I was going to write a “favorites of 2013” post and include things like a favorite movie, but then I realized I’ve barely seen any movies. I also couldn’t think of other favorite things, except maybe people, but that felt awkward to post publicly. So I just decided to go with what I know best – books. I’m like a kid in a candy shop when it comes to libraries here, if kids in a candy shop could sample all the candy and put back the ones they don’t like, half eaten. I read 42 books in 2013 and gave up on at least 10 of them. The jury’s still out on a few more. But out of those I did read, there were several worth recommending. So here are my favorites:
1. Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstein – I can’t even explain this plot without too much detail or giving things away, but it combined a historical setting with magic and brilliant writing. Amazing.
2. The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman – a young couple struggling with infertility who run the lighthouse on an island find a baby and face the difficult decision of what to do with her. I wanted for the story to keep going and going.
3. What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty – a woman wakes up from an injury and no only doesn’t know who she is, she can’t understand how she became the woman she apparently was. The evolution of her character is so well written.
4. Still Alice, by Lisa Genova – the struggles of watching someone in the slow decline of alzheimer’s, told from the person who has it. Heartwrenching.
5. The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult – she’s one of my favorite authors, and I enjoy stories set during WWII, so of course this makes the list. It jumps between present day and a concentration camp. It was hard to read at times and I didn’t agree with the ending, but she’s a stellar writer.
1. I Thought it was Just Me (But it Isn’t) by Brene Brown – This is about recognizing shame and building shame resilience, and if there’s anything our world does well right now, it’s shame. I read this in a group with other women and it was incredibly powerful.
2. Age of Opportunity, by Paul David Tripp – we ‘had’ to read this for our school, but I’m so glad it was asked of us. This book about parenting teens gave me hope that we can navigate these years well. In fact, just writing about it makes me want to pull it out again.
3. The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder, by Daniel Stashower – Erik and I read this out loud to each other on the drive to Minnesota. It’s a fascinating look at how one particular murder influenced both media and law enforcement in Victorian New York.
4. Chinese Lessons; Five Classmates the Story of the New China, by John Pomfret – the author was a foreign language student in China in the early 80’s, and he shares five classmates’ histories up until that time and then to the present day. It paints a vivid picture of what China was like then, and the way events have shaped the culture and people.
5. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook From Scratch, by Jennifer Reese – more than just a cookbook, this was a laugh out loud telling of the author’s experiments with all kinds of food, including trying to raise a variety of animals. After she said their first year of raising chickens resulted in $2.12/PER egg, I took “raise chickens” off my list. While my values run a little different than hers (I will make from scratch only if it’s easy, better for you, and cheaper than buying it), it’s been fun to keep up the making from scratch habits I had to start overseas.
So those are my favorite books from this year. What are yours?
Looks like only the bottom book made the list!