Favorite Books of 2012

My top 12 books of 2012 (in no particular order). Links go to a longer review if I published one, or directly to Amazon if I didn’t. Favorite Books of 2012 - Quiet

The Book I Most Wanted to Make Everyone Read

Quiet by Susan Cain
LOVED IT. Kept reading excerpts of it to my husband, and he was really enjoying it. It’s all I can do not to push it on anyone and everyone I know.

The Books That Indicate I May Have a New Author Crush

7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
7 was very inspiring and got me thinking about how I could adapt her ideas and challenge to fit my life. It also doesn’t hurt that I find her completely hilarious.

A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study by Jen Hatmaker
I really appreciated all of the practical suggestions for how to engage with Scripture. Her tone might be a little lighthearted for some, but I like how conversational she is.Favorite Books of 2012 - Unbroken

Most Amazing, I-Can’t-Believe-These-Are-True Books

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
An astonishing story by a gifted writer. I already knew the outline of his story before I started reading the book, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the work in the slightest.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom and John and Elizabeth Sherrill
A reread from school, and I was surprised by just how much I’d forgotten from it. So glad it was a bookclub pick!

Best Pair of Books Related to Teaching My Children About God

Together: Growing Appetites for God by Carrie Ward
An inspiring and challenging approach to reading the Bible as a family, with reminders about the benefits it brings. I really appreciated how encouraging it is.

Telling God’s Story by Peter Enns.
An interesting read especially so soon after Together. Very heavy on the theory and light on practical ideas (those are most likely in the later instructional books in the series, since this was just the intro to the entire set). I really appreciated how it got me thinking about what and how I’ll teach my children about God.

Most Thought-Provoking Books

Favorite Books of 2012 - Meaning of MarriageThe Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
Absolutely loved it. I thought he succeeded admirably in his stated goal “to give both married and unmarried people a vision for what marriage is according to the Bible.” Keller’s books invariably give me much to consider.

Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax.
A powerful explanation of the true gospel in contrast to six common counterfeits to it. The structure of the book was really helpful in understanding Wax’s arguments, and I especially appreciated the “what makes it attractive” portion of the description of the various counterfeits. Following that section immediately by ways to counter the counterfeit is very effective.

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
Fascinating book. I loved the details behind the research, and loved the practical applications and hints at how to put willpower to work for me, and when I shouldn’t rely on it.Favorite Books of 2012 - Well-Trained Mind

Most Inspiring Book for Rethinking My Educational Philosophy

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
I’ve never really thought about homeschooling following the classical method, but this book made me think I should at least consider it. Actually, this book got me excited and wishing my kids were older so we could jump right into it.

Favorite Food-Focused Book of the Year

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flynn
Inspiring and fun, and it made me sad when I finished it, which is always a good sign of a great book.

The Year’s Bible

The Literary Study Bible
While it does seems odd to include a Bible in a list of top books, I’ll give this a special mention and not count it as one of my 12. It really was a terrific version, and I learned a lot about the literary features and aspects of the various books of the Bible. Very enlightening!

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  1. Great picks! I’ve read some of the ones on your list – and hope to read a few of them this coming year (Unbroken is at the top of the list).

    • Unbroken can be hard to read at times: it’s a tough story (just a heads-up for you). So well told though.

  2. I love your categories! And your picks. If you liked Unbroken I highly recommend Seabiscuit. I thought the subject matter sounded kinda dry (I live in Derby City, and I still wasn’t interested in a story about a famous racehorse!) But Hillenbrand tells amazing stories, and I think I read it in 3 days. So good.

    I’ve never read The Hiding Place. Can you believe it? I’ve been meaning to for years. Maybe this is the year 🙂

    • Thanks Anne!

      I’ve had Seabiscuit on my TBR list forever (from whenever it first came out & garnered all those accolades.) I’d been “saving” it so that if/when I’m in a reading lull I had a all-but-guaranteed great book to pull me out. I’d already decided that I was tired of saving it and this is the year I read it. If I ever get into a terrible reading lull I’ll just have to find another book to pull me out. 🙂

      Yes, read The Hiding Place. Such a great book, and it’s not super long so you’re not making a huge commitment of your reading time.

  3. I’m half-way through reading “Quiet” now, mostly because so many people recommended it to me….which is strange because I’m an extrovert. I feel energized by interacting with people and love being the jolly, bright-eyed person that people can’t help but like.

