During the course of 2013, I read 159 books. Some were audio books, some were collections of comic books, some were published this year, some were not. Looking back, these are my favorite reads of the year.
If you haven’t read any of these yet and are looking for something to read in 2014, I highly recommend all of them.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
This one had been sitting on the to-be-read stack for a long time and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it this year. The story of two Jewish immigrants who pioneer one an iconic comic book line during the golden age of the medium. Fascinating, compelling and one of those books that was over far too soon, but still left me utterly satisfied.
Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet
One of those books that I couldn’t tear myself away from. Full of people making horrible decisions and have the worst possible outcome. It’s like a season of Breaking Bad on the printed page.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Any year with a new novel by Gaiman is a good thing. When it’s his first novel written for older readers in a long time and it turns out to be this good, it’s a wonderful reading experience.
The Onion Girl by Charles DeLint
Every time I read anything by DeLint, I keep wondering why I haven’t read more by him. Set in his mythical town of Newford, The Onion Girl brings Jilly front and center, filling in her backstory and exploring her character fully. Not a great entry point for DeLint, I’ll admit, but it’s still great.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This is one I picked up after seeing it on a number of other “best of 2013” lists. While visiting an art museum, young Theo Decker is caught in a bombing that kills his mother and finds him with a rare piece of artwork tucked into his backpack. The novel unfolds as the story of Decker’s ups and downs from that time (a lot of downs). A rich use of language and some compelling passages make this one of those books that will have you sit back and marvel at how well constructed some of the sentences and passages are.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Gailbraith
While I may not have found this books as quickly had the publisher let the cat out of the bag that Gailbraith is really J.K. Rowling, I hope that I would have eventually stumbled across this one. A solid, entertaining mystery with a couple of new, interesting character additions to the genre. Put aside any pre-conceived notions about Harry Potter and give this one a try.
Tempest by Julie Cross
A young adult time-travel romance. Jackson Myer is a nineteen-year-old college freshman who is totally in love with his girlfriend, Holly. He also has the ability to jump back in time. All is going well until one day, Holly is killed and Jackson jumps back in time two years and can’t get back to his own time to try and save her. What unfolds is a well done, compelling and believable romance all within a story that examines the implications and impact of time travel. There’s more to the time travel aspect that initially meets the eye and I’m curious to see what Cross will do in the next novel in the trilogy (which is languishing on my to-be-read pile as we speak!)
Joyland by Stephen King
What if Stephen King wrote an episode of Scooby Doo? That’s the essence of this entry from the Hard Case Crime series. But there’s more to it as a coming of age story and further evidence of King’s later life renaissance.
Snow White Must Die by Nele Nuehuas
The first English-published novel in the Bodenstein and Kirchief series from German writer Neuhaus. This is actually the fourth in the series and I’m hoping we’ll get the entire series translated sooner rather than later.
Batman: Court of the Owls, City of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Thanks to Kevin Smith’s Fat Man on Batman podcast, I heard a lot of hype about the work that Scott Snyder was doing on the New 52 Batman. So, I sought out the collection of the Court of the Owls storyline and was prepared for them to not live up to the hype. Funny thing is that they did live up to the hype.
Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
After two books of teasing us about Sabetha, Lynch brings her fully into the universe of the Gentleman Bastards. And her effect on Jean and Locke makes for a fun, fantasy novel. One of the more anticipated books of the year by many and one that lived up to the expectations.
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Another books from the YA section of the library or bookstore. Senior Ezra Faulkner seems to have it all until a car wreck takes away all of what he thought defined him. Enter Cassidy Thorpe, the new girl at school and former debate squad queen. If it sounds like your typical teen angst novel and romance, it’s not. Schneider zigs when you think she’s going to zag and pulls out some nice surprises.
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
This is not a book to read to cure insomnia or to try and wind down for the night. Haynes’ debut novel is a compelling, character driven mystery and one that had me hooked from the first page.
And one last book that I got to read in 2013 but isn’t hitting library and bookstore shelves until January of 2014. (Thank you Amazon Vine program)
After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman
A return to form from Lippman. Like many of her best works, After I’m Gone looks at the impact a crime has on the characters and community and not just solving the central mystery. In this case, it’s what happens to the family and mistress of Felix Brewer after he disappears in the night for what many presume are greener pastures. A stand-alone entry from Lippman but it does have ties to her Tess novels.