Best books read in 2013

sheriz6December 20, 2013

I do love a good list of books! What were your favorite books read this year?

My list is painfully short. Though I read a lot, most of it was forgettable. Here are my top three:

1) The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
Despite this being a story about teens with cancer, it was brilliant, uplifting and darkly funny. I don't know how the movie will do it justice.

2) The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Another YA, this one about an awkward boy in high school and the friends who make a difference.

3) Lexicon -- Max Barry
This reminded me of Lev Grossman's The Magician on some level, though it was quite a different story. This fantasy plays with the power of words and I thought it was quite original.

What books did you love this year?

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One for my class in Eastern European History: "Under an Evil Star" by Heda Kovaly (memoir of a Jewish woman trapped between the wars in Hungary).

And --- The Hunger Games Trilogy wins, hands down! I literally could not put these down and was reading in the wee hours of the morning, wide awake....

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 11:21AM
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The Dinner by Herman Koch
Very different mystery, kept me reading, twists and turns

The Handmaid's Take by Margaret Atwood
I can't believe I never read anything by her before

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
I lost sleep reading that one. I kept on thinking about that book.

Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper
OMG - what a mystery, it is a trilogy

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
A reporter captured in Somalia and held captive for 15 months. It is a true story. It talks about how she survived.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 7:50PM
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THE WATCHERS by Jon Steele

Spooky, interesting read based on Dante's Inferno.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Two stand out in my mind:

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
A very compelling story that had an air of impending tragedy about it from page one. Plus interesting stuff about lighthouse keeping.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
There's a lot of tension in this book also. It's about a woman who disappears and her husband who is suspected of murdering her.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 1:19PM
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These were my favorites in 2013:

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Somehow, I didn't realize this was a planned trilogy and so am cooling my heels until the final installment. So good, though! And I'm not usually a big historical fiction person.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
I loved this story of Harold walking the length of England on an unexpected journey to see an old friend. Have to admit, from the description it sounded too much like a sappy Hallmark movie. But it wasn't. I loved it.

A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano
Basically, what happens when Flannery O'Connor meets the cast of The Help.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
This one was probably my best book of the year. When Billy and his unit are captured on film in an Iraqi firefight by an embedded news team, they are brought home for a whirlwind victory tour. Such an interesting take on the American mindset about war, football, Sept. 11th and more.

Emily Alone by Stewart O'Nan
I love anything O'Nan writes. My all-time favorite of his is Last Night at the Lobster but this is a close second. Emily is just so alive and he gets all the details right.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff
This is a brand new graphic novel (came out this fall) with a strong adventuring young woman (Delilah) and the Lieutenant she saves whose main claim to fame is his ability to brew the perfect cup of tea. I LOVED this book. It is written for grownups, but doesn't have anything objectionable for tweens/teens.

I read a lot more than this, but these are the books that really stood out.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 5:20PM
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Great thread! My TBR list is growing.

Artiste8 - I've already started The Dinner and am finding it fascinating. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 10:45PM
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Lois McMaster BujoldâÂÂs Vorkosigan series (read and enjoyed all of them this year)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific by Robert Leckie

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by EB Sledge

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (and several others by her)

Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (and several others by her)

The Leopard and the Cliff by Wallace Breem

Several romantic fairytale-esque historicals set in WWI & WWII period by Eva Ibbotson (despite some stereotypes and too-good-to-be-true heroes and heroines, these are funny and magical; great comfort food reading)

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 12:21PM
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Two more I forgot to mention: "Killing Kennedy" and "Killing Lincoln" both by Bill O'Reilly. superb!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 12:49PM
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I also read The Fault in our Stars after being nagged by my fifteen-year-old daughter - and I liked it very much, I have to say.

But my favourite book this year was probably - well, almost certainly - A Tale for the Time Being

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 1:24PM
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OK - does the "Edit Post" button work for anyone else? It doesn't for me.

What I meant to put was:-

But my favourite book this year was probably - well, almost certainly - A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 1:29PM
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Three that come to mind are:

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Juliet in August by Dianne Warren

Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

The last two were suggestions I found on the RP. Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 5:16PM
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That is so cool that you liked both books, dedtired! Thanks for saying so. I loved them.

One of the best I read this year was "The Cowboy and the Cossack" by Clair Huffaker. The premise intrigued me.

I also enjoyed "Plan B" and "This is Where I Leave you" by Jonathan Tropper. His stuff just seems to him me just right.

And, of course, my yearly reading of "Make Way for Lucia" by E F Benson.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 6:56PM
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Just loved those books, Norar. I'll jot down the titles you mention above since I like your taste in books. I am reading the sequel to Whistling Season now.It's called Sweet Thunder, but I have to say it is not grabbing me right away.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Martin, I tried the Edit Button too once but it didn't work. So I have to be careful and double check the Preview before I Submit!

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 5:52AM
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This is great, my list of books to look for next year is growing.

Georgia peach, I'm glad to hear you liked Me Before You as that's my next book group selection. I've also been curious about The Golem and the Jinni. On the list it goes!

Phaedosia, I also loved Last Night at the Lobster, I'll have to look for other books by O'Nan. Isn't Emily Alone a sequel of sorts to another book he wrote?

Martin, I've had no luck whatsoever with the edit button.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 12:59PM
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I have read a lot of books this year and after reviewing my list these are the ones I enjoyed the most.

