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The Best Books, Music, and Movies of 2013


We polled some of our reviewers to find out what books, movies, and music they enjoyed most this past year. That particular wording allows for things that came out earlier than 2013, so a few items might have actually been released in prior years. And some of us just can’t be restricted to only 5 choices. So here are their top picks, with links to available Banner reviews.


Robert N. Hosack
1. Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism by Molly Worthen (Oxford University Press; nonfiction)
2. Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense by Francis Spufford (HarperOne; nonfiction) [Banner review]
3. God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America by Larry Eskridge (Oxford University Press; nonfiction) [Banner review]
4. Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat by James D. Bratt (Eerdmans; biography) [Banner review]
5. Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent by N. D. Wilson (Thomas Nelson; nonfiction)

Kate Padilla (you can see Kate’s thoughts on these books as well as the rest of her top 10 at
1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin; fiction for young adults)
2. S. by Doug Dorst and J. J. Abrams (Mulholland; fiction for adults)
3. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking; fiction for adults)
4. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (Harper; memoir)
5. Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman (Soho Press; fiction for adults)

Kristy Quist
1. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Atria; fiction for adults) [Banner review]
2. The Third Son by Julie Wu (Algonquin, fiction for adults) [Banner review]
3. Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost (Farrar Straus Giroux, fiction for ages 10 and up) [Banner review]
4. Journey by Aaron Becker (Candlewick, picture book) [Banner review]
5. Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani (Atria, fiction for adults) [Banner review]

Jim Romahn
1. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell (Little Brown, nonfiction) [Banner review]
2. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden (Knopf; fiction for adults)
3. Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro (Knopf; fiction for adults)
4. The Dogs are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan by Graeme Smith (Knopf Canada; nonfiction)
5. Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben Goldacre (Faber & Faber; nonfiction)

Reggie Smith
1. Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler (Oxford University Press; nonfiction)
2. To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City by Mark Gornik (Eerdmans; nonfiction)
3. Reading for Preaching by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. (Eerdmans; nonfiction)
4. The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice by Mark Labberton (IVP; nonfiction)
5. The Ethical Vision of Clint Eastwood by Sara Anson Vaux (Eerdmans; nonfiction)

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema
1. The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler (St. Martin’s Press; fiction for adults)
2. The Purchase by Linda Spalding (Pantheon; fiction for adults)
3. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller (Dutton, nonfiction) [Banner review]
4. Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool (Delacorte, fiction for ages 10 and up) [Banner review] [Banner interview with Clare Vanderpool]
5. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb (Little, Brown; nonfiction)


Jenny deGroot
1. Midnight’s Children (Paladin)
2. Still Mine (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
3. The Book Thief (20th Century Fox)
4. Philomena (Weinstein) [Banner review]
5. The Intouchables (Weinstein) [Banner review]

Josh Larsen (for commentary on his choices and the rest of his top 10, see his post on
1. Leviathan (Cinema Guild)
2. 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight) [Banner review]
3. Enough Said (Fox Searchlight)
4. The Act of Killing (Final Cut for Real) [Banner review]
5. Pain & Gain (Paramount)

Kristy Quist
1. Philomena (Weinstein) [Banner review]
2. Captain Phillips (Sony) [Banner review]
3. Nebraska (Paramount Vantage)
4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) [Banner review]
5. Short Term 12 (Docurama)

Reggie Smith
1. 42 (Warner Bros.) [Banner review]
2. 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight) [Banner review]
3. Man of Steel (Warner Bros.) [Banner review]
4. Star Trek: Into Darkness (Paramount) [Banner review]
5. Jobs (Universal)

Greg Veltman
1. Her (Warner Bros.)
2. Gravity (Warner Bros.) [Banner review]
3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) [Banner review]
4. The Spectacular Now (A24)
5. Much Ado about Nothing (Lionsgate)


Paul Delger
1. Need You Now by Plumb (Curb Records) [Banner review]
2. For the Glory by The O. C. Supertones (BEC Recordings) [Banner review]
3. How Mercy Looks from Here by Amy Grant (Sparrow) [Banner review]
4. Revival by Soulfire Revolution (Sparrow) [Banner review]
5. Hurricane by Natalie Grant (Curb Records) [Banner review]

Robert N. Hosack
1. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend (XL Recordings) [Banner review]
2. Reflektor by Arcade Fire (Merge Records) [Banner review]
3. Trouble Will Find Me by The National (4AD Records) [Banner review]
4. I Am Mountain by Gungor (Hither & Yon)
5. Meet Me At the Edge of the World by Over the Rhine (Great Speckled Dog) [Banner review]

Robert J. Keeley
1. New by Paul McCartney (Hear Music) [Banner review]
2. Reflektor by Arcade Fire (Merge Records) [Banner review]
3. The Civil Wars by The Civil Wars (Sensibility Records) [Banner review]
4. Desire Like Dynamite by Sandra McCracken (Sandra McCracken)
5. Same Trailer, Different Park by Kacey Musgraves (Mercury Nashville) or The 20/20 Experience, by Justin Timberlake (RCA) [Banner review]
Plus a special honorable mention of two archive releases from the Beatles: On Air—Live at the BBC Volume 2 (Capitol) and Bootleg Recordings 1963 (Apple; released for a limited time in December only)

Greg Veltman (see lots more of his top choices at the Calvin College Student Activities Office blog)
1. Trouble Will Find Me by The National (4AD Records) [Banner review]
2. The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches (Glassnote)
3. Days Are Gone by Haim (Columbia)
4. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend (XL Recordings) [Banner review]
5. If You Leave by Daughter (Glassnote)

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