My Favorite Books I Read in 2013

Looking back into 2013, as I mentioned in a previous post I read a lot. But, did I have favorites ? Of course I did! While I found that majority of the books I read during the 2013 were amazing and good, I decided to list out my favorite five from 2013. Just to note, they are not in order of most favorite of favorites.

By Alan Brennert

By Alan Brennert

Moloka’i: this book was part of our book club list. This became one of the five favorites for the simple reasons, it was a beautiful story written very well. It was a part of the history of Hawaii I knew so little of. This fictional story not only informed me of what happened, but I felt I was experiencing the girl’s life.

Editor: Hallie Lord

Editor: Hallie Lord

Style, Sex, & Substance: what happens when you get a group of Catholic women writers/bloggers, and ask them to write something….a great compilation of reflections that truly reflect, I think Catholic women on issues that inflict us in this modern time. I never knew this book existed until I saw it in a Catholic Bookstore in Charleston, SC (where I was stationed at this past year). I knew of all of the writers because I follow their blogs or have met them once in my life.

By: Lynn Sheene

By: Lynn Sheene

The Last Time I Saw Paris: I cannot help but promote this book, I love this book! I was never one to read about the French Resistance during WWII for I felt it was over-played and I do not know it never struck me as interesting to read. That changed with this book! (Or it just could be that this book was really good!) The twists, the spying, and writing, I actually re-read it after I finished it.

By: Bob Thomas

By: Bob Thomas

An American Original: Walt Disney : I have always loved Walt Disney, but I did not know much about his life or some of the myths that were a part of Walt. After reading this book, I found myself respecting Walt Disney even more than I did before. This biography makes Walt, well human not an idol or god, which from what I know of Disney then and now he never was something he wasn’t. Sometimes, what made him an idol of how he wished things to be done or how things seem to just come out of no where. If you want to know Walt, I suggest reading this book.

By: Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI

By: Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI

Jesus of Nazareth, Book II: With this being in my list it proves something for me, I am a woman for Holy Week and the Sorrowful Mysteries. (I have mentioned this to Em and even my own husband.) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s trilogy was one of my favorite series of last year or really all time, but my favorite was book two. The way he approached parts of the Holy Week helped me reflect more on the Crucifixion and the Resurrection more.

What were your favorite books of 2013? Comment below with either the list or even your blog entry link. We would love to know!

Happy Reading,



Happy birthday, America!

Something to read today: The Declaration of Indepedence

"The Rocket", 1909

“The Rocket”, 1909

Some good Fourth of July books?

John Adams, by David McCullough. Also, 1776 by the same author, which is a lot shorter, but just as good. (It’s also one of our book club selections!)

The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, about the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863, and is also the basis for the film Gettysburg.

What Emily read: May 2013

Looking back over my Goodreads counter, I see I read a ton of books in May. So buckle up. 🙂

Waiting to Be Heard, by Amanda Knox: Knox was convicted of murdering her British roommate in Italy several years ago. The ruling was then reversed, and Amanda was released and sent back to the states. Now the Italian government wants her extradited to stand trial for the murder again. This is Knox’s memoir about her time in Italy, what happened the night of the murder, and her experiences with the Italian justice system. Let’s just say it’s not a fond look. She definitely makes some questionable choices in the beginning, but her treatment at the hands of the Italian government is shabby at the best. It was a quick read.

donkey pilgrims Last of the Donkey Pilgrims, by Kevin O’Hara: O’Hara, a Vietnam vet and Irish citizen by birth, comes back to Ireland from his home in the states and endeavors to be a “donkey pilgrim”–to traverse all of Ireland with a donkey and cart. It’s a fun and fascinating read, and if you’re at all Irish, like I am, or just love a good travelogue, you’ll very much enjoy this book.

May I Be Happy, by Cyndi Lee: A memoir by the world renowed yoga instructor about body acceptance and the meaning of happiness. (And yes, yoga in involved)

A Step of Faith, Richard Paul Evans: I am a total devotee of RPE, and have been since I read his first book, The Christmas Box, in seventh grade. This is the fourth installment of his very popular Walk series, in which the protagonist decides to walk from his home in Seattle to Key West, Florida, after the death of his wife and the loss of his home and business. This series is tremendously well written.

a step of faith

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson: A fantastically funny quasi-memoir by the author of The Bloggess. It’s quick, it’s hysterical.

Fides et Ratio: John Paul The Great’s encyclical on the relationship between faith and reason.

My Sisters The Saintsby Colleen Carroll Campbell: I really wanted to like this, but it left me sort of cold. There was a sense of overdramatic writing and trying a bit too hard to make her journey relate to that of familiar saints.

Blessed, Beautiful and Bodaciousby Pat Gohn: Now I really liked this one. The book deals with how to be an authentically Catholic woman, without resorting to the all-too-common “married women only need apply” patina that glosses so many of similar books. Her writing style is conversational and fluid, and I really enjoyed it.

Once, by Enda Walsh: In preparation for seeing the show, I read the script.

Return of the nativeThe Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy: In the mode of almost all Hardy: man and woman marry. Man and woman unhappy. Man and woman end unhappily. Sigh. However, it’s good writing and vivid characters.

