Books I Read In 2013

I had so much fun doing this post last year that I knew I had to do it again. I tracked the books I read again and noted some of my favorites and not so favorites of the year using the Notes app again.

books 2013

Without further ado, the full list of books I read this year:

Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto
Sutton by J.R. Moehringer*
The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas*
San Miguel by T. C. Boyle*
Round House by Louise Erdrich
Bent Road by Lori Roy
Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle
Arcadia by Lauren Groff*
The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer*
The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl*
Night Film by Marisha Pessl*
Empire Falls by Richard Russo*
Brain On Fire, My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Eclipse by Dalton Trumbo

My sophisticated rating system (like last year’s) entails me putting an asterisk next to the books that I loved and would recommend to others. Last year I also noted “sucky” next to the ones I disliked, but this year I didn’t read anything that I outright disliked. Most of the books I read were from recommendations of others or had a lot of critical praise which seemed to filter out all of the “sucky” books. I did have a few that I don’t remember well such as The Year of the Gadfly and Eight Girls Taking Pictures, but I don’t remember them most likely because they didn’t have themes that stood out in my mind.

A few notes about some of the books:

Sutton by J.R. Moehringer

I was really excited when I heard that J.R. Moehringer had a new book coming out. I read his memoir “The Tender Bar” in 2006 and waited until this year for him to finally write another book. This book did not disappoint. It is about the life, love, and pursuit of crime for infamous bank robber Willie Sutton.

The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas

Although I really liked this book, I am going to have to start passing on Sandra Dallas novels for a while. I love her brand of historical fiction and the fact that she is a Denver native, but I don’t think I can stomach another novel about the hardships of prairie life on women and children. This book has multiple babies and children dying, which are not the images you want in your head when have a small child of your own and enough neuroses about your child’s health. Maybe in a few years . . .

San Miguel by T. C. Boyle and Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle is one of those acclaimed authors that has tons of books out, but whom I have overlooked for far too long (Richard Russo also belongs in this category). Most of his books are fictionalized stories from historical figures, times, and places. San Miguel is about the small island of the coast of California and the families that settled it. Inner Circle is about Alfred Kinsey and his team of sex researchers.  Both books were interesting stories but San Miguel had more depth to it. I am really looking forward to reading more T.C. Boyle in the future including The Road to Wellville; his best known book.

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

By far my favorite book to read this year was Arcadia, by Lauren Groff. It is an incredibly well written book about an upstate NY commune in the 1960s. This was the one book that had me staying up late (always a rarity nowadays) to read.

Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl and Night Film by Marisha Pessl

In anticipation of all the press around the release of Night Film, I read Marisha Pessl’s only other novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics which came out seven years prior. I loved it. And I loved Night Film and all of its interactive splendor (it has an app?!). They are both categorized as suspense/thrillers, but they are completely different from any suspense novels I have ever read. Both books are so unique in their own right, that is difficult to compare them. But I recommend them, both of them.

Brain On Fire, My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

My mother picked this up at the airport before a flight and lent it to me right after she read it. It is an intriguing memoir about a young reporter that almost died from a newly discovered auto-immune disease. Fast-paced and scary, Brain on Fire is a quick and hard to put down read.

Eclipse by Dalton Trumbo

I just received Eclipse as a Christmas present from my parents. I read the prologue when I was visiting my parents a few years ago, but my mother had borrowed that copy from a friend and couldn’t give it to me to finish. My mother recently tracked down a copy and bought it for me. Why do I want this book so bad? It is essential reading (or so I am told) for anyone from “Shale City” otherwise known as Grand Junction, Colorado. Dalton Trumbo went to my high school, my college, and then on to become a famous Hollywood screenwriter. Eclipse is about my hometown and its residents during the depression and the years leading up to it. I have only read of half of it, but am excited for the rest.

How I did on my 2013 Reading Resolutions:

“I will read non-fiction!” – I read two biographies. Definitely not as many as I wanted, but it is a start. My excuse – Fantastic fiction books keep falling in to my hands! I already have at least 5 fiction books that I have in mind to read after I finish my current book. Time to start reading some reviews of fantastic non-fiction books to get my head out of the clouds. Also, for what it is worth this list doesn’t include non-fiction I read everyday such as newspaper/magazine articles and education books for work.

“I will read more male authors!” – I read 6 books by male authors as opposed to 1 my a male author in 2012. I am really excited about reading more from the male authors I have been reading too, especially Richard Russo and T.C. Boyle.

“No more sucky books!” – This was easy since I never picked up any sucky books to begin with. Hooray for reading reviews and recommendations instead of just picking books by their covers!

“I will read at least 23 books!” – I only read 16 books. My excuses – My time reading took a huge nose-dive starting in August. Hmm, the same month I went back to work . . ? Also, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Night Film, and Empire Falls were monster books – all at least 500 pages with Night Film being 630. Most of my fall reading was dominated by those three books before passing out falling asleep at 9:30.

2014 BOOK RESOLUTIONS (insert triumphant trumpet music)

I will read at least 5 non-fiction books! – Hopefully putting a quantifiable amount on it will help make it an acheivable goal.

I will read at least 20 books! – All excuses aside, I definitely was not making reading a priority this fall which is why I only read a dismal 4 books between August and December. Even if it means reading at times outside of bedtime (my main reading time) I need to make sure I am reading more throughout the day, especially when I have time off from work.

To Be Read List for 2014:

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – I followed Allie Brosh’s blog for a little bit before she stopped writing due to depression. A month ago I heard the interview with her on Fresh Air and this book has been on my to read list since then.

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – I love Joe Hill’s novels but I keep putting off reading this one because his stuff is so creepy. Since having a baby I seem to have a heart of pudding when it comes to reading or viewing (on TV) any sort of violence or horror.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright – Oh Scientology, why do you have to be so intriguing?

Wish me luck. Any suggestions of must-reads are always appreciated.

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