December 26, 2013

My 10 Most Memorable Books of 2013

Although I did my "10 Best Books of 2013 So Far" earlier this year, for my end-of-year wrap-up I decided to do my 10 Most Memorable Books. So far this year I've read 109* books, and since I read a lot of mysteries and young adult fiction, sometimes they blur a bit. I wrote down books that I remembered reading this year (without double-checking Goodreads), and narrowed those down to ten.

Here are they are:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. The first in the Grisha trilogy. I loved books one and two, and can't wait for book three to come out next year. They're magical fantasy, set in a fictional land called Ravka, which is much like imperial Russia. Orphan Alina Starkov is in the army with her best friend Mal; but when they're attacked by vicious man-eating creatures called volcra, Alina summons a power she didn't even know she had to save him.

One Summer by Bill Bryson. The story of the summer of 1927 basically sums up America in the 1920s. It's full of politics, baseball, aviation, eugenics, Prohibition, music, Hollywood, and more. The audio version, read by Bryson, is a lot of fun.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. My author crush on Maggie only continues to grow. These books are so. good. She writes teenage boys remarkably well; the relationships between somewhat psychic Blue Sargent and the gang of boys from Aglionby (first introduced in The Raven Boys) are brought out even more in this sequel. And the Owen Glendower mythology gets more and more interesting. Cannot WAIT for the rest of the quartet to be published.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. This one was remarkably funny on audio. Lowe reads it himself, and inevitably namedrops a lot as he talks about the stars he's worked with. Now whenever I see someone on tv (like Michael J Fox or Charlie Sheen) I think about stories from this book.

Longbourn by Jo Baker. I have kind of a love/hate relationship with this one. I would've really liked the book except that it's loosely about the Bennets. (It's a story of the servants of the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice, and while the main text is about only the servants, the family members make occasional entries into the story). But it's depressing how unflattering a servant's take on some of my favorite literary characters can be!

Shady Characters by Keith Houston. I can't stop quoting this one to people. I've explained the history of the interrobang and the octothorpe a bunch of times. Amazing how interesting punctuation can be!

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. Sonali's husband, two sons, and parents were all killed in the southeast Asian tsunami on December 26, 2004. Wave is her account of living life without them over the next seven years; it's agonizing but incredible. I listened to it on audiobook and sobbed and sobbed. Months later I keep thinking about it.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. More than any other of her books, this one contains a tragedy that hinges on one tiny moment. I keep dreaming about it, and trying to change that moment to make a happy ending. Haunting.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Hm. Are you noticing the trend that I only remember the sad books? This one tells the story of a young British spy captured in France by the Gestapo. Her story is sad, and yet funny and touching and sweet. Another tearjerker though - be sure to have tissues handy!

11/22/63 by Stephen King. I felt a little smug this year in November when people did all those 50th anniversary retrospectives on Kennedy, because I was like, "I know all this!" This book is an exhaustive history of the Kennedy assassination + alternate history + absorbing time travel + a love story. To fit all that in, King needed all 900+ pages! He also apparently needed to use the word obdurate incessantly. I was surprised how much I liked it though; and how much I've found myself harking back to it.

What are YOUR most memorable books of 2013?

*I'm estimating I'll hit 111 by the end of the year. Which, considering that by the end of June I'd read 86, shows how much I slowed down when Juliet was born! This post contains my affiliate links - thanks for supporting Quirky Bookworm!