Favorite Books of 2013

open-bookI love to read. Which is a good thing, because, well…it’s part of my job. I’m constantly downloading books to read on my iPad (love that Kindle app) and I almost always have a book tucked away in my purse.

What can I say? I love a good story.

I’ve read some pretty fantastic books this year, and I decided to share my four favorites. I’d love to hear what your favorites of the year were, too!

1. And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini — Hosseini is one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t read his first two books, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, you need to do so. And The Mountains Echoed is a multi-generational story that takes place in the Middle East. While the book is focused around two young siblings and their father, it reads like a collection of short stories. Each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective, but eventually the entire story comes full circle. It’s a beautiful story about family, guilt, heartache, and love.

2. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg — I don’t normally enjoy business or leadership books, but this book challenged me in many ways. I would probably never classify myself as a feminist, but Sandberg made several important points about why women are vital to the workplace. She emphasized the importance of women stepping up and taking leadership roles. My favorite quote from the book was this: “Women need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that!’ to thinking ‘I want to do that—and I’ll learn by doing it.’” If you’re a woman working in a professional environment, pick it up. You’ll benefit from it.

3. My Story by Elizabeth Smart — This was originally on my list to read in 2014, but I just got it from the library and was too excited to wait. I was just 11-years-old when Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City. However, I remember the news of her abduction and the news that she was found 9 months later. I was moved by her story then, and even more so now. Elizabeth is smart, but she doesn’t dive into a psychological reflection of her experience (which many people critique her for). Her book is conversational, and that is what I loved best about it—often times I felt as if I was just sitting beside her, listening to her tell me about her experience.

4. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers — Okay, so this book wasn’t released in 2013, but when I heard Saving Mr. Banks was coming to theaters, I hurried to read Mary Poppins. I’m not sure why, but I never read it as a child. Overall, the book was interesting, yet enjoyable. There was no actual plot, but the adventures Mary Poppins and the children took were imaginable and creative. I loved getting to use my imagination as I read—the book truly stretched it (but maybe that’s what happens when an adult reads a children’s book). I enjoyed the book, but I also enjoyed learning about the reasons Ms. Travers created Mary Poppins in the first place.

Books give us the opportunity to enter a different world, make a new friend, and experience a different lifestyle. They make us laugh and cry. We experience different emotions through books—anxiety, fear, anger, happiness, excitement. Books challenge us to try new things and inspire us to make a difference.

As Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

One of my 2014 goals is to read 214 books that I’ve never read before. That’s right— 214 in 2014. That averages to almost 4 books a week, and boy, it’s going to be a challenge. I’m excited though! I’ll probably blog at the end of each month with brief review of my favorites, as well as a list of the others I read that month.

Join me in a reading challenge for 2014! Make it work for you. It could be 12 books in 2014 (one a month) or 52 books in 2014 (one a week). Do what is best for you, but be sure to read.

 “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!
How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book!”

–Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

 Happy reading and a Happy New Year!

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