    The book is making me realize how difficult it can be for introverts living in a world that values extroverts. Some passages make it seem like extroverts are dummies who just want to blurt out their ideas whether they’re good or not. I may not be quietly contemplating the universe, but my extroverted personality can bring people together and promote positivity in the world.

    “Quiet” makes me want to read other books about traits or experiences that are different from mine.

    • I never took her comments to mean that she thinks extroverts are dummies, blurting ideas out whether or not they’re any good. Maybe because I was envisioning the extroverted family & friends I have, and the way they have of often doing their thinking out loud? Frequently they end up suggesting things that aren’t great ideas, because it’s just an immediate idea, and if they do think about it more (typically talking all the time), they’ll talk themselves out of it. 🙂

      I would hate any extroverts to think that the book bashes them – I don’t believe it does, and I don’t think they should be bashed. I think extroverts are great. I just would like some of them to stop thinking that there’s something wrong with introverts and that introverts need to be fixed/improved into an extroverted version.

      I appreciate all the extroverts like you who do work to bring people together! I also appreciate the extroverts like my mother-in-law who can talk to anyone and have them leave thinking they’ve met the friendliest person around.

      The world is so much more interesting when we’re not all the same. I love reading about different traits & experiences (probably why I adore memoirs and biographies so much), so if you find any other great books on the topic please share the titles!

  4. Loved Meaning of Marriage, Unbroken, Quiet, and 7… and I am currently in Kitchen Counter Cooking School and loving it! Willpower is also on my list! Great list, Sheila!

  5. 7 has made me put about everyone of Hatmaker’s books on my wishlist. The Hiding Place is an all-time favorite {ok, maybe top 5} and Unbroken is on my list! AND – definitely consider Classical Education. I taught at a Charlotte Mason/Classical School for three years and it both changed my life and ruined me {for the better}. I’ve wished over and over that it had been my own education, which is why I’m semi-obsessed with The Well-Trained Mind. If I had children right this minute and had to decide, I’d homeschool classically/CM. No contest. 🙂 {And that’s coming from a elementary educator.}

    • I’m working through one of Hatmaker’s earlier books & really enjoying it (and learning a lot).

      I am considering homeschooling, specifically via a classical model. I’d like to find a resource that gives me a better idea on how it compares or works together with CM. I was looking for a book. Perhaps I should just ask someone who might know a thing or two about it. 🙂

      • I stumbled on The Well-Trained Mind as I began homeschool my oldest and was hooked on classical education from the beginning. My initial motivation was that I was homeschooled all the way through and felt like this really filled in the places that I feel that my education lacked.
        However, what I ended up appreciating the most (as compared with other homeschooling models) is that it is not all in a box. I can easily tailor it to my kids. My oldest (5 years old) is a gifted student, and being able to pick and choose what to teach him when is invaluable. He’s technically in first grade but doing 5th grade level reading, 2nd grade level math, but first grade science and social studies etc. I love that I can choose to move him forward in things like math so that they do not become boring, and I can go deeper and wider into the material of other subjects since he picks things up easily instead of just rushing him through the grade because what is taught is pre-set in the curriculum.
        Anyway, that is my gushing promo for The Well-Trained Mind. It’s my homeschool “bible.”

  6. I just love your blog! I feel even more blessed to know you in person!!

    GREAT list of books here! I’ve read just a handful and very much agree -they were awesome! I’m never going to get to the end of my “to-read” list because of you and I’m super excited about that! (getting to the end of that list would be a sad sad day!)

    Have you thought about joining Adrienne in the 7 study she’s starting in Feb? I read it early summer last year and loved it! Excited to do the new study and have a refresher on all she said as we start this year!

    • Thank you Sarah! That’s really sweet of you. 🙂

      I know that I’ll never get to the end of my TBR list, but hopefully I can get to all of the best choices off of it? Maybe that’s wishful thinking too…

      I’m thinking about joining in on Adrienne’s 7 study. Sort of holding off on committing until I know what all it might involve, and how some other things are looking schedule-wise for me.


  1. […] for reading – I read more books than I expected to get through, and had a hard time picking my favorites (always a good sign of a good year). That’s not to say that every book was a winner. While […]

  2. […] you read Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess? (It was one of my favorites for 2012). My friend Adrienne from A Suburban Menagerie is leading an online study session based on the […]

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