Monday, December 23, 2013

My Best Books of 2013 (for me)

It's almost Christmas, which means it's almost New Year's, which means it's almost the end of my reading for this year. I thought it might be a nice way to round out the year by listing my top reads in order of, well, awesomeness.

Five Top Books of 2013.

1. The Fault in our Stars.
The Fault in Our Stars
From the minute I put this book down, I knew that nothing was very likely going to move this from the top of a list like this if I ended writing one. This was the first book I ever read from John Green. I found it at times hilariously witty and at others... challenging... (by which I mean I put it down for a week because I couldn't deal with ALL THE FEELS). I'm glad that I persevered, though. This book has stayed with me ever since I read it.

I make it a habit not reading the back of books before I've started reading them for myself. Several years back, I went through a period where I kept reading the blurbs and turning myself off reading a number of books before I even opened the first pages. 

What I knew about this book was that John Green had written it. I knew that I loved a lot of the quotes I was seeing of him from this and other books and I knew that a couple of my friends had picked up books from him and liked them. Oh, and I knew he was one of the Vlog brothers, which I suppose didn't really have much to do with my choice to read the book, as they are completely different mediums.

What I did not know about this book was that it's a "cancer book". 

For the full review:

2. Gentlemen and Players.
Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris
I've read other books by Joanne Harris before. None of them have come even close to touching me in the way that this book did.

In my experience with her books, I've come to learn that there is a place in the middle where the plot lags, or the characters irritate me, or something just slows down enough for me to put the book down and pick something else up before going back to it.

That point didn't happen in this book.

For the full review:

3. The Book Thief.
The Book Thief
I'm not usually a fan of stories told in a time of war. They usually tell too much about how awful things were without giving much in the way of either plot or characters.

Instead of being unrelentingly confronted by the atrocities that happened during this time, we are given glimpses into the life of Liesel Meminger - the book thief, as judged by Death, our narrator.

This is not just a 'war story'. Far from it. At times sad, at others uplifting, this book explores themes of family and belonging, loss that has nothing to do with the war, friendship, community and kindness. It shows a shared passion for books and stories and the power those stories can have for a wide range of people. 

For the full review:

4. Delirium.
Delirium (Delirium #1)
There have been a lot of different dystopian fictions to come out in the last couple of years. I've read them all and I can honestly say (as much as I enjoyed Insurgent particularly), Delirium was my very top favourite.

Delirium is set in a world vaguely similar to Hunger Games and Legend where the government has taken over and decided that certain changes must be made to the clumsy way life used to run. In this case, the change was to love and desire. It is discovered, more than sixty years before the beginning of this book, that love is in fact a disease, causing delusions, erratic behaviour and, in the end, death.

What is truly insightful about this book is that most of the arguments given early in the book are so hard to argue against. 

For the full review:

5. The Night Circus.
The Night Circus
This book is part young adult, part literary fiction, part mystery and all a very arresting book from an author I hadn't heard of before this.

I think that this novel is none of these things and perhaps all of them. That is the beauty of this kind of book. It's something that just kind of exceeds expectations.

Second person passages continue every so often throughout the book, giving the reader a sense of being one of the circus goers that eventually form a culture of their own within the story. From beginning to end, this story is breath-taking, whimsical, beautifully lyrical, evocative and a whole bunch of other adjectives I could fill the page with.

For the full review:

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