I feel pretty glum about the length of my 2012 completed reads. It was a year of sleep-deprivation and pregnancy nausea but I think that if ahead of time I’d had a plan for completing all the books I wanted to finish, maybe I wouldn’t have dropped the ball?
So, to have some accountability, I want to post my reading goals for 2013 and leave a little breathing room for your suggestions (I added several of your recommendations from the comments on my 2012 list from last week! I love having such interesting readers!). It’s not terribly long because there are a few epic classics that are going to take awhile to get through and a new baby is arriving in late May, but I’m trying to add some lighter reading in between the longer classics to keep the momentum going.
- A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit (completed)
- The Penderwicks at Point Moutte by Jeanne Birdsall
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (a re-read)
- Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (kind of a re-read. I’ve read the 600 page abridged version but never the whole giant thing.)
- Bread and Wine: Readings for Easter and Lent
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (complete)
- Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
- Avalon by Stephen Lawhead
June (Hello, Baby Gwen!)
- True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort
- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
- Villette by Charlotte Bronte
November-December: Your Suggestions
Please leave me some comments about what titles you consider to be in the “books to read before you die” category: your very favorite novel of all time, for example. My readers always have the best recommendations! I’m especially interested in your top suggestions for books on homeschooling. I don’t really know where to start!
Anybody have a vote for or against any of the following? I was thinking about adding them:
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
- The Island of the World by Michael O’Brien
What are your reading goals for 2013?
I’ve read both Divergent (and the sequel, and am impatiently awaiting the third) and Gregor the Overlander (and all four sequels) and liked them a lot! Both are quick and fun reads but still have lots of bravery and goodness and interesting characters and other good things.
Great! I will have to add them in for some lighter reading after one of the huge epic works when my brain needs a break from classics. Thanks 🙂
Brian C says
I highly recommend John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. It is a phenomenal, fictional tale that is beautiful and emotional. It was named to the top of a lot of lists this year.
For non-fiction, I recommend Donal Miller’s Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Both phenomenal. I also recommend Lauren Winner’s Mudhouse Sabbath, Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God, and MadameJeanne Guyon’s Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ. All fantastic.
I have been meaning to add Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God. Thanks for reminding me and for the other suggestions, Brian!
Mary Susan says
I don’t know if I would classify this as ‘read before you die’ but I just finished When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and loved it. If you like A Wrinkle in Time, then it’ll be right up your alley. It’s a YA so it doesn’t take long but is SO good. Also I reread Tuesdays With Morrie every few years. And what about The Count of Monte Cristo? I’ve read the abridged, but mayhaps I’ll take a stab at the full version this year!
Ooo, I haven’t even heard of the Stead book. I love L’Engle. And I’ve never read Tuesdays with Morrie, either! I read Count years and years ago. So long ago that I’m sure I didn’t grasp it. I should add it to the re-read section. Maybe for next year. Thanks, Mary Susan!
Jane Eyre is my favorite, but you may have already read it. If you haven’t read Little Dorrit by Dickens, I’m sure you would enjoy it! Brothers Karamazov is on my list this year too. I started it but didn’t finish it 2 years ago. And is this your first time reusing Tenant of Wildfell Hall?? I couldn’t put it down! SO good!
I’ve read it over and over and LOVE it. I’m so glad you mentioned Little Dorrit because I really need to read it and keep forgetting. I started the Brothers K before, too, but never made it further than 60 pages. This time I’m barrelling through! This is my first time reading Tenant! I watched a BBC miniseries of it and liked it so much and then a sweet friend gifted me with a copy.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is based on the book of Hosea in the Bible and is a love story that shows how only God can love us and make us whole, no matter what. You won’t want to put it down, but it’s about 600 pages. So a couple days.
LOVE this book!! One of my all-time favorites!
I’ve heard of this one! Thanks for the suggestion 🙂
I just started a re-reading of Jane Eyre, funny you should mention it, Makenzie. My plan was to alternate classic liturature, then non-fiction vocation type books, then a new(er) novel. I added a lot of your picks to my Amazon wish list but I don’t think I care to take on any 1,000 page works at this point. I have made exceptions for Ken Follett. I’d also like to pick up a few of my husband’s Hemingways, maybe Islands in the Stream. The only Hemingway stories I have read were in high school.
I like your plan of alternating genres. Which Ken Follett did you read and would you recommend it? I love medieval settings. I watched Pillars of the Earth (not sure I can unreservedly recommend it because it was a tad raunchy but the cast was amazing and I was hooked by the story).
