10 Books I Recommend That I Read for the First Time in 2013

I read a lot of books in a year. Half of them I’ve never read before. It’s easy to read a lot of books when so many of them you are reading again and again. But of all the books I read for the first time this year, these are the ones I think I would recommend the most. That may change.

The last one listed is the one I recommend the most. Outside of that, they are really in no particular order. I may love one and appreciate one more this week that one I appreciated like no other the week before. All of them are worth your time, though.


A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor – I waited all year for this one and though it is short, I love it. I love because I’m a writer and a believer. And those two things are hard to work through. And in this short journal, we pull back the curtain and hear a young Flannery O’Connor talking to God.

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Recover the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert Wittman – I just finished this one and loved it. Books about art theft are a favorite of mine and this one was perfect. I enjoy reading about art. I enjoy mysteries. maybe that’s the reason I can get lost in books like this, especially one as well done as this one.

The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O’Connor by Jonathan Rogers – An evangelical Baptist writing about a Catholic writer. I tore through these pages. If you have any interest in Flannery O’Connor, I recommend it.

The Pastor As Minor Poet by M. Craig Barnes – Some books come at just the right time. And you feel like they were given to you personally. It doesn’t happen much. But when it does, it’s a powerful thing. This is one of those books.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy – When I finished this book, I wiped away the tears, got up and walked into my boy’s room and kissed them both and just watched them sleep for a few minutes. I feel about this book the way many feel about books like Catcher in the Rye.

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy – I’d been listening to Townes Van Zandt for a month nonstop. And I wanted some reading that had the feel and strength of his lyrics and singing. I tried Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. But they were not what i was looking for at the time. And I ran into this one and was able to check it out from the library to read on my iPad. That was late on a friday night. By Saturday I had bought a used copy and was hooked. I finished on Monday.

Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner – All I can say is that I wish I had read this book many years ago. It would have helped in so many ways.

Secrets in the Dark: A Life In Sermons by Frederick Buechner – This book changed me. One sermon in particular. I read that sermon at least once a week and pray that God will honor the longing that is still there from hearing “Whom shall I send into the pain of this world where people die?” This book above all others is why I want to be a pastor again.

In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher – This is the book I think about all the time. And that to me is the mark of the best books. Well-written, yes. But it has the aroma of being well-lived. I love the stories in this book. Because I love C.S. Lewis and Van Gogh and the stories of martyrs and those who have tasted grief and loss and come out on the other side with a faith that is something to aspire to. There is no book I have read this year that I would recommend higher than this one. And I’ve read some astounding books this year. My review is here.

6 thoughts on “10 Books I Recommend That I Read for the First Time in 2013

  1. Adam Shields December 2, 2013 / 10:04 pm

    I haver read the two McCarthy and In Search of Deep Faith. I definately agree they are good books well worth reading.

  2. Matt Stewart December 3, 2013 / 12:25 am

    Sounds like I have quite a few good books to read! That seems to be the amazing thing about the written word, no matter how much I read there is an endless amount of great works yet to be explored. I am presently reading McCarthy’s The Road,it is my first book by the author. His writing is unique and brilliant thus far.

    Thanks for the insightful post!

  3. Matt Blick (@RealMattBlick) December 3, 2013 / 2:06 am

    Went on a major Cormac McCarthy binge this year. My favourite was No Country For Old Men. I am sure you would love The Sunset Limited, Matt

  4. Lori Bridgwood December 3, 2013 / 4:06 pm

    My brand-new son-in-law (married our daughter one month ago) loves the writings of Flannery O’Connor. You just helped my Christmas shopping list! Blessings, Lori

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. dswoager December 8, 2013 / 5:11 pm

    I read The Road a little over a year ago, and I have to say that it was one of the more depressing things I have read. That’s not to say that it was bad, it was just hard to read because of the tone. Buechner is someone who I have never read, but have seen quoted and referenced enough recently that I will have to set some time aside. I am anyways interested in what people read. My wife and I were over visiting with some friends last night, and I probably spent more time than was appropriate snooping the new bookshelves in their living room.

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