Italian Food, by Elizabeth David: I bought this in NYC during a recent trip, and loved this book. David, a famous British food writer, makes Italian food accessible with simple recipes that still work today.

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter: Yes, I finally broke down and read this. Stick with it. It starts slow, but oh how it all comes together!

Extra Virginity, by Tom Mueller: Extra Virgin Olive Oil has become a staple in American kitchens. But is it really extra virgin? A fascinating look at the olive oil industry around the world.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, by Bob Spitz: Continuing in the cooking vein, this is a brilliant, all encompassing biography of the woman who really brought French cooking to America. Spitz doesn’t gloss over the more controversial or idiosyncratic parts of her character and allows her to exist in her entirety. A great read.

A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, by George R R Martin: Books two and three in the Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire series. Battles are won and lost, people are dismembered, people die, and marriages are made. And ended. Oh, and dragons.

The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck: Ten ways to bring more joy into your life. possession

Possession, by AS Byatt: If you read only one book on this VERY LONG list, make it this one. Two British researches uncover a hidden relationship between two Victorian era poets. That’s the basic outline. But it’s so much more than that. Read it.

Lenten Season 2012

I must say it has been awhile since I last wrote on this blog, and I am regretting that. These past few months have been hectic for me, but I will say it has not stopped the reading. This Lenten season I decided again to give up secular books/novels and focus more on religious books instead. As I am coming close to the end I thought I give a listing of the books I have read.

  • Where Is That in the Bible? by Patrick Madrid
  • Why Is That in Tradition? by Patrick Madrid
  • Swear to God by Scott Hahn
  • Catholicism by Fr. Robert Barron

The two Patrick Madrid books I find are great starter books for those wishing to either defend the Catholic Church, but even he mentions that readers should really use this as a way of going further in studies with their CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) and Sacred Scripture.

While Mr. Madrid’s books were starters, Scott Hahn’s Swear to God is a intensive read especially for me. While I am devout in my Catholic faith and one who loves to explore more Swear to God brings you more in-depth with the Sacraments. Though as many have said to me before Mr. Hahn tends to keep a central theme in all his books (covenants) I find I like that quality in his books. To add I learned more about the sacraments in this book than I had known, really helped with wanting to further my studies on my faith.

Lastly, Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism is concise book that gives I feel an outline of his project Catholicism (which is a series of episodes). I have never seen the series, but I can say that when you read the book you can see the outline. I think my only problem with the book was that I felt there could have been more done with it, I do not know what, but maybe like the Madrid books it is just a starter book to make you ask further questions or study more.

I just finished Catholicism right before I wrote this entry, and now going to start a new book: Women, Sex, and the Church: A Case for Catholic Teaching. This book is a combined effort of women defending the teachings of the Church on Women and the Issues that deal with Women. I hope to have a good chunk of this book finished by the end of this week.

Well that is all for now.

And classics…

Well, most of them I’ve listed in my list under the “recommendations” tab at the top of the page. But to recap: (prose only, here)

  • All of Jane. Non-negotiable
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Some of Thomas Hardy. I really like Far From The Madding Crowds and Tess is interesting.
  • Wuthering Heights. Trust me.
  • Virginia Woolf! Esp. Mrs. Dalloway: “Life, London, this moment of June…”
  • Edith Wharton: Age of Innocence, etc.
  • Dracula and Frankenstein. Very different, but both very good. The critical debates surrounding Dracula are so funny.
  • The Scarlet Letter. Again, this grew on me. Hated it when I read it in high school. But…now, not so bad.
  • Orwell: Animal Farm, 1984
  • Rebecca…ooooh creepy. 🙂

Should you read while listening to music?

Does anyone remember those tips on how to study for a test
or do your homework? I am quite sure many of you know the answer and know
how well that worked for you. It is almost the same advice I get for reading a book–don’t listen to music–and I can say
I disagree wholeheartedly. When I am reading a book I can see myself sitting
outside listening to the sounds of nature (which is to me is like a musical) or
if I am cooped up inside I would be sitting in a nice comfortable chair with a
pair of headsets on, or fill my room with music from my computer or stereo.

Music helps you travel to that place within the book, especially if you are reading a lengthy book. If you know the genre of the book you are reading for example, John Adams, I would set up a playlist of the soundtrack of John Adams (the HBO movie) , but also add music from late 18th and early 19th centuries. Find music that would suit you while reading.

I like to change my up the music I listen to. If the book is getting to a boring part, I have tons of songs that could motivate me to push through the page or chapter, but many times I find music that fits the genre of the book.

What about music that has lyrics to it? Yes, there are going to be readers who have a difficult time trying to focus on the words on the page. But if  a book is really taking you away, the lyrics of a song go away, you hear the beats, the harmony, which in turn help you with the book, because you are making a soundtrack for it.

In the end, it is up to the mind of the reader, who is the director of the book. Try to read with music at least once try to –it doesn’t matter if is nothing but soundscapes and classical music, but something to start with. Then try to move forward by making soundtracks for genres you read or just general reading. All I ask is that you try; it  does no harm
for a reader.