Top 11 books I read in 2013

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I had good intentions of doing this post IN 2013 but that just didn’t happen and I enjoyed reading Lisa, Emily and Stephany’s top book lists so much I figured i would do it anyways even though it’s now 7 days into the New Year. Better late than never?

I read 30 books in 2013 which I am super happy with as it means I averaged more than two books per month! I hope I read a similar number in 2014. My top books read in 2013 lists consists of all the books I gave five stars to on Goodreads. As mentioned last time I did a book post, I don’t have a high criteria for books to hit five stars for me. If a story is engaging and holds my attention I give it a high rating. And the books where I get so attached to the characters I’m sad to see it end, those are the ones I give five stars to.

So here are the top 11 books I read in 2013 in the order that I read them:

Looking for Alaska 

Looking for alaska

From Goodreads: Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

This is the first and only book I’ve ever read by John Green but it left me wanting more. He is an excellent writer. This book was sad and funny all at once. I couldn’t put it down, didn’t want it to end and once I was done I genuinely missed the characters. Awesome book!

The Night Circus

Night circus

From Goodreads: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

This is not usually a genre that would appeal to me but I loved this book! It is very well written and the characters in the book are all so different and intriguing!

Inside 

Inside

From Goodreads: When Grace, a highly competent and devoted therapist in Montreal, stumbles across a man in the snowy woods who has failed to hang himself, her instinct to help immediately kicks in. Before long, however, she realizes that her feelings for this charismatic, extremely guarded stranger are far from straightforward.

At the same time, her troubled teenage patient, Annie, runs away and soon will reinvent herself in New York as an aspiring and ruthless actress, as unencumbered as humanly possible by any personal attachments. And Mitch, Grace’s ex-husband, a therapist as well, leaves the woman he’s desperately in love with to attend to a struggling native community in the bleak Arctic. We follow these four compelling, complex characters from Montreal and New York to Hollywood and Rwanda, each of them with a consciousness that is utterly distinct and urgently convincing. With a razor-sharp emotional intelligence, Inside poignantly explores the manifold dangers and imperatives of making ourselves available to, and indeed responsible for, those dearest to us.

This is a very interesting book that really gets you thinking about love, life and loss. I felt very connected to the characters in this book. I remember finishing it when we were in Mexico earlier this year and being really sad to put it down.

A Thousand Splendid Suns 

A thousand splendid suns

From Goodreads: A moving story about two women set in Afghanistan. The book’s story illustrates both the second class, serf-like treatment of two women and their subjection to physical and emotional brutality that was allowed, enabled and endorsed. We also get to see the bravery, kindness and self-resilience of these same two women. Despite the harsh reality of the story, the humanness and compassion shown by both women while trying to survive in such a brutal and oppressive environment is very uplifting.

I’ve mentioned it a few times but I think this was the best book I read in 2013. I devoured this book in three days. The story is heartwrenching and sad but ends on such a beautiful and uplifting note. It also offered an interesting history lesson on the turmoil in Afghanistan that fascinated me. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

The Kite Runner 

The kite runner

From Goodreads: Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable, beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan , the son of Amir’s father’s servant, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When the Soviets invade and Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.

The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship, betrayal, and the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of their lies. Written against a history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runner describes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But with the devastation, Khaled Hosseini also gives us hope: through the novel’s faith in the power of reading and storytelling, and in the possibilities he shows for redemption.

After I raved about A Thousand Splendid Suns and lots of people recommended the Kite Runner and said they enjoyed it more. While it didn’t touch ATSS for me I did still really enjoy this book and the character development was amazing. I went from strongly disliking the main character to liking him a lot. Hosseini is an amazing storyteller (though I have to say I wasn’t a fan of his latest book ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ and it only got four stars from me. I know others who loved it though!)

On the Island 

On the island

From Goodreads: Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

Ok, if you are reading the description or looking at the cover of this book and thinking “not for me”, trust me, I know where you are coming from. That is exactly what I thought when I first picked up this book too. However, we all know not to judge a book by it’s cover and this really is an awesome book! It’s a really quick and easy read and the characters are very very likeable. It’s a little chick lit-y but it has a lot more action and drama than your average chick lit too. I was pleasantly surprised by this book!

The Rosie Project 

The rosie project

From Goodreads: Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

This is such a sweet book! It was super funny and made me laugh out loud at several different parts. While it has a lot of the elements of a typical love story it also has just enough quirky elements to make it not your typical love story. This book is written from the perspective of Don, who has Aspergers, and it’s really funny and well-written. I also heard they are making it into a movie which I’m super excited about!

Me Before You 

Me before you

From Goodreads: They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life–steady boyfriend, close family–who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life–big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel–and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy–but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

“A Love Story” for this generation, “Me Before You” brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common–a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

A very very close second for my favourite book I read this year. Wow, this book was so not what I expected at all. As I got closer to the end I found myself putting it down more or reading slower because I so badly did not want it to end! It is a serious tearjerker. Have kleenex handy when you get to the end!

Night Road 

Night road

From Goodreads: For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows–her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.

Jude does everything to keep her kids safe and on track for college. It has always been easy–until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.

On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.

NIGHT ROAD is vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, identity, love, and forgiveness.

I just started reading books by Hannah this year and they both got five stars from me. I am so so impressed by this author and how she can write. She does an amazing job showing the reader perspectives from multiple characters and make you empathize with all of them even when they are in conflict with one another like in this book. I missed the characters in Night Road once I was done.