I read Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, and Fall of Giants. They all have some scenes that are unchaste to say the least. I kept thinking what great books they would be to recommend to my high school students, but then immediately had to remind myself how inappropriate it would be. So with an eye on keeping the mind pure, I’d have to say I don’t recommend them either, but they were all such gripping stories that I loved and couldn’t put down. There are so many characters to meet and know and love/hate!
Story of a Soul by St. Thérèse de Lisieux. It is lovely (I’ve still it a few pages to go). She may well be my confirmation saint. 🙂
Your 2012 book list (and your Catholic book list) helped me put together reading for this year. Time to read, read, read! 🙂
OK, I definitely need to read that one this year. Especially since St. Therese is my special patron saint this year. Thanks, Haley.
Hi! Have you read Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed? I read it in 2012 and loved it! I’ve just discovered your blog, but I think we have similar taste in books and that you would enjoy it too.
The Brothers Karamazov has been sitting on my nightstand for months. It’s just so HEAVY! I have a hard time holding it while nursing, which is my main reading time, I’ve actually been contemplating buying a Kindle just for that book, but can’t get the translation I want. I’m re reading My Antonia right now. Another one of my favorites is Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag.
I haven’t read The Betrothed. I’m not sure I’ve even heard of it! And yes, grappling The Brothers K while nursing would be a feat! Maybe I should make sure I’m finished with it before new baby comes 🙂
Haley, you MUST read The Betrothed. See I feel so strongly about it, that I am revisiting this post to write this. There are multiple translations and I think that the Bruce Penman one is considered the best. http://www.amazon.com/Betrothed-Promessi-Sposi-Penguin-Classics/dp/014044274X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360890528&sr=1-1&keywords=the+betrothed+penguin+classics
Haha! I’m sold. I’ll put it on my list 🙂 Thank you!
Here are my must-read home education books. Our style is a kind of “relaxed classical.”
1. Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss – my home learning centerpiece. Her website/blog has lots of resources, specially for getting started with little ones.
2. The Well-Trained Mind – excellent! We love their Story of the World texts & activity books for history, though with some editing.
3. Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp – secular, but gives excellent overview of what a year of learning could look like, from preK – 12.
4. A Little Way of Homeschooling: 13 Families Discover Catholic Unschooling – lots of stories of gentle learning.
5. Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum – I consider this the homeschooling “big guns!” Big ideas, beautiful, inspiring.
Also, some of my favorite online resources: Shower Of Roses, Wildflowers and Marbles, By Sun and Candlelight and Catholic Cuisine. Happy reading!
I love Elizabeth Foss’s blog so I’m sure I’d like her book. I have the Well-Educated Mind for grown-ups but I haven’t read The Well-Trained Mind and I need to! Haven’t even heard of the Rupp book or the Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum so thanks for suggesting them! And I’ve been meaning to read A Little Way of Homeschooling for ages and have never gotten around to it. Thanks so much, Cristina!
One of my all time favorites is A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. Such a beautiful love story.
Thanks for the suggestion, Steph! 🙂
You will love The Domestic Church and True Devotion to Mary! I am a little down about the amount of books I’ve read this year as well. Perhaps I should do a book goal post as well.
I think it will keep me accountable to pick up a book instead of watching Modern Family or something when I’m sleepy 🙂
I can so relate to that. I get lost messing around online too much, lol. I’d rather be reading.
I’m currently reading My Sister’s the Saints by Colleen Campbell and loving it! She does a fantastic job of showing how the teachings of the saints are applicable to our modern daily lives.
Didn’t know about that one! Thanks for recommending it, Susan.
I’m going back and re-reading the classics from Baylor’s Great Texts & also their Lit program…many years, many years ago. I don’t have a specific timeline, and some books I’ll need to buy, or re-buy, but because I never finished my degree (1.5 years left), and because I don’t want to be in thousands of dollars of debt, and because I want to move on from all of the religious/homeschooling/unschooling/attachment parenting/childbirth/breastfeeding/farming books that have swallowed me whole for 8 years, I’m just going to do it myself. I don’t have a timeline. Just a list. Right now, I’m reading Homer.
I love it, Amy. Good for you. There are so many books on my shelf from my GTX days that I look at and think, I need to read that now that I’m not flying through books and just looking up quotes for papers and really take the time to absorb it. Daniel read Homer to colicky Benjamin during those long nights. The rhythm seemed to soothe him 🙂
Oh, PS: Read anything by John Taylor Gatto, regarding school.
Thanks, Amy! I’ll check him out.
