best books of 2013

ImagesHave been thinking about my favorite books of 2013.  I have read many of the books on the countless lists that we all read at the end of year.  I know I am a big fan of the end of year wrap-ups.  I figured I would go through the books I have read this year and put together my best of list.

No particular order except my number one.  

1 – Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch.  I have read all of Tartt's book.  The Secret History, her first book is a must read if you have not read it.  Her second book, The  Little Friend, was not great but I did finish it.  I was initially scared about diving into The Goldfinch a 784 page book but after reading Stephen Kings review of her book in the NYTimes I thought otherwise.  He summed it up best when he wrote "The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."  Enough said.

A House in the Sky; a Memoir by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett.  There are few books that keep me up late into the night and this was one of them.  Lindhout grew up in Alberta Canada in an extremely dysfunctional family where she found solace reading National Geographic Magazines that she would find in dumpsters.  She grew up with a desire to travel to the world and see something outside the world she grew up in.  Slightly naive she embarked on a variety of travels after saving enough money working in high end bars in Canada before venturing out for months on end returning each time to Canada to fill her bank account to repeat the journey somewhere new and exciting.

She figures by going into Somalia she could make her mark and enter the world of journalism as she had begun to write for little known publications.  Her care free backpacker attitude did not truly understanding the risks that lie ahead.  Within two days of getting to Somalia she is kidnapped.  This memoir follows her story from begining to end when she finally arrives home safe.  Scary.

Two Boys Kissing; David Levithan  This is just a beautiful young adults book.  It reads like a long essay. In many ways this book is an ode to the many gay people who have been trapped behind doors including the many who died of AIDS as their voices are heard through this book too.  The main story is around two books who attempt to get into the Guiness Book of World Records for the longest kiss on record. That story is surrounded by a variety of characters who are struggling with their own sexuality.  I loved this book.

Men We Reaped; A Memoir by Jessamyn Ward  I have read Wards other books but this particular book is one that I believe will become more important as time goes on.  She writes about her own life growing up in rural Mississippi and the men she grew up with, her peers, who all die before they turn 30.  She gives incredible insight into the hardships of men growing up poor with few role models if any.  Each die from different circumstances yet there is a sad thread among each of them.  Very eye opening look about race relations in our own country.  It is a disturbing commentary on growing up black in rural America. Makes you wonder how we break that cycle.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer  In many ways this is a beach read but because it stuck with me I am putting it on my list.  A group of teenagers from different walks of life all meet at art camp in 1974. We follow their lives and their relationships with each other as they grow over the next 40 years.  There is something interesting about the baggage that each of them carry throughout their lives as all of us do.  Their insecurities, their successes and failures, the paths that they take.  I grew up at the same time as the characters in this book which is why I found the book a very interesting novel about my generation.

The Circle; Dave Eggers  I have read all of Eggers books.  The story here is not exactly that interesting or deep when it comes to the characters.  Regardless this book is a must read as he has written an intriguing as well as frightening book that is a social commentary about the world we live in today.  Many of the things that take place in this book are already taking place today.  Makes you wonder what would happen if Google ruled the world.  

That is my list.  I wish there were more novels that I loved but honestly Donna Tartt is such an insanely fantastic read that I might have to read it again in 2014.