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2013 Reading List

I’ve made my peace with the fact that I’m a slow reader. This year, I changed up my reading list a little and committed to reading more non-fiction, especially memoirs and graphic novels. My top NON-FICTION reads of this year were 1.) The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into the Christian Faith, by Rosaria Butterfield  and 2.) A Shot of Faith (To the Head): Be a Confident Believer in An Age of Cranky Atheists, by Mitch Stokes. My top FICTION reads of the year were 1.) Arthur Machen Collected Works: 23 Tales of Horror & Other Fiction Short Stories, by Arthur Machen (which includes The Great God Pan, a standalone novella) and 2.) The Tale of One Bad Rat, by Bryan Talbot. I’ve got a few more on the list but, with the holidays and some writing deadlines, I doubt I’ll make much headway.


  • A Shot of Faith (To the Head): Be a Confident Believer in An Age of Cranky Atheists, Mitch Stokes
  • Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life, Lauren Winner
  • Not Your Mother’s Morals: How the New Sincerity is Changing Pop Culture for the Better, Jonathan D. Fitzgerald
  • Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites… and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, Bradley Wright
  • Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, Donald Miller
  • The Grotesque in Art and Literature: Theological Reflections, James Luther Adams
  • Church: Why Bother? My Personal Pilgrimage, Philip Yancey
  • The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into the Christian Faith, Rosaria Butterfield
  • Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, Ross Douthat
  • Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph, Dennis Prager
  • Why We Love the Church, Kevin DeYoung andTed Kluck
  • Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons, George Pendle
  • God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, Rodney Stark
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright
  • Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul, J.P. Moreland
  • Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution — A History from the 16th Century to the 21st, Alister McGrath


  • The Tale of One Bad Rat, Bryan Talbot
  • The Great God Pan, Arthur Machen
  • Seeking Unseen, Kat Heckenbach
  • Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, Whedon and Cassaday
  • A Cast of Stones, Patrick Carr
  • Daredevil, Vol. 1, Mark Waid
  • Swamp Thing, Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp Thing, Alan Moore
  • Arthur Machen Collected Works: 23 Tales of Horror & Other Fiction Short Stories, Arthur Machen
  • The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, Laird Barron
  • Fables Vol.1: Legends in Exile, James Jean and Alex Maleev

I’m still working my way through Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution — A History from the 16th Century to the 21st, by Alister McGrath and really enjoying it. But like several on this list, it’s more of a textbook. I enjoyed Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, by Lawrence Wright, if anything, for the plodding research into a swamp of weirdness. Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life, by Lauren Winner, was wonderfully written and enjoyable to read. However, like Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, by Donald Miller, I found its “message” annoyingly oblique.  On the FICTION side, I enjoyed The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, by Laird Barron, but you must know, his stuff is really weird and often disturbing. Although I’m not a big YA reader, Seeking Unseen, by Kat Heckenbach, was quite original, a series  I’m planning on encouraging my grand-kids to read when they’re old enough.

While I had a blast reading non-fiction and still have quite a few on my list, I’m hoping to invert the ratio of FICTION to NON-FICTION next year. Anyway,  that’s my year in a nutshell. What’s your year in reading been like?

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Thea van Diepen November 22, 2013, 8:11 AM

    I got a job at a university library this year, so the amount of non-fiction I’m reading is already going through the roof. 😛 A couple favourites that I’ve already read: On Writing by Stephen King, Boxen by C.S. Lewis. I also found a book on blackletter typesets that I found fascinating, I finally read The Eye of the Heron by Ursula Le Guin, and I also found Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer. That last one I enjoyed quite a bit and renewed my faith in the ability to randomly find good books (and not just decent ones). I’ve read more than this (obviously) but I haven’t done a great job at keep track of what I read this year, so the Coles notes version it is. 😛

    Still haven’t come across any Madeleine L’Engle books but, if they’re there, I’ll find them. If I do, whatever joyful noise comes out of my mouth might be heard across the continent (considering my reactions to the C.S. Lewis and Ursula Le Guin sections), so you’ve been warned. 😀

  • Kat Heckenbach November 22, 2013, 10:13 AM

    Well, first, I am honored to be on that list :).

    As for what I’ve read recently that has blown me away….

    Anna and the Dragon by Jill Domschot.
    The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.
    I finished the Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey, and it is one of my favorite series of all time.
    The Rhithmatist by Brandon Sanderson.
    All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry.
    I also really enjoyed Fathom by Merrie Destefano, and yes, The Telling by Mike Duran.

