Favorite-something books of 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Another year has come and gone. It always surprises and scares me how fast time flies, so the 31st of December is sort of a somber day. But the 1st of January is always exciting. It's a time for new beginnings and new plans, time to make resolutions, even if they last only two days. The excitement of the day is just very infectious, it's hard to stop smiling.

I had a pretty good year - there were some ups and downs, some this and that. But nothing stands out as particularly crazy. I read 61 books this year, which is a pretty good number for me, even though I read half of those books over the last four months. Because I would end up spending way too much time on making a top 5/10 list, I figured I would mention some books I read this year (non-2013 releases as well) that made my day and would hopefully would make yours too. (The italicized notes are from my reviews).




The I-want-to-read-it-again book of the year
Where did you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: This book is written in epistolary style. There are all kinds of writing media used here - letters, journal entries, texts, emails, news articles, billboard signs, college reports, invoices, and many more. The use of a variety of formats made this book feel very fresh - there was an element of surprise involved in just trying to discover what format comes next, all the way to the end.

Most eloquent book of the year
Night by Elie Wiesel: Elie has a way of raising even the most obvious points in a very new perspective. He talks about oh-crap moments with simplicity and no resentment but as a reader, I said oh-crap. He talks about the tragic moments very matter-of-factly, but as a reader, I cried for him.

Most eventful book set in a day
The Dinner by Herman Koch: Set through an entire dinner, this book does a great job of character development through vignettes, character biases and flashbacks. Not much time passes from the beginning of the dinner until the end, but a lot happens in between that it is amazing how you can write a whole story set during that timeframe.

Most amazing story of human courage and resilience
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: Just as in the case of so many men who went to war, the pre-war Louis had vanished. There was none of that determination, persistence, commitment or happiness that used to define him. There was only despair, alcoholism, rage and depression, all of which worked to destroy him slowly. Hillenbrand eloquently paints a picture of self-destruction, which is obvious to all but Louis.




Most magical read
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: This short book is such a little gem that transported me to the magical world that Gaiman has built. It's one thing to enjoy such a vivid atmosphere, it's another to feel a part of it, as Gaiman manages to do.

Best ending of the year
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid: The ending was very ambiguous, and to me the strength of this novel. Depending on how this book spoke to you, you would sketch your own ending. It also made the inner message of the book clear. Fundamentalist or not, every person had certain beliefs based on where his home is and how he grew up. That's what the book was about - to know more about me as a person and how I approached other people like him. Would I outright brand him a potential terrorist or just a person very worried for his countrymen?

Most touching book of the year
The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: It is near-impossible not to like Charlie. Endearing, cute and naive, he manages to win everyone's affection. And when that terrible-something that happened to him is revealed, it would make you insanely angry and vehement.

Cutest couple of the year
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Enough said.




Most fascinating textbook lesson of the year
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: Who knew there was even something like HeLa cells that were so omnipresent in the scientific world. This book made me feel as if there was a whole cult following for these cells. That aside, there was so much to learn about in this book without any of it feeling like a boring class lesson.

Most graphic book of the year
The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 by Robert Kirkman: If you thought the TV show was violent enough, you've got another thinking coming. There is so much that happens in the book that you don't want to keep thinking about. Nevertheless, they are a statement of how much the human race has eroded and this book shows that very well.

Most atmospheric book of the year
Kindred by Octavia Butler: Kindred gives a great insight into life as a slave, and what better way to see it than through the eyes of someone coming from the future. Even though she knew enough about how her ancestors lived, experiencing it first hand calls for more than just knowledge - when she gets beaten, she needed to stop herself from fighting. We are just like Dana, we see what she sees, we hear what she hears.

Underdog of the year
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: The first time I read this book, I read the prologue, cringed at the sappiness and put it down. I remember deciding that this book is just not for me and that I will probably never be able to have a proper Jojo Moyes conversation with anyone. Then I listened to the audio and loved, loved, loved this book.

40 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Fun to see how many of us pick the same books!

bermudaonion(Kathy) said...

I've read, and loved, a few of those books. Vance gave me The Perks of Being a Wallflower for Christmas and I'm reading it right now.

pattismith said...

I've been trying to stear clear of Top 10 Books lists due to TBR shelves that are groaning, but I couldn't stay away from yours! Love these!

Aarti said...

Me Before You on audio, then? I'll have to try it!

Shannon @ Reading Has Purpose said...

I also read Night and Kindred this year.

