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Okay, I’m back. According to my Goodreads stats, I’ve read 25 books this year. Not too impressive, and also not very fair, since for I’ve been reading Stephen King’s The Stand, and that puppy is like 1,150 pages. It should at least count for four books. Anyway, here are the books that knocked my teeth out this year. They weren’t necessarily published in 2013, but as always, I’m a bit behind on my TBR pile.
Best Literary Fiction – It’s a tie!
I adored Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple for so many reasons. I love a quirky read, and Bernadette is a complete whackadoo. When fifteen-year old Bee’s mother (Bernadette) goes missing from their snooty Seattle suburb, Bee uses every possible medium to track her down. Half of the fun is reading the series of letters, e-mails, and faxes throughout the novel. Sharply written and full of satire, I laughed out loud several times with this one.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a beautifully written tale of redemption. Bounced around the foster system until she ages out, eighteen year-old Victoria finds herself alone, homeless, and pregnant. The only joy in Victoria’s life is her love of flowers, and her uncanny knack at floral arrangement lands her a job with a gruff florist who helps Victoria bloom.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. When the author was only twenty-two, she faced life-altering loss with her mother’s death as well as the disintegration of her marriage. It’s beyond me why she thought hiking the 1,100-mile stretch between the Mojave Desert in California all the way to Washington alone was a good idea, but it made for a heck of a read. Strayed’s physical and emotional journey is inspiring, and will soon be a movie staring Reese Witherspoon.
Best Young Adult
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. This author is one of my all time favorites. She writes amazing YA books, and her characters are always so original, QUIRKY, and richly drawn. Her “Raven Cycle” series came out early this year with The Raven Boys as book one, followed by The Dream Thieves. Our heroine is Blue Sargent, who has grown up in a house full of psychic women, but she herself has no such ability. When she crosses paths with four boys at the exclusive Aglionby school who are on a quest to find the burial place of an ancient Welsh king, an odd friendship ensues. And some romance too, natch. Each of the boys has their own secret, and with all the mystery and careening plot twists, these books are super addictive. Be warned, though – I think there are supposed to be five in the series. The wait for book three is about doing me in.
Best Children’s Series
My daughter is crazy about the Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrow, and I’m always on the hunt for books that will keep her as engaged. We’ve certainly found it with Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker. (I like saying that. Pennypacker. Pennypacker. Pennypacker.) Clementine is a spicy 8-year old with a penchant for trips to the principal’s office. With lively illustrations, this chapter book is just right for developing readers, and just as entertaining for their parents.
Hopefully, Santa brings you some extra cozy reading time this holiday. I’d love to hear about your favorite reads of 2013!