what I read & loved in 2013

You know what you probably haven’t read enough of? Year-end lists! I mean, what could be more compelling than reading what a random stranger loved or hated about an entire year? And yet here you are reading my year-end list. Thanks for that by the way.  I like my opinions like I like my coffee– strong and with no bullshit so hopefully list will be entertaining and if not maybe you’ll include it in your own list of “Top 10 Blogs that Bored You to Tears.” At any rate, 2013 was a banner year for me and reading.

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Books have been a lifelong romance of my mine but that doesn’t mean we’ve always been close. See when the better part of 20 years is spent reading the trashy magazines while slugging down tequila, finding the time to cuddle up to a novel is darn near impossible. But not so in 2013. After reading one too many blog posts with numbers in the title– 10 Reasons Why 90’s Kids Should Still Love PBS! 9 Hottest Styles For When You Don’t Care!, 8 Ways Buzzfeed Is Turning Your Brain into Cream O’ Wheat!— I decide to relight my book romance. From April to December, I read 23 books!( I know, I know. I even read alcoholically.) It’s safe to say me and books, like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, are still very much in love.  While some of them challenged me and others disappointed, the majority of them were really fucking great. So without further and here are 7 books I read and really loved in 2013, in no particular order. Please note that while I read all of them in 2013, not all of them were released this year.

Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey It’s fairy tale for grown ups. It’s a fable about loss. It’s a portrait of a frozen world touched by magic. It’s all these things and utterly unforgettable.

90 Days by Bill Clegg I’m picky when it comes to recovery memoirs. I think most recovery writers tend to focus on the drama part and not the whole getting better part and it frankly bores the shit out of me. But Bill Clegg strikes a perfect balance here and tells a concise and inspiration realistic tale of life in early recovery.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter I love old movies. I love Italy. And I love laughing my face off while reading so this book was as satisfying as a homemade pasta dinner. Walter is straight up brilliant and hilarious and the kind of writer I’d like to be when I grow up.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki An involving mystery, an ecological meditation, instructions on actual meditation, physics and biology lessons, and a diary written by a teenage girl you can’t help but fall in love with are just a few of the things Ruth Ozeki crams into this book. And somehow she makes it all work seamlessly into a novel I found to be at once heartbreaking, lovely and yes, timeless.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo Short of buying a case of this book and handing it out to people on the street, I can’t recommend We Need New Names enough. Harrowing, funny, insightful and written with real moxie, I couldn’t put it down this tale of a young girl from Zimbabwe. This book transcends that crappy “foreign person from troubled background” genre by doing something really special– writing without apology and with a truth everybody can identify with.

Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw These interwoven stories of modern Shanghai had me utterly captivated. Aw’s chatty, perceptive and smart insight into his characters is like a close friend giving you a behind the scenes look at a city torn between the future and the past. I set this book down and felt a little teary and sad which I consider a really good sign.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena I don’t know what else to say about this novel of war-torn Chechnya other than “wow.” This perhaps the best thing I read all year.  I don’t know if I’ll ever forget this book. It moved me. It scared the shit out of me. It broke my heart. It cracked me up. I love it so much and just want you to read so we can talk about it over coffee. Thanks.

As I plow my way through The Goldfinch (LOVING it) and have a zillion other books on queue, I think I’ll want to revise or add to this list but I’m confident in my choices plus there’s always 2014!

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Friends, what did you read and love in 2013? Fill my comments section with awesome book recommendations please! And Happy New Year!

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