The year in books – and my very first giveaway!

As you may have noticed, I’m a bit of a bookworm. I love curling up with a hot cup of tea, a cozy blanket, and a good book. As 2013 is drawing to a close, I wanted to share with you my favorite reads over the last year. Be sure to stay with me until the end…you just might find my very first giveaway!

I looked back at the books that I had rated 5-Stars on GoodReads this year, and I feel pretty confident in my Top Ten!

~ 10. On Writing, by Stephen King

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.”


~ 9.  Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

“You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it too.” 

This one always makes me chuckle: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” 

~ 8. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain


~ 7. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

~ 6. All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir, by Brennan Manning

~ 5. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker

“Sometimes the best way to bring good news to the poor is to bring actual good news to the poor. It appears a good way to bring relief to the oppressed is to bring real relief to the oppressed. It’s almost like Jesus meant what He said. When you’re desperate, usually the best news you can receive is food, water, shelter. These provisions communicate God’s presence infinitely more than a tract or Christian performance in the local park. They convey, ‘God loves you so dearly, He sent people to your rescue.’” 

~ 4. A Million Little Ways, by Emily P. Freeman


This was such an inspiring book! I wrote about it here, where it had me asking the question of what makes you feel most alive?

~ 3. Bread & Wine, by Shauna Niequist


(The recipe for Shauna Niequist’s delicious Blueberry Crisp is found in Bread & Wine. I can’t get enough – breakfast, lunch, supper, midnight snack – YUM!)

I love Shauna’s mantra – Present over perfect. What a beautiful reminder over this Christmas season – and living everyday life!

Ok…Here comes the good part. My top two favorite books were so inspiring, so heartbreaking, and so amazing (on completely different levels), that I wanted to take this opportunity to share copies these books with you! Drumroll, please…

~ 2. Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Y’all. This book will make you want to go out and change the world. Each and every chapter is heartbreaking as you learn about the many injustices, atrocities, and struggles that our sisters all over the world are facing daily. The thing that I loved about this book is that along with each excruciatingly painful story, there is also a flip-side where the authors also tell the stories of people who are out there on the global battlefields and helping these women and girls around the world. I wish that I could hand this book out to everyone that I meet!

“Our focus has to be on changing reality, not changing laws.” 

“One of the great failings of the American education system (in our view) is that young people can graduate from university without any understanding of poverty at home or abroad.” 

“This is a story of transformation. It is change that is already taking place, and change that can accelerate if you’ll just open your heart and join in.” 


~ 1. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

The only fiction book on my Top Ten list this year, this book just might ruin you for all other novels! It was engaging, thought-provoking, and an incredible story that you will not soon forget! I just might send the winner of this book a package of Kleenex as well!

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” 

“Push yourself. Don’t Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.”


So here’s the deal ~

I want nothing more than to spread the love and share my two very favorite books of the year with my friends – YOU! I’m going to give away my top two favorite books of 2013! One of you will win Half the Sky and the other winner will be sent Me Before You! If they aren’t exactly your favorite genres, they would make incredible Christmas gifts for the friends and loved ones in your life!

Shaking things up a bit ~

As I was researching how to go about doing a giveaway here in my little corner of the world, I came across several methods…but I kept noticing a common theme. I noticed that so many giveaways allow certain numbers of entries if you subscribe to the blog, follow them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, Instagram a specific thing, share the giveaway on social media, etc. I’m sure that it works beautifully for many blogs, but it made me kind of tired just by looking at it. I really do LOVE it when you “like” my blog of Facebook, share posts with others, comment on posts, and connect with me on Instagram/FB/Pinterest/etc. – *happy Snoopy dance* – but I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to jump through hoops when you come to visit me!

I just want to share my favorite books with you!

The details ~

That is why I decided to make this giveaway super simple! All you have to do to be entered in this book lover’s giveaway is to:

1. Leave a comment here and tell me what was your favorite book(s) that you read in 2013!

That’s it!

