I always found it odd how Best-of-the-Year Book lists started coming out with 2 months still left in the year. Now I know why. I’m already reading well into 2014, in fact I think this is the first year where I will be absolutely ready to write 2014 as the date because part of my brain is already there.
Making my best-book list gets much more complicated when I have to consider when I actually read the books. I used to have a strict “I read this year” policy. But now that’s going to have to bend. Because I read a bunch of my favorite 2013 books back in 2012 and that doesn’t make them less deserving. Although I will throw out what you should be looking for at the end here, because ZOMG there’s some great ones coming.
So, here we go. My Best Books of 2013 list:
Dark & Suspenseful
My favorite genre, and it was a good year for them. Sometimes they make up a huge portion of my list, sometimes hardly any. But all these are worthy reads. I was pleased to see many of these do well, particularly The Dinner, which I regularly see when people are recommending books. Not bad for a book with a bland title that’s a foreign translation. It was smartly placed as a successor for readers of Gone Girl, and while it’s different in many ways, it’s similar in the way the narrative completely turns on its head several times during the book.
Personally, I think my favorite here is The Burn Palace, which I read with amazement. It manages to have many of the elements of a strong procedural while also having lyrical language, a small-town feel and the makings of a capital-N Novel.
Travel the World
I can be a lazy reader, continuing to stick in my genres of choice. Reviewing has been a great way for me to get out of my comfort zone. I read blindly a lot of the time. Some of my favorite books this year were set in strange places: Nigeria in Americanah, Brasil in Elders, India in The Village, China in Five Star Billionaire. (An honorable mention is Filthy Rich Asians, set in Malaysia.) When I go for a book that’s not my preferred genre, it usually means that it’s gone well above and beyond expectations. I honestly can’t say enough about these four and their ability to transport you.
As I tend towards the dark I like to throw in light reading now and then. They have virtually nothing in common. Here I Go Again is laugh-out-loud funny, a movie waiting to happen that’s smart and sassy. Courting Greta isn’t what most people would call light, but it’s a love story and one that is unlike most of the others you’ll find out there, its honesty is a breath of fresh air. And Traveling Sprinkler is… well, it’s charming and bizarre and hilarious just like The Anthologist was.
Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker (I’m linking to my review of The Anthologist because I’m cheating.)
And it’s probably no surprise that my favorite remains The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, as I predicted in my review. It’s the book of the year. Everyone just needs to fall in line.
Now for an extra special preview:
Already On My Best of 2014 List
- A new Laura Lippman, and one of her best yet, After I’m Gone. I am a lover of Lippman but I find she can be hit-or-miss and I keep reading hoping for hits. For me, this is a strong showing after a couple not-as-stellar efforts. (Coming in February.)
- My prediction for the next big thing. It’s kind of like The Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game meets Game of Thrones. It’s called Red Rising, it’s by Pierce Brown, and I don’t know what he was thinking not putting the word “game” in the title. (Coming in January.)
- Children of Paradise by Fred d’Aguiar, a novel based on the story of Jonestown. For lovers of prose combined with strong stories. (Coming in February.)
- And my favorite so far, the utterly weird and awesome The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell. Words fail me. (Coming in March.)