Saturday, December 21, 2013

Favorite Books of 2013

My goal was to read 50 books this year.  Right now, I have read 44.  To meet my goal, I need to read 6 books in the next 9 days.  It's possible, right?   I probably should be reading right now instead of writing about reading!

But I have something important to share today:  my favorite books of 2013.   I enjoyed many of the books that I read this year, so it is hard to pick favorites.  But I'm going to do my best.  To make it a little easier for me to narrow down the choices, I am only going to include books that were published in 2013.  I'm also linking to my review of each of these books, if you want to know more of my thoughts on any of them.

Favorite Fiction:
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
(technically this was published in the US on December 31, 2012.  But I've seen it on other 2013 book lists, so I'm counting it on mine!)  This was the first book I read in 2013, and it has stuck with me all year long.  I loved this book, but I also wanted to hate it at times. It's a love story about a quadriplegic and his caretaker.  It is a story that I devoured in nearly one sitting and one that I just cannot forget.  For that, I'm going to name it as my favorite book of the year.  Read it.  You may love it.  You may hate it.  But you will remember it.

Honorable Mention Fiction:
Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
This was a crazy book about a woman who keeps dying and then restarting her life again and again and again! I'm not sure that I fully understood what exactly was happening all the time, but it was so amazingly ambitious and unique that it is worth your time to read it.  (But be warned, it's a long book that requires your commitment...especially at the beginning).  I have never read a book like this before, and I don't expect to read one again.  That makes it worthy of an honorable mention on my best of 2013 list.

Favorite Young Adult Fiction:
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This is just the sweetest little love story, set in the 80s.  The writing is smart and funny and cute without being sappy or cheesy.  Eleanor and Park are not your typical YA love interests; they are very real and flawed and still very likable.   This is a great story and a must read, in my opinion!

Honorable Mention Young Adult Fiction:
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
2013 was the year of Rainbow Rowell.  I had never heard of her before Eleanor and Park, but she also released Fangirl in 2013 as well.  It was also very good (with a couple minor exceptions), with great real characters and amazing dialogue and a funny, witty tone.   I also read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell this year (an older book) and it was great too.  Rainbow Rowell has quickly skyrocketed to one of my favorite authors, especially in the YA genre.

Favorite Nonfiction:
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

This is the memoir of Amanda Lindhout, who was kidnapped in Somalia and held hostage for 460 days.  It is well-written, well paced and extremely inspiring.  I was blown away both by the horrible things that happened to Amanda and her unwaveringly positive response in the face of it all.  And even more impressive, her willingness to go back to the country that harmed her and try to help the people there.

Honorable Mention Nonfiction:
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
This memoir about a reporter who suffered from an extremely rare virus which caused serious mental, psychotic and schizophrenic symptoms is a shocking story.  I was glued to the pages, both eager to read about what happened to Cahalan and terrified that I too might come in contact with a virus that might cause me to become mentally insane.   This is seriously fascinating stuff about how the brain works and what happens when it stops working correctly.

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