So it’s that time of year again. The time for overly ambitious, hastily made goals that will likely be forgotten some time shortly after Valentines day. Rest assured, I will most certainly be joining in on that mad-holiday tradition, but for the next week or so I’d like to take some time to remember 2013. In keeping with that idea, I’d like to share with you my top 12 of the books I read in 2013.
For some context. I read 38 books in 2013 (also I realize I have a week left but honestly, who gets anything done when there’s families and partying refusing to be ignored?!)
Of the 38 books I read:
22 were Young Adult novels
11 were Adult novels (Fantasy/Scifi/Romance genres)
5 Short story anthologies
Of those 38 books, 6 were books I’d read before. For the sake of fairness I’ve excluded books I reread from my top 12 list, since they were good enough to reread and most of them would wind up on my top 50 books of all time (Which I haven’t actually listed, but now I think I’d like to…).
Without further ado,
1 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set during World War II, this story is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Truly, masterful story telling aside, this has beautiful word play that kept me engaged till the very last page. Of course when I reached the last page I sobbed with the book clutched to my chest for almost two hours. This was an emotionally devastating tale which follows the life of a young girl’s exploration into the world of books, both reading and writing them, while the war rages on and her family hides a Jewish fist fighter in their basement. It’s also narrated by death. Cause it needed another reason to be fucking amazing.
2 The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffennigger
Yet another story which made me weep uncontrollably. Clearly I’ve got an issue with abusive books. As a writer, I’ve never come across anything that is written in such a way, and honestly, I don’t think there is another story in existence that could support such a convoluted/broken method of storytelling and convey the character development that takes place in this book. If you haven’t picked this up, or have only seen the not particularly well done film adaptation, this story follows Henry, a time traveler, from the age of about 4 to 50 AND the life of his would be wife, for the entirety of her life. Aside from being a spectacular length of time to follow two characters around, the scenes of this book are out of order (sort of) because of Henry’s ability to time travel. If some people are born with a destiny, Audrey is certainly one of those people because no one else on earth could have told that story with as much grace and tragedy.
3 Looking for Alaska By John Green
Speaking of Tragedies. *sigh* If you’ve ever read a book (or seen the film adaptation) of any of Nicolas Sparks works (ie. The notebook, A walk to remember, Dear John, etc.) then you truly know romantic heartbreak. Nicolas Sparks makes it his mission to write the worlds most singularly beautiful love stories, filled with anguish, and impossible circumstances, only to have the lovers overcome everything in the second to last chapter of each book. The last chapter is where they die or worse forget each other. Feel free to disagree but I think Nicolas Sparks is a douche bag.
That being said, John Green is absolutely phenomenal. He’s also Nicolas Sparks for nerds. That’s right. John Green writes smart, snarky, insightful romances, filled with 3D characters (not just the lovers) and inevitably heartbreak. I cry every time I pick up one of his books, but his power as a writer is, I think, in his ability to make the reader think. To be curious and strive to be awesome, in spite of and because of circumstance. I can’t say enough good things about John Green as a person or a writer. He’s a personal idol of mine and I made it my mission this year to read all of his works, which is why he’s got three of the books on this list. Needless to say, I loved this book.
So instead of telling you what this book is about because I don’t know that I could write an accurate summary without spoiling my favorite bits, I’ll just give you one of my favorite quotes from this book.
“So I walked back into my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”
4 Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
“When things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It’s because a little piece gets lost – the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.”
5 An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
This is actually my least favorite of all John Green’s novels, but it has some of my favorite quotes by him in it, so here, enjoy them. 😀
“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”
“You don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened.”
“Colin did not laugh. Instead he thought, Tampons have strings? Why? Of all the major human mysteries – God, the nature of the universe, etc. – he knew the least about tampons. To Colin, tampons were a little bit like grizzly bears: he was aware of their existence, but he’d never seen one in the wild, and didn’t really care to.”
6 Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman And 7 Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman Are both terribly hard to describe aside from saying that they were unpredictable. Both are collections of short stories, some much longer than other, some like poetry, some fantasy, some sci-fi some horror, but mostly very weird. They are the kind of collections that give you an idea of what other people’s nightmare look like. All in all, I’ve picked these up several times over the months since I’ve read them and while all the stories didn’t do it for me, the ones that did are absolutely unforgettable. Which is impressive when discussing short stories.
8 Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
I’m gonna be really honest with you. I picked this up because A) it was free for my kindle, B) I’d heard the name before and thought it was “classic”. This book wins this year’s What-the-hell-did-I-just-read award. This is a story about a man, who wakes up one morning to discover that he’s been changed into a giant freaking spider during the night. Yep. WTF.
9 Howl’s moving castle by Diana Wynne Jones
I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, and a few years ago they adapted this story into a break taking animated film that I fell in love with. So when the book came up for 1.99 on Kindle, I snatched it right up. The story is similar enough for the characters to be recognizable to me, and emotionally captivating, but the plot is rather different from the film. It also has a unique tone of story telling that is not quite fairytale like, and not quite high fantasy, but some where in between.
10 Crewel by Gennifer Albin
In a world populated with thousands of YA Fantasy series, this was a fresh idea among a host of repeats. This dystopian fantasy follows a girl’s life as she becomes a spinster, literally a woman who spins the fabric of the universe around us. From weather, to crops, to people, spinsters control life and death of everyone in society and as the main character quickly learns, things aren’t always what they seem to be. I originally got this because it was a daily deal on ibooks, but after reading it I immediately ordered hardcovers of the original and the sequel.
11 Dead Girls Dance by Rachel Caine
This is actually the second book in the Morganville vampires series, and while I read the first book this year too, it was this one which hooked me on this 15 book series. I suspect that quite a few more of those books will wind up on my top 12 for next year. My favorite thing about these books is that the main characters aren’t vampires, and everyone involved is very aware that vampires are pretty wicked, and they’ll eat you before they kiss you.
12 Matched by Ally Condie
So I actually read this entire trilogy (Matched, Crossed, Reached) earlier this fall, and it falls into that awkward place where I really enjoyed it, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA Dystopian, but I’m glad I don’t own it and I don’t think I’ll ever reread it. While the characters are multifaceted, and the story is compelling, there just isn’t any fun in this series. I don’t want to spend more time with the characters, even though they are good people, and while I loved the messages and points made in these books, I’m not convinced I missed anything on the first read. For other fans of the genre, I think this lacked the intensity of the Hunger Games, and the imagination and creativity of The Uglies trilogy. Just my two cents. I did really like that the series has three points of view as it goes forward though. Matched is narrated by Cassia, Crossed by Cassia and Ky, and Reached by Cassia, Ky and Xander.) I was impressed that the author was able to narrate with three people over the course of the series and they were each their own conflicted person.
Naturally I can’t follow the rules, not even my own, so here’s an honorable mention to round this list off at 13. ^_^
250 Things you should know about writing by Chuck Wendig
This is the single most helpful book on writing I’ve ever read. And while I still occasionally flirt with other writing books, this is my mistress. Just so we’re clear.
So I think that just about wraps this shindig up. If you’ve read any of these books, and have any fantastic opinions you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments below. Also, go ahead and link me to your own top books of 2013 if you got one, and I’ll see you guys later this week for those horribly ambitious goals we talked about. >_<