    I have to admit I read almost zero nonfiction this year. I did read On Writing by Stephen King (for the third time) and dove back into Darwinian Fairytales by David Stone for a little while, but didn’t finish rereading it.

  • Katherine Coble November 22, 2013, 10:14 AM

    Reading at a slower rate would drive me nuts simply because I do so much re-reading. I have to push to get a good ratio of new stuff in on top of all the “oh, I HAVE to revisit Barryar right away!”

    Other than that, I’m on this crusade to convince people that reading is not some sort of superpower nor some sort of surgery. There’s no “right” way (other than understanding what you read and I’m about to give up on the reading comprehension levels in this country). You read how you read. You either like it or you don’t. No biggie.

    I tried to revisit horror this year. Did not enjoy it, so that re-read of the Stand is going to be offloaded into 2014. I won’t list all the stuff I did read because there’s a lot of it. The stand outs (so far) were


    _The Secret Race_ by Tyler Hamilton
    _After Visiting Friends_ by Michael Hainey

    _The Raven Boys_ by Maggie Stiefvater
    _Morningstar_ by David Gemmell
    The Shetland Island series by Ann Cleeves

    The book I’m begging everyone to read if they just wanna have fun is _Fortune’s Pawn_ by Rachel Bach.

    I still admire your fortitude in finishing _Going Clear_ . That book still festering in my Currently Reading folder because I just hate spending time with those people.

  • gretchenekengel November 22, 2013, 10:35 AM

    Two of my favorites are on there – Girl Meets God and Seeking Unseen. I read Girl Meets God a decade (plus 1) ago when I turned 30. Seeking Unseen was the first book I read this year. Finding Angel was one of my two favorite books last year and Seeking Unseen ranks up there for 2013.
    This year, I’ve read 70+ books including audio books. Most are either historical/historical romance (a lot of WWII), science fiction/fantasy/dystopian, and young adult. Merlin’s Blade and Swimming Through Clouds are the standouts for me. I tackled Atlas Shrugged (for the 3rd time), War and Peace, and the Count of Monte Cristo all on audio book. I’m listening to Stranger in a Strange Land which is fantastic.

    • Kat Heckenbach November 22, 2013, 11:00 AM

      Thank you, Gretchen!

      And The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorite stories ever. Ever.

  • Jill November 22, 2013, 2:02 PM

    I read a book called Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall that I really enjoyed. For nonfiction….I read a lot of it, and most of it I enjoyed. But loved? I can’t think of one that stands out, except maybe Joni Eereckson Tada’s A Place of Healing.

  • D.M. Dutcher November 22, 2013, 5:22 PM

    Hmm, looking over my reading this year I’d only recommend a few titles.

    For graphic novels, Madeline Tosca’s Hollow Fields trilogy was a delightful surprise. Lucy Snow has just arrived at a steampunk academy for evil scientists, and she has to find a way to fit in as well as avoid detention. Detention means goodbye, forever. It had such cute characters and a great art style.

    For secular novels, Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie. The novel is far different in tone than the Disney animated movie, and darker. I’d also recommend Gladiator, by Philip Wylie. It was the novel that gave us the idea of Superman, and reading it you realize that Superman bowdlerized the original idea quite a bit.

    For Christian novels, Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden and Head Dead West by A.C. Davis were creative takes on an alien invasion and a zombie apocalypse. Nightriders by Marc Schooley and Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland ranked high with me, too.

  • Marion November 24, 2013, 2:00 PM


    I’ve had an uneven year in reading and reviewing for my blog. Here’s my best reads of the year:

    1) Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
    2) Cold Fire by Dean Koontz
    3) The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Retrieval Artist Series #1)
    4) Captives (Safe Lands #1) by Jill Williamson
    5) The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbrath AKA JK Rowling
    6) Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
    7) A Mind to Murder by P.D. James

    1) Gray Matters by Brett McCracken
    2) All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Myers

    Both of my non-fiction reads deserved a lot more recognition and really pushes the envelope in how Christianity should effect pop culture.




  • Lyn Perry December 1, 2013, 3:09 PM

    Reading a lot more novellas this year. I’m finding they’re easier to get through given my hectic schedule and still satisfy my yen for a good story.

    Fiction: About 25 novellas. About 20 novels. Over 30 short stories.
    Nonfiction: 6 books, only one of which was Christian themed though.
    Had years where I’ve read 40+ nonfiction, mostly Christian/leadership.
    Definitely want to increase ratios to about 50/50 next year.

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