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 Jhumpa Lahiri
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.
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.
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.
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.