2013: A Great Year for Books so Far

It’s been a while since I wrote about the books I’ve read recently, so I thought I’d throw out a few from the 25 or so I’ve finished this year so far. Remember. No reviews, just some thoughts from an avid reader.

Last year I really had to dig at the end of the year to come up with 4 or 5 books I loved. This year there have been only a few I haven’t liked.

  • Best book I’ve read in 2013: Without a doubt, Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson. I’ve always been a Kate Atkinson fan, but this book wowed me. Made me want to read it again to figure out how she did it. The structure is a lesson in non-linear narrative, but she doesn’t sacrifice story for form. Read it.

Life After Life

  • Another Book I loved: Ten Thousand Saints, Eleanor Henderson. Don’t know what took me so long to get to this (it came out in 2011, I think), but I am so glad it ended up in my reading pile. If you were anywhere from 15 to 40 in the 80s, you are going to feel this book in your gut. You are going to get these characters, even if you never huffed turpentine, or were part of the straight-edge scene, or had dope smoking ex-hippies for parents. It pounds and thumps like the music its characters love, with emotion and passion and teen angst. Loved it.

ten thousand saints

  • And Yet Another Book I Loved: Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel. She sure doesn’t need my praises here – Ms. Mantel has won all sorts of awards for both Bring Up the Bodies and her previous book, Wolf Hall. I loved them both, but honestly think this is the better of the two. Can’t wait to read the third of the trilogy when it comes out.
  • Book I was disappointed by: Wish You Were Here, Stewart O’Nan. I am a big fan of Stewart O’Nan, so I was really looking forward to going back and reading some of his books I hadn’t gotten to yet. This one didn’t do it for me. It was well written, of course – he’s a tremendously talented writer. But I’ve read better books dealing with families. It felt too much like something I’ve read before. In fact, it felt a lot like Red House by Mark Haddon (which I also didn’t care for). Since Red House was published after Wish You Were Here, I can only guess that maybe Haddon had read O’Nan’s book at some point and unconsciously channeled it in his own?  Didn’t care for either version.
  • Book I’m reading now: Among the Mad, Jacqueline Winspear. My friend Burnley turned me on to the Maisy Dobbs books, and I’m reading the latest in the series about a woman private investigator in London in the years between World War I and World War II. History, mystery, and a brave heroine. Old fashioned fun.
  • Book I Can’t Wait to Read: Bad Monkey, Carl Hiaasen, coming out in June. If you haven’t read Hiaasen, you should. If you like to laugh. If you like weird characters and absurd plots. If you have fantasies about sticking it to politicians and other bad guys.  Can’t explain Hiaasen – just read him.

BAD MONKEY by Carl Hiaasen

If you’ve read any great books I should add to my to-be-read list, let me know.  I’m always on the search for the next book I love.


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