Photo Credit: Ungrind.org
Unlike my fiction list, every single non-fiction read was a knock-out-of-the-park, so to speak. I absolutely loved every single non-fiction book and my one regret is that I didn’t read more non-fiction. I will try to remedy that in 2014.
Each book is rated using my personal rating system:
*** Very Good
Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson****
In the dark of January last year this was the perfect encouragement for my mama soul. Detailed review here.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Eric Metaxas****
It took me over a year to finish this book. It stalled a bit in the middle. However, it was a fantastic biography. Metaxas’ writing was exceptionally engaging–this was not a mere churning out of dry facts. I knew little of Bonhoeffer before reading this book, other than that he wrote The Cost of Discipleship and was killed by the Nazis. I had not idea what a talented, interesting, brilliant intellectual, and theologian he was.
In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord****
I wrote a detailed review of this book here. This was a fascinating, sensitive, and enlightening book about the author’s life and interactions with Afghani Muslims–particularly women–as she lived and worked in Afghanistan for five years.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot**** (audiobook)
I look forward to anything Rebecca Skloot puts out from this point forward. The author takes a scientifically difficult and complicated story and tells it in a riveting way. It is also the story of the life and death of Henrietta Lacks, the woman behind the now famous and important HeLa cells. This book read like a novel and was intellectually interesting and emotionally compelling. Not to mention, so much of the story was locally set that it added to my interest.
The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp****
When I found out Ann Voskamp was coming out with an Advent devotional I bought it right away. I liked it even more than One Thousand Gifts, which also impacted me. However, I get the most out of Ann’s writing when delivered in small chunks, which was the way The Greatest Gift was set up, in daily readings. Her descriptive writing style had me looking at Christ’s birth with fresh eyes of wonder: “What God ever came so tender we could touch Him? So fragile that we could break Him? So vulnerable that His bare, beating heart could be hurt? Only the One who loves you to death,” she writes with beauty and insight. I looked forward to reading it first thing each morning for the month of December.
What was your favorite non-fiction read of 2013?
So glad you enjoyed Henrietta Lacks! Our book club had such a great discussion on it. Do you think Desperate would be a good book club selection? I just re-read your review and I know I’ll personally be picking it up. We have our yearly selection meeting in 2 weeks and I trust your judgement.
In The Land of Blue Burqas was also a favorite of mine this year. I’m thinking of suggesting that one too if the group hasn’t tired of Islam related books. We’ve read one each of the last 2 years, but this one takes the cake in my opinion.
Bonhoeffer has been on my to-read list for awhile. I’ve never been good at stretching out a book over many weeks or months. Will have to find a month that is less busy to intentionally get through it.
You’ve read Unbroken, right?
Another book (but one I only have at the recommendation of a friend–I haven’t read it) is Lone Survivor, the story of a SEAL in the Middle East.
@Krista, No, I’ve NOT read Unbroken, unlike most of the rest of the world. I’m a little scared of it, actually, how much detail it goes into about the POW camps. I’m fine with reading hard core stuff, just have to space it out. How rough is it?
As far as Desperate being a book club book, I don’t know. It would be more of a soul-searching apply-to-my-life kinda book. So you wouldn’t discuss the book so much as yourself. Depends on the type of book club you have, I guess.
@Danielle, I read Unbroken at least 2 years ago, so I’m trying to remember. It’s long–a real clunker–so I naturally had to put it down anyway, but honestly the end is so redemptive that it is not to be missed, in my opinion. If I’m remembering correctly, the “rough” aspects of the POW section are centered around survival (physically but mostly mentally) and are not explicit.I think I’ll suggest Desperate at our selection mtg. and see what the consensus is. With it being a Christian book club, and all of us moms with the exception of one (who loves being an aunt) ages 25-65, it could possibly work. We do get personal and have been meeting together for over 2 years.
As always, thanks for your reviews! 🙂
Ok Amy and Krista, Unbroken is on my list! 😉
Oh, Danielle, you’ve GOT to put Unbroken at the top of your list!!
If you loved the HeLa book (I did too) you should check out The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. I’ll mail you my copy if you can’t get your hands on one. It’s that same sort of wonderful mix of genres, exploring how so many different issues are tangled together–history, culture, medicine, family, etc.–with excellent writing. I loved it in 2010.
I just got the Bonhoeffer book but haven’t really gotten into it yet–too many other books going at the moment. Your review gives me fresh motivation to dig in. And I definitely want to get Ann’s book for next Advent!
Adding In The Land of Blue Burqas to my list. Have you read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali? It seems similar and I really enjoyed that. And I keep seeing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks pop up on lists but I’ve always been skeptical, thinking it’d be dense. I’ll have to give it a go- I love a good story!
Caroline Starr Rose
The Gift of Wings, the newish biography on Lucy Maud Montgomery. I was riveted.
Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy
I’ve read all kinds of Bonhoeffer–in German! It was my college minor, and while I appreciated what I read, I never felt like I got the full experience reading him in a language I wasn’t 100% comfortable in. Thanks for the reminder that I intend to get back to reading him–in ENGLISH–one day.
Ginger - Just One of the Boys
Awesome list! I’ll be putting In the Land of Blue Burqas on my GoodReads list ASAP! Desperate was one of my favorite books as well! 🙂 Happy reading!