My Favorite & Best Books of 2012

how to simplify your homeschool

At the beginning of 2012, I set a reading goal for myself: to read 52 books in 2012.  That would be one book per week.  The previous year I read about 45 books, so I thought I could increase it in 2012.

I’m happy to say I read 62 books in 2012.  You might be wondering if they were all kid books.  No!  I read 4 kid books; the rest were books you might read, like these below.

Some of my favorites include

2012 favorite books

I compiled a list of my favorite and best books of 2012 for you.

atlas-shrugged-ayn rand

Atlas Shrugged was the first book I read in 2012 and it took me about 2 weeks to finish it.  I wondered if I would meet my goal at that rate. It’s one big, honking book – over 800 pages.

I wasn’t sure I’d like it because I was told it was about our capitalistic society. Sounded too philosophical to me.

Just the opposite happened.  I was glued to it, reading it whenever I had free time.

I highly recommend Atlas Shrugged, as it is an excellent novel. It will also open your eyes to what is going on in our economy and government.  It applies today!

Several of my favorites were books to encourage me in my everyday life.  I’ll start with Zig Ziglar’s classic, since he passed away a month ago.
See You At the Top offers application that you can use as a homeschool mom, work at home mom, or empty nester.  Zig shares from a Christian perspective.

Other goal setting books say the same thing over & over.  18 Minutes offers a fresh approach to setting goals that all moms can use.  Perfect for making new year resolutions.

I love the fact that Peter Bregman uses parenting examples, as well as professional examples in his book. This would be a great book to start your year.
one thousand gifts by ann voskamp of a holy experience
I found One Thousand Gifts as a result of last year’s favorite books post.  So many of you left a comment saying it was your favorite book that I had to read it. Thank you!

I’ve already written a few posts about this book & the effect it had on my life.
One Thousand Gifts & 30 Days of Gratitude
30 Day Gratitude Challenge & One Thousand Gifts

You can get over 40% discount on One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, by clicking here. Several gift sets have a discount with this link, too.

Blue Ocean Strategy

I stumbled upon this book at a Business Women’s Conference while listening to Bob Eubanks. Yep, Bob Eubanks of the Newlywed Game.  He highly recommended Blue Ocean Strategy, so I ordered a copy.  I was challenged as I read, contemplating the concepts in this book and how to apply them in 2013.

If you’re a work at home mom with your own business or blog, this is a great book for you.  It will challenge you about finding the right place in the market.

And a little fiction . . .

the sweet by and by sarah evans

I read several southern lit books, set in Savannah or Atlanta, but my favorite was a series by singer Sarah Evans.  I recommended The Sweet By and By to my 22 year old daughter, who thoroughly enjoyed reading all 3 in the series.

I don’t usually read Christian fiction because it is often a lot of fluff.  Not the case here.

The Sweet By and By, Softly and Tenderly and Love Lifted Me centers around Jade & Max – their engagement, marriage and first few years of marriage.  Several struggles occur in their family.  I won’t spoil it for you.  Just grab a copy at your library.

You’ll see their relationship to God throughout.  It’s well worth reading all 3 books.

If you want to see all the books I read in 2012, you can check out my Shelfari account.

2013 Reading Goals

My goal for 2013 is 52 books again.  I’m starting with Les Miserables.  It’s another big, honking book.  I want to read it before I see the movie.

That was often my requirement of my kids while we homeschooled.  Read the book, then watch the movie.  Then, let me know which one you like best, the book or movie.

With all this talk about the best books of 2012, I’m going to have my 1st giveaway for 2013.  I’ll give away 3 copies of my daughter Gentry’s ebook, Best Books of All Times. Enter below.

Gentry has compiled the best books of all times, according to a 15 year old. That’s right…it’s from a kid’s perspective so you know these books will be enjoyed by your kids, too. One cool thing about this book is the way Gentry organized her books in a chronological fashion.

I hope you’ll share your favorite books.  That’s how I found One Thousand Gifts last year.  Thanks to all who shared this title with me.

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Question: What’s your favorite book of this past year?
What’s your reading goal for 2013?
You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  1. my favorite book this last year was “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron. This book was great funy sad and heartwarming.

  2. My favorite book this year was “Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally about God with Your Children” by John Younts. I am a young mommy, and this book really helped me see how I can go beyond bedtime prayers and Bible stories.

  3. I’ve put a goal to read at least one month a book. I used to be a crazy avid reader, but have basically read nothing much for myself since becoming a mom. I want to change that, so 1 a month (hopefully more but had to start somewhere attainable!)

    All the best with your goal this year! Thanks for sharing with us your faves from last year.

