Book that made me laugh out loud: Honestly, for the life of me, I cannot remember if I read this at the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013, but either way, it's the one that stands out for having given me the giggles: The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond. I adore that woman's blog and the book was just like chatting with a funny friend. But I have to admit, I cannot get with her on her TV show. Somehow, her perky personality that shines through on her blog and in her book just fizzles on screen. If you've never visited her cooking blog, well, you are seriously missing out! Go. Now. And read this book. Hilarious.
Best Parenting Book: Toss-up between Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen and--please don't throw stones at me for this--A Love that Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make It Work by Michelle and Jim-Bob Duggar. The first is excellently cerebral and requires much digestion and cultural introspection. It challenges modern American parenting on many levels. Well worth working through. The second provided an interesting glimpse into the Duggar's child-rearing philosophies and house rules. While I don't agree with them on everything, I find them intriguing and admire their ability to maintain such a tight-knit family. This book provided ample discussion opportunities with my husband. (He didn't read it. The Duggars don't interest him like they do me. But I couldn't wait to pick his brain about it every day--just what he wanted to talk about after work, I'm sure :) Love you, honey.)
Book that Surprised me the most: Too Jewish: The Powerful Love Story of a Jewish-American Family by Patty Friedmann. I got a Kindle for Christmas and immediately went looking for a free title from Amazon Prime's lending library. I randomly chose this one. It proved to be a fascinating glimpse into a sector of America that's kind of hidden to most of us. Also, it had an ending that I really was not expecting, so it literally took me by surprise. I kept pulling for this family the whole way through...
Best Spiritual/Religious Book: Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life by Elizabeth Scalia. Boy howdy, I didn't realize how many modern-day idols I'd built for myself. This book challenged me to look at many, many aspects of my life. A little uncomfortable at times...
Best old book revisited: I re-read the entire Anne of Green Gables series this summer. Mostly I felt 12 again, which was fun, but the later books in the series--the ones where Anne is married with children of her own-- resonated with me in a whole new way than they did when I was a pre-teen. Imagine that. Anne's House of Dreams actually made me cry this time through.
Best Fiction: I was a little late to the Hunger Games party, but once I started this series, I couldn't put it down. Honestly, I don't know how my children were fed and bathed while I binged on these books, but they seem to have survived the experience... Admittedly, the first in the series was the best, but I still couldn't look away from the other 2.
Best YA book: Little Britches: Father and I were Ranchers by Ralph Moody. I previewed this book for the boys, and then handed it to my husband to read aloud with them in the evenings. I enjoyed it. They enjoyed it. If you've never heard of Little Britches, I'd highly recommend, especially for boys and their dads. It was always a treat to eavesdrop on their evening sessions, the questions the boys would ask, the things their dad would say...
*edited to add: A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. Excellent story weaving together the lives of 2 different children from different times in Sudan. I was previewing for my 10 yr old, but he's a little too sensitive for this book this year. Definitely will have him read it when he's ready.
Best children's book: This was the year our family discovered the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. We haven't come home from the library since without at least one E&P book in tow. These books make everyone in the family giggle, and my older kids enjoy reading them to the younger ones, so it's great bonding material in our house.
How about you? Any good books that I should add to my TBR list? Leave your suggestions in the comment box. Always looking for good books.
Here's to good reading in 2014!