Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Read In 2013.

I feel like I always end up with the same books on my top 10 lists. How often can I tell you that I loved The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway or Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell? (See, I did it again!) So for this week’s top 10 list, I thought I’d focus on books I loved… that just haven’t gotten a ton of time in the spotlight from me this year. I went back through all my 5-star books on Goodreads, and picked out the ones that I don’t seem to have raved about quite enough. If you want to read my reviews for any of the books listed, just click on the links.

1) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker: I’ve included this book a lot on “want to read” lists… but now that I’ve finally read it, I can say without hesitation that it’s one of the best books I read in 2013! I’ll be hosting a blog tour stop for this book on January 7th — stop by!

2) The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold: Hidden tragedies and family traumas form the backbone of this compelling book, which also highlights the impact of reading and how a good book can open up entire worlds, especially for children.

3) Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel: You know those books that win all the prizes and everyone talks about, so much so that you feel like the books are overhyped and you don’t want to read them? That was how I felt about Hilary Mantel’s books until this year, when I forced myself to bring Wolf Hall on vacation… and found that I absolutely loved it. These two books provide an amazing look back into a fascinating chapter of history and are true literary masterpieces.

4) The Cranes Dance by Meg Howry: I read this book all the way back in January, which feels like a really long time ago. The Cranes Dance is an intricate and intimate look at the backstage life of ballet dancers and the complex relationship between sisters. Psychologically intense and really quite lovely too.

5) The Round House by Louise Erdrich: I didn’t think I’d be all that interested in The Round House, until I heard the author read a chapter and realized that I absolutely had to know what happened next! I’ve always heard good things about Louise Erdrich’s writing, but hadn’t read any of her books before The Round House — a situation I plan to correct in 2014!

6) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Powerful, dark, and sad, A Monster Calls is beautiful and awful all at the same time.

7) Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg: This story of a gay teen who decides to reinvent himself in order to try to be “one of the guys” in his new school is surprisingly moving and offers plenty of food for thought. Sensitive, sweet, and often very funny as well, Openly Straight is one of 2013’s gems.

8) The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay: This book is often hard to take, full of pain and tragedy, yet really beautiful as well.

9) Hoot by Carl Hiaasen: I’m choosing Hoot not only because it’s a really fun middle grade book, but because Carl Hiaasen’s books for kids as a whole are hilarious, real, full of adventure, and send great messages about family, friendship, and nature.

10) Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain: This is another award-winner that I didn’t think would be for me — until I finally read it and was blown away. It’s not pretty or easy, but I’d say don’t miss this powerful book.

And I can’t finish off a list of the top books I read in 2013 without giving a shout-out to The Shining by Stephen King, which I re-read in September in preparation for the release of Doctor Sleep. I’m so glad I took the time to re-read this horror classic! I found that my memories of the book had been completely overshadowed by images from the movie, when in reality the book is quite different, much scarier in a creepy, intense way, and just overall much, much better!

Sure, I could go on and on with all of my favorites that I usually put on my top 10 lists, like NOS4A2, The Firebird, Redshirts, The Rosie Project… oops, there I go again!

What books were your favorites in 2013? Any hidden gems or stand-outs? Please share!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!

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15 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

  1. I shall have to add Louise Erdrich and Meg Howry to my reading pile. Openly Straight sounds interesting so I’ll try and find that too! I did love The Sea of Tranquility, my only quibble with it is that the text in the paperback was so darn small! I wish they’d release a hardcover edition.

  2. The Golem & the Jinni is one of the books that I can’t wait to get to in January. I bought it months ago but never got around to it. I’ll make sure to drop by for your blog tour stop! 🙂

    • Oh, thank you! I really felt like an idiot having that book on my shelf for so long without reading it… and then realizing how much I loved it once I finally read it. So lovely — I hope you enjoy! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. !!! Definitely need to bump up The Golem and the Jinni on my list for next year. Yay that you liked it 🙂

    I totally forgot to add The Book of Secrets to my honourable mentions–definitely could not put that title down when I read it. And of course, yay for Hilary Mantel’s books, Bring Up the Bodies made it on my list this week too (almost forgot that I read it this year, lol)

    Happy New Year! 🙂 My TTT

    • I was totally gratified to see the two H Mantel books on Stephen King’s list of the best books he read in 2013. I’m in good company! I’d almost overlooked The Book of Secrets as well. It wasn’t a big buzz book, as far as I know, but I really thought it was terrific. Happy New Year!

  4. I’m definitely going to read The Golem and the Jinni sometime, I’m glad that it was your favourite book of the year, makes me even more excited! And I’ve been eyeing Wolf Hall, but I’m not sure yet if I like historical fiction (although I do enjoy classics like The Three Musketeers), perhaps I should give it a try.

    • The Golem and the Jinni is so wonderful! I’m glad you’re planning to read it. I’d say give Wolf Hall a try, but just be aware that the writing style is really unusual (I loved it, but it’s definitely unique). So, even if Wolf Hall ends up not working for you, maybe give some other historical fiction a try?? Thanks for commenting!

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