I don’t have any suggestions for you (I think you’ve already read my very favorites, and I’ve been a bit uninspired lately). But I think ‘The Power and the Glory’ will be a good choice for around baby-arrival time, as I imagine you’ll find it a quick read. I psyched myself up to read that one and then was surprised at how easily I got through it and what a page-turner it was.
I might steal some of your ideas — I need to make a list, too!
That’s good to hear, Deirdre. I will have only a handful of brain cells that month which is why that’s the only book on my list for June 🙂 I’ve been meaning to read it for ages. Daniel read it in college and loved it.
Wendy Peckham says
I always recommend “A Suitable Boy” by Vikram Seth. It is set in India in 1952, or thereabouts, right after partition (the division of India and Pakistan). It is about an Indian family, a widow with four young adult children, and her concern about finding a husband for her younger daughter. It touches on politics, morality and culture, the secular and the religious, Hindu and Muslim, modern and traditional life. It is at times charming, serious, thought-provoking. It does not take a superficial approach to resolving the problem of a young Hindu woman falling in love with an attractive young Muslim man.
I just finished Peter Kreeft’s “How To Win the Culture War.” It is short and to the point, and he is engaging, as always.
I am about to finish “The Violinist’s Thumb and Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code” by Sam Kean. Taking into account the writer’s NPR-worldview, it is informative about research on DNA, what it had been hoped to accomplish, and how it has and has not succeeded, as well as the limits of looking to that to understand and define/limit the human condition. The violinist in the title is Paganini, who “almost certainly had a genetic disorder that gave him freakishly flexible fingers.” I found out that Darwin was a product of inbreeding with serious health problems, and there are instances of a lot of infighting among scientists and theorists. I always thought they reserved such vitriol was for Christians/creationists/intelligent design-thinkers.
Christopher Morley’s “Parnassus on Wheels” is enjoyable for a light read.
I liked the two volumes of the “Gregor the Overlander” series I read.
For girls of about twelve or so, I recommend “Lark,” by Sally Watson. The thirteen-year old heroine is caught up in an adventure in Cromwell’s England.
Ooo, these all sound great! I have always wanted to read one of Peter Kreeft’s books and maybe this is the year to do it. Thank you!
I love your reading list for 2013! Two lighter reads (but still really great, and well-written) that I would recommend are: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I loved The Snow Child even more when I found out that the author lives a lifestyle very true to the one portrayed in the book! I received Kristin Lavransdatter for Christmas and I am anxious to begin reading it.
Thanks for the suggestions! I hope you love Kristin! 🙂
Hello! I’ve been reading your blog for a week or two now, and I love it! You bring your faith into your life beautifully, and it’s wonderful. Plus, I love your reading lists, and this one’s no exception.
I second The Language of Flowers for a light, realistic fiction read. My very favorite series, though, that I have to suggest is the Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind. The series begins with Wizard’s First Rule, with 12 books total (I think. I’ve got a nursing baby at the moment or I’d get up and count them on the shelf). Fantastic characterization, unique plot lines, and just the right mix of romance and sword-fighting.
Anyway, keep up the awesome blog, and congratulations on the upcoming arrival of your new daughter!
Thank you, Helen! That is so kind!
I keep hearing Terry Goodkind’s name. Maybe that’s the series I should start with. 🙂
Cara Hartley says
If you would like a lovely, extremely funny, some what different take on the writings of Lucy Maud Montgomery then I would with the utmost confidence, highly recommend “The Blue Castle.” It is the only book that makes me laugh out loud while reading it. I believe it is out of print (bummer) but most libraries carry it around this neck of the woods. And it is a story that will lighten your spirits and brighten your day. It is the kind of book that once you have read it, you can open to any page and just enjoy. Simply beautiful.
What a good suggestion! I think that was on Karen Edmisten’s reading list last year and I kept meaning to add it to mine. Thank you, Cara!
Meg Hunter-Kilmer says
I love that one! It’s so different from her usual story of a creative girl growing up (which I also love). Definitely read Silence by Shusaku Endo, ideally during Lent. It goes very nicely with The Power and the Glory. And I love The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but DO NOT read a single thing about it–not even the back of the book–unless you want the central question of the book to be answered before you even meet the characters. Also, an emphatic second to the recommendation of Redeeming Love. That book revolutionized my prayer life–high praise for an inspirational romance novel!
Thanks for the tip about Tenant! I won’t read a word about it until I’ve finished it 🙂
I’m sure you’ve read Little Women, but have you read Little Men? It’s just the most delightful little book ever… perfect for any time (late pregnancy? postpartum?) that you want something that will be cheerful and nice, and not stressful in any way. 🙂
LOVE LOVE LOVE Little Men. And haven’t read it in years. That should be a re-read soon. I remember wanting to be just like Jo March when I was a mama someday. So glad you reminded me of that gem!
