It’s been a couple of years since I posted an end of year book list. But lately, I’ve found so much contentment in good reads, it’s time to share a few recommendations again.
This list isn’t in any particular order, nor are the books necessarily published in ’13. With more limited time these days, it’s harder to stay on top of all the new ones; I’m constantly catching up! I also realize in writing this that I’ve read so little nonfiction this year… so all my picks are fiction. Here are my favorites:
The Dinner, Herman Koch — edgy, sharp, often disturbing… this is a unique novel that I didn’t really appreciate until after I was finished. Publishers dubbed it as a European Gone Girl, but I actually think it’s more appropriate to liken it to Defending Jacob, as one Goodreads reviewer (“Noeleen”) pointed out. (Just saw that this is being made into a movie to be directed by Cate Blanchett.)
Three Stages of Amazement, Carol Edgarian – I rarely disagree with recommendations from RJ Julia owner Roxanne and once again, she doesn’t disappoint. In her review, she points to a comment on the back of the book: “many love stories end in marriage, rare is the story that begins with one.” I picked this up a few years back and finally got around to reading it this year — it’s modern, relevant and feels so real. I loved everything about it, including this quote: “To a man, talk is work; to a woman, it’s reward.” (If you like this, also try Let the Great World Spin and Rules of Civility… two of my other all-time favorites..)
Wool, Hugh Howey – dystopic fiction doesn’t usually make my list, but I’ll make an exception here because Hugh’s back story is equally intriguing as the book. In March, he explained his path to a huge publishing deal in an article for IndieReader, which endeared me to him as an author. While I won’t necessarily read everything he writes, I’m a huge fan of his humility and authenticity as an author.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman — once again, not my usual fare, but after a few recommendations from simpatico readers, I had to give it a shot. I went into this with only a minimal impression of Gaiman (author of Coraline) but now I want more. He’s a creative genius who tests the boundaries of imagination, and I want to explore his other books, both those for adults and kids.
The Light between Oceans, M. L. Stedman — for me, “light” reading doesn’t mean mindless, light subject matter; it means unobtrusive, decent writing that pushes along a compelling story. The Light between Oceans falls into that category: the writing didn’t blow me away, but the story kept my attention and I enjoyed reading it.
Where’d You Go Bernadette, Maria Semple — smart, sassy and whacky… this book was a winner. I think it was over-hyped for a lot of people, but for me, it was a breath of fresh air to find a book that was both well written and funny.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon, Anthony Marra — I wish I had jotted down the character names from the start, because I’d occasionally lose track of who was who ( I blame myself and late night reading… not the author.) This was a dense read (Chechnya mid-90s to 2004) but it was really well done and the writing was sharp. With all the layers to the plot, I think this would make a good book club read… the kind of story you need to talk about afterwards.
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green — when recently asked by a friend what I thought about The Fault in Our Stars, I said I “appreciated” it (vs. “loved” it, the reaction of so many other readers.) Maybe it was the topic (teenagers with cancer) that was just too hard for me… but I do love the author (his wit and humanity shine through his writing) so I would recommend the book with unwavering enthusiasm.
As always, would love to hear what you’re reading and loving! And… stay tuned for my favorite children’s books, which I’ll post next week — after I present at The Next Page’s ‘Best of the Best 2013‘