The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.. and Other Notable Books for 2013

I love this pause between work and busy schedules because it’s my chance to catch up on reading.. both blog reading and books. Since I was between books, I polled my Facebook friends for some recommendations and thought I’d share the list with you. There’s such diversity here, there’s a book for almost everyone. If you have a few treasured reads, just add them to my Comments section and I will edit the list for all of the other avid readers out there.

Here they are In no particular order, if you click on the image, you’ll be taken to a synopsis on Amazon..

the-forgotten1,000sixth manharold-fry
prisoner-of-tehranpanther3Great expectationsArt of Racing in the Rain
Killing-FloorFall on your kneesOutlander SeriesRush Home Road

hoffman_dovekeepersgone girlTFG cover USAthe locketMonday Morningsroomalice in wonderlandwoman who heard colourbbornonbluedaybook of hoursThe TigerAn Available ManBird Cloudunbrokenfall on your kneesthe leopardThe Summer BookA Winter Bookthe great gatsbyWater for ElephantsWinter Hours

snow flake flourish

It was tough to choose.. but since this book was on my list for book club and came highly recommended by Joy, I selected “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”. As I sat reading this morning, tears pouring down my cheeks.. I just had to let you know that this book will be on my gift list for Christmas next year. Last year I gave everyone “The Art of Racing in the Rain”, memorable for it’s moving description of a dog’s life and it’s gentle metaphor for living a great life.

The Pilgrimage is the story of an unlikely hero, Harold Fry, a quiet, simple man who unwittingly sets off on a quest to save his friend from cancer. We walk alongside Harold and begin rooting for him as this very personal journey forces  him to confront fears and doubts about his pilgrimage and anguish over memories of his past. His failings, both as a husband and father and as a friend, plague his every thought as he simply walks.. and struggles towards a new life, one filled with a belief in miracles and hope. I’m only half way and have already decided this book will be my top read for 2013… but I suspect I will finish it long before then..

“In order to succeed he must remain true to the feeling that had inspired him in the first place. It didn’t matter that other people would do it in a different way; in fact this was inevitable…It didn’t matter that he had not planned his route, or brought a road map. He had a different map, and that was the one in his mind, made up of all the people and places he had passed… He knew that when a person becomes estranged from the things they know, and is a passerby, strange things take on a new significance. And knowing this, it seemed important to allow himself to be true to the instincts that made him Harold, as opposed to anything else.”
(page 201, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce)

I hope you are all enjoying at least a few quiet moments of peace between Christmas and New Years…


  • I have a few books to finish (I’m hoping to this weekend) then I’ll be back and consult your list! Thanks Smidge. I hope you enjoy your quiet time and Happy New Year!ReplyCancel

    • I am so looking forward to relaxing, reading blogs, books and magazines.. in between cross-country skiing and great dinners both at home and in restaurants!! Happy New Year to you and and your beautiful family, Kristy!! xxReplyCancel

  • I’m just compiling a list of books I already have waiting on my shelf to be read…. I shall take a look at your list too for the future! Thanks for the tips and enjoy some peaceful reading!ReplyCancel

  • What an extensive list. Happy new year to you too!ReplyCancel

  • This touches so many people, Smidge. The husband of a close friend has just been diagnosed with untreatable cancer and it has completely blighted Christmas. It sounds like a rewarding read, but maybe not just now. I still have 2 books I bought on my birthday that are untouched.
    And you’ve bamboozled me with technology! Think I know how you’ve achieved this page. I must have learnt something on the blogging journey. Happy New Year to you and yours, hon.ReplyCancel

    • Oh, how sad.. that’s what we’ve just gone through.. it’s just a really devastating time. My friend and her family have managed to always focus on the positive, she’s been an inspiration to us. If you need help with these sorts of links.. they’re not too difficult to explain.. but it sounds like you’ve mastered it already:D Happy New Year to you and our loved ones as well!! xxReplyCancel

  • Great picks, Barbara!
    There’s nothing like a good book, is there?ReplyCancel

  • Isn’t it interesting that profound insight and resilience comes when we experience the shadows of uncertainty and doubt.ReplyCancel

  • I can’t say enough about The Tiger by John Valliant – it’s gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Thanks for the list, i shall be consulting it in the near future. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is at the top of my choice.ReplyCancel

  • Barbara, you have some catching up … I read a lot before I moved abroad – had 1400+ books when I packed down my home for storage – had read every one of them – since then I have hardly read a book. Strange, have started on some books – but … never finished any of them. Maybe my reading craving back one day, hope so.
    Indulge yourself.ReplyCancel

    • Wow.. you remind me of a friend who has a basement full of stacks of books and can’t bear to part with a single one! Maybe you’ve done your book reading for now.. after 1400+ I would think so;D xxReplyCancel

      • I have parted from them now – because in my home today I don’t have the space for all those bookshelves – keep just a couple of my favorite authors and rest I have to charity – after paid storage for them in nearly 15 years.
        Not totally wise at times. I tried to give them to the hospitals before I put them in storage, but they could accept them – too many, because they only have the trolleys to store books in.
        I would like to have a home without any books.ReplyCancel

  • Barb, I just read The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry a couple of weeks ago. Such a moving and well-written book. So glad to see it on your list! Another book I read this year and also enjoyed is An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer (hope I spelled that right!). Another book featuring an older male protagonist faced with trials of the heart. Right now I’m reading Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx, her account of building a home in Wyoming and restoring the land. Very interesting, with lots of natural history and history woven into the story of building a home that respects the wild piece of land it’s sited on.ReplyCancel