This giveaway is open for 1 week, and will end next Wednesday, December 10, 2013. Two names will be randomly selected as the winners, (I think I’ll go for the good, old-fashioned, scientific, draw names out of a hat method), and I’ll shoot them each an email!

I’m excited and nervous to hold my first giveaway, so would you please leave me a comment with your favorite reads of the year? I can’t wait to see what y’all have been enjoying in 2013, and to share my favorites with you!

Wishing you an awesomely book-filled 2014,

~ Ginger


*Disclosure – the Amazon links in this post are Affiliate links, which means that if you happen to purchase anything through Amazon after clicking on my link, I may receive a small kickback on the sale. You won’t pay more for clicking through the links, I promise. And I won’t recommend anything that I don’t absolutely LOVE to you!


* The giveaway is now closed. A huge thank you to everyone who entered – and to our winners – Jeri and Jan H! *

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Written by ginger


  • I just (as in, last night!) finished Me Before You. It was so good! I kept hearing people talk about it, and I had to see what the hype was all about. I liked 7 too, but I wouldn’t put it in my top 10. I loved The Fault in our Stars and Bread & Wine.

    • ginger says:

      Wasn’t Me Before You such a good book?! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! The Fault in Our Stars was another favorite – definitely a runner up! 🙂 Thank you so much for entering my first giveaway!!! 🙂

  • Jan H says:

    Hey G! I loved In Sheep’s Clothing 🙂

  • Sara Baxter says:

    I read a lot of self-help and parenting books this year so my favorite (in that category) has to be How We Love by Milan and Kay Yercovich. My second fave is one Chris and I are reading together, Micro by Michael Crichton.

    • ginger says:

      Oooh! I’ll be checking out those books, Sarah! Thank you for the recommendations! I knew that this would be a great way to add to my to-read list! 🙂 Thank you for entering my first giveaway! I really appreciate it! 🙂

  • Love your idea of a giveaway, G! My favorite non-fiction was actually the memoir, “Call the Midwife” by Jennifer Worth and my favorite fiction?? Oh, geez, so hard to choose, but I think “City of Glass (the third in the Mortal Instruments series) by Cassandra Clare–which is why you need to read “City of Bones”! Good luck on the giveaway!

    • Anna H says:

      I saw those in the bookstore the other day. They looked interesting. Guess I’ll have to check into them. I always hesitate until I get a recommendation from someone.

      • Anna–just as a warning, they are a little racy and include touchy themes such as incest, violence, same-sex relationships, and heavy petting. I still enjoyed the story and thought it was well written, but I wanted to make certain you were aware of the questionable content before purchasing!

      • ginger says:

        Anna, I found the first one while thrifting the other day, so I felt pretty good only spending 90 cents on it while I see if it’s my cup of tea. I hope you’ll let me know if you read them – I’m taking the first one on my trip this weekend!

    • ginger says:

      Guess what is in my bag waiting for my flight? 😉 It sounds like perfect airplane material. 🙂 And thank you for the warnings – so I know what to watch out for. Excited to see what all the fuss is about! Have you read the Divergent books yet, Fran?

  • Ana says:

    Oh my goodness, how to pick a favorite?!?! Of your top ten, I’ve also read 7, and Bread and Wine, and loooooved both. I also really enjoyed Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, The Creation of Anne Boleyn, Cooked by Michael Pollan and The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. 🙂

    • ginger says:

      Oooh – I need to add Memoirs, Anne Boleyn, and Cooked to my to-read list! Thank you so much for the recommendations! I love hearing what others are enjoying…and thank you so much for entering my first giveaway, Ana!

  • Kendal Connor says:

    Read a lot so picking two is hard. Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley would be one. Soul Work by Randy Harris would be another I would recommend. Have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas Ginger!

    • ginger says:

      Hi there, Mr. Connor! Thank you so much for entering my very first giveaway! That means so much to me! I enjoy Andy Stanley, but I haven’t read that book. I’ll put both of your recommendations on my to-read list for sure – thank you! 🙂

  • Joanne Funk says:

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (HeLa)…. A true story!

