My favorite books of 2013

My favorite books of 2013 | Modern Mrs Darcy

I read a lot of great books in 2013, and these are the best of the best. Please note: these were the best books I read in 2013, not the best books published.

Organization is not my strong suit, so I’ve jumbled fiction and nonfiction together. I used Goodreads to track my 2013 reads, but it’s quite possible I forgot something. (I’m still kicking myself for leaving Rules of Civility off my favorite books of 2012 list.)

That being said, my favorites from 2013, in order, are:

crossing to safety 2

1. Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner

This gorgeous, graceful novel will appeal to fans of Jayber Crow or Gilead. Stegner makes a compelling story out of 4 ordinary lives, and has me thinking hard about friendship and calling.

bread and wine 2

2. Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, Shauna Niequist

This beautiful memoir is about food, and so much more than food. I loved it enough that I included it in my summer reading guide, and am already plotting to re-read it. (The ebook is on sale for $2.99 right now, along with a slew of other great books from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan, including Niequist’s previous release Bittersweet.)

daring greatly 2

3. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brené Brown

File this one under “game-changer.” This wonderfully written book is books-that-can-change-your-life material, and worth reading over and over again.

the secret keeper 3

4. The Secret Keeper, Kate Morton

I’m finally caught up on all of Kate Morton’s novels. This one is my favorite.

the little book of talent 2

5. The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills, Daniel Coyle

I spent 2013 geeking out on the concept of deliberate practice, and this short little book is dense with wisdom on the subject. This book sat on my to-read stack for the better part of a year before I opened it, and I’m still kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

eleanor park 2

6. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

I fell hard for this short novel of young love, lost. The storyline is good but a few deft Shakespeare references elevate it to greatness. Rainbow Rowell’s hinted at a sequel in interviews, and I hope she means it.

the getaway car 2

7. The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life, Ann Patchett

In this mini-memoir, Patchett sketches a path from childhood through the completion of her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. Stops along the way include her college years, a failed marriage, the Iowa writing program, and a waitressing stint at TGIFriday’s. I loved this one enough to include it in the summer reading guide.

when we were on fire 2

8. When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over, Addie Zierman

Addie’s gift is to make you feel the emotional weight of the seemingly no-big-deal yet simultaneously life-altering events common to Christian adolescence and young adulthood. A brilliant debut. (I wrote more about When We Were on Fire here.)

lean in 2

9. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg

I’m sure you’ve heard all about it by now, so I’ll just say: this one’s a game-changer. (I wrote more about Lean In here.)

Let’s share our favorite books of 2013

On Friday, January 3, we’re going to have a Best Books of 2013 link-up here on MMD. If you have a blog, get your post ready! If you’re not a blogger, get ready to share your favorite books of the year in comments.


  1. Lindsey says

    I’m not a blogger so here’s my short list for 2013! Best Just-For-Fun: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, Most Thought Provoking Non-Fiction: The New Mind of the South by Tracy Thompson, Best New-to-Me Classic: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Best Memoir: Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber, Best YA Fiction: Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.

    I would also be interested to hear what you’re most looking forward to reading in 2014 :)

    • says

      Thanks for this list! I keep hearing wonderful things about The Rosie Project and I Capture the Castle (yes, even though it’s not new, exactly). And you’re the second person here to mention Pastrix–I just requested my copy. :)

  2. says

    Crossing to Safety and Eleanor & Park are 2 of my favourite books of 2013 as well! Both of which I read because of your recommendation. Thank you! Some of my other favourites included Hyperbole and a Half, The Cause Within You, Evolving in Monkeytown, and The Sea of Tranquility.

    • says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed them! Now I’m going to need to look up The Cause Within You and The Sea of Tranquility since clearly we share similar taste.

    • says

      I’d never heard of it, but when I looked it up the author’s name sounded familiar. I’m trying to figure out why. (Any ideas?) I just ordered a copy, so thanks for the recommendation!

  3. says

    Ahh! I’m going to have to hold onto those Amazon gift cards until January 6? Great mentions, as always, Anne. When We Were On Fire sounds riveting–it’s next on my list. Excited to link up for the first time on this Twitterature!

    • says

      And I want to read that book again in 2014! I’m sure I didn’t absorb half of what I should have on my first pass. (Sounds like you’re setting a great tone–although a sometimes-painful one–for 2014.)

  4. Kim says

    I just discovered Wallace Stegner this year, Crossing to Safety was great; working through The Big Rock Candy Mountain now. I enjoy his books because they seem so real and life and people 100 years ago weren’t that different from today.

    • says

      I’ve never read The Big Rock Candy Mountain! I’m curious to hear if you think it’s “worth” reading (since you know I obviously loved Crossing to Safety). And I couldn’t agree more with your description–his characters seem so real, and not that different from today, even the ones from a hundred years ago. (I’m specifically thinking of Angle of Repose here.)

  5. says

    We read (and enjoyed) many of the same books this past year! I definitely plan to add “Crossing to Safety” to my reading list since “Jayber Crow” was one of my favorite books of 2013. :)

  6. says

    The best book I read this year was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Amazing. I do a “top 5″ post every year in mid-January with mine and my friends’ top 5 books from the previous year, so I’ll make sure to shoot you a link when that’s done. :)

    • says

      I just finished that one. I thought hard about putting it on here; I would have liked to have sat with it for a bit longer before I made my 2013 list.

  7. says

    My TBR list almost always grows when you tell about your favourite books, Anne.

    I’ll be in hospital on Friday 3rd, so I’ll miss the link-up. But I did already write and post my own list of 2013 favourites, so maybe I’ll be able to join the link-up party later. Anyhow, have a wonderful New Year!


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