Best non-fiction books I read in 2013

My brain has been a little slow lately, so you’ll have to live with another one of these boring lists.

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs. A short, sweet anecdotal book that seeks to reclaim reading for pleasure from the dichotomy between Serious Reading and social media inanity. As I am someone who can breeze through a series of books faster than I can a season of a TV show, this book is perhaps not meant for me, but I enjoyed it all the same.

Dominion by Matthew Scully. I actually have not finished Scully’s animal welfare jeremiad, but it is an interesting read so far (as I have touched upon earlier). I disagree with Scully on some key points, but this is still some pretty solid journalism.

The Shape of Catholic Theology by Aidan Nichols. Okay, so I read most of this book, but it was for a class, and I believe I can be excused for sticking to the sections that were required reading. It is a nice introduction to the vocation of the theologian. The word vocation is key, since Nichols is not just introducing theology as an academic discipline, but as a particular way of life which comes with its own demands, rewards and temptations.

Collected Poems, W.H. Auden.   (also unfinished) I read one Auden poem when I was in high school and found it rather maudlin, which put me off of him for a while. But the same Alan Jacobs mentioned above happens to be an Auden scholar, and reading him convinced me to give Auden another chance. That turned out to be a good idea.

The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen. (also, you guessed it, unfinished) Why is a collection of fairy tales on a non-fiction list? If you have to ask that question, you may need to read more Chesterton and Tolkien.


In the past few days I managed to read through the entirety of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the first time. Although this is evidently not a particularly beloved entry in the Harry Potter series, I enjoyed it immensely. Umbridge was a fantastic villain, and I savored just about any time she squared off with Professor McGonnagal. Incidentally, in a time when our government overlords want to slowly insinuate themselves into every aspect of our lives I found the idea of heroes subverting a corrupt and power-mongering government agency really cathartic.

About Josh W

Scribbler and doodler
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