    • ginger says:

      I still haven’t read it – but it’s definitely on my to-read list. Thank you so much for stopping by to enter my first giveaway!!! 🙂 Have you started Desperate and Nora Ephron yet? 🙂

  • Becca says:

    And the Mountain Echoed was phenomenal! Khaled Hosseini is
    amazing. Of all his books, this one was my favorite. His first 2 books were tragic but beautiful, this one has less tragedy but just as much beauty. His characters are wonderful. The Boy on the Wooden Box was by far my fav nonfiction. It is Leon Leysons memoir on surviving the Holocaust, working for Oskar Schindler. Such a moving account of the holocaust from the eyes of a child.

    • ginger says:

      Hiya Becca! And the Mountain Echoed is definitely on my to-read list. His books are incredible! I will be adding The Boys on the Wooden Box to my list as well – it sounds like a beautifully moving story! Thank you so much for entering my first giveaway!!! 🙂

  • Danica says:

    As many books as I’ve read this year, I think my favorite is always the one I’m currently reading. Right now, my daughter and I are reading through Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. It is the first time a book has so captured my daughter that she questions and digs into the topic. We discuss the main characters actions and views of the world. It isn’t a book I would have ever picked since it is for young ones, but I love watching her imagination opening up to an entire new world.

    • ginger says:

      Danica, that is so sweet!!! I love that your favorite is what you are reading with your daughter! 🙂 I’ll never forget the day that you introduced me to Anne of Green Gables – she changed my literary life! 🙂 Thank you so much for entering my very first giveaway!

  • Emily M. says:

    “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, the book I gifted to J. for the exchange was my favorite read this year!

    • ginger says:

      Hiya Emily! Thank you so much for entering my very first giveaway!!! That means so much to me! What a great gift for the exchange! She has such a way with words – and it’s a great message! 🙂

  • Cynthia Young says:

    My favorite book this year is “Praying Circles Around Your Children” by Mark Batterson.

    • ginger says:

      Ooooh! I’ve had the original Circle book on my to-read list, but I didn’t realize that there is one about kids as well – I’ll be checking out both very soon!!! Thank you so much for your recommendation – and for entering my very first giveaway, Cynthia! That means so much to me!!! 🙂

  • Lora says:

    I think my favorite book that I’ve read this year has to be Ruby Payne’s Bridges out of Poverty. or her Framework for Understanding Poverty. Or Crossing the tracks for love.

    Haha. I guess I have a favorite author of the year :-P.

    • ginger says:

      Hiya Lora! Thank you so much for entering my first giveaway! I have never heard of Ruby Payne – but I’ll be checking her out ASAP! Thank you for the recommendations! 🙂

  • Anna H says:

    My favorite book this year was probably Me Before You. (Thanks for the recommendation!) I wasn’t sure I liked it at first, but the book is so well written and I’ve been thinking about reading it again or trying one of her other books. A close second was the last book in a six book series I read, The Enchantress by Michael Scott. That last book tied everything up satisfactorily and contained some nice plot twists and surprises.

    • ginger says:

      YAY!!! I am so glad that you enjoyed Me Before You! I want to read it again! I have never read anything by Michael Scott, but I’ll be adding his series to my GoodReads list – thank you so much for the recommendations and for entering my very first giveaway!!! 🙂

  • Mark Allman says:

    My favorite books this year have all been fiction: In great part due to you I read To Kill a Mockingbird and loved that book. I read Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead and was surprised as how much they made me think. I enjoyed the Book Divergent which is a movie coming out next year.

    • ginger says:

      Hi Mark! I am SO happy that you enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird! Ender’s Game is coming up higher on my to-read list. The movie was excellent! I’m thinking about reading it with my oldest son so that we can talk about it as we read it together. I enjoyed Divergent, but I haven’t read the others in the series – I hear that they are all awesome as well! Thank you so much for entering my very first giveaway! 🙂

  • Jamie says:

    It’s an older book but new to me this year. The art of racing in he rain by Garth Stein.

