January 3, 2014

Favorite Books of 2013

I just barely reached my goal of 60 books this year, but I managed to outdo 2012's page count by 2000 pages! Thank you Mr. George RR Martin! I'm planning on geeking out over my reading stats a little more this year (locations, fiction/non-fiction categories, oh the possibilities!) and upping my reading goal to 65. I also really want to read more on the craft of writing (I have my eye on Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott to start with) as well as working on the unread books I already own. I have so much motivation and excitement in January! We'll see if it's still around in June :)

On to this year's favorites though. I read much more fiction than non-fiction, but there were very few books I finished that I didn't like. If you want to see the whole list for 2013 you can see it on Goodreads. (Friend me while you're there!) I also keep a running list on my "books" tab!

Here though are my top 10, in no particular order.


Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

The second graphic novel from the writer of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" was more mature than his first both in subject and writing. A young boy journeys to New York and ends up hiding in the Museum of Natural History while he tries to find his father. The scene that takes place in the middle of miniaturization of New York City is one I still think about months later.


 A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

Deanna Raybourn is one of my favorite authors, hands down. (Seriously, read her blog and tell me you don't adore her.) This is a standalone novel set in Kenya in the 1920's, as opposed to her usual Victorian series. Delilah Drummond, sent away from Paris while a scandal cools down, finds more than she bargained for when a murder intrudes on the Happy Valley set.



A Daughter's Tale by Mary Soames

A memoir written by Winston Churchill's youngest daughter. Fascinating glimpse into their lives leading up to World War II. It was a lovely read paired with Mr. Churchill's Secretary.


Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson

Barbara Buncle is a quiet spinster living in a small village outside of London. She needs money and on a whim writes a novel about the people she knows best-her neighbors. When the book becomes a hit, and life begins to imitate art, the village is turned upside down. This is simply a sweet book. It's not syrupy, but it's comfort reading at it's best.


Instant Mom by Nia Vardolos

As an adoptive parent I love this book not only because it's well written and funny but it's also a refreshingly honest portrayal of adoption. I wrote a longer review here.

Quiet by Susan Cain

As an introvert it was fascinating to read this book and just keep nodding my head. I learned a lot about myself and my interactions with people, and learned a few new ways to keep myself from burning out. Whether you're an introvert or not, this is really interesting stuff. (And the kindle edition is just $2.99!)


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This book is the perfect example of why I love my book club. I would never have picked this up. Ever. I would have continued thinking it was too scary and not my cup of tea thankyouverymuch. Once I started it, I realized it's much more like Harry Potter than horror…and all those creepy vintage photographs? They don't seem creepy within the story. In fact, they help tell the story and that's such a cool concept that even if the story was just "meh" this would have ended up on my best of the year roundup anyway.


Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

A man returns to the town he grew up in for a funeral and he begins to remember a haunting story from his childhood. Gaiman is not for everyone, but man this book is good. I literally harassed my poor husband to read it for weeks after I finished. It's part horror, part fantasy, part coming of age. It almost edges out The Graveyard Book for my favorite Gaiman story, which is saying a lot!


The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

St. James creates an utterly chilling story about a temp named Sarah sent to assist a ghost hunter study a ghost who is afraid of men. The writing is phenomenal and I couldn't put it down for about 24 hours. I was also too chicken to read it before going to sleep :)


Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children by Sarah Napthali

I loved the theme of becoming a more mindful and present parent, and this book gave me ideas and support that you don't often find in parenting books. She acknowledges the difficult parts of parenting children who are very young, while presenting reassurance and a path through the tough moments, as well as a reminder to care for yourself too. Not just for Buddhists, and in fact only the last chapter really discusses Buddhism as a religion as opposed to the beliefs (like mindfulness) woven throughout the book. Careful, though, this one is pretty dense reading.

What were your favorite reads this year? Modern Mrs. Darcy is hosting a linkup of 2013 favorites today-click here to check them all out! 