    • I’ve added your books to the list! My friend told me the ending of The Pilgrimmage surprised her.. so I do so hope I’m not disappointed but pleasantly surprised! xxReplyCancel

  • Thanks for the book list. I am a member of book group and always looking for some great new suggestions to bring to the group. The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry sounds like a great suggestion. As I am always on public transport and waiting and waiting I found the perfect solution to my agony. I have loaded kindle on to my iphone and now I always have my books with my in a small portable form. Take care, BAMReplyCancel

    • Book Clubs are so much fun.. ours has food, wine.. and at some point we seem to remember to discuss the book too;D I love the idea of having your books right on your phone!! Very handy!ReplyCancel

  • Eha

    Dear Smidge: I truly felt I deserved a treat [ 🙂 !] – so have just finished at Amazon placing an order for four on your list!! Thank you, am sure I will be greatful in a year I want to seriously begin reading again!! Happy end to 2012: may the next be even better!ReplyCancel

    • I so hope you enjoy these.. there’s nothing like having a book recommended by someone who’s read it already. Let me know if you have some favorites as well.. If this list keeps growing I’ll be reading until 2014:DReplyCancel

  • Thanks! If you have the goodreads app please look me up! I always check to see what my friends are reading or have read before I read something new. I also like seeing their reviews!!!ReplyCancel

  • I’m away at the moment Smidge and I’m doing exactly as you have suggested and am catching up on blog reading and book reading – two of my favourite things to do. That’s a great list you have there xxReplyCancel

  • This is some Christmas gift you’ve given us, Barb. It looks like a great list and I’ll be checking them out on Amazon, just as you suggested. The weeks ahead are prime book reading weather. Your gift will come in handy. Thanks and I hope you and all the Smidgens have a most happy New Year.ReplyCancel

    • I hope you find something of interest.. I was surprised at the diversity in books. Hey.. my family will get a kick out of being called the “Smidgens” 😀 Happiest of New Years to you!ReplyCancel

  • I see we have the same taste in books and I loved the art of racing in the rain. I will see if I can download the book you have recommended 🙂ReplyCancel

    • I hope you like it as much as I do.. and I hope I like the ending!! Did you have a wonderful Christmas?? I can’t wait to stop in at your blog and catch up!! xxReplyCancel

  • There are some great reading suggestions in your list! I’m always looking for more reading time. I’ll definitely add “The Unlkely Pilgrimage…” to my list. I did really enjoy “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption”
    by Laura Hillenbrand. I think that might be a good overall suggestion! Thanks for your wonderfully full list, Smidge! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • I’ve added your book.. and read about it.. I think my husband and son would love this.. and so would I! I’m off to a book store today and now anguished about which one to choose:DReplyCancel

  • I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain. I flew through that. Now I want to read Gone Girl, and this one you just read sounds great!! Time for me to crack open some books!ReplyCancel

  • I just bought Room and I am so excited to start reading it. An excellent collection you have here. I love seeing other people’s reading list.ReplyCancel

  • gastrogardener

    What an extensive list! Sadly I cannot remember the last time I read fiction. Perhaps when on holiday I’ll pick something up.ReplyCancel

  • You’ve just given me a good list of books to add to my 2012 resolution to get more reading in!! I’m always reading cookbooks and hear about others reading some good books, but never know where to begin, so this is very helpful indeed! Happy New Year Barb, and best wishes for a great year ahead!ReplyCancel

  • oops…that 2013! I fear I will be making that mistake a lot these first few months!!ReplyCancel

  • I love the mosaic of books – even thought the covers are so different they look so well together. Happy reading.ReplyCancel

  • Thanks for the list Smidge!!! Happy New Year!ReplyCancel

  • Thank you for the list. I was hoping to read while I was on Christmas break from the college, but life happened 🙂
    I see a few on your list I will have to check out and add!ReplyCancel

  • “Fall on Your Knees.” It’s been a few years, but Oh. My. Word.ReplyCancel

  • what a lovely idea for a post Smidge, I read a recommendation/review of the Harold Fry book so thanks for the reminder and thumbs up, I’m also off to investigate the Art of Racing.
    Book club books have been VERY varied this year to say the least! I loved “The Leopard” and also discovered Tove Jansson (her summer book and winter books are stunning). I also went back to some old favourites like The Great Gatsby, no need to say anything more there – simply stunning! So who knows what new nove adventures we will both have in 2013.
    Wishing you a joyful an dpeaceful New Year, Claire xReplyCancel

  • Happy New Year to you dear ! May You enjoy the Best Health, Pure Happiness, True Relations, Sweet Memories, Success and PeaceReplyCancel

  • I’ve read a few of these or have them on my list to read! I always love a good book suggestion!!! Going to peruse this closely!!ReplyCancel

  • I’m going to check out The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry. Sounds like an inspiring read. I’m hoping to read more this year. Your complied list of books sounds interesting, of which I have read “Room” which is fantastic and who can forget the classic, “The Great Gatsby”, simply beautiful…

    Hope that you are enjoying some quiet time with your books!ReplyCancel

  • What a great idea to have a book round-up like this! (all the more so since you’re a girl accustomed to round-ups, being cowgirl-booted girl from Calgary!) I’ve read several of the books on your list but my favorite was the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry! And Barb, have you read Water for Elephants? Another I adored! And another, very different, and lovely – Mary Oliver’s Winter Hours – Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems. (perfect for the nightstand when worries keep you from sleep – she speaks peace.) xxReplyCancel

  • I loved Harold Fry …. such a GOOD book……ReplyCancel

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