The Edge of Nowhere - Elizabeth George

A Week in Winter - Maeve Binchy

An Eye for an Eye - Ben Coes

The English Girl - Daniel Silva

How the Light Gets in - Louise Penny.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 2:19PM
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Honestly, I read a lot. I should make a list and keep track because I am not sure if I read a book in 2012 or the first part of 2013. So, I will be choosing books from the past six months.

Science fiction: The Windup Girl I loved the setting in a futuristic Thailand, the plot, just a great read.
"The Windup Girl is a biopunk science fiction novel written by Paolo Bacigalupi and published in September 2009. It was named as the ninth best fiction book of 2009 by TIME magazine,[1] and as the best science fiction book of the year in the Reference and User Services Association's 2010 Reading List.[2] This book is a 2009 Nebula Award and a 2010 Hugo Award winner (tied with The City & the City by China Miéville for the Hugo Award), both for best novel.[3] This book also won the 2010 Compton Crook Award and the 2010 Locus Award for best first novel."

A Tale for the Time Being I had a lot of fun discussing this one here so perhaps that has something to do with this choice!

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden. He is a Canadian author, and this novel is "a defining epic story of first contact between radically different worlds, steeped in the natural beauty and brutality of our country's formative years." There are three narrators, a captive Iroquois girl, A Huron leader and a Jesuit. Boyden did his research, I found it fascinating and learned a lot. Also I just finished it last night, so it is very fresh in my memory, lol.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Informative, well written, suspenseful:
William Boyd - 'Brazzaville Beach'

Humorous and heart warming:
Ivan Doig - 'The Whistling Season'

Different look at Cromwell, didn't want to put it down:
Hillary Mantel - 'Bring Up the Bodies'

Hauntingly beautiful
Daniel Mason - 'The Piano Tuner'

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 1:51AM
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Sheri, checking my reading list for 2013 I find most of the books quite unmemorable.
One that stands out, recommended by Liz/lemonhead was
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 3:42PM
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Janalyn, since you liked Bacigalupi's Windup Girl, check out his 2 young-adult novels: Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities. I particularly liked Cities, perhaps because it takes place in DC, where I work. :)

As usual, I have a hard time choosing a 'best' of the year, but I will probably take Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, because of the subtext about the adult forgetting the wonder of the child.

Mieville's The City & the City is a close second, because of the concept of the alternate realities occupying the same space and how well Mieville held it together with a murder mystery story. This was one of the books I read from the "50 SFF must-read" list, and in fact most of the books I read from that list were memorable: Butler's Kindred and Whitehead's Zone One are right up there with the best.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 4:08PM
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I'm laughing. Here is my autoconfirm email from Amazon from several days ago:

Delivery estimate: Jan. 6 2014 - Jan. 7 2014 1 "The Ocean At The End Of The Lane: A Novel"
Gaiman, Neil; Hardcover; CDN$ 13.99
In Stock
Sold by:, Inc.
1 "The City & The City"
Mieville, China; Paperback; CDN$ 12.64
In Stock
Sold by:, Inc.
1 "The Golem And The Jinni: A Novel"
Wecker, Helene; Paperback; CDN$ 14.43
In Stock
Sold by:, Inc.

I should have ordered Kindred since my library doesn't have that one. The third book had good reviews, it was a spur of the moment purchase, we will see if I like it because it's not something I would ordinarily have picked up.

And yes, that was a last kick at the can because I am going to try to use the library more despite wait lists. See New Years Reading resolutions. Who am I kidding here? LOL

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 4:47PM
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Here are some of the books I especially enjoyed in 2013:

A Settling of Accounts, Carolyn Hart
Murder in the Park, Veronica Haley
Just One Evil Act, Elizabeth George
Howard's End Is on the Landing, Susan Hill
A Killing in the Hills and Bitter River, Julia Keller
The Bookman's Tale, Charlie Lovett
The Bookstore, Deborah Meyler
The Crispin Guest series by Jan Westerman

I read a total of 122 books during the year.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 6:07PM
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Vee, I loved both The Enchanted April and The Diary of a Provincial Lady . Even the Diary sequels were pretty good.

Donnamira, I have had The Ocean at the End of the Lane on my bedside table for weeks now -- time to pull it out!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 8:19PM
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Carolyn, you reminded me to count how many books I read in 2013.
I have to make a guess, totalling up the local library records, delete two I didn't finish, add books from other libraries and ones I bought. About 60-70 this year.
Far less than usual but I had a house move and I notice that I borrowed and know that I even bought a lot of DVDs as I felt more like watching than reading, being rather unsettled.
Sadly not one of the books was memorable. In fact, I had forgotten quite a few from the record that came up on my screen!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 9:13AM
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I read 45 books this year, which is paltry by the usual RP standards. Oh well, I'm happy with it.

My favorite books of the year:

Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert. A French classic!

Kamouraska by Anne Hebert. A beautiful and terrifying account of adultery and murder in early 19th century Quebec.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. My favorite ghostly read of 2013.

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. Intense and powerful novel about anarchists and terrorists.

Sunday, Monday, and Always by Dawn Powell. The only book of stories published in Powell's lifetime, some of which are absolutely unforgettable.

The Easter Parade by Richard Yates. Left me absolutely devastated.

The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker. What an incredible achievement these books are. I am still haunted by them.

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion. Why are these unpleasant, neurotic people so fascinating and compelling?

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. A sumptious account of 1980s debauchery and corruption. I was horrified and fascinated at the same time.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Incredible non-fiction.

Best discoveries of 2013: Nancy Mitford, Dorothy L. Sayers, Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence, Joan Didion, Gladys Mitchell, Richard Yates.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 1:52PM
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