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
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.