2013 has been an amazing year in books for me! I managed to read some really great stuff. I set my challenge on Goodreads for 72. This was up 2 from last year’s, which I successfully completed at 70 books. I wanted to increase some, but still being a grad student, I didn’t want to kill myself. I’m happy to say I finished at 75 books! (Only 73 according to Goodreads, though—more on that later.)
In order of my least favorite to my most, here is the 2013 lineup and my rating:
75. Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore
74. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
73. Loving by Henry Green
72. Even Now by Karen Kingsbury
71. Any Minute by Joyce Meyer, Deborah Bedford
70. The Chance by Karen Kingsbury
69. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander
68. The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker
67. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
66. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien, Baillie Tolkien (only for the coolness factor of the art and copies of original letters, otherwise, I would have given it one star)
65. The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
64. World War Z by Max Brooks
63. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
62. Other Fires by Alberto Manguel
61. Radical by David Platt
60. Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
59. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (reread)
58. Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart by Alice Walker
57. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
56. Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan
55. Drown by Junot Díaz
54. The Deepest Water by Kate Wilhelm
53. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
52. Defending Jacob by William Landay
51. The Last Jewish Virgin by Janice Eidus
50. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
49. Crossed by Ally Condie
48. The Passage by Justin Cronin
47. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
46. Energize by Thomas R. Manning
45. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
44. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
43. The Perfectionist by Joyce Carol Oates
42. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
41. 1984 by George Orwell
40. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
39. The Vow by Kim Carpenter,
38. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
37. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
36. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
35. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
34. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
33. Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan
32. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
31. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
30. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
29. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
28. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
27. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
26. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
25. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
24. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
23. Fated by Alyson Noel
22. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (reread)
21. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
20. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
19. Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig
18. Revived by Cat Patrick
17. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
16. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
15. Implementing Responsive Design by Tim Kadlec
A bit of a stray from my usual fiction selections, but necessary for work. If you build web sites and need to learn responsive design, this book is indispensable.
14. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (reread)
So magical and fun. I loved this book as a kid and loved it even more the second time around. After visiting the magical-looking garden at Blarney Castle in Ireland, I had to read this again.
11. Every Day by David Levithan
This one had me from the beginning. I love books with a unique concept and the idea of waking up in a different body every day? Definitely unique, and it was well-executed.
10. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
9. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
8. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
7. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I started the first book in the series, City of Bones, knowing I had to read it before I went to see the movie. I finished it quickly and was completely wrecked at the end. I rushed through the next four in the series in a matter of days (I only gave one of the series four stars instead of five). I can’t wait for book #6 to come out.
6. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
If I had given someone a list of all the geeky little things I love (like fonts!) and asked them to write me a book using all of them, this would be the book. Adventure, graphic design, web sites, social media, fonts, coding, gaming, Google, and books, books, books! This one has it all. Robin Sloan is definitely a kindred spirit :)
5. Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
I used to say that Duma Key was my favorite Stephen King book until I read Lisey’s Story. I loved the language and the arrangement and the tension, even with all its creepiness. I’ve read a bunch of King and loved most of it, but this one tops them all.
4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Ahh. Eleanor & Park. What’s not to love in this book? Two of my favorite characters facing real, teen woes. Powerfully written. I don’t even know what else to say except just read it. Then you’ll get it.
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (reread)
2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (reread)
These were the two books Goodreads did not count in my tally for the year. It’s because they’re actually rereads and counted for January of 2012. I read them again before seeing the Catching Fire movie and loved them every bit as much as the first time. And the movie was the best movie I saw in 2013! A. Maze. Ing.
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
It was hard to choose my favorite for the year, especially with so many great books, but this book has a special place in my heart. I laughed and cried through every page, and many times, did both on the same page. I felt like I read this book with a huge smile plastered on my face and I bawled at the end. I haven’t even seen my copy since I finished it because I’ve made nearly everyone I’ve come in contact with read it. I’ve actually considered buying another one just so it was near me again. Plus, my copy was a paperback that I got in Dublin, and it’s getting quite beat up. I cannot wait for the movie!
Biggest Surprise: Atlas Shrugged – With the length and political hype surrounding it, I thought there was no way it would be good, but I actually loved the story itself, with and without the politics.
Biggest Disappointment: The Hobbit – I was so looking forward to this book and was expecting Lord of the Rings movie-style action. I enjoyed it, but I think my expectations were too high and the ending, or rather, how the reader misses the ending, still annoys me greatly.
Best Character: Sara Crewe from A Little Princess for her humility, undefeatable spirit, imagination, and generosity.
Best Cover: Crossed – This whole series has beautiful, shimmery paperback covers.
Best Ending: Eleanor & Park – I’m still thinking about it! (And I have my theories on the last sentence.)
Best Plot Twist: City of Bones – I can’t really say what it was (no spoilers!), but I was blown away by the revelation and had to keep reading the next books to see if it was true.
Longest Book: Atlas Shrugged at 1,168 pages
Quickest Read: City of Lost Souls at just over one day
Saddest: The Fault in Our Stars, but The Art of Racing in the Rain is a close second
Funniest: The Fault in Our Stars – Honestly, it was so funny and sad. In a very Augustian observation, I’ll say the sadness heightens the funniness and vice versa.
Worst Book Hangover: Eleanor & Park, Every Day, City of Bones, The Fault in Our Stars – in that order. In fact, I still feel like something is missing when I think of E & P. * sigh *
Most Highly Recommended: The Fault in Our Stars, but I also pushed Eleanor & Park, City of Bones, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. I practically demanded that my friend Sarah read Every Day because I knew she’d love it (she did), but also because I needed someone to discuss it with. Badly.
I have a huge writer’s crush right now on Robin Sloan, Rainbow Rowell, Neil Gaiman, and especially John Green. I am watching them closely on social media, taking notes on their every move, and planning to read everything they have written. I have to say, though, I also enjoy and learn from) Chuck Wendig’s blog rants and the fun things he does for his readers. I’m looking forward to many more of his books in 2014! I feel like these five especially have an awesome grasp on what it means to be an author in the digital age.
I’m glad I managed to get in some classics and modern classics, but I still feel very under read. Working on it! I also had five rereads, which seems like a lot to me, but aside from The Hunger Games, I didn’t remember enough about The Great Gatsby, The Secret Garden, or Slaughterhouse-Five to make them feel like rereads.
I think my biggest failure in my year was the lack of nonfiction and the absolute absence of any books on craft. I’m more than slightly appalled at myself for that. And there’s no excuse. I have at least 12 books on writing sitting on my shelves right now, waiting to enlighten me. And I have two bookcases full of nonfiction books. I will get better balance this year!
The reading challenge and the way I can view my stats and books is one of the many things I adore about Goodreads. See my 2013 challenge here. Every time I complete a book, I race to my Goodreads account to update my challenge. It keeps me on track and when I complete it, it feels so good!
Some specific books I plan to read: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (probably my most anticipated of 2014), the Divergent series by Veronica Roth (feeling left out and especially with the movie coming out), the Shiver series (also a movie coming!) and others by Maggie Steiefvater, start the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, reread The Catcher in the Rye and The Westing Game, and read more books by Chuck Wendig, John Green, Rainbow Rowell, and Neil Gaiman. I also have a few hundred books waiting patiently on my shelves for my attention.
My reading goal for 2014: 74 books
Did you complete your goal for 2013? How much will you read in 2014?