30 Books in 2013

by jessicaturner on January 3, 2013

Two book posts in one week? Clearly I’m on a book kick. :)

One of my big new year’s resolutions is to read more books. I have always been a voracious reader, but over the past few years I haven’t carved out as much time to read. Our bookshelves are over-flowing and I am committing to reading more in 2013.

I have been so inspired by my friend Crystal who read more than 130 books in 2012. Holy smokes! I loved her post about how she finds time to read.

She’s a mama of 3 and a full-time blogger, so I figure if she can carve out time to read, I can too. :)

I hope to read 30 books this year, which works out to just 2.5 books a month. I figure 30 books + scrapbooking should keep me pretty darn happy.

Here’s a list of the books I know I want to read. I’m sure there will be more added to the list – and others that don’t get read. I’m okay with that.


Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Writing Motherhood

Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives

Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul

The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity

Parenting the Way God Parents

Grace-Based Parenting

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life

The Good Life for Less: Giving Your Family Great Meals, Good Times, and a Happy Home on a Budget

Beyond Ordinary: a he said, she said memoir

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year

A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions

Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace

Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

Elevate the Everyday: A Photographic Guide to Picturing Motherhood

Lucia, Lucia: A Novel

Big Stone Gap

Gone Girl: A Novel

Shadowbrook: A Novel of Love, War, and the Birth of America

City of Glory: A Novel of War and Desire in Old Manhattan

City of God: A Novel of Passion and Wonder in Old New York

The Illuminator

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel

Loving Frank: A Novel


The Elephant Keeper

Each month I plan to update you on the books I have read. This will help me to meet my goal + hopefully encourage you to pick up some good books.

Writing this list has gotten me so excited to get reading. :)

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? What books would you recommend that I add to the list?

Disclosure: compensated affiliate links used

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Smith January 3, 2013 at 6:33 am

Hi there Jessica,
Can I heartily recommend a switcheroo? Is “switcheroo” even a word? Anyway, I would love to see you take A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” off your list. I know that’s quite a bold request coming from an infrequent commenter. But that book, though I haven’t wasted my time reading it, is a serious misrepresentation of true biblical womanhood. Here’s some more information for you if you’d like: http://www.girlsgonewise.com/review-of-a-year-of-biblical-womanhood/.
I’d love to suggest replacing it with Nancy Lee DeMoss and Mary Kassian’s True Woman 101: Divine Design. I did invest my time reading this and completing the Bible study with several other Godly women, and it was life changing. You’re a real role model to many Christian women, so I thought I would take the time to make this suggestion. I hope you’re not offended – thanks for considering it!


mpt January 3, 2013 at 9:10 am


I know Rachel. I actually have read the book. In fact, I wrote an endorsement for the book. And I can say this: You don’t know what you’re talking about.

While I’m sure Mary Kassian’s book is fantastic (I know her, too), your words about Rachel’s book (especially considering you haven’t read it) are ridiculous and unfounded.

Matthew (Jessica’s husband)


Cara January 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

Thanks, Matthew.
Nothing wrong with having an opinion once you’ve read a book — but if you haven’t read it, it is ridiculous to say “Don’t read that book!”
Reading things one disagrees with is actually a really important thing to do — always learning, always refining one’s views — not sticking your head in the sand and saying “Ah, don’t read that!”


Sharideth Smith January 3, 2013 at 9:17 am

Matthew beat me to it…

I’m of mind that if you’re going to come out that strongly against something, you should probably know what it actually says.

I don’t agree with every conclusion Rachel comes to, but I respect the questions she raises and struggles to answer for herself as well as her readers.

Enough derailing. Good list, Jess.


Mrs. G January 3, 2013 at 7:18 am

I’m excited to see what you think about Gone Girl… I have heard good and bad so I haven’t read it yet. I also love all your motherhood / Christian living choices. I used to read like crazy (60 books in a year) until my daughter was born 9 months ago… I think I have finished 4 books since then… yikes!


stacy January 12, 2013 at 1:18 am

I read Gone Girl and loved it. My husband recently got an iPad and wanted a book to read. He normally is a reader of sports books. He read it and said he loved it and it was one of his favorite books.!!
Hope you like it


Jody January 3, 2013 at 9:20 am

I have read Almost Amish. It was great! I haven’t heard about the Biblical Womanhood book. If it is anything like the book about the guy who lived the Old Testament for a year, I’m sure it will be eye-opening. I’ll have to try it out.