Both hands up for Michael O’Brien! I read Father Elijah and thought it was the best book I’ve read in recent memory. But reading Strangers and Sojourners promptly left Elijah in the dust. Island of the world is high on my list now, but I’ve become something of a book evangelist for Strangers and Sojourners.
OK, that’s it. I’ve got to read at least one of his books this year! Thanks, Rachel.
I love, love, LOVE reading about and talking about books and what others are reading. Your list reminded me to add a few classics, and one vote for Divergent. It’s fun and fast. It has a bit of a tweeny feel, but it’s also reminiscent of The Hunger Games, and addresses some interesting topics. Thanks for sharing!
Great! Definitely adding Divergent, then. Thanks, Mari 🙂
I’ve not read all the comments, but I’m hoping someone other than me said a big YES! to your Michael O’Brien book. I read it 2 summers ago, and it was the book of the year for 2011. This past fall I read “Cutting For Stone”, by Abraham Verghese and it got a full 5 stars. Some others?
“Apples are from Kazakhstan”, by Christopher Robbins
“Country Driving”, by Peter Hessler
“Best Things In Life”, by Peter Kreeft (all his books are excellent!)
If you’re feeling like you could use some more distopian novels after Divergent, then I’d recommend “Year Of The Flood” by Margaret Atwood. Considerably more adult themes & depth. And Little Britches? You’d best have all of the series on hand so you can just keep going! They are some of the best books for young boys to read, in my opinion.
Oh! And something newer, the Wingfeather saga from Andrew Peterson, starting with “On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness”. Very, very good. They will be good to give to your children in a few years, right about the time they start reading Narnia on their own.
Don’t forget “Supper of the Lamb”, by Robert Capon! A wonderful, fantastical treat. The chapter about onions will revolutionize your cooking.
These are wonderful suggestions! Thank you, Donzel!
I know this is a late comment, so you might not see it — but have you read the Thursday Next books by Jasper FForde? There’s one called “The Eyre Affair,” which is about what happens when someone gets their hands on the original “Jane Eyre” manuscript and changes it. Thursday Next is a literary detective, and she has to solve the mystery of what happened to the book, who is behind it, and why characters from the novel are suddenly showing up regular life. It’s funny, fun, and a great read for bibliophiles!
That sounds delightful. Thanks, Kimmy 🙂
I’ve been browsing your website for the past few days and really loving it (I was looking through your list to steal some ideas 🙂 ), I just wanted to say something about Villette. Disclaimer first : I LOVE Charlotte Bronte, proper love, I read Jane Eyre very regularily, but Villette broke my heart. Whilst the book in itself shows a very worthy heroin, (what else!) the book is full of very judgmental descriptions of a whole culture (and of catholicism I’m afraid) and the representation of the French and the people of Luxembourg made me slightly nauseous (I should probably mention that I am French…). Just one example, although the novel is set in Luxembourg, Charlotte Bronte renames it “Labassecour”, which is French for “the Hen Coop”. Sorry for the rant, but as I said, it broke my heart to see how prejudiced and blind this amazing woman could be.
Also, by the way, “A Suitable Boy” is nothing short of fabulous!
Thanks for the info about Villette! I didn’t know any of that!
One of the best books I`ve ever read was “The Scent of Water” by Elizabeth Goudge. It`s sweet and romantic and painful and made me laugh all at once. Something for every generation. About taking care of home and garden, living with disease, broken and healing marriages, estranged parent- adult child relationships, village community, children`s fantasy worlds, fairy tales, a bit even about home education.
Beautiful blog! I highly recommend you read Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series, in 6 volumes. I’m on volume 2 now and find in them a wealth of wisdom about parenting and education.
I hope your baby comes soon!
Thank you, Catherine! And I definitely want to read some Charlotte Mason. I think that our homeschooling style will definitely be more in line with the classical model than anything else. Great suggestion! And I hope so, too! I’m staying away from the castor oil….for the time being, but I might get desperate by next week ; )
p.s. Just hopped over to your blog. Looks like we have a lot in common 🙂
Hannah Elise says
If you’re looking for light non-fiction:
American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen – even if you’re not much of a “food reader,” I recommend this book for its fascinating little pictures of the foods of the Americas, the people who cultivate them, and the little-known history behind some of them! While I admittedly skipped over the chapter on oysters, the chapters on chocolate, coffee, maple syrup, honey, salmon, and wild edibles were quite intriguing.
