I’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?