Susan January 3, 2013 at 10:06 am

I have read Gone Girl and really liked it. I didn’t necessarily like the ending, but it was a page turner indeed. A book has not done that for me in a while. I have also read Lucia, Lucia and Big Stone Gap. They are both excellent. In fact, I have read everything written by Adriana Trigiani and these two are my favorites. You should probably go ahead and add book 2 and 3 in the Big Stone Gap series to your list. There is a 4th book (Return to Big Stone Gap I think?) and its a nice wrap up to the series, but not as good as the original 3. I have Unglued and Loving Frank on my list for 2013 as well. Happy Reading!


jessicaturner January 3, 2013 at 10:44 am

I just read Adriana’s book The Shoemaker’s Wife and it was one of my favorite books I have read in YEARS. LOVED it. It’s what prompted me to buy Lucia and Big Stone Gap. :) I have a feeling I will read all of her books too.


Dee Dee January 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I listened to the Big Stone Gap series and the Shoemakers Wife on audio and loved them. It was just so comforting to hear the authors southern accent. We don’t hear that very often here in Northern Illinois!! Almost Amish sounds like it would be right up my alley. I will add that to my to read list!!


Jennifer England January 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Hey, girls! Big Stone Gap is my neck of the woods!! Woot! Woot! This makes me so happy. :) I live 10 minutes away and my husband teaches at the local community college in town. This makes me feel sorta’ famous! READ ON! READ ON! :)

Sorry. I’ve never commented before. And might never again. I’m pretty much a stalker. But it did make me happy to see y’all talking about my little community.


Candace January 3, 2013 at 10:09 am

Jessica, I LOVE seeing what other people are reading!! And funny that your goal is 30 books…I just finished my 2012 list and counted, I read 31 books in 2012! woo-hoo!!


I just started Biblical Womanhood (bought it when they had it for kindle at 1.99 and love it so far!!)

I also just started Desperate and am LOVING it. I wish I had had it 10 years ago when I first became a parent.

Grace Based Parenting is my ALL TIME favorite parenting book ever…I give it as gifts now. :) Also, along those same lines, my other top parenting book is Loving our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk. It goes hand in hand with Grace Based Parenting (in my opinion) but goes a step further with more practical applications. These 2 books changed my parenting so much. In fact, when I first read Grace Based Parenting a few years ago I cried. A lot. I just had so many regrets in my parenting even though my kids were still 6 and under. I wish I had had these books when my kids were your kids ages…and I love sharing these books with other new parents!

One last thing, this comment is getting really long!! On my 2012 list was your hubby’s book, Churched!! :) I actually listened to the audio as I walked last summer and enjoyed it a lot…coming from a similar background. My only question at the end of it was that I wondered when he was being serious and when he was joking/being sarcastic, etc. I wondered that all through the book!! ha!! It is a great book, I found myself nodding in agreement so many times.


Amanda (The Paper Arrow) January 3, 2013 at 10:10 am

Hey Jessica!

I was sad to have only finished 18.5 books by the time the New Year rolled around and vow to read more. :)

I was going to make a list to read, but then realized that I honestly read better if I just grab as I go depending on the mood I’m in. I tend to be (literally) a little ADD in my mind so it works better for me, personally.

I just read Gone, Girl over Christmas break and I adored it. But then again, I loved psychological thrillers and the darker the better for me. 😉 Is it what you expect? DEFINITELY NOT, but I feel it’s worth the read.

You have a few on your list that I own and still haven’t had the chance to read yet, but I will make another book suggestion if you would like any:
Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement

I just started reading this on December 31st and am in love with it. I think you would be, too. :)

Happy reading and can’t wait to hear how it all goes. I hope to write about my reading journey on the blog and compare books with everyone else. Thanks!!


jessicaturner January 3, 2013 at 10:46 am

Sometimes a list is a good way for me to get started. I have SO many books on my bookshelves that I want to read that I thought to myself, okay, if I make a list, then at least I will have a push to get going. Thanks for the great suggestions.