Some of these links are affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

27 comments:

  1. So many wonderful reviews! Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children sounds great after what you've said. I would probably not have picked it up either, with your comparison to HP, I'm open to it. Beautiful site--I plan to come back and peruse more.:)

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  2. Yay! What a great list for me to refer to. I used to read a lot, but I gave it up a while ago ... mainly because I had a ton of school-related reading ... and because I get so lost in a novel that I can't put it down and I end up staying up all night. I've decided that I need to put reading back into my life, though, because it brings me so much joy. So 2014 will be a year of books, and I need some great ones! I just read Me Before You, and I was so captivated. Of course, I stayed up all night finishing it. And then I read it again the next day because I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the characters. I won't be able to do that when it's not the holidays, but it was a great start to the year!

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  3. Caroline Starr RoseJanuary 3, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Just finished Peculiar Children a few weeks ago! There's a sequel coming...

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  4. Some great sounding titles here and most I haven't read…yay for new books! I've never set a number goal for myself but now you've got me thinking. Last year I read about 60 books as well...

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  5. Ok, I have ignored the Miss Peregrine's... for a long time for the exact same reasons. You've convinced me now, though. Adding it to the list :)

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  6. I haven't read Mr. Churchill's Secretary, but I did read 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill this year and am definitely intrigued by A Daughter's Tale. Thanks for sharing that one!

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  7. Ana @ Lessons From YesterdayJanuary 3, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    I've read Miss Peregrine's, and loved how the photos enhanced the story--it's such a unique book. And you convinced me about Deanna Raybourne, Miss Buncle, and Maddy Clare!

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  8. I loved the world within our world aspect of Miss Peregrine, and since it's young adult it's not scary like I thought it would be. You'll have to let me know what you think! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  9. I keep hearing such good things about Me Before You! I really need to read it. A good book is the perfect way to start the year :) I hope you find many more this year!

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  10. It comes out soon too! Sometime in January I think. I read an interview with the author that said he had hundreds more of the photographs to use-hopefully it will be a long running series.

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  11. I just kept track of the books I read but didn't set number goals until I joined Goodreads. I like seeing the little tracker on the sidebar to see how I'm doing-and I always love an "excuse" to read more :)

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  12. I bought it right before going on a trip and purposely didn't pack it because I didn't want to spend my vacation reading something "scary". Silly me! I devoured it in 2 days when I got home!

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  13. I want to read the 40 Ways to Look at Churchill but haven't been able to track it down locally-maybe my library will get it this year!

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  14. The best part about those three is the authors have each written several books! If you like them you get a built in to-read list :)

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  15. I loved Wonderstruck!! And so many books that I haven't read yet- what a fun list!

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  16. I was very intrigued by Instant Mom, mostly because that is what I was going to name my own book about my journey to motherhood!!! We became instant parents to four kids from foster care and just adopted in November. Always wonderful to run into other adoptive parents in the blogging world!

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  17. Bird by Bird is AWESOME. So are her books on faith, if you haven't read those. I just love Anne Lamott. I will have to check out Miss Peregrine's. You've piqued my curiosity. (The Buddhism book was on my list too)!

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  18. I love running into other adoptive parents!! Glad you stopped by :) I was afraid that Instant Mom was going to be a "celebrity" version of adoption-but it wasn't at all.

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  19. I'm pretty sure you're the other person who's even heard of the Buddhism book! Can't wait to try some Anne Lamott then-glad to hear she has multiple books worth checking out.

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  20. Hasn't this been a great linkup? My 2014 reading list is almost booked up :)

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  21. Great list. So many titles I've never heard of. I just added four to my To Read list in Goodreads! (Napthali, Soames, Stevenson, and Raybourn.)


    I'll be reading Quiet and Bird by Bird in 2014 too :)

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  22. We'll have to compare notes when we both finally read Bird by Bird :) A bloggy book club maybe?

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  23. Coming over from the linkup! Great choice with Bird by Bird, you'll love it! Liked Ocean at the End of the Lane but it gave me some crazy dreams :)

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  24. Oooh! Great list! I'm adding several to my GoodReads list asap! Bird by Bird is my favorite book on writing so far - LOVE! Happy reading!

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  25. Great idea. I'm so excited about that one - have heard great things about it.

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  26. Oh I can only imagine the dreams from Ocean at the End of the Lane! He created quite an interesting world-that's for sure!

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  27. Happy reading to you too! My Goodreads list grew by leaps and bounds this month…what a great way to start the year, right?!! So glad you found a few to add to yours!

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