My Favorite Reads of 2013

2013 December 28
by Grace Boyle

I read 27 books in 2013 – about 2.5 books a month. I wasn’t trying for any number, but thanks to Good Reads they just reminded me. Reading is my solace and if I could, I would have read double this number but you know, excuses…

As the year wraps up, I wanted to share some of my favorite reads of 2013. Some of these are old books and some were written this year. In no particular order.

The Namesake and The Lowland by

I discovered Lahiri this year and love her carefully crafted storytelling. Her books albeit slow moving, paint details that make the characters come to life. The books are thoughtful, but even without action jumping off the page, I turn through her pages swiftly. With her Indian background (Bengali specifically) both The Namesake and The Lowland (different stories entirely) focus on families, tragedy, culture, transition and generational change of two Indian families. I really cherished both books. I see The Lowland on many “Best of 2013″ book lists this year too.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I was able to see Afghanistan born, Hosseini when I was a freshman in college. He visited my college and spoke about his famed book, The Kite Runner. His latest book, published in 2013, And the Mountains Echoed takes a deep look at families and the ties that bind us together. It hops from character to character, showing the web they weave spanning from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Green island of Tinos. Filled with emotion and beauty, the story reminded me of the movie Crash – how everyone was eventually intertwined together, regardless of race, family or birth.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

This is my first Richard Russo book, and since, I’ve picked up a few more of his to start. New England has a special place in my heart, and this takes place in Maine in a small, blue-collar mill town. It tells the story of a sad recently-divorced Miles Roby, his trying work at the Empire Grill for 20 years. It uncovers what he has lost (and gained) along the way. It’s a great American story that covers grace, heartache, loss and even has slight turns of mystery.

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

An intertwining tale of two twin brothers, one with schizophrenia, the other bound to his twin with love and brotherly devotion but also through guilt. From the book itself: “When you’re the sane brother of a schizophrenic identical twin, the tricky thing about saving yourself is the blood it leaves on your hands — the little inconvenience of the look-alike corpse at your feet. And if you’re into both survival of the fittest and being your brother’s keeper — if you’ve promised your dying mother — then say so long to sleep and hello to the middle of the night.” It covers the course of their lives, diversions, mental illness, truth, and what it means to really be alive. It’s a very human book and although with many pages it can be daunting, I never wanted this book to end.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

This was a quirky book that was lighthearted and enjoyable to read. It tells the story of Bernadette Fox, who is a wife and mother, but clearly has unique opinions, is allergic to most people and has a past that is covered and hidden. When she disappears, her daughter Bee pieces together documents and emails to find her mother in an absurd chase to the end. With an odd twist of events, you’re delighted to follow the story straight through the end.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Largely taking place in the wild Amazon, Dr. Marina Singh embarks on a journey to find her mentor and friend Dr. Annick Swenson, who mysteriously disappeared while working on a new drug. Not believing his disappearance, she’s on mission for his family but also for herself as she finds beauty and wonder in the tribe she spends her time with. It’s an interesting read and I haven’t quite read a book like it.  You’re also left surprised at the end, which I love.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This is a great winter read. It takes place in Alaska in the 1920′s on a couple’s dreary, cold homestead farm. The couple is childless and one night, a mysterious young girl appears after they built a snow child in a snow storm. With hints of fairy tale magic, the couple come to love the girl as their own daughter but understand she isn’t quite of this world as she comes from the woods.  The transformation throughout the book as you follow this unique family and those that they encounter are quite touching and you’ll really expand your imagination in enjoying this mysterious, yet beautiful book.
What books did you love reading this year?
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  • kitamurdock

    Loved all of those! (I haven’t yet read The Lowland or And The Mountains Echoed but both are on my to-read list.) I recently read Going Clear (non-fiction) and Good Lord Bird and loved both. Other books I loved this year: The Fault in Our Stars, Behind the Beautiful Forevers & Tenth of December.

  • http://graceboyle.com/ Grace Boyle

    I always love looking at your Good Reads profile! I really enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars too, so sweet. Thanks for the recs!

  • http://talltara.com/ tarable

    You’re always a solid book recommender, Little Gracie. Thanks for these.

    The best books I read in 2013 include two of a medical nature: Atul Gawande, Better, and The Good Nurse: A True Story of Madness, Murder & Medicine. (What can I say? My mom’s a nurse!) Additionally, Mapping Manhattan is a different sort of book, but phenomenal both in concept and execution.

  • http://graceboyle.com/ Grace Boyle

    I stalk your Good Reads too, don’t you worry :) These are interesting. Adding to my list and taking a look. xo