renewed.

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

Dark, disturbing, compelling- just a few words that come to mind when reading this book of a marriage gone terribly wrong. I saw Gone Girl in many a magazine before I gave in to reading it. I thought I'd just give it a chapter or 2 to see what the fuss was about but once I started I couldn't put it down. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed this book “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” That was definitely what happened to me as I stayed up way too late reading this one. Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn. 
I was disturbed in only the way a great book can get me.

Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

I have a little used degree in art history so just the title of this book was enough to intrigue me. Throw in some Nazis, spies and the French liberation in 1944 and I was hooked. Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler are racing to rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands. The authors and main characters are Christians and their faith is a subtle theme in the book.

I read a lot more in 2012 than five books but I narrowed it down to just my favorites. Now I'm working on my list of books to read in 2013 and I'll share that soon.

What were your favorite books of 2012?
(Note: some links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.)


  1. great suggestions! I feel the same about Rachel Held Evans, and while I thought Gone Girl was engrossing, I didn't really love it. And of course, you know my thoughts about 7, which is my fave of 2012! I've also enjoyed reading Kimmel's Grace Based Parenting and Picoult's The Pact and Tina Fey's Bossypants! :)

  2. I also love reading because it helps me escape. I typically don't read nonfiction and rarely read things that are on the current top 10 list. But I did read "The Fault in our Stars" as a friend said it was the best book she had read all year. (Think it came out 2 yrs. ago?) It is a really well-written fiction story! It is deep, sad, and funny all into one! Also have started "1000 gifts", but not finished it as it really hit me hard in spots. Know it will be great once I finish it, but it shook me to the core. Her writing is so beautiful and it sometimes feels like she is inside my head. Not that I am as eloquent as the writer, but she seems to understand my struggles, etc. LOVE her blog! For a beach read, I just read "The Lucky One" by Nicolas Sparks and while it wasn't profound or thought-provoking, it was good. Original story line. I think I want to read "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" next! Love the topic of the Jen Hatmaker wanting to reduce excess, but can't find the time to sort, etc.!!

  3. O.k. so I am new to posting on blogs....don't need to be anonymous, just was the easiest way to post. I posted the above - Sara Barnard



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