Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Best Reads of 2013

I've been making lists of the books I read each year since 2007. (Oh, I wish I'd been doing that when I was a lit major in college!) I read 37 books this year. Not as many as in previous years, but more than last year. Here are some of my favorites.


1) Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
The first movie is coming out in the spring. And when the last book was coming out, I decided to start over and reread from the beginning so I had a better continuity of the story. After both the second and third book, I noted that the story had taken a surprising turn. And the series has a truly surprising ending. They're YA lit, so they're shorter and less dense than an adult series. But they are engaging stories and good writing. Worth your time, especially if you plan on seeing the movies.

2) The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
2013's Newbery Award winner. It was a beautifully written, slightly heartbreaking story. From the point of view of a gorilla. Yes, a gorilla. When a writer can draw me in with an unusual character, that's some good storytelling.

3) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This was my first adult Neil Gaiman books. I love his stories, but his children's stories scare the pants off me (but in an interesting way, not in a gross or gory way which is all too often the case these days), so I've hesitated to read his adult ones. The main character was a young boy, so I thought this one would be safer. I recommend it if you like stuff that's a bit different. Haunting story, beautifully written.

4) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
A friend introduced me to John Green this year. I started with Finding Alaska, which was also good. But not as good as this one. He's an excellent writer. Most of the YA stuff I read tends to be fantasy or dystopian types. I don't read a lot of YA that covers contemporary topics (mostly because I'm not a youth struggling with those issues right now). But this writer and his stories are worth it. I'll be seeking out more of his works.

5) Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
I hadn't read Barbara Kingsolver since I read The Poisonwood Bible in a feminist lit class in college. It was a really interesting story, really well written. I had actually started this book and put it down without finishing for months. The introduction led me to believe it would be a different book than it turned out to be. But I read enough good reviews to try again. So if you start this, I'd recommend reading a few chapters before deciding to give up on it.

Nonfiction Notables

None of the nonfiction I read this year fall into the best reads category, but I read a few that were interesting and worth my time.

1) Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
This was a fascinating book. It covered hallucinations caused by all sorts of things--not just drugs or psychosis as you might think. I actually found out that it's not unusual to see spots and patterns during a migraine, which I've had before.

2) Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
I love David Sedaris--he's hilarious if a little crude sometimes. I didn't put this one on my best reads list because I loved the stories from his point of view. But he also had stories where he took on another persona. I'd skip those ones. They weren't nearly as good or funny and they seemed a little extreme (which may have been his point, but it bothered me).

3) Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman and Parenting without Borders by Christine Gross-Loh
These are completely different books, but I lump them together because they had similar themes. They both talk about how children are raised in different countries. They didn't necessarily make me change much in my parenting, but it was interesting to see how many ideas we have about parenting are approached completely differently in other countries. We only see what those around us do. What I got most out of these books is to be a little more aware of why I do what I do as a parent--making conscious choices rather than habitual ones.

What were the best books you read in 2013? What should I add to my to be read pile for 2014?

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the Divergent series. I just ordered the first book this week and I'm hoping it'll be a good read.

    Have you read The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman or The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I read them both this past year and enjoyed both of them. Well, I enjoyed The Forgotten Garden. The Light Between Oceans had me pondering grief and loss and love and family for weeks and weeks after I'd finished it. I'd probably count that one as one of the best books I read in 2013. Also, you might be interested in the Lunar Chronicles series. The first two books are out, and the third one comes out next month (sadly, you'll have to wait until next year for the final book). I thought it was a fun, creative way of retelling some of the fairytales.