Book Lists Book Reviews

Favorite Books of 2013

I’ve read less this year than I have since 2006. Currently, my total is sitting at 92 books, less than half of what I read in 2010.

I blame my children. But I wouldn’t trade them for all the young adult romances in the world.

Here are the books that I most loved this year. Putting together this list is a completely unscientific process – I reviewed my list of titles read this year and picked the ones that stood out to me, even nearly a year later.

Surprisingly, four of these ten are ones I never wrote about here. In some cases, they were books I wasn’t sure about recommending; in other cases, I waited too long to write about them and couldn’t recall QUITE enough detail to write a true review.

Either way, here are my ten favorite books I read in 2013. Unless I finish my advance copy of We Were Liars before the end of the year. In that case, I reserve the right to slip in an eleventh favorite book.

Also, a perfect split between fiction and non-fiction. And, slightly more adult books than juvenile titles.

Bomb – As usual, this list isn’t really in any sort of order, except Bomb. Nothing is so amazing to me as an author who takes a well-known, highly-written-about subject and makes it new and fresh again. (Full review here)

Days of Blood and Starlight  – I have zero aspirations of writing a novel, but every now and again, I read something that makes me say, “I wish I could imagine and then write something as incredible as this.” I think this book is even better than Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It has the killer combination of amazing story and even better writing. And I don’t particularly love fantasy. (Full review here)
American Wasteland – I never wrote about this one, but I think about it on a nearly daily basis. The amount of food we throw away in America is astonishing and horrifying. I’m really trying to reduce how much we throw away, but holy cow, it is an uphill battle. I was fascinated by every page of this book.
Zero Waste Home – I guess I was really interested in waste this year. Wow, do I sound like a fascinating individual or what? Still never going to make my own eyeliner with burnt almonds. (Full review here).
Me Before You – I can’t remember where I saw this recommended, but I checked it out from the library and accidentally read it in one day. It’s about a young British woman in a small town who takes a job as a caretaker for a very wealthy quadriplegic, who was extremely successful before a freak car accident a couple of years earlier. It’s a romance, but that’s selling the whole book really short – there are some significant moral dilemmas in this book that I thought about for weeks and months afterward. I’ll probably read it again sometime.Lean In – I’d be glad I read this book, no matter how I felt about it, just because it’s so widely referenced, but I also found it absolutely fascinating and as someone trying to achieve some sort of work-life balance (you know, like every single other person out there), and also raising girls, there was just so much that I found worth contemplating. (Full review here).

Salt Sugar Fat – Last night, Bart and I had a long discussion about Cocoa Puffs. I blame this book. (Full review here).
Fangirl – I read the insanely popular Eleanor & Park on our Galveston beach trip this summer, and I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It was just a bit too depressing for me. But then, I read Fangirl on my way to New York City and, despite having a bag full of other books, reread nearly the whole thing on the flight home. I liked it MUCH more than Eleanor & Park, and . . .writing this makes me want to go reread some favorite passages right this minute. I don’t know if it is a book for everyone, but I really really enjoyed it.
Edenbrooke – Sometimes, you just need fluffy, delightful romance in your life. This one was perfect. (I read her second book, Blackmoore, which I also liked, but not as much). (Full review here).
Ender’s Shadow – It was a serious toss-up between this one and Ender’s Game, both of which I absolutely love. I listened to them this year (I’d read them years ago) and fell in love all over again with each of them. Seriously, if you haven’t read these, you should.
(P.S. You can see my favorite books from 2012, 2011 (I think this was the best list/year), 2010 and 2009).

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  • Reply april December 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    It's been a poor showing for me for books this year too (I'm on 89 right now, which I should finish today, I always have 100-125 and I can't see getting through many more in the next week). Many of my favorites are on your list (Fangirl is my favorite of the year) but also Light Between Oceans, Snow Child, and the Giver series which I know isn't new but I had never read/heard of it when I was younger.

  • Reply april December 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Also, I think that saying 89 is a poor showing sounds kind of jerky to me, but I mean FOR ME it's a poor showing.

  • Reply missris December 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    You read my mind! I just did this exact post, also partnering with Grammarly, published yesterday afternoon. And I just read (and loved) The Girl You Left Behind so I can't wait to read Me Before You!

  • Reply Tina's Blog December 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I started a book last night that made me think of you- The Year of No Sugar, a memoir to be published in April. I know how you like food books, and honestly, I could barely drag myself to work today because I just wanted to sit and read.

  • Reply Erica December 19, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    the first time around, i preferred edenbrooke over blackmoore. then i reread both of them, and i preferred blackmoore. also, the shadow series is phenomenal.

  • Reply NGS December 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I read about half of Daughter of Smoke and Bone before I gave up, but I vow I shall try again.

    A year or so ago, I read an article about a family that had only a single plastic grocery bag of garbage that they threw out in a year. Every since then, whenever I take out the trash, an all too frequent occurrence, I wonder where we could cut out our trash footprint. So I think I need to read American Wasteland, too.

  • Reply RA December 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Yaaay, Salt Sugar Fat! I'm pretty sure that will be on my favorites list this year, but I don't start mine until basically the last day of the year. I 'm reading a book now that might make the cut, and the one on my night stand could, too, if it lives up to the hype. I also loved Days of Blood and Starlight, Bomb, and Ender's Shadow, and I really need to read Me Before You.

