Books I Read Between All The Crazy Moments in My Life

In the ongoing need to organize and analyze every aspect of my life to the point of madness, I’m scanning my Goodreads account and linking up with Haley and Anne because otherwise how will I remember all my favorite books of 2013??? Must. blog. minutiae.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, Stephen Covey

I read both Stephen Covey’s original ‘Seven Habits for Highly Effective People’ and ‘Seven Habits for Highly Effective Families’. I especially enjoyed the second, but I’ll admit we have yet to craft a family mission statement or organize an official family meeting. My biggest takeaway was his writing on the ‘Emotional Bank Account’. It was a concept my husband and I joked about for weeks, about whether or not we were making deposits or withdrawals. Surprising me with a can of Coke: deposit. Me making a joke at his expense: withdrawal. Overall, I felt like to fully implement everything Covey wrote would require me to run off for a week somewhere quiet and meditate, write and plan out my (our) ideal life. And honestly, I still can’t figure out what the heck a quadrant four task is, however, there were enough ideas in ‘SHFHE Family’ that I could immediately implement that made a difference. I can think of several families who would benefit from this book but since I’m not going to anonymously leave it on their doorstep and drive off, just assume this selection is for you. Yes, you. Your family would benefit from this book. But I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Way To Happiness: An Inspiring Guide to Peace, Hope and Contentment, Arbp. Fulton Sheen

I’m trying to read more of Fulton Sheen’s work so when I saw this beat up book on my mother-in-law’s shelf I quickly picked it up, because who doesn’t want more happiness in their life? As someone who hates reading religious books (I know, gasp, I’m a horrible person) Sheen’s writing is wonderfully engaging, entertaining and powerful without beating you over the head with doctrine. I might reread this book again this year because I didn’t take notes and unfortunately, I don’t remember much of what I read if I don’t.  So you just have to believe me when I say I loved this book because now, I can’t remember exactly why I did/do,  just that I folded a lot of corners in that copy so I hope my MIL doesn’t want it back.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

On a whim I picked up this Sherlock Holmes book at the library, thus lunching me into a Holmes reading frenzy until I finished all four of Doyle’s novels of the great detective. I have not yet read all the short stories, or even downloaded the book on my Kindle yet because I know I won’t be able to get anything else done once I get started. Of the four novels The Valley of Fear might have been my favorite, but I really liked the Hound of the Baskervilles too. A Study In Scarlett and The Sign of The Four round out the bunch.

Last Rights: Rescuing The End of Life Care From the Medical System, Stephen Kiernan

“Mama, what are you reading about?”


“Really?? Why are you reading about death??”

Because this book was an absolutely fascinated look into end of life care in our country. I think most people shy away from talking about these issues but there’s no avoiding death, and you can try to fight it off with all the medical advancements you want, or you can learn to say ‘when’ and die with dignity. This book makes the argument that not enough doctors are trained in end of life or palliative care and thus, keep pushing for treatment beyond what is reasonable or find themselves unable to give counsel or comfort to families when there is no more to be done. The argument is made that assisted suicide would not be considered by people if they were given correct palliative and hospice care. All in all, to become a more educated consumer of, or provider in, the healthcare system in the country, I would highly recommend this book.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

I love classic literature because bad people get what they deserve. Characters may engage in sinful vices and flaunt their lifestyle, but in the end, they’re always miserable. In today’s society Dorain Gray would be a hero, in fact, you could substitute many celebrities in his place. But while modern society would worship him and condone his actions, Wilde shows us the ugliness of the man and the ultimate horror of his unrepentant sins.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, A Mostly True Memoir, Jenny Lawson

I read a bunch of books written by bloggers this year. Most of them consisted of some back story on the blogger then chapters culled from popular blog posts. So while the first half or two-thirds of each book was interesting by the end, I was usually experiencing a bit of deja vu. However, the Bloggess’ book was so hilarious I could forgive her the reuse of some material. And her upbringing was so strange, it sort of made every other blogger’s childhood look tame or downright boring. In a choice between reading about a childhood in Texas with taxidermy puppets or growing up in suburbia anywhere else, I’m going to choose the story with taxidermy. Sorry. (Not sorry.)  Just don’t read this book if you hate foul language, drug use, cats or weirdness.

