The Top 13 of 2013….



The book lists are arriving daily now: by e-mail and newspaper and blog post, and although there are too many of them and they get repetitive, I can’t stop looking. Give me any book list, and I will drop everything to read it.  It can be a list of the year’s best science fiction, and I don’t recognize one title or author- but after reading it, I consider adding some science fiction to my reading diet.

So here’s another one – my own list of the 13 best books I read in 2013. As always, I didn’t separate them by books written for children or adults. A good book is a good book. You will also see a few books on this list that were “big” a few years ago. Sometimes I fall a little behind…

Overall, it was a good reading year. My list of books read shows 60 titles – not bad. But these are the 13 I enjoyed the most:


The Round House by Louise Erdrich (National Book Award for Fiction)

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata (National Book Award for Young People’s Literature)

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (young adult novel that takes place in 1950s, New Orleans)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (young adult novel about two friends in Nazi-occupied France)

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld (adult novel about twin sisters, one who supposedly has psychic “senses.” I wasn’t that interested in the senses, but as one of three sisters, I appreciated Sittenfeld’s insightful portrayal of family relationships.)

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (the Italian coast in the early 1960s. I read this novel last February and it made me feel warm!)

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (I’ve written about this book a few times. A squirrel who writes and flies, eccentric characters, and even a bit of philosophy!)

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (You can’t read this book without falling in love with Willow Chance, a smart 12-year-old who tragically loses both parents. The “new” family she creates makes this an unforgettable story.)


The Still Point of the Turning World by Emily Rapp (Sad, but incredibly moving memoir about Rapp’s baby who was born with a fatal disease. To help make sense of her grief, Rapp turned to literature – writers like C.S. Lewis and Carson McCullers.)

The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy (An account of the 2008 attack in Mumbai. A story of terrorism, chaos, and bravery. Reading it helped me to understand the risks posed by very poor people who are promised great glory for performing horrible deeds.)

This Town by Mark Leibovich (A funny, but scary, look at how Washington, D.C. truly works. I lived in Washington for a few years so this was an entertaining read.)

The Unwinding by George Packer (This book helped me to make sense of what’s happening in our country. Mostly, it’s about how institutions we’ve relied on for years don’t work anymore. The New York Times reviewer referred to Packer’s book as “Steinbeckian.”  That’s just the right word.)

Madness, Rack and Honey by Mary Ruefle (A book of essays about poetry. It caught my attention in a NYC bookstore and after beginning to read it in the store, I knew it was going to live on my nightstand. Hard to describe, but it feels necessary. Strangely enough, I took a picture of the book on the store shelf; it’s above.)

My list of books to read in 2014 is growing longer – but right now, it doesn’t include any science fiction – yet!


3 thoughts on “The Top 13 of 2013….

    • Hi Emily,
      I will look forward to seeing your list! I know what you mean about the next couple of weeks. That crossed my mind but I decided to take the plunge. Happy Holidays!

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