If you’re looking for nonfiction that constantly makes you stop and go, “Ow, my brain hurts!” but lures you into reading more because it’s so thought-provoking:
What Are People For? by Wendell Berry – this one, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, What Really Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth, and Citizenship Papers… you really can’t go wrong with any of them. But I particularly liked What Are People For?
If you’re looking for nonfiction that’s just plain fun:
Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting by Michael Perry. The title should tell you enough. He’s engaging, he’s witty, and he tells some amusing stories.
And if you’re looking for yet another dystopian trilogy:
Birthmarked / Prized / Promised by Caragh O’Brien. I know, I know. More dystopian. It’s like people read The Hunger Games (another trilogy that I have come to adore, more for the political underpinnings than anything) and that’s all they want to read. Take Divergent and its sequel, for instance. One doesn’t really have to -think- when reading them. They’re just taking advantage of the bandwagon that everyone wants to jump on. The next thing you know, we’ll have wand-wielding vampires on dragons in a game of survival against zombies. Or something. Anyway. The point is, I found this trilogy to be intriguing because the main character is a midwife. Yep, a midwife. How many characters in young adult fiction (or even adult fiction) are -midwives- these days, really? While I didn’t agree with all of the choices that the character made (spoiler: a character approaches her about an herbal abortion during the second book), it was nevertheless intriguing to read about a midwife in dystopian times, and the cultures that formed around her.
Hannah, these are all intriguing suggestions! Thank you so much!
Sarah Doll says
Haley, you are so inspiring, thank you! I absolutely love to read but shy away from the classics thinking that I won’t enjoy them or that I am not educated enough (with my homeschool background), but you inspired me! I recently bought “Wives and Daughters” because of your suggestion and I LOVE it. I also dusted off my copy of “Brideshead Revisted” and I am going to delve in here pretty soon. Thank you. 🙂
Here are some books that I thoroughly enjoyed: (and I think you would too!)
“Hannah Coulter” – Wendell Berry
“Strange Gods, Unmasking the Idols of Everyday life” – Elizabeth Scalia
“Child from the Sea” – Elizabeth Goudge
And these three books I cannot recommend enough:
‘The Privilege of Being a Woman” – Alice Von Hildebrand
“Searching for and Maintaining Peace” – Jacques Philippe
“I Believe in Love” – Jean C. J. d’Elbée
God bless and happy reading!
Thank you so much, Sarah! The first three are books that I’ve been dying to read! Thanks for reminding me. And I haven’t heard too much about the last three so I’ll add them to my list 🙂
I found you from Pintrest! And then I browsed your website and found this. I must say that I enjoy all the entries I have read so far. I definitely admire a good bookworm! lol
I don’t know if anyone ever recommended Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles: The Name of the Wind is the first one. The Wise Man’s Fear is the second one. He hasn’t published the third and final one yet and I’m waiting in agony. I absolutely LOVED them. I am awful at describing books, so I’ll do you a favor and refrain from it but definitely check them out if you love a good dark fantasy and have not read them yet. Just talking about them makes me want to read them again!
Louisa May Alcott also wrote a book called The Long Fatal Love Chase. Romantic Suspense/Thriller. I really enjoyed that as well.
I have so many recommendations but I can’t think of any when I want to! haha
Jamie Griffith says
I’m doing Ann voskamp’s 1000 gifts in November and her new advent book after that. Also pope awesome, and theology of the body for every body, redwall, and understood Betsy. Dinner a love story is also on my list.
I really enjoyed divergent, and downloaded Lilith on your recommendation. As for homeschooling books, my favorite is real learning: education in the heart of home by Elizabeth foss. It’s right up your alley! Happy reading !
Anything by Jane Austen, especially if you’ve already read it, I find each re-reading so enlightening!
I haven’t read all the suggestions, so excuse me if I’m repeating anything. Have you read Rumer Godden’s In This House of Brede? It’s about a convent in mid-20th century Britain. My favorite book was Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety, which I read at around your age, but now that I’m closer to the age of the characters I need to give it a re-read.
I’m reading Kristin Lavransdatter right now and loving it. One of my favorite unsung authors is Alan Paton. All of his books are lyrical, beautiful, worth a second look. I have read Story of a Soul (saw that in a previous comment) and highly recommend it. Also, on a more intellectual level, I recommend this one:
http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Conservative_Mind.html?id=mGBn2fOdp7gC Not what it sounds like from simply the title.
Just finished The Persian Pickle Club (Sandra Dallas) was nice quick read, and in the middle, now, of What Alice Forgot. Had to read it for book group and it is fascinating. I’m nervous about the ending. Clever writing…