Friday, December 27, 2013

My Favorite Reads of 2013

I feel like this year was a slower reading year for me than others; I haven't done the actual statistics yet, but I've only reviewed 26 releases from 2013, which is lower than previous years' counts for current releases. Rather than pick a top 10, I eyeballed the list of books I've read and jotted down those that stood out as, well, outstanding. Without further ado, and in no particular order,

My Favorite 2013 Releases

MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood. One of my favorite living writers brings her post apocalyptic
trilogy to a close with the best book of the bunch. Not to sound like a teenager, but it gave me all the feelings.

The Daughters of Mars, by Thomas Keneally. I was just talking about this book with a coworker. We agreed that it's top-notch literary fiction about World War 1 that will set your brain and your heart on fire.

The Dinner, by Herman Koch. Love it or hate it, but no book published in 2013 will get you revved up like this one!

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid. The book has a silly title but it's actually a bittersweet, moving and brilliant story of two lives and a changing world.

A Dark Redemption, by Stav Sherez. Wow. Just, I mean, if you like crime, it doesn't get much better than this. Set in London and the first in a series, it's a showstopper.

Summertime, All the Cats are Bored, by Philippe Georget. Also crime, this one mixes sunshine and shadow in a riveting and movie-ready story about murder in the south of France.

The Son, by Philipp Meyer. A multigenerational story about Texas and America, The Son is destined to be an American classic. Read it now!

The Daylight Gate, by Jeanette Winterson. Jeanette Winterson's books remind me just how good good writing can be. This historical-horror novel manages to be razor-sharp, ice-cold and searing-hot all at the same time.

Best of the Backlist

Daniel Stein, Interpreter, by Ludmila Ulitskaya. I love Ulitskaya's books so much, and this is the best one I've read. Love.

My Traitor's Heart, by Rian Malan. This essential book on South Africa should be on everyone's required reading list. If you have been reading about Mandela lately, read this too.

In a Strange Room, by Damon Galgut. Galgut has a new book coming in the spring and they're already talking Booker about it; this one will give you some insight into why.

Happy Ending, by Francesca Duranti. This bittersweet, beautiful family story set in Italy will break your heart and stitch it up again.

Agent Zigzag and Double Cross, by Ben Macintyre. Ben Macintyre is officially my favorite historian with his page-turning, immensely enjoyable histories of World War 2 espionage. Read one and you'll want to read them all.

Corelli's Mandolin, by Louis de Bernieres. This is a historical-fiction epic of the old school, a book to fall in love with and get lost in.

How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill. I loved this light introduction to the history of my favorite country. I learned a lot and it helped me on my trip, too!

Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal, by Jeanette Winterson. Winterson just knocks it out of the park with this memoir about her two mothers. I just don't know what to say. Incredible.

So that's it for my favorites. If I can get around to it, I'll do a statistical roundup and some reading reflections. What are your favorites this year? Tell me in the comments!