Cara January 3, 2013 at 10:24 am

I read a LOT of books in a year and I wish I kept better track — I always start out keeping a list and then forget to keep up with it. This yeah I just finished 10 weeks of bed rest, so I read even more than normal:)
One I re-read (the only one I re-read) over and over is Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi. Her others are great too, particularly The Vision of Emma Blau, but Stones is the one I pick up whenever I find it at our free book exchange or cheap at Half Price Books so I can give copies to friends — I just love it:)
I’m reading Churchill’s Hour by Michael Dobb right now and am really enjoying it.


jessicaturner January 3, 2013 at 10:42 am

I think I have Stones from the River, or had it… but never have read it. I’ll have to look!


Lori January 3, 2013 at 10:34 am

The Thirteen Tale is one of my all-time favorite books. A great story to get lost in!

I think you might like The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee (http://www.amazon.com/The-Avalon-Ladies-Scrapbooking-Society/dp/034552537X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357230642&sr=8-1&keywords=avalon+ladies+scrapbooking+society). It will be released later this month but I got an early reviewers copy and enjoyed it.

Happy reading!


Lauren January 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I agree! I finished it and immediately wanted to re-read it! Wonderful story!


Natalie January 3, 2013 at 10:35 am

Are you on Goodreads? If not, I highly recommend it. It keeps track of all your books read, currently reading, and to read.


jessicaturner January 3, 2013 at 10:41 am

I was on Goodreads awhile go, but am thinking of using it again this year. Several friends have recommended it. Can you track ebooks on it too?


Lauren January 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Yep. It’ll allow you to enter the page number or the percent of the book you’ve read. HIghly recommend it. I love reading other people’s lists… I read 100 books in 2012 and have set a goal for just 75 for the coming year (figure that if I set low I’ll be more successful). My son is 10 and we are starting a “book club” with the two of us to help him want to read more. Wish me luck because he currently doesnt care for it at all!


Jody January 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm


You might want to check out the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The first book is called Among the Hidden. I have read it for 2 years with the fourth grade. I enjoyed it and the second, Among the Imposters, and plan to read at least the next one this summer. It’s hard to find books sometimes to interest boys. Good luck!


Jen January 3, 2013 at 10:40 am

I haven’t read the ones on your list, but several sound interesting. I just added up and posted about the books I read in 2012. Can’t wait to get started on my 2013 list! Thanks for the ideas.


Sue January 3, 2013 at 10:47 am

What an awesome idea to set a goal for how many books you want to read, I constantly have a book on the go but have never actually recorded how many books I read. I am going to check out Goodreads as well. I agree with Susan above about Gone GIrl – definitely a page-turner but I did not like the ending either. Happier at Home is also a great read – I am reading it for the second time right now.


Happy Mrs. B. January 3, 2013 at 11:02 am

I appreciate that you are a fan of “Biblical Womanhood” but for the spouse of a person with a blog to be that blatantly rude to a fan and follower of said blog, on that blog, simply because she didn’t like a book that you did, is completely uncalled for and makes me consider not following your wife’s blog. For someone who follows Christ, your public, chastising response is rather appalling. Whether she read the book or not, she certainly has taken some time to read about the book, and had a different opinion. She was very kind and not at all rude in stating her recommendation, which is what your wife asked for in her blog post.
I hope you consider your inappropriate actions in the future, and I hope that your actions do not cause your wife loss of many blog followers or sponsors, especially since I like what Jessica has to say.


mpt January 3, 2013 at 11:10 am

You’re right Mrs. B.

And in fact, Laura and I have exchanged emails about this.

Like I told Laura in an email, my comment was written too quickly and was too bent on making a point. And I apologized.

The thing is, Rachel is actually a very close friend of mine. I’ve known her for several years. She has a dear heart and sweet spirit. And she’s a darn good writer. While I’m fine with people disagreeing with her or coming to different conclusions than her, I take it a bit personal when somebody seems to discount her completely. She’s a real person. She lives in Tennessee. In a small little house in small town. I felt like the comment didn’t take into account that, while it’s fine to disagree, who Rachel is and what she says still matters.