The Storyteller 

The storyteller

From Goodreads: Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice?

Really, really amazing book. This book was very hard to read at times because it has very detailed descriptions of the Holocaust but it’s also a book that was hard to put down – a real pageturner. I spent many late nights reading this book because I couldn’t put it down. I have read several Picoult books and I think this is the best one I’ve ever read.

Firefly Lane 

Firefly lane

From Goodreads: In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

Like I said about Night Road, I am just obsessed with this authors writing and the way she connects the reader with her characters. They feel so real to me. I didn’t enjoy Firefly Lane quite as much as Night Road but I still found it to be an awesome pageturner. Oh and I bawled at the end!

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I know this is a long blog post but hopefully some of my readers get some books to add to their list for 2014.

If I had to pick my top three of the books listed above I would say it would be A Thousand Splendid Suns, Me Before You and then it’s a tie between Night Road and The Storyteller for number three!

What was your very favourite book of 2013? Have you read all the books I listed above? 

21 Responses

  1. Nikki says:

    I’ve read quite a few of these but will definitely be looking up the ones I haven’t. I am so desperately in need of some new books right now!

  2. I am glad you did this post as I love seeing others’ favorite books! I have read most of these, but there are a couple that I haven’t!. You really should try to read The Fault in Our Stars – since you liked Looking for Alaska, I think you will love TFiOS. It’s SO good! You saw my top 5 books of 2013, but one that I didn’t include but should have is The End of Your Life Book Club!

  3. Caroline says:

    Bookmarking this as one of my goals for 2014 is to read more : )

  4. I love seeing these posts! I am surprised that you liked Night Road better than Firefly Lane because FL is the one everyone loves (including me!) this only pushes me to read Night Road which has been on my shelf since before its release date (shameful!)

    My favorite book of 2013 was a toss up between A Discovery of Witches and Me Before You. I feel like my favorites are always books from the end of the year because the beginning of the year seemed so far away! Ha.

  5. Stephany says:

    Many of these books were on my list! Me Before You and A Thousand Splendid Suns are my top two favorites. I also just finished The Rosie Project for book club (I suggested it because of your review of it!) and absolutely loved it. So charming!

  6. Kara says:

    I’ve read Inside and I’m currently working on The Rosie Project. It’s funny, I was thinking the same thing about The Island, but maybe I’ll give it a try now. I’m also going to bookmark The Storyteller to read this year. I haven’t read much of Jodi Picoult’s work other than My Sister’s Keeper!

    I just looked at my Goodreads shelf and I only read 4 books last year – Ouch! But, I’ll say that out of the 4, my favourite was Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

  7. Leigh says:

    I read a lot of the same books as you and loved them all! If you don’t mind a little romance type of book, check out The Sea of Tranquility. It was great!

  8. Bec says:

    I was just trying to figure out what books to order for my kindle and saw your post in my feed! Just downloaded 4 new ones from your list 🙂

  9. I looooooved firefly lane. I swear I read that there is a sequel for it too. I think I also enjoyed mystic lake by her. Home front not as good. I also adored kite runner. You should read the almond tree by Michelle Cohen corasantti.

  10. Kelly says:

    Yay, I love these posts and I just added a couple of books I haven’t read to my list- although most of them were already on there I just need to get to actually reading them! I liked Firefly Lane a lot so I will have to check Night Road out, although the whole mom/child tragedy thing is not what I’m looking for at the moment so maybe in a few months haha. I love that blogging and my blogging friends have made me such a more consistent reader!

  11. Melissa says:

    Soooo many good books on this list. I’ve heard really good things about The Storyteller and haven’t picked up a good Jodi Picoult book in a way. I’m really starting to miss her!

  12. Bronwyn says:

    I’ve read Firefly lane, but that’s about the only one on this list that I have read! They all sound very interesting too. I’ll have to book some of them from the library soon.

  13. Alli says:

    My favorite books of this year were probably; The Fault in Our Stars and The Casual Vacancy (I know, I know). I’ve read and loved all of Khaled Hosseini’s books, but ATSS is by far my favorite.

  14. Holly says:

    Thanks for posting this! I read “Me Before You” and really enjoyed it, and I just started The Storyteller. I’ve tried to get into John Green ‘s books but ugh. I love the vlogs (DFTBA!) but for whatever reason, his writing style reminds me of nails on a chalkboard and I can never get more than a chapter or two in! My favourite books that I read this year were probably “Why Can’t I Be You” by Allie Larkin and “Someday, Someday Maybe” by Lauren Graham. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to read since Ellie was born, though 🙂

  15. Travel Spot says:

    I enjoy Hannah as well. Have you read Winter Garden? That is the only one I have read so far, but I enjoyed it. I will have to check out her others as well! Also both you and Lisa put Me Before You on your list and you and Stephany put Storyteller, so I am definitely putting those on my To Read list!

    My favorite book that I read in 2013 was probably Those Who Save Us.

  16. Emilie says:

    I just got into Kristin Hannah too! I read Firefly Lane in 2012 and loved it, but just got around to reading Night Road this past fall. I ordered five or six of her books and plan to read them this year. I love how she tackles big issues but keeps her characters easy to relate to. I’m excited to check out some of the other books you listed. Sarah’s Key was my favorite 2013 read but Night Road was a close second!

  17. I didn’t read much at all in 2013 🙁

  18. Shoshanah says:

    I haven’t read any of these yet! But there’s several I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. And I actually own a copy of The Night Circus, which I’m really hoping to make time for in 2014!

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