  • Reply Angiegirl December 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    I love Bean. Ender's Shadow completely surprised me with how much I loved it.

    And Fangirl. Books that move in . . .

  • Reply Lauren and Joe O'Brien December 19, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Reading sugar salt fat right now because of your reco a while back. I use to work in Marketing at a big consumer packaged goods company selling wine so it is so interesting to see the power of marketing+chemists combined! Great book.

  • Reply Allison December 19, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Great list, I'm adding some on my "to read" list now!

  • Reply heidikins December 19, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    I've read *two!* of these! I feel this is progress, especially as I have 3 more on my T Read List (Ender's Shadow is our book club selection for March! Eeep!)


  • Reply Vanessa December 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Your disclosure statement is the best! 🙂 Also I love these lists. During my MA program I didn't have much time to read for fun, so I really appreciated having solid recommendations and knowing that I wasn't wasting precious time on a lame book. Now that I've graduated maybe i can read your whole list! Gracias!

  • Reply KT December 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Bomb was one of my favorite books last year. I still think of it and recommend it often. I loved Fangirl too; I am not sure who I would recommend it to, but I loved it.

    Other favorites: The Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie; A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty; and Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud

  • Reply Jennie December 19, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Very small world but Michael Moss (author of Salt Sugar Fat) is an old family friend. He also writes for the NYT and has promised me a newsroom tour my next trip to NYC, and that might be the coolest offer I've ever gotten.

  • Reply Hanna Lee December 20, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    A great round up of books for this year! I'm interested in reading, Fangirl now 🙂 I really need to read a lot more books for the next yr that's for sure!

  • Reply amengelhart December 20, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Nice list! I just read Daughter of Smoke and Bone last week and am excited to pick up Days of Blood and Starlight. I really loved the writing in the first one so I'm excited to hear that book two doesn't disappoint!

  • Reply Saskia December 20, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I read 135 books this year, though most of that was when I was still living in Germany and either isolated so reading a lot or on a train on my way to friends and family and so reading a lot. My reading time has been severely curtailed now that I live in Utah, speak the language, and actually have a life outside of the office.

    I liked Edenbrooke, although I did have to roll my eyes a little since it was so patently obvious they'd end up together and I didn't see how the author was going to stretch the conflict out for another 150 pages. But she managed too, so all was well.

  • Reply Megan December 30, 2013 at 5:10 am

    Hi, I just found this blog post through Pinterest. I also made my list of favorite books from the year, but I narrowed mine down to 5. Fangirl didn't make my top 5, but it would be in my top 10. I can't quite figure out what made me enjoy that book so much. I plan on reading Eleanor and Park this upcoming year. American Wasteland looks interesting. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Also, I had to say while I was reading your post your Instagram feed was scrolling and one of the buildings looked familiar. Then, I figured out that it was from Duke. Then, I read your "about me" section and saw that you just moved to NC for your husband to attend school. I also live in NC for my husband to attend school, but he's at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I'm looking forward to following along. I've become obsessed lately with finding more book blogs to read.

  • Reply Alison January 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I've been wanting to read Edenbrooke–I keep hearing great things! Fantastic reviews.:)

  • Reply Caroline Starr Rose January 3, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    I haven't read Fangirl yet but loved Eleanor and Park. It was heartbreaking, I absolutely agree. But the humorous moments (especially the 80s references) helped me with those hard parts.

    When I was at my sister's last year I found a newish Ender book I didn't know had existed: Ender in Exile. It's supposed to take place after Ender's Game and before Speaker for the Dead. While not my favorite, it was certainly interesting.

  • Reply Breanne January 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Me Before You and Salt, Sugar, Fat were two fabulous books that I forgot to put on my own list. =) I didn't love Eleanor and Park either so maybe I'll enjoy Fangirl more.


  • Reply Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy January 3, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    We clearly have similar tastes (even if I did like E&P better than Fangirl!) So I'm especially intrigued by your new-to-me nonfictions suggestions, like Bomb, American Wasteland, and Salt Sugar Fat.

    Always love your book posts; this list of faves is great.

  • Reply Improvement List January 4, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Lean In is something I have to read because I just keep hearing so much about it! And I think Fangirl now has to be on my list…great review.

  • Reply Jillian K. January 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    If it makes you feel better I added both of your waste books to my list…


  • Reply Laura January 30, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I haven't been much of a reader, but lately I have gotten back to reading and I looove your favorite book lists! So far I've read Killing Kennedy, Bringing up Bebe, and The Art of French Parenting. I'm working on Salt, Sugar, and Fat, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts… I also have checked out Bomb, Unbroken, Killing Lincoln, and Zero Waste Home. Keep up the non-fiction suggestions!! (I'm not really into fiction :P) Ps. So far, my library has had most of the ones I looked up from your lists.

  • Reply Laura January 30, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    I'm not usually much of a reader, but lately I've been reading more and I looove your favorite book lists! I've already read Killing Kennedy, Bringing up Bebe, and the French Kids Eat Everything. Right now I'm working on Salt, Sugar, and Fat and Quiet. I've also checked out Killing Lincoln, Bomb, Unbroken, and Zero Waste Home. My library has had mostly all of the books I've looked up from your blog. Thanks so much for the lists and keep the non-fiction coming!! (I'm not really a fan of fiction. Honestly, if I am going to read fiction, I would rather watch TV! 😛 )

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