    • ginger says:

      Hi Jamie! Thank you so much for entering my very first giveaway!!! I haven’t read The Art of Racing the Rain yet, but I keep hearing amazing things about it – I need to put it on my to-read list ASAP! Thank you for the suggestion! So many books, so little time! 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    Ginger! I LOVE so many elements of this post. Here I shall enumerate them:
    – great reviews & suggestions; my interest is piqued!
    – I love the fact that you noted your methodology in structuring the giveaway
    – I really appreciate your approach to the giveaway. I JUST joined Facebook like a month ago, so the giveaways that involved multiple entries always felt a bit alienating and overly complex to me – they actually still do even though I have a facebook page now.
    Now for my favorite book this year:
    Jessica Enoch’s _Refiguring Rhetorical Education: Women Teaching African American, Native American, and Chicano/a Students, 1865-1911_ : I can’t help it. I pretty much just live and breath my coursework these days!
    Congrats on your first giveaway!

    • ginger says:

      Hiya Jennifer! Thank you SO much for your encouraging comments!!! I can’t tell you how much that means to me – I’m still so new to the blogging world, and I know that there are ways that I’m “supposed” to do things like this giveaway, but I just couldn’t do it. Knowing how you appreciated how I approached this is a huge encouragement to this baby blogger! 🙂 Your coursework sounds incredibly interesting! No wonder it was a favorite this year! Thank you so much for entering my very first giveaway! 🙂

  • I read a lot of books that I liked this year! Nonfiction favorites were probably Instant Mom and Quiet and as for fiction I loved The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Miss Buncle’s Book-very different books but each great in their own way. Congrats on the giveaway!

    • ginger says:

      Hi there Moira! Thank you so much for entering my very first giveaway! I have The Ocean at the End of the Lane in my bag to read TODAY! 🙂 I will be putting Instant Mom and Miss Buncle’s book on my to-read list asap! Thank you for the recommendations – I love hearing what books others are enjoying! I hope you have a great weekend!

  • […] The year in books – and my very first giveaway!: Ginger of Just One of the Boys provides some fantastic book reviews in this post, AND she is offering her 1st giveaway – congratulations on this milestone, Ginger! You simply must look around her blog while you are there; it’s been my most exciting blog find over the past couple of months. […]

  • Jeri says:

    Favorite book this year? That’s a tough call. But I have not been able to get The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka out of my mind. It’s a thin volume with incredible staying power. If I could write like her, I’d be so happy!

    • ginger says:

      This is also going on my GoodReads list! I love those books that stay with you long after you’ve read them. I can’t wait to discover her writing style! Thank you so much for entering my very first giveaway, Jeri! 🙂

  • Jeannie says:

    My favourite book this year was Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

    I read Quiet this past year as well — really good — and am a big fan of Bird By Bird, too.

    • ginger says:

      Oooh! I just put Purple Hibiscus on my GoodReads list the other day. Can’t wait to read it! Thank you so much for sharing and for stopping by! Yay – another Quiet and Anne Lamott fan as well! 🙂

  • So many good books here! I have read and loved every one of these. I LOVE that you included quotes for every book. So fun.

    Thanks for sharing your favorites with us!

    • ginger says:

      Hiya Anne! I’m a pretty new reader of your blog, but I love seeing which books you are recommending – I know that I’ll get lots of good ideas for my GoodReads list! Love “meeting” kindred spirits! Thank you so much for stopping by – you sweet comment made my day!

  • […] I said in my last giveaway, I don’t like asking people to jump through hoops. Y’all have been such amazing support […]

  • Eduardo Vela Ruiz

    The year in books – and my very first giveaway!

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I’m Ginger ~

I'm a wife to my Beloved, mom of three boys, bookworm, survivor of a broken heart, and Kansas Girl. It is my desire to encourage you. No matter what storm you're going through right now, you are not alone. I promise.

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