2023 Top Reads

I try to read widely, some years this is easier than others.  When I first became a mama, I could only read books on my Kindle, and only managed a few.  When my children were in the younger years of homeschooling, I had the glorious freedom of reading more than I had in the little years.  It was great fun.  Now that they are getting up in years, I am reading challenging books with them–mostly for homeschooling, and thus, less of my own choices.

I am not one to join book clubs, I’ve tried, but I do not enjoy the pressure of having to read a specific book on some one else’s timetable.  I am also not one to participate wholly in “reading challenges.”  Again, I like setting my own reading goals, and don’t like the feeling that I cannot live up to a group’s standards.  

What I do enjoy this time of year is hearing from those I respect concerning their favorite books from the year.  I read these, and find ideas for my own reading list, and every January 1st I create this list, or the beginnings of it.  Because really, can I determine what I’ll read for the whole year?  No, my plans change, new books are published, I read a book that cites a book and I decide to add that to the list.  So my list is always fluid.  

The other bookish thing I adore is sharing books with friends.  When a friend tells me to read a book, I do.  I love sharing stories, sharing ideas, discussing what we have gleaned.  I know, it sounds like a book club–but this is different, because I have no deadlines to keep!  Not all deadlines are bad.  In homeschooling, I set a weekly schedule and we stick to it, and we finish all the books–this doesn’t feel oppressive somehow, I have yet to figure out why.  Some of my favorite friend-inspired books this year were parenting books, theology books, homeopathy books, and fiction.

So I offer you here a bit of what I’ve enjoyed this year, I hope it encourages you in your reading!  This is in no particular order, only a smattering of this year’s favorites.

Family Read Alouds:

The Story of the Treasure Seekers; The Wouldbegoods; and The New Treasure Seekers, by Edith Nesbit. This was our second time through this series, we laughed just as much this time! We quote these often, they are a family favorite.

Narnia series; by C.S. Lewis; family tradition is to read several every summer. We will keep this custom up every year!

Along Came a Dog; and The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong.  Both very clever stories, engaging, creative.  The latter book really encourages children that they can do hard things, and rise to meet challenges, and be good neighbors.  Such sweet stories.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett; it was our second time reading as a family.  We enjoy all of her books!  And good books are meant to be re-read.  

Men of Iron, by Howard Pyle.  This author is a family favorite.  This book has such beautiful language, such vivid characters…

Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame.  This was our third reading, and we laughed just as much as ever.  If you need a light hearted yet deeply meaningful story, this is it.  

A few of favorites from my own personal reads:

The Lord of Psalm 23, by David Gibson.  If you read one book next year, let it be this one.  My soul was encouraged and refreshed deeply.  I will be re-reading this one in January 2024.  

The Farfarers: A new History of North America, by Farley Mowat.  I enjoy this author, and this book was both informative and enjoyable.  If you have read the Brendan Voyage, you’ll be familiar with the idea that maybe the first Europeans to make it to North America were not the Vikings.  He researches extensively, and presents it in both prose and story.  

Anatomy of the Soul, by Curt Thompson.  I have enjoyed his podcast, and was glad to see this available on Hoopla.  

Raising Emotionally Strong Boys, by David Thomas.  I always try to read at least one book to encourage me in my mothering, this one was encouraging, enlightening, practical.  Highly recommend!  Also, available on Hoopla.  

Indwelling Sin in Believers, by John Owen.  This book, like his many others, was delightful, invigorating, and one that needs to be thoughtfully engaged with.  This is not one to speed read, but one to be savored.  

Modern Miss Mason, by Leah Boden.  This was one in my education/homeschool category; so good!  I have recommended this to many, and will most likely revisit.  

The Sheer Ecstacy of Being a Lunatic Farmer, by Joel Salatin.  Although my favorite book of his is still The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs: Respecting and Caring for All God’s Creation, this book did not disappoint.  I learned some, I was encouraged to think and re-think paradigms, and as always, he is witty in what he says.  

How To Read T.F. Torrance, by Elmer Coyler.  This was a book sitting on my shelf for years before I felt ready to dive into Torrance’s books.  The first bit gives a brief biography.  The rest of the book outlines Torrance’s writings and ideas.  I highly recommend this for any serious student of theology.  After that book, I tackled three by Torrance, of those three his Doctrine of God was one I re-read and wrestled much with.  I enjoyed the challenge, and will be reading more Torrance in the future.  

The Epistle to the Hebrews, by F.F. Bruce; a commentary in the NICNT series.  This was a gift, a timely gift for I had been thinking of purchasing one!  I immediately began reading; highly recommend.  I also read commentaries on 1 Peter, Isaiah, and Revelation.

Rejoicing in Christ; and Delighting in the Trinity, by Michael Reeves.  One of my new favorite living theologians–his books not only expound on the doctrines of the faith, but also the church history.  And he is very witty.  Both books will be read by my own children in their high school years–I cannot wait for those discussions!

Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins.  I was so glad this was recommended to me!  The first English detective novel written, and the author was a friend of Dickens–one of my favorite authors.  I plan to read another of his novels this year.  

Peter Duck, by Arthur Ransome.  This is the third book in his twelve book series that begins with Swallows and Amazons.  I plan to read one each summer, so I have 9 summers to go!  I have loved each book, and my son has loved all twelve.  Highly recommend, perfect summer reading. 

Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-li Jiang.  This was a gift, and such an engaging story; I like books that help me understand other cultures.  I’ll have my children read this in high school.

Other posts that may encourage you as you craft your 2024 reading list:






Photo by Janko Ferlic on Unsplash