The Best Books of 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s that time of year again and I am consolidating round-ups and summaries of my reading and writing. I am all about encouraging and challenging brothers and sisters to renew their minds at A Sista’s Journey. In addition to the Bible—I’m reading the NASB translation this year and I still have several books to go—I have completed 33 books so far this year. I have a few more books to complete before the end of the year and I have also read significant chunks of other great books like Celebration of Discipline, Community 101, and Safe People that I have not included on this list.

Below are the categories of this year’s reading diet:

3 Evangelism/Missions
2 Reconciliation
1 Novel
7 Theology
1 Marriage
3 Soul Care/Devotionals
1 Counseling/Mentoring
2 Christian Ethics
11 Leadership
2 Justice

Tuesdays are my “Natasha’s Study” days for blogging. I use Tuesdays to discuss and recommend books and to share book reviews. Since I have already featured several of the books in one of my “Natasha’s Study” posts this year, I am primarily giving a nod to the books that I have not referenced in previous blog posts. In no particular order, these are the top 10 books I have read in 2013:

1. “Deeply Loved: 40 Ways to Experience the Heart of Jesus” by Keri Wyatt Kent

Category: Soul Care/Devotional


I’m including this book on the list because I have gone to it so many times this year for my own personal reflection, devotion, and quiet retreat times. This book has been a constant companion as I enter God’s presence. It would make a great gift for you or a friend.

2. “Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field” by Paul D. Borden

Category: Leadership

This is not a book about missions, so they probably should have chosen a better subtitle. It’s more a call to conscience for the American church and her leaders. Borden specifically discusses the leadership that is needed within the church body and I highly recommend this book for pastors and those serving on church staff.

3. “The Leader’s Voice: How Your Communication Can Inspire Action and Get Results” by Boyd Clarke and Ron Crossland

Category: Leadership

Communication is a critical tool for leaders. Proper communication can encourage, shape teams, and get results. Poor communication can destroy visions and set organizations on a different path which lack purpose and clear direction. While we can all improve our communication skills, specifically this is a book for leaders to read.

4. “The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help-or Hurt-How You Lead” by Carol Kinsey Goman

Category: Leadership

I have shared some of the highlights from this book in the article, Leading Well: What We Don’t See and What Women Leaders Need to Know About Gender-based Differences & Nonverbal Communication. This is a great read for professionals, government, and corporate folks.

5. “Martin Luther King, Jr. on Leadership: Inspiration & Wisdom for Challenging Times” by Donald T. Phillips

Category: Leadership

I’m almost always going to pick up a book if Dr. King is on the cover. I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while and anticipated the day when I would actually be able to read it. I was so thankful for that opportunity this spring and the words, prayers, strategic planning, team building, and inspiration behind the Civil Rights Movement encouraged me all the more to pursue the work of faith, freedom, and justice wherever it may lead.

6. “The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story” by Craig G. Bartholomew & Michael W. Goheen

Category: Theology

I love this book because it takes the reader through the entire Bible (including the intertestamental period between the Old and New Testaments) by presenting God’s story in narrative form! I would encourage you to go through this book with middle and high school students that you parent, teach, or mentor. I’m actually going through it with a young women’s mentoring group at the start of the New Year.

7. “What Paul Really Said About Women: An Apostle’s Liberating Views on Equality in Marriage, Leadership, and Love” by John Temple Bristow

Category: Theology

This is an old book and you will probably only find it at limited locations. However, it is a jewel to be sought after for sure. It’s a small book and an easy read. When I hear conversations and read about the various positions on women in leadership in the church (which is the topic I was researching when I read this book), the speaker, author, or writer quickly jumps to make a case for their interpretation of a few troubled passages written by Paul. What I like about this book, however, is Bristow is not making a case for his interpretation of the texts. Rather, he informs readers of Paul’s choice of words in the original Greek language and their meanings, along with other words that Paul had at his disposal but chose not to use. After clarifying the original language challenge, he reveals how we lose meaning with the English words that have been translated in place of these Greek words (in which there are no direct meaning equivalent). The bottom line is: We have to become faithful students of the Word and seek to understand what the author actually said before we can begin interpreting what the author meant or even before evaluating what those words mean for us today. No matter what side of the fence you are on concerning women and leadership in the church, this book is worth the read.

8. “Known and Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms” by Caryn Rivadeneira

Category: Devotional


I used this book to start reading through the Psalms this summer. I’m reposting it here because it’s a great gift for moms.

9. “Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery” by Shayne Moore & Kimberly McOwen Yim

Category: Justice

The authors gifted attendees of the International Justice Mission Advocacy Summit with their book this summer. I was glad for the opportunity to read a book that provides a general overview of the issue of human trafficking. In addition to providing information, I love how each chapter gives readers the opportunity to reflect and provides specific action steps they can take to help abolish modern-day slavery.

Note: I will be completing an online chapter-by-chapter book discussion of this book on Tuesdays beginning January 7, 2014 so go out and pick it up.

10. “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg

Category: Leadership

I have written so many articles surrounding the contents of this book this year, and you can find those under the About Me/Publications tab. I am thankful that this book has challenged us and given us the opportunity to think about the dynamics of professional workers and leaders who are men and women, single and married, parents and childless. I do believe we need to have healthier conversations about these concerns within safe church communities.

That’s my list. What are some of your book highlights from the year? Any recommendations?

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2013

Published by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Servant of Jesus. Truth-teller. Leader. Mentor. Author of Books.

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