    1. Lisa,
      When my kids were little, I hardly read anything except my Bible. Usually I fell asleep in bed as I tried to read in the evening. Now that the kids are older (and I wake up in the middle of the night), I read so much more.

  4. My goal is 40. I don’t have a lot of time to read but hopefully I can be better organized this year and get more reading in.

  5. I love to read and have a pile of books that I keep by my nightstand, but I guess my goal would be to keep up and re-read the books that my kids are reading this year with their curriculum. Many of them are classics but there are some new ones in there for me,too. Good luck to all with your own goal!

    1. When I was homeschooling, I tried to keep up with my kids’ reading also. Sometimes hard with more than one student. Good luck to you also

  6. favorite book was One Thousand Gifts. Haven’t made a goal yet but it would be around 10. I still have young kids.

    1. As I told other readers, I didn’t read much when my kids were young. Either too tired…or reading something for homeschooling. Good luck on your goal

  7. My favorite book of 2012 was Just As I Am by Virginia Smith. My reading goal is to read thru the Bible in chronological order, plus an additional book every month. I just put The Sweet By & By and One Thousand Gifts on hold at the library 🙂

  8. Since having my daughter almost 3 years ago I’m sad to say that I haven’t read any books not related to child rearing/parenting. So my goal this is to read 10 books on any subject, fiction or non-fiction. Winning this would greatly help.

    1. This past year I read more fiction because I read mostly non-fiction in the past. When my kids were young, I often fell asleep reading for pleasure, so don’t be too hard on yourself. 🙂

  9. I’d like to read a book a month. I’ve been hit and miss in the past, but would like to be more consistent this year.

    1. I just put one of the Ladybug Farm books on hold at our library. Another reader recommended this series, too.

  10. I *love* to read, and have so many favorites, I’m sure I can’t name just one! My goal for this year is a simple one ~ to read Mystery of History every day with my son…I’m woefully ignorant about history, so we’ll be learning together.

  11. Wow!, I’m so impressed with all these great readers…I read about 4 to 5 books for myself and another 8 with my kids throughout the school year. I would like to read more for goal -for this year- will be to read 15 books. Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Nicole,
      If you are reading with your kids, congratulations. When I was in the trenches of homeschooling, I didn’t read as much for myself. I read books with the kids too

  12. The best book I read was Large Family Logistics. I hope to read the Bible but not just to say I read it, but to really ponder it.

    1. Sometimes I think people read the Bible in the year, to check it off their list. I agree with you, as pondering has more impact. If it takes you 3 years to read the Bible, so be it. You’ll have more time to think about what it says and how to apply it.

  13. The Bronze Bow. I read this outloud to my kids for school. I was so entralled by the writing as the images, sounds and smells in the story came alive for me, that I would sneak off later to read ahead because I couldn’t wait for the next day’s chapter! 🙂 It gave me an insight to why the Jews so hated the Romans – a perspective I had not pondered before. A wonderful story of victory over self’s emotions that keep one in bondage. Delightful!

    1. Our family loved historical fiction. Bronze Bow was up there on the top of our list. Have you read any Henty books? For the Temple is set at the same time and gives you a great feel for the period.

  14. Thank you for this! It is a nicely varied list with something for everyone. I appreciate you sharing. Happy New Year!

  15. I loved Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I heard its going to be made into a movie. His story is just so remarkable I recommend it to everyone. I dont think a movie is going to be able to catch his spirit!

  16. My favorite book this year was Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson since this is my first year homeschooling I have been reading many homeschool “heroes” to help encourage me!

  17. My favorite book this year is “Almost Amish”, by Nancy Sleeth (it’s nonfiction). The subtitle is “One woman’s quest for a slower, simpler, more sustainable life.” I read her other book, “Go Green, Save Green”, a few years ago. Both are published by Tyndale House Publishers.

    1. Vicki,
      Sounds like a great suggestion, especially as it encourages us to slow down and live a more simple life.

  18. My favorite book of 2012 was definitely “One Thousand Gifts”. My favorite of 2011 was “Amazing Grace” by Chuck Swindol. I think God had me read that in the right order! 🙂

    1. Kimberly,
      That’s why I started reading more fiction this year. Let me know what books you are reading for pleasure

    2. I didn’t start reading for pleasure until my kids were older and I had more free time after homeschooling.

  19. I can’t pick a favorite for this year but 3 stand out as memorable: Roses by Leila Meacham, Life with Father by Clarence Day Jr, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

    All time favorite is Mere Christianity by CS Lewis.

  20. Wow, so many books one could suggest!

    “In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson……(He also wrote”The Circlemaker” and that is one my friends recommend.

