• Wed, Jan 1 - 9:00 am ET

Seven Books I Read In 2013 That Aren’t About Parenting And Don’t Feature A Llama As The Main Character

shutterstock_155976323I’ve had a busy 2013 – like most of us.  So I’m pretty proud of myself for finishing a book or ten — especially ones that didn’t revolve around trying to raise better human beings or about what mama mama does while little llama is at school.  But I’m not pretending to give you the New York Times’ Best Selection of 2013 or those books nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  These are just the random mostly amazing books I’ve read during 2013.

I swear at least 10 people I know recommended this book to me before I picked it up.  Every time I read the synopsis:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
I was like — ugh, why would I want to read about kids with cancer?  Why?  Because it will be one of the most awesome books ever.  Some of his lines just went straight to my heart.
2.  Maxed Out: American Moms On The Brink
I won’t lie, I’m totally an American Mom on the brink.  A lot of it is my own doing (hi, two jobs five days a week), but a lot of it is the struggle I share with the author Katrina Alcorn in having trouble balancing work and family.  This memoir made me feel less alone in my superwoman syndrome.
I recently wrote a short story that someone said reminded them of Joshilyn Jackson.  I had never read anything of hers so I picked up Backseat Saints and pretty much read the thing in one night.
Rose is now living under the thumb of her abusive husband and his domineering father. A Gypsy in an airport who reads her tarot cards turns Rose’s life upside down when she tells Rose that if she doesn’t kill her husband, he will surely kill her. When Rose realizes that the Gypsy is in fact her mother, who abandoned her when Rose was eight and left her with her abusive father, she takes her advice, but accidentally shoots her beloved dog instead.
I don’t know anyone else writing books like Joshilyn Jackson.
Full disclosure, an essay of mine is featured in this book.  More important disclosure, I have zero financial stake in pushing this book — I’m not even an Amazon affiliate.  I read the whole thing from cover to cover because it’s full of stories we can all relate to — the good, the bad and the heartbreak of female relationships.  And a foreward by Scary Mommy.
I wasn’t a fan of Eat, Pray, Love so I was hesitant when a friend recommended another journey of self-discovery in a strange and foreign (to the author) place.  I’m so glad my friend is so persuasive because I loved this book.  I loved how raw it was, how real it all was, and I actually appreciated how long it took Cheryl Strayed to write it — to process everything that happened in her life during that very tumultuous time.
6.  Beautiful Creatures and Warm Bodies 
Ok, these are technically two books but they have a few important things in common.  When movies that are based on novels get a lot of hype, I like to read the books before I see the film, which is what made me pick up both Beautiful Creatures and Warm Bodies.  I enjoyed both books enough, but their movie versions were wildly different.  I thought they did a terrible job with the big screen version of Beautiful Creatures — everything from the acting to the story adaptation were unwatchable.  On the other side, I loved Warm Bodies. Zombies!  What an original way to explore age old themes of meaning in life and love.  I adored this movie.
This was probably my favorite book I read this year.  I guess I spend most of my time under a rock because I never read The Emperor’s Children by the same author but I loved The Woman Upstairs.  I loved the rage and delusion of the main character, yet the story told through her eyes made it feel justified and reasonable.
It’s true that most of these books weren’t actually published in 2013, but since I rely heavily on my local public library I’m a little behind the times.  That doesn’t make these books any less awesome.  Here’s to reading 2013 bestsellers in 2014!  Any suggestions?
(photo: Ocskay Mark/Shutterstock)
You can reach this post's author, Carinn Jade, on twitter.
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  • Shelly Lloyd

    Books! Books are my favorite :-) One of the nice things about having teens is that you tend to have more free time since they are (usually) more independent. So I have found more time to read in the last 6 or so years. I have always been a bookworm. I do not want to humble brag, but I usually read about 7 books a month. I am never without a book. When I was a teen my dad once said that my room looked like a library. I took that as a complement. :-)
    My favorite 7 books that I read this year (in no particular order):
    1. Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck
    2. I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle
    3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
    4. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
    5. The Rose of York: Love and War by Sandra Worth
    6. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
    7. The Cowboy and The Cossack by Clair Huffaker

    • Carinn Jade

      Pavilion of Women is sitting on my kindle right now and Dandelion Wine is on my list. I’ve been hemming and hawing about the new Stephen King. I love this list! Thank you for sharing!

    • Shelly Lloyd

      I usually do not care for horror novels, so I have avoided Stephen King. But I love the ideal of time travelling, and I have always been fascinated by JFK and have often asked the “what if” Kennedy wasn’t killed question. While I do not agree with how King answers that question the book is a real page turner and I have to say that there was one point where I considered calling in sick to work to finish it.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I also loved it.

  • Music Mamma

    I read Allegiant by Veronica Roth but hated the ending so much I couldn’t finish the book. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is a good read as well as Pilgrim’s Wilderness by Tom Kizzia which is non fiction and extremely interesting.

    • Carinn Jade

      Interesting — people LOOOOOVE their Veronica Roth. I’ve never read though.

    • elle

      I hated the end of Allegiant- I wanted to throw my kindle across the room.

    • Music Mamma

      Yup, same here.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      The shining girls was amazing

    • Music Mamma

      I also loved The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It’s also set in Chicago but during the 1892 World’s Fair. It’s the story of the architect of what eventually becomes the Field Museum and a serial killer who was active at the same time. It’s written like a novel.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      My kid actually read that in school! which I thought was cool. I read it a few years ago but the first time I heard it we listened to it on audio book and at one point we were driving through Chicago which just made it cooler.

  • elle

    The Goldfinch (really long, really good), Rescuing Amelia, The Husbands Secret, the Execution of Noa P Singleton, The Interestings, The Ocean at the End of the Lane if you like fantasy, The Broken Ones if you like horror (think it came out in 2012 but such an awesome book) and Golden Boy were all good books I read this year. If you like to read books being turned into movies I really recommend the Gemma Doyle series first one titled A Great and Terrible Beauty. It is YA but really good. And yes, I’m a 26 year old who loves reading YA

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Rescuing amelia, do you mean Resurrecting amelia? If so, yes yes yes. I love your list :)

    • elle

      Yes, I did. Whoopsie! I would add Night Film, too.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      YES!!!

  • JLH1986

    The Thirteenth Tale
    Looking for Alaska (if you liked Fault in Our Stars)
    Unwind (1st in a trilogy)
    The Book Thief
    Serena
    If I Stay
    Horns
    The Summer We Read Gatsby
    The Rules of Civility
    Shadow of the Wind (anything by Carlos Ruiz Zafron is amazeballs {and even though I’m 30 I’m still using that word!})
    If you join GoodReads you can find books that are similar to books you already like. It’s free to join and you can see other readers reviews.

    • Carinn Jade

      You know, I don’t understand what is wrong with me. How have I not joined GoodReads yet? I’m getting on that right now!

    • JLH1986

      I love Good Reads. I’m not an “app” person but I have it on my phone and tablet. And I check it frequently at work on breaks! We use it to help choose books for book club too!

  • Michelle Pittman

    i LOVED The Fault in Our Stars…except of course i SOBBED the entire last 1/4 of the damn book and sent John Green a tweet thanking him for the uncontrollable sobbing and heartbreak…Sisters and Afterword by Rosamund Lupton are both really good too — the Divergent series was pretty good but i was nowhere near as attached to the characters as i was to other characters in other books…