I don't even know what to say about Night. I surprised myself when I was able to write a review on it. That book had an impact on me.

The Sloot book is on my list to read every year but I always gets bumped. Great categories you created. Cute post.

Ti Reed said...

I love that The Walking Dead is on your list! I love that show but my bookstore was out of the books every time I visited.


I appreciated Unbroken but it wasn't a fave of mine. I felt as if she was telling a story and I didn't connect with the guy too much. I know she WAS telling a story, but it felt fictionalized to me and actually, after looking it up, many including the family said that she filled in the blanks herself.


Bernadette is on my list, I already picked it up from the library on audio.

Sam_TinyLibrary said...

Oh, the ending of The Reluctant Fundamentalist really bugged me, I'm not a fan of ambiguity!
I agree that Ocean at the End of the Lane was a magical read.


Happy 2014 :)

Diane D said...

I loved your lists and really enjoyed Unbroken and The Dinner as well. Happy New Year to you and yours.

girlxoxo said...

Your list is so interesting! I loved Kindred and Bernadette. And I love how our categorized your faves :-)

Tanya Patrice
Girlxoxo.com

semicolon said...

Oh, I loved Unbroken. I wish I could read it over again, without knowing what will happen. I thought it was very well-documented with all the copious footnotes at the end. Anyway, I linked to your list at my Saturday Review at Semicolon: http://www.semicolonblog.com/?p=21939

Lisa Sheppard said...

I really like this way of making your list!

Shannon @ River City Reading said...

Great list! I really love The Dinner and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I like that you divided your titles into categories for some great variety :)

Melissa said...

Great list! I've been wanting to read The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Also? I feel like the only person on Earth who still hasn't read Eleanor & Park!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I loveeee your categories. Happy New Year!

Vasilly said...

You're right about The Reluctant Fundamentalist; it has a fantastic ending! I'm not surprised to see the latest Gaiman and the Bernadette book on my list.

Kim Ukura said...

There are so many great books on this list! The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Eleanor and Park, and Perks of Being a Wallflower are all books I want to read in 2014 -- they're sitting on my shelves right now!

Care said...

Crazy how many of these I've actually read! and I liked/loved them, too! and I look forward to reading the few I still need to get to. I already know that bookclub will be reading Me Before You next month.

Athira / Aths said...

Yeah, it's great to see that a lot of us liked the same books this year!

Athira / Aths said...

Oh, I cannot wait to see what you think of Perks. It is a really touching book.

Athira / Aths said...

Yay! I hope I added a lot of books to your TBR without making it topple over. ;-)

Athira / Aths said...

Yes! The audio works very well for this option!

Athira / Aths said...

The Skloot book was on my list every year. Something about the cover or the title kept turning me off. But I'm very glad I read it eventually. It was a fabulous read.

Athira / Aths said...

The husband just got me the Walking Dead Compendium 2 as our anniversary gift. I cannot wait to read it - a couple of must-read-now books and then it's time to cozy up with TWD. The Compendium 1 ends exactly where the TV show ended last month so I am antsy trying to imagine where this could be going now!

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you! I hope you have a great 2014 too!

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you! Happy New Year to you and your family too!

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you so much for linking! I am with you on rereading Unbroken without knowing what will happen.

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you so much!

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you! I couldn't do a short top 10 list without talking at lengths about each book, so I figured I can do say something specific about each book.

Athira / Aths said...

I felt I may be the only person who didn't read her Attachments and once I did read it, I had to read more of her books. You will love her!

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you! Happy New Year to you and your family!

Athira / Aths said...

Those two were such good books! They made me want to read them again.

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you get to them this year. They are certainly very enjoyable!

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you like Me Before You! That one was a fun enjoyable read.

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you! I had fun making these lists.

Tea Time with Marce said...

Great list, I have The Dinner on my TBR list from your review.

Helen Murdoch said...

Great list! I like that you assigned each book an "award." I haven't done my looking back at 2013 post yet as the thought always overwhelms me. I love your comment for Eleanor and Park :-)

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks! I hope you like The Dinner!

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks! Eleanor and Park were certainly very cute together. :)

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you get to read more! I know what you mean by being an avid reader long back - it is the same for me. Still, some reading is a good thing.

Kristie Saumure said...

Where'd You Go Bernadette was definitely on my list for the year. So many layers and told in such a creative way. Ocean at the End of the Lane was also a close contender for my top ten list! 2013 was a great year for books.