On Writing, Stephen King


I mentioned this book before. I picked it up to inspire me during National Novel Writing Month and it did exactly what I hoped. King does not condescend to speak to us from some lofty pedestal, he simply writes about his journey in becoming a writer and what worked for him. I respect his opinion highly, not just because of his talent and success but because of his humility. His book is a lesson in hard work and perseverance with no fluff or short cuts.  I read a few other books on writing this year and all were written by authors trying to make writing sound magical or groundbreaking in some way. They wrote like writers trying too hard to sound like fancy authors,  not people writing books with practical advice that were enjoyable to read in the process. I almost didn’t pick this up because I was so off put by the other writing books I’d read, but I’m glad I did because it greatly exceeded my expectations.

Have you linked up your list yet? Or leave your favorite books in the comments. As you can tell, I prefer to read non-fiction of all stripes with bits of classic literature thrown in, but I’m open to suggestions. What one book do I NEED to read this year? Once you’ve decided, head back to Carrots for Michaelmas and Modern Mrs. Darcy for some more good reads for the new year.

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  1. Understood Betsy (Dorothy Canfield, I think, apparently a classic children’s book, though not one I’d ever heard of before The Common Room blog randomly mentioned it in a free downloads post). Good language, good premise for the story and not very long, nice one to share with the kids too.

    I read When Father and I were ranchers (the first of Ralph Moody’s Little Britches books) last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, lots of boy adventuring.

    Almost finished the wonderful Mother Carey’s Chickens which has some lovely vocabulary and is the (far superior to the movie) book on which Summer House/Magic/or something (Disney film featuring Hayley Mills) was based.

    Currently (and at a snail’s pace) reading Kathleen Norris’ Acedia & Me (about monastic life and acedia – which is a like depression). Wordy but powerful.

    I finished so few books last year that I have little to recommend, I’m in the middle of about twenty different books but just can’t seem to settle myself down to finish any of them and I’m afraid I’m a mostly children’s literature /YA reader (they tend to have happier endings and much less inane romance – I enjoy well written romance but so few achieve that).

    Excuse typos am literaly falling asleep as I type. G

  2. Kisses from Katie. Young woman so moved by the plight of those in Africa on a mission trip that she left her life behind and adopted over a dozen girls. It will restore your faith in humanity, pull at your heart strings, and challenge you (or maybe that was just me) to be more.

  3. Okay, okay. I will write to the sound of the crazy small children trying to kill each other behind me. I can’t remember everything I read last year, but some highlights include:

    The Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler- beautiful, thoughtful prose about cooking and eating. Made me actually want to eat vegetables.

    The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson- fantasy trilogy. Kind of spotty writing and characters, but a very fast-paced and fun popcorn read with a truly intriguing system of magic. A lot of fun.

    In This House of Brede, Rumer Godden- a breathtaking novel about an English Benedictine monastery. I don’t think I can sum it up, but the characters are perfectly drawn and the story is compelling. I am so glad I read it.

    Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson- autobiographical novel about English country people. Amazingly detailed, and less like a novel than a lovingly detailed account of a way of life that was passing while she wrote about it. Made me really, really grateful not to be a Victorian peasant condemned to eat cabbage most of the time and have to do the laundry by hand.

  4. I heart the Bloggess so much. That book made me laugh so hard that I had asthma attacks. I actually bought it and sent it to some online friends who were going through hard times to give them a laugh.

  5. I read Way To Happiness last year, too. I found a very old copy in my grandparents’ house and since I would like more happiness I decided to read it. It is an excellent book.

  6. I just loved On Writing. (It’s the only thing by Stephen King I’ve ever read, although I am eyeing 11/22/63 or maybe The Stand for 2014.)

    I’ve been thinking about finally reading some Sherlock Holmes stories this year. (I’ll admit it–it’s because we’ve been watching Sherlock!)

    Thanks for sharing your favorites with us!

  7. I hope you find time to re-read “Way to Happiness”…and take notes; it’s a good book.
    If you resolve to read one Fulton Sheen book this year…make it “Life of Christ.” Make it your Lenten reading, especially the chapters on the temptations, the Last Supper and the Passion.

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