    “Prayer, Quantum Physics, and Hotel Mattresses: Dissolving the Barrier Between the Seen and Unseen”
    By: Jim Berge

  21. I have never even thought of making a reading goal for myself. I have my kids read a certain number of books, so why not try it myself. The best book I read this year was Daughter of Shiloh. It was actually written by a local. I read it because it was given to me by the authors sister. I was surprised when I thoroughly enjoyed it!

      1. Little House books are terrific. I miss reading those types of books. Looking forward to time with granddaughters.

    1. When my kids were homeschooling, almost all my books were books the kids were reading. 2 books is a great goal

  22. I really enjoyed reading Grace For the Moment by Max Lucado. My time is very short so I like having something short to ponder for awhile after my reading is finished. I also like A Mary Heart in a Martha World. I want to find more time for reading as a family next year. We used to do it each night, but our lives get so busy.

    1. We had our ups & downs with reading as a family. I was more consistent about reading with the kids in the morning. Evenings were harder for us.

    1. One book a month is a great goal, especially when you in the midst of homeschooling. I love the Bible, too

  23. I’m not sure it was my favorite book of the 2012, but it was probably my favorite reading experience…reading Francine River’s Unveiled to my daughter over the Christmas break. My goal this year is to read more regularly for pleasure.

    1. Kim,
      Thanks for reminding me of Francine Rivers. I’ve not read any of her books, but have heard great things about them. I’m adding to my shelfari list.

  24. I love reading … but struggle with reading my Bible, so my reading goald for this year is to read through the whole Bible… I’m looking forward to it!

  25. Starting this year myself with How To Read a Book by Mortimer Adler; started reading Oliver Twist to the kids yesterday.

    1. Abi,
      How to Read a Book is very helpful. Another book I read at the same time was Amusing Ourselves, by Neil Postman.
      I haven’t read Oliver Twist by Dickens, but Tale of Two Cities is one of my favs. I’ve read it a few times.

  26. I spend most of my time keeping up with my kid’s school reading, but I love most of it. For my own pleasure, I read Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer. This was a fascinating book. My husband just surprised me last night by telling me we are going to go hear Metaxas speak and get his next book autographed. Our ladies’ Bible study also enjoyed Princess Unaware by Brenda Garrison.

    1. I haven’t read Bonhoeffer, but I started his book, Cost of Discipleship, while in college. But I never finished it. I might need to read Metaxas book.

  27. Thanks for sharing your favorites! I’m trying to compile my list for this year. My kids are now a little older and I’m finding more time for reading, so I’m setting my goal at 35 books for the year. I just put 18 Minutes on hold at the library.
    My favorite book from last year was probably The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp. We love The Sound of Music, and the real story is full of faith, humor, and personal accounts of history. 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker was also an excellent read of 2012. If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, I thought Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese was interesting and entertaining. (It’s not written from a Christian perspective, though, if that would dissuade some.)

    1. I thoroughly enjoyed Story of Trapp Family Singers. Have you read the sequel, Family on Wheels, Further Adventures of Trapp Family Singers? It’s a good read also. Thanks for the other suggestions. I read plenty of fiction that was not a Christian perspective, so I’m not dissuaded. Sometimes I need something light to read, which is what happened last night after reading a book about Afghan women

  28. I loved reading about all of your favorites, and added some of them to my to read list. My favorite this year was “The Girl’s Still Got It” by Liz Curtis Higgs. It is a commentary on the book of Ruth but so easy to read with new insights into this book. For 2013 my goal is to read more non-fiction books since most from 2012 were fiction.

    1. Judy,
      That’s the 2nd book recommended by Liz Curtis Higgs. I’ll be reading more of her books in 2013.

  29. My reading goal is kind of vague, but since I have so many piled up by my bed I plan to read at least 1 chapter every night.

    1. that’s still a great goal. . . and I completely understand having books next to your bed. I always have books to read

  30. My most recent enjoyable book was Bookends by Liz Curtis Higgs. I hated when it was over because i enjoyed my time in it so much. I haven’t set a specific goal for reading in 2013 except that I desire to read more….not a very good goal, huh? Maybe after this post I’ll sit down and actually make a goal that motivates me and helps me stick to accomplishing it! Thanks for giveaway op.

    1. I just put Bookends on hold at the public library. I didn’t really start counting the books I read until

  31. My goal last year was 50… and I read 63! Almost the same as you! My goal this year is 52.

    As far as Les Miserables, have you started it? I tried a couple of years ago and couldn’t really get into it. Maybe I should try again…

    1. No, I haven’t started Les Mis, but I’ve heard so many great comments about it. Let me know if you try it again

  32. My favorite book from 2012 has to be “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame!!! Such a wonderful book, made more wonderful in that I read it aloud to and got to share the experience with my 3 kiddos. Will go down as one of my personal favorites.