I should have been more careful how I responded. My apologies.


Cara January 4, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I think there is a difference in sharing one’s opinion of something you have read and “requesting” that someone else not read a book that you yourself haven’t even read, simply because you have heard things about it you don’t like.
That’s what I reacted to when I saw the comment. I don’t know Rachel Held Evans and haven’t yet read her book, but anytime someone tries to tell others to not read something simply because someone else told them not to…my red flag goes up big time. We all need to think for ourselves and assess things on our own, not be swayed by the words of others into not even reading something we may disagree with. That’s a scary thing — to just ignore other viewpoints.
And also, I hope that people can distinguish Jessica’s voice from Matthew’s. Yes, they are married, but they are individuals. Even if I disagreed with what Matthew had said (which I didn’t) it certainly wouldn’t affect my opinion of Jessica or my reading of her blog — her blog is hers and is very different from Matthew’s which is great.
I guess the summary of my thoughts on both issues is that diversity of thought is a really valuable thing!:)


Happy Mrs. B. January 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

Thanks for your thoughtful response Matthew. :)


Julie January 3, 2013 at 11:57 am

Great idea and great list! I haven’t read a single one of these, but I’m thinking of adding a couple to my collection. As much as I dread it, I’m going to have to play catch-up on the parenting books since I haven’t read anything since Babywise.


HopefulLeigh January 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I love talking books! A few of these are on my To Read list. I finished Gone Girl a few weeks ago and loved it. Even the ending, which has split readers. You’ll probably want to talk to someone about it once you’re done. Fascinating from start to finish. The Thirteenth Tale is another favorite. I’ve read a few of Trigiani’s books and they’re fun easy reads. I like her Valentine trilogy the best, though I don’t think the third book is out yet.

My go-to suggestions are A Prayer for Owen Meany (Irving), Surprised by Oxford (Weber), and Bittersweet (Niequist). Introverts in the Church (McHugh) changed my life last year. Overdressed (Cline) and The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Pollan) have been crazy eye-opening, in different ways.


Kimberly January 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm

This is a great list! I wish you all the best in accomplishing your goal!

Our Bible study is starting Lysa TerKeurst’s Unglued on Tuesday. I can’t wait! I’m also leading a Made to Crave study at my church starting Sunday night. Not sure how I’m going to handle 2 studies at once, but I’ll have to manage. :)


Sheila January 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I got a kindle fire for Christmas and thought, I don’t even have time to read an actual book let alone use the kindle. But your post (and reading Chrystal’s as well) has lit a small fire under me :) I need to make a list of books, and above all…. PUT DOWN MY PHONE! And stop bringing work home would also help. B/c I am more likely to pick up my phone and read through twitter when I could be reading a good book. Baby steps… we’ll see how I do.


Nicole @Team Pipkin January 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I downloaded for free last year A LOT of books on my Kindle Fire. I think its time I read those. lol. Almost all of them are Christian books. I’m hoping to at least read 1 month. Since I had the month of December off I decided to read all the Christmas theme books. THAT totally didn’t happen. But I did read in 2 days Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman. It was really good. I think I might start out with Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacey Thacker & Brooke McGlothin. I’ve that sitting in my Kindle for a while.


Danielle January 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I just finished Gone Girl, I definitely recommend it! The ending did put me off a little, I didn’t expect it.I can’t wait to see how you think of it!


Christy January 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I’m a little biased in the books I read because I work at Tyndale (and I love that a couple of our books are on your list–two that I happened to work on too!). But I would like to make a couple suggestions for your fiction list. I’ve really enjoyed Cathy Gohlke’s novels, “Promise Me This” and “Band of Sisters.” I’m not just suggesting them because Tyndale publishes them…I think they’re fantastic books and Cathy is a wonderful writer. The stories just drew me in!


Erika January 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I’m definitely going to read “Lucia, Lucia” and “Big Stone Gap”. I’m currently reading “The Shoemaker’s Wife” and I’m LOVING it. I think I read about it on your blog and gave it a try. I may need to read everything she’s written. :) Great book suggestions.


morgan January 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm

ive read grace based parenting and the thirteenth tale. both excellent.


