Friday, December 6, 2013

You need to be better than the best.

It's time of year for everyone to post their "Best of" lists. And I'm no exception. So today, I reviewed the books I read this year (73 for a new personal record!) and compiled for you my list of the best books I read this year.

For 2012's list, click here.
For 2011's list, click here.

I'm going to let you in on the process a little bit here. First of all, I went through all my "Book Review" posts and put everything into three lists (which you can see below): Fiction, Nonfiction, and Classic Fiction/Practical Classics. Then I started with the Practical Classics list, because it was the shortest.

When I got to the Fiction category, I got scared. Starting at the top of the list, I thought to myself. Seriously? What did I spend a year reading? Did I read anything worthwhile or memorable at all?! Fortunately, I got a little farther down the list and discovered that yes, in fact I did read many worthwhile and wonderful things. Which made it really hard to pick one "best book" for this section.

So I decided to narrow the category down. And I crossed out everything that wasn't even a contender for "best book." Here is the list I was left with:
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
World War Z by Max Brooks
The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan


So I thought, well, let me split up the fiction category a little more, and that will make it easier. And then I did get down to one choice. But please, if you are looking for a recommendation, I loved all the books on the short list above. I think you would be happy with any of those.

Without further ado, here are my winners for Best Book of 2013.

Category One: Fiction
Product Details
World War Z by Max Brooks

Are you surprised by that? I am a little. I picked World War Z because I thought it was such an interesting and clever way to tell the story. It was an enjoyable read but also very thought-provoking and played a bit with the boundaries of fiction and our ideas on how a story is told.

Subcategory: Young Adult
Product Details
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This is a beautiful book about the power of friendship and hope and the ways that books unite us. It had to be on the list, so I made it a separate category. This is young adult fiction done right.

Subcategory: Short Stories
Product Details
How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers

I wanted this on the list, but it's different from a novel, so it deserves its own category.





Category Two: Nonfiction
Two "Best Books" from the nonfiction category. 
Product Details
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Product Details
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer





Category Three: Classic Fiction/Practical Classics
Product Details
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien




The full list of all 73 books I read this year, broken down by category.
Fiction
Ransomed Dreams by Sally John
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill
Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill
Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill
Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill
Drink Deep by Chloe Neill
Falling for Mr. Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory
The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey
Room by Emma Donoghue
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Firespell by Chloe Neill
Hexbound by Chloe Neill
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
Turned by Morgan Rice
Touched by Corrine Jackson
Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Faefever by Karen Marie Moning
The Yard by Alex Grecian
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Need by Carrie Jones
Front Page Fatality by LynDee Walker
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
World War Z by Max Brooks
The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers
Pride's Prejudice by Misty Dawn Pulsipher
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
Changeless by Gail Carriger
Defending Jacob by William Landay


Nonfiction
Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping
Data, a Love Story by Amy Webb
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
The Beauty Experiment by Phoebe Baker Hyde
Gifted Hands by Ben Carson
The Magic by Rhonda Byrne
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser
Eighty Days by Mathew Goodman
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Only in New York by Sam Roberts
Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander

Classic Fiction/Practical Classics
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Candide by Voltaire
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

2 comments:

  1. Dang, that's a lot of books.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think you should make a list of all the books you have read in your entire life. I think it would be like 2.04 million

    ReplyDelete