    Goal for 2013? Turn the TV off and read more, as usual. Read 13 books last year, but that doesn’t count the books read to my kids as part of our studies at home. So I desire to read more books of my own choosing. 🙂

  33. My favorite book was The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Loved it! Love all of her books! Best of all, I read it aloud to my son. 🙂

    My goal is to finish about 1 book per week in 2013!

  34. The three books that have stayed with me in 2012 have all been uncommon acts of faith. Katherine Boo ‘s Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum (Portobello £14.99) is a masterpiece of documentary storytelling, based on four years the author spent living in the slums of Mumbai. It looks hard into places of extreme despair, and comes back brimming with irrepressible life.

  35. God Rest Ye Merry, Soldiers: A True Civil War Christmas Story by James McIvor was a HUGE blessing to my children and me in November as we looked forward to the Christmas season. As a read aloud we shared soldier letters and history via storytelling; visions for a quick war of triumph continued to the agony of loss, enduring despair and hunger. The hand of providence clearly seen by one while another empty soul baffled in humanism. The personal letters and chronological progression through the war made for more grateful kids (and mom!) though the season and holyday. I’ve also found it is available via audio CD at my local library!

  36. For 2012, it was Love & Respect, and my goal for 2013 is to read as much as I can ;0) Reading Wonderstruck at the moment by Margaret Feinberg.

    1. Love & Respect is one of the few marriage books I recommend. Most are fluff, but that one is right on track.

  37. My goal is just to read! Seems like I don’t make enough time for that. My fave book from last year was Divergent by Veronica Roth.

    1. When my kids were home, it was hard to find time to read. I mostly read the classics that my kids were reading for homeschooling. Now, I’m catching up on reading my own books. Good luck on your goal

  38. Well my favourite book for this year is actually my favourite book of all time. It’s Catherine Ponders book The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity. Totally changed my life for the better and brought me back to God. I am now reading it for the 3-rd time. My goal is 120 books. I’m a big reader. Much love to you all.

    1. I haven’t read Catherine Pounders. Since you’re reading it for the 3rd time, I’ll have to check it out. 120 is a great goal. Some weeks I can read 2 books/week, but other books take longer. Good luck with your 120 goal

  39. My favorite book this year was Season’s of a Mother’s Heart by Sally Clarkson. This book is encouraging to home school moms everywhere.

  40. Till We Have Faces by C.S.Lewis It was abstract-symbolic-and heart changing!! Had to push through it but so glad I did.

  41. WOW, love to read. Ive been on your blog post for a while, don’t know why I didn’t see this until today? Thanx for the chance to won!!! :0)

    1. You’re so welcome. Thanks for being on my blog for awhile. I hope it’s encouraged you. If you ever have a topic you’d like us to cover, please let me know

  42. a book i read and liked was ” this small window” true stories from well aged people by melody goetz.
    It puts thigs in perspective. they are heartwarming stories

  43. Kelly your goals and seeing the photo of the books has inspired me to do some reading with purpose. To keep track of what I have read.

  44. My goal is to read aloud to my kids more this year. There are so many good books out there. The Ivan series is what we are starting with.

    1. It took me awhile to regularly read aloud to my kids. Once I found the best time of day, it became part of ourschedule.

  45. My favorite book from 2012 was The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins. A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea, the diary of a 19th century woman, and the special place that binds them. A truly amazing story about clipper ships and family ties. I loved it!

  46. I haven’t had a chance to do much personal reading this year. I think my favorite was The Lie by Ken Ham. Lately I’ve gotten too many books to read and the ADD kicks in and I only read bits and pieces, so my big goal is to take out one book at a time and read it. Unfortunately, this post and all the great suggestions are going to make that extremely difficult!! Plus reading with my children in high school keeps me hopping.

  47. “Sons of Encouragement” by Francine Rivers was my favorite book of 2012. I found that it filled in the parts of the Bible stories about 5 amazing men who changed eternity with smell, sights, sounds, feelings etc that sometime I struggle with when reading the Bible. It brought Aaron and his work he did come to life along with Caleb, Jonathan, Amos and Silas. At the end of each story there was a Bible study portion to encourage further reading and study of these amazing men of God. I’ve got it on the please read table for my kids.

  48. My goal this year is 30. And I am including any books I’ll need to read with my 15yr and 11yr old 🙂 Starting with 2012 I decided to start reading more fiction books again. At least 1 fiction book a month.

    1. I agree with your comment on fiction. Sometimes we read so much on how to be a good mom, how to homeschool, etc. Fiction has taught me just as many lessons as those books. I’m reading a book recommended on this list (Bookends) that is very convicting about my life with God.

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