Stephanie January 3, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Looks like a great mix of fiction and non-fiction! I recommend that you add “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson. Excellent insights on the power of prayer in our daily lives. http://amzn.to/WpjMA9


Danielle Smith January 4, 2013 at 7:40 am

What a great list, Jessica! This is actually a resolution for me as well. Last year, I resolved to read 26 books (one every two weeks) and made it to 20…. which was considerably better than 2011, but this year – I’ll be better yet :)


Sarah Caldwell January 4, 2013 at 10:27 am

What a wonderful post! I think booklist posts are my favorite blog posts! :) So many good ones on this list–I just blogged about my 2012 reads and my 2013 booklist too: http://wp.me/p2Dtjv-AM (Can I just say I completely agree with your husband on that first comment? I love RHE & her book too…) Thank you for your words! (Love your blog and your book posts at Incourage!)


Kelsey McEvoy January 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm


I love this! I jumped on the “101 in 1001” bandwagon mid-last year and one of the items on my list is to read 26 books, each one beginning with a different letter of the alphabet (and no titles beginning with “the”!). I have 3 kids, work full time, have a part time job on the side, and am in the Army Reserve so I know how hard it can be to balance time and find it for things just for you. I finally finished college so now I can read for leisure; I’ve been at it for about 3 weeks, and I’m pages away from finishing book 3.

The first book I read was “Gone Girl” (I wrote a kind-of review here: http://www.lifeoutloud.kelseymcevoy.com/2012/12/28/book-report-gone-girl/), and as an un-fan of fiction I have to say: I really, really liked it (I should have rated it higher than I did, but being my first fiction book in YEARS I wasn’t quite sure what criteria to base my review on).

I’m looking forward to following along on your reading adventure as I continue on one of my own :)



Kelsey McEvoy January 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Oh, and may I recommend “May We Be Forgiven”…? It is, in my opinion, a great book. I am about to finish it (before the hour is up), and will have a review of it late next week or early the next.

Check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/May-We-Be-Forgiven-Novel/dp/0670025488/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357324033&sr=1-1&keywords=may+we+be+forgiven


Jessica W January 4, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Such a great list Jessica. I made one for 2013 too because I accidentally (seriously…didn’t even realize it) read more books last year than I have since college. I got so lost in stories and inspiring ideas and just kept going. Writing Motherhood sounds so great. I will need to add that to my list. I don’t know what your kids are like but if either of them are spirited, I highly recommend Raising Your Spirited Child. Read most of it last year and plan to read the whole thing again this year. Truly changed my approach to parenting my spirited 4 year old. The author (and early childhood education specialist) really helps readers understand their child’s make-up. So helpful! Happy new year and happy reading!


Stephanie January 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm

This year I liked “What Alice Forgot.” I read it after seeing the recommendation on The Simple Mom blog. I think I will be reading a few off of your list too! Thank you for sharing.


Amy @ Hope Is the Word January 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm

If you haven’t read Unbroken, it’s a MUST-READ. (Sorry for shouting, but I really, really mean it. 😉 ) It’s a nonfiction, WWII story that reads like a novel. It is an amazing story of an amazing man. Highly, highly recommended.



Sharon Graham January 6, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Hello! I love your site. I found your site from the January Bloggy Con blog hop. I too am inspired to read more in 2013. Please feel free to stop by and say hello.



Lorraine January 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

The Paris wife. A great historical fiction. Something like Loving Frank, but better, in my opinion.


Stacy O January 12, 2013 at 1:23 am

Hi jessica.
I just found your blog through Pinterest. I am an avid reader as well and I received a Nook e-reader 2 mothers days ago. Best thing ever. as soon as 1 book ends I can pick up another one without moving from the couch.. I have read a few books on your list…Gone Girl and Big stone Gap series. Loved them both.
Good luck and keep reading


Vera January 15, 2013 at 2:00 am

Looking forward to your book posts! I read 23 books in 2012. I have way more books on my shelves right now, still haven’t counted them. hehe :)


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