ABC’s Favorite Reads 2013, part 1: Jilles, Marten, Lynn

It’s my favorite part of the blogging year: our favorite reads!  The ABC staff has looked through all the books and magazines they’ve read over the past year, or games they played, or stationery they used, and picked out their top 5 (or 4, or 8).  Every single item in these posts comes highly recommended, and we hope to add some ideas to your 2014 reading list.

Of course, we always love reading tips ourselves, too, and so we hope you will send in YOUR favorite reads of 2013 to us.  They don’t have to be books published in 2013, just read in 2013.  Please mail your Top 5 (and why these books were so good) to by December 31st, and don’t forget to include your home address so we can send you an ABC gift certificate in the new year as a thank you.  As has become a tradition, your Top 5s will be published in January.

Our first Favorite Reads post comes courtesy of

  • Jilles: Always expanding his world- as well as inner view.
  • Marten:  Knows everything about the life and times of Jesus and is still waiting for his religious epiphany.
  • Lynn: Owner and, more importantly, mother of the ABCs. Creative business spirit, redhead and still a hippie at heart.



Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself – Joe Dispenza
Pull up your sleeves and get ready to deconstruct your mind. Very interesting read.

The Rembrandt Affair – Daniel Silva (ebook here)
Great thriller, partly situated in Amsterdam, linked to the Second World War.

Illuminations on the Road to Nowhere – Paul Ferrini
Amazing spiritual book by the author of The Christ Mind series.

Doctor Sleep – Stephen King (ebook here)
The latest book by King about Danny Torrance from The Shining (ebook here). Wonderful character and a great story.

The Guardians – Andrew Pyper (ebook here)
The thinking man’s horror story about things that go bump in the night. Surprise of the year.


James the Brother of Jesus – Robert Eisenman
Reading this book is a struggle because Eisenman’s doesn’t write to please the crowd, but he has an incredible insight and knowledge of 1st century Palestine. This book changed – forever – the way I understand Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Once you see what he shows you, can never unsee it.

Zealot – Resa Aslan (ebook here)
Aslan’s book is a featherweight in comparison to Eisenman’s study. However, if you’re interested in the origin of Christianity and don’t feel like wrestling through Eisenman’s 1000 page book, just read the well-written, highly informative Zealot.

Year Zero – Ian Buruma (ebook here)
A well-written and very interesting but also horrifying story of the year 1945. This was the state of a large part of the world only a little under 70 years ago.

Een duif en een jongen – Meir Shalev (English title: A Pigeon and a Boy, ebook here)
Nice to read a good novel every now and then. 😉

The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi (ebook here)
Great SciFi! …but is it still SciFi?


The Circle – Dave Eggers (ebook here)
Significant; it changed my perspective for probably forever.  Will it be the 1984 of our generation?

The Detour – Gerbrand Bakker (ebook here)

Light Years – James Salter

May We Be Forgiven – A. M. Homes (ebook here)

The Spinoza Problem – Irvin B. Yalom (ebook here)
This book probably affected me the most this year. Reading it has fit a piece into the vast and unfinished puzzle of how I understand why we think as we do.

Amsterdam: A History of the Most Liberal City in the World – Russell Shorto (ebook here)
From the moment I walked over the Utrechtse Bridge in 1972 and sniffed the air, Amsterdam has felt like home. Exactly why the place resonated so strongly in my heart has always been a mystery I’m unable to describe well. Russell Shorto has explained the attraction Amsterdam exerts. Reading this book has given me insights to an emotion I’ve felt for 41 years. The book is well-written – accessible, historical, personal. We follow several characters, well-known and unknown, as their roles intertwine in the development of this iconic place which stands for “liberal” in several senses of the word. Shorto explains why Amsterdam developed as it has, why it is relevant to the world, and why we as persons can be so attracted to a place that celebrates individual freedom yet demands equality and commitment to community. Underlying it all is a willingness to respect others, even to extremes, coupled with an expectation of respect in return – giving each other space together. Thank you for writing this book, Russell. You’ve explained a lot.