With three days left in 2013, there are “Best Of” lists galore. The New York Times has already written up its 100 Notable Books of 2013 list, and it is a good list to go by. Each December, I skim it to determine which books I’ll read the following year — hopefully.
But every year, I like to put together my own list. I haven’t read as many books this year as I usually do, but I’ve made it a point to read a few that I’ve been wanting to read for years. That said, this is my annual list of my top picks from 2013. Mind you, these are not all books that came out this year. In fact, most of them didn’t come out this year. This is a selection of the best books I’ve read this year. The publication and release dates are irrelevant to me. For instance, my favorite book last year was The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, which was actually published in 2010. The year before that, my favorite was The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. A good book is a good book, no matter the year.
So enjoy my list, and read on for a complete list of all the books I’ve read in 2013!
10. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. The final book in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Sisterhood Everlasting is an honest look at modern-day female friendship — how easy it is to drift apart and how wonderful it can be when friends reunite. It takes tragedy to bring these best friends together again, but isn’t that often — yet sadly — how friendships reignite? Buy it now.
9. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. Bestselling memoirist Frank McCourt takes us through his journey as a teacher, the profession he pursued for 30 years before writing about his life. His memoir is full of anecdotes and writing lessons from the classroom, but more importantly lessons about life, love, and the people you meet along the way. Buy it now.
8. The House Girl by Tara Conklin. The lives of two women from two very different times intersect when a lawyer working on a class-action suit about slavery begins to research a slave from the 1800’s. In learning about the lawyer, we also learn about a slave named Josephine, and her quest for freedom. The hunt for Josephine’s possible descendents leaves the reader wondering if either woman ever win her uphill battle. Buy it now.
7. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Gailbraith (J.K. Rowling). This bestselling novel made the news when it was revealed that the author, Robert Gailbraith, was actually a pseudonym for the bestselling author of the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling. But her crime/mystery novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, is a great read in its own right. The page-turning story about the mysterious death of a model makes a social statement about our fame-obsessed society. Buy it now.
6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. A little girl sets out to find her crazy mother Bernadette in this scatterbrained dark comedy. The story is told out of order, and along the way, we learn more and more about each character. In the end, finding Bernadette isn’t the best part of the book. Searching for her and learning about her is way more fun. Buy it now.
5. Inferno by Dan Brown. Bestselling author Dan Brown has done it again. The latest Robert Langdon adventure (Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol) takes us through Florence and Venice as Langdon works to solve yet another world-saving puzzle. But Brown’s Inferno begins with Langdon already in Florence, suffering from a gun shot wound and two days worth of amnesia. Langdon now must solve two puzzles — the one he’s been given and the one within his own mind. Buy it now.
4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This coming-of-age novel about a lost soul in the ninth grade is a modern-day Catcher in the Rye. The book is full of letters that the coy, yet observant Charlie is writing to an unknown friend about his freshman year. Charlie must learn to deal with his first love, new friends, lost friends, best friends, family, drugs, and alcohol, all while keeping a dark secret. Buy it now.
3. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. An Italian man seeks out a Hollywood producer in order to find his long-lost love from 1962 — an actress with a dark past. But the two men dislike each other, and neither knows whatever happened to Dee Moray. However, the reader does. Beautiful Ruins is a smart, truly lovely book that flips back and forth between different characters and different decades, ultimately proving true love exists. Buy it now.
2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Whether or not you’re a fan of video games or the 80’s, you can’t help but enjoy this fantastically fun bestselling novel about a boy who plays a life-consuming video game in order to win a fortune. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets 1984, this coming-of-age quest story says a lot about our technology-consumed world, while including as many pop culture references as you can imagine. Buy it now.
1. Maine by Courtney J. Sullivan. I read this book a few months ago, but my heart still feels a pang whenever I think about it. Maine tells a beautiful, deep story of four generations of relatives, all women forced to spend a few weeks together in their family summer home in Maine. Between the secrets and complicated female relationships forced together by blood and obligation, there is love. It just takes some time to find it. Buy it now.
The Vow: The Kim and Krickett Carpenter Story – Kim Carpenter
The House Girl – Tara Conklin
Sisterhood Everlasting – Ann Brashares
Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self – Sara Shandler
The Eye-Dancers – Michael S. Fedison
Girls in White Dresses – Jennifer Close
The Mobius Strip of Ifs – Mathias B. Freese
The Oracle Code – Charles Brokaw
Girl Unmoored – Jennifer Gooch Hummer
Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay
The Killing Code – Craig Hurren
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Maine – Courtney J. Sullivan
I’d Know You Anywhere – Laura Lippman
Rome for Beginners – Fiona Coughlin
Then Came You – Jennifer Weiner
The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Gailbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Ways of Leaving – Grant Jarrett
The Best of Me – Nicholas Sparks
Losing It All – M.R. Cornelius
Teacher Man – Frank McCourt
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple
Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Inferno – Dan Brown