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.