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2013 favorite books

Favorite Books Read in 2013

In order, as pictured, from left to right and going down the typewriter-sitting pile:

NOS4A2 – Joe Hill.  I believe my Twitter-length review was “made me fear Christmas and children more than I did already” but the tiny pointed teeth only scratch the surface of this epic ride of a novel. I can’t remember the last time I read something that took supernatural elements and wove them into the real world so masterfully and believably. Also, perfect holiday gift.

The Rathbones – Janice Clarke. Has my name on the cover for good reason, I adored this book to little pieces. Myth wrapped in sea shanty and family history, so beautifully told. I cannot wait to see what Janice does next, though of course I am going to be incredibly patient.

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson. I went on a Kate Atkinson bender last year so I was very much looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint. It also didn’t hurt that I read it in February surrounded by snow while housesitting for my parents, perfect mood for it. If you haven’t read it yet, winter would be a great time to dive in.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman. If I had a book to define my year it would be this one. Which I read early because Twitter is Magic and that of course led to more magic things. But beyond that, this lovely little book made me want to write again, in that magical way that I haven’t been feeling enough lately, and I got to thank Neil Gaiman for that personally.

Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson – Mark Siegel. I’d seen this on many of last year’s best books lists and I was curious but I still didn’t expect it to be as surprising and wonderful as it is. Beautiful art, beautiful story. I’ve been using it as a gateway drug for anyone who tells me they’ve never read a graphic novel.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan. Had you told me at the outset that this book would make me cry I would not have believed you but it snuck up on me at the end. I have a thing for endings, and while this book was fantastic fun the whole way through the very last pages are perfection. Also it glows in the dark.

Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh. I have said it before, I will say it again: I am grateful to live in a world that has Allie Brosh in it. I’ve been a fan of her blog for years and her posts on depression (I & II) are brilliant and funny and wonderfully real. I am grateful to have her words and pictures in book form to live on my shelf so I can re-read them over and over even without electricity or batteries.

Jim Henson: The Biography – Brian Jay Jones. I don’t really read biographies. I’ve read a few for research but that’s about it. I picked this up on a whim and then couldn’t put it down. It reminded me how much I grew up on all things Henson and Muppets and how much of an influence on my creative self he was and how I forget that sometimes because it’s so deeply engrained. I don’t remember a time pre-Muppets. I’m pretty sure The Great Muppet Caper was the first movie I saw in the theatre and I made my dad stay through the credits so we were the only ones left when Gonzo takes a photo of the audience. This biography is wonderful and engaging and a fantastic peek behind the curtain.

Y: The Last Man – Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra.  We went to Midtown Comics and started chatting with one of the booksellers (comicsellers? gurus?) who after he found out our tastes went on about all things Brian K. Vaughan. I got one volume of Y and then immediately had to read the rest of it. It’s epic and smart and surprising. I read a lot more Vaughan this  year but this one was my favorite, though I’m excited to see where Saga goes in the future. (Related: if anyone can tell me where I can find volume 4 of the deluxe editions of Ex Machina I’d appreciate it, I have all the others & I still don’t really understand why 4 is the elusive one.)

 

And a special bonus non-pictured tease because it was easily one of the very best things I’ve read this year, and possibly ever:

The Enchanted – Rene Denfeld. Not out until March 2014, but oh, this book. It is exquisite. I won’t tell you too much since it’s not available yet but I read it months ago in manuscript form and I’m so glad it has a perfect cover and I cannot wait to tweet and shout and spread the word about it. It’s extraordinary, truly.

 

So those are the favorites of the year for 2013. I had an off-kilter reading year, got a lot of things read in the first half of the year and then fell off the reading wagon a bit. (December was eaten by The Goldfinch. Still not done with it yet.) But it was a year full of wonderful books and surprises and I hope next year will bring even more.

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