Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pondering My 2013 Reading List (With a Last-Minute Addition)

I read a lot this year, more than I realized: nearly six dozen tomes in all. Now, to be fair, a few were books for younger readers — but that means they were shorter, or more carefully illustrated, as opposed to being less robust and complex. 

Good authors write to the story and trust their audience. Good readers read the story and trust their authors. That perfect match makes for heavenly reading, and I made quite a few good matches this calendar year.

What was my favorite book? As if I could choose one! Well, here are a few (in no particular order) that stayed with me long after I turned the last page:
  • Life After Life — what if you could take nearly every path life could offer? (review)
  • Dr. Sleep — Finished it in the waning hours of 2013, so right now all I can say is, "Wow." If I can manage more of a response than that, there may be a review.
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers — examine Indian "slums" and poverty through the eyes of the residents of Annawadi (review)
  • Tiny Beautiful Things — like a hug from a special friend (review)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane childhood in all its terrifying complexity (review)
  • Salt Sugar Fat — it's no accident that you love a particular processed food, and this fascinating tome takes a look at how processed foods evolved in America
  • Let the Great World Spin — the intersection of lives in the shadow of Philippe Petit's daring tightrope walk between the Twin Towers
  • The Dinner — think you know where the story's going? Think again. (review)
  • The Creeps — Return to Biddlecombe at Christmas to see how Samuel Johnson, Boswell, Nurd and a few other familiar characters battle the forces of evil (and a few scary elves)
  • The Winter Sea and The Firebird (in that order) — fall in love with history, fiction and one or two independent spirits via these compelling tales 

I made a few bad matches, too. One that comes to mind is A Visit from the Goon Squad: I can't understand why it won so many awards when it could not make me care about the characters and tales. Another was Southern Gods, which despite its fascinating concept was way too gory for me. (That means it will be perfect for my husband, David, whose criteria for a good movie is, "Does anybody die?") I wasn't keen on Caleb's Crossing, but its sin was the wrong narrator who couldn't give me the intricacies of the story I really came to the novel to read. (It was as much about the narrator as it was the subject, a sort of bait-and-switch.)

I took a few detours down "juvenile fiction" lane. I'm a huge fan of Cynthia Rylant's Mr. Putter and Tabby series, who join Mrs. Teaberry and Zeke in more than their share of adventures. Neil Gaiman provided more than a few graphic novels or heavily illustrated stories, and I will forever love the father who good-naturedly traveled around town until his son retrieved him. The experiences of Miss Finch creeped me out, and I was able to re-read a few of my favorite animal tales recreated as graphic novels.

After disliking an iconic novel by Ursula K. LeGuin, we both were redeemed by her Catwing series.

My reading took me me to India, North Korea, Ireland, Scotland, England, Russia, Africa, the Netherlands and Hell. I've lived a different life every day, and lived multiple lives in time. I've been to hell, I've been dead, I've been nearly dead and I've known the right neighbors.

I made a summer reading list and promptly abandoned it. I haven't come to terms with the fact that I will not read everything, and maybe not even everything I want to read, but I'll keep trying. Just tonight I found three more books to read. I'll figure it out. Really.

Here is this year's reading list (probably not totally complete, considering I deleted the list by accident in September and had to recreate it from memory). Did you read any on this list? What are some of your year's reads you'd recommend? Tell me!

2013 Reading List
  1. Dr. Sleep
  2. Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
  3. Caleb's Crossing
  4. Mr. Putter and Tabby Clear the Decks
  5. Mr. Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup 
  6. The Poisonwood Bible
  7. Mr. Putter and Tabby Make a Wish
  8. Mr. Putter and Tabby Dance the Dance
  9. Mr. Putter and Tabby Ring the Bell
  10. Creatures of the Night
  11. Crazy Hair
  12. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
  13. The Arrival
  14. Stitches
  15. Selected Stories/Open Secrets — Alice Munro
  16. The Bookman's Promise
  17. Cat Versus Human
  18. The Dinner
  19. The Creeps 
  20. The Vagina Monologues
  21. The Seventeen Traditions
  22. Humans of New York
  23. Bossypants
  24. The Winter Sea
  25. Sh*t My Dad Says
  26. Illusions
  27. Ella Minnow Pea
  28. Under New York  
  29. The Firebird 
  30. Catwings 
  31. Catwings Return
  32. Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings
  33. Jane on Her Own: A Catwings Tale
  34. Southern Gods
  35. Unnatural Creatures
  36. Dreamfever
  37. Poe's Children
  38. The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets
  39. Salt Sugar Fat
  40. The New Yorker Book of Cat Cartoons
  41. The Charles Addams Mother Goose
  42. If I Stay
  43. Inferno
  44. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  45. Let the Great World Spin
  46. Smut
  47. Next
  48. Every Day
  49. Life After Life
  50. Up the Down Staircase
  51. Will Write for Food
  52. Social Media Marketing
  53. Wishes Fulfilled
  54. The Tao of Womanhood
  55. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Taoism
  56. The Winds of Marble Arch
  57. An Outrageous Affair
  58. The facts in the case of the departure of Miss Finch 
  59.  The Dangerous Alphabet
  60. Blueberry Girl
  61. Notorious Nineteen
  62. The Twelve Terrors of Christmas
  63.  Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich
  64.  M is for Magic
  65.  Tiny Beautiful Things
  66.  Hello, Goodbye, Hello
  67.  The Round House
  68.  A Visit from the Goon Squad
  69.  The Lucky Gourd Shop
  70.  Behind the Beautiful Forevers

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