Friday, January 3, 2014

Best Reads of 2013

In 2013, I read about 185 books of which two were rereads and 152 were from the library or otherwise borrowed.  I'd like to do better in 2014 reading books I already own, many of which are in piles on windowsills and on the floor, and thus need rescuing.
Top Picks
The Firebird                SusannaKearsley                     Fiction/Historical Fiction
(As many of you know, I have been an evangelist for Kearsley since I worked at Bantam in the early 90s.  I am delighted that Sourcebooks is publishing her in the US and doing so much to promote her work.  This book follows The Winter Sea, and also involves 18th century Jacobites, a weakness of mine)
Z: A Novel of Zelda     Therese Fowler           Historical Fiction
(historical fiction about Zelda Fitzgerald which will appeal to Great Gatsby fans - recommended for your book group)
Me Before You             Jojo Moyes                            Fiction
(I have been a fan of Moyes for several years and she had an extraordinary year with two memorable books - this one about a paraplegic and his aide, a very unlikely topic to appeal widely, but she convinced me - and the other listed below)
Double Down: Game Change 2012   Mark Halperin and John Heilemann  Nonfiction
(about the 2012 presidential election - nearly as unputdownable as Game Change)
Nantucket Blue                   Leila Howland                       YA
(a novel about the fallibility of best friends and of first love)
This Song Will Save Your Life              Leila Sales      YA
(a quirky heroine with unusual friends - this reminded me of early Sarah Dessen)
Eleanor & Park                      Rainbow Rowell                    YA Historical Fiction
(I was late to the lovefest for this book but loved it nonetheless - started it on audio and didn't want to get out of my car - looking forward to her other two books)
Runners Up
The Flight of Gemma Hardy*     Margot Livesey     Fiction
(a retelling of Jane Eyre)
The Girl You Left Behind  Jojo Moyes             Fiction/Historical Fiction
(a WWII secret is revisited by a young and troubled French widow)
Letters from Skye  Jessica Brockmole Historical Fiction
(An epistolary novel about two war wives set during WWII)
The Passing Bells     Phillip Rock      Historical Fiction
(for Downton Abbey fans)
Rules of Civility*  Amor Towles   Historical Fiction
(Gatsby-like fiction set in NY - but why no quotation marks?)
Instruments of Darkness*   Imogen Robertson          Historical Fiction/Mystery
(Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes or perhaps Charlotte Pitt)
The Professionals   Owen Laukkanen                     Suspense
(Four college friends can't get jobs so decide they will go into kidnapping as a source of income)
The Shadow Tracer  Meg Gardiner  Suspense
(heroine is on the run protecting her sister's child)
Talking to the Dead  Harry Bingham    Suspense
(Dark brooding female detectives are now the rage but this one is odder than most, yet still compelling)
The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs    Dana Bate       Chick Lit
(the book may have been silly and heroine annoying but the food descriptions were great)
The Little Lady Agency   Hester Browne     Chick Lit
(a light hearted read about a British detective agency)
Between Shades of Gray      Ruta Sepetys                  YA
(for fans of The Endless Steppe and The Diary of Anne Frank)
Another Place Another Spring   Adrienne Jones                     YA Historical Fiction
(for fans of my beloved Masha and of Russian historical fiction more lighthearted than Tolstoy)
Wonder       R.J. Palacio               Juvenile Fiction
(a heartbreaking story about a boy with a facial deformity attending school for the first time)
Favorite 2013 Authors
I had a hard time picking one title by these authors because I enjoyed so many of their books in 2013.  All mysteries, although I obviously read many genres.
Jane Casey (5)   St. Martin's publishes her in the US but I had to order the two most recent books from England for my sister who introduced me to this talented author and appealing heroine.
Michael Connelly (8)  Little Brown
Deborah Crombie (10.5)  Avon Morrow - and edited by my friend Carrie Feron who should have introduced me to this author years ago.
Picture Books
The Day the Crayons Quit       Drew Daywalt
(the crayons in this book have funny personalities)
Hoop Genius: How a DesperateTeacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball   John Coy

(I don't count the picture books in my yearly total but test market them on the next generation; both of these were also big hits with the nephews and nieces)

Perplexed
Longbourn    Jo Baker   Historical Fiction 
(I thought it was very clever but improbable; unconvincing)

* Read with my Radcliffe Book Group.   It is not really a coincidence that three books we read this year made my list: two I chose for the group myself and I had heard Livesey read a selection from this book so thought I would like it.  We also read Ender's Game which I surprised myself by enjoying.

3 comments:

Nancy P. said...

I hated Longbourn, and couldn't finish. But I also disliked greatly Ender's Game as well. Thanks for sharing your list.

CLM said...

This New Yorker writer liked Longbourn more than I did:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2014/01/life-downstairs-the-popularity-of-the-literature-of-servants.html

Jan in Huntertown said...

Yes, your friend should definitely have told you about Deborah Crombie much earlier and then perhaps I would have known from the beginnings of Duncan and Gemma too! :)