Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best Books of 2013

This year has been one of the strangest reading years I've had in a very long time.  Professionally speaking, I've felt more pressure to split my reading up so that I can not only find great reads to take into the classroom, but also keep up on my A game and know about great literary reads for my AP students.  In the end, that means that I now have a new 3 part reading personality: a YA/Pop Lit. reader, a classics/literary reader, and an I-don't-care-what-this-book-is-as-long-as-it-helps-me-escape reader.

Having said that, let me share my three categories with you!  Let's start with my top reads in the YA/Popular Lit. category for 2013.

What was not to love about this book?  I loved the escape to Paris, the realism in the way the characters dealt with their situation, and yet the total, "Holy crap! I would never run away to Paris for one day like that!" that I felt when reading it.  Seriously, I loved this YA read in 2013.

I'm not often a huge sci-fi reader, but James Dashner's The Eye of Minds came out of nowhere and really knocked me off of my feet!  This book was insanely action packed and full of Inception-like ideas such that I couldn't stop flipping pages.  Honestly, I couldn't stop recommending it enough to my students and friends.  Now I have to wait around the next read...

 Okay.  Yes, I am a bit of a Man of Steel fan (*cough* Henry Cavill *cough*), but I've always been a bit of a Superman fan, believe it or not.  I just didn't remember some of these old school comics.  I've been picking up some of the new All-Star comics, but I wanted to go back and read up on some of the pivotal comics that shaped Superman mythology.  How can you pass up the one where Superman literally gives up his life to battle Doomsday?  I Rest. My. Case.

Now, let me share my favorite AP English/Literary Reads for 2013.  This was an interesting category for me.  I didn't set out looking for favorites in this category, but actually just sat down and picked out my favorite reads for the year and noticed how many of them fell under this category.  

This was voted Best of 2013 on Goodreads, so I don't think I'm alone in saying this book was amazing!  I still haven't even written my review because I haven't put full brain energy behind what I read, and now I'm not sure I can go back and really give it justice.  Needless to say, I really loved it.  This is probably my favorite of the three books he has written.

When I started reading Wolf Hall, I started to question all of the crazies who had given it 5 stars.  Seriously?  How in the world did they keep all of the characters straight, not to mention the simple pronoun "he" matched up with the right character!  I thought I was going batty at some points.  By the time I hit about page 300--and yes, that's a long way into the book--I started to feel connected to the story of Cromwell and Henry VIII's court.  I think I'm geared up to keep moving on to the second book now!

I'm now a Thrity Umrigar fan.  Sold.  Going back and looking up her previous novels.  Now.  I really found myself drawn in by this novel of four friends battling family, religious, and political tensions beyond our imagination.  The World We Found was sobering, yet powerful, and made me a fan of Umrigar for life.

This was just a short novella by Elie Wiesel about his open heart surgery last year, which might sound strange that I selected it as one of my favorites for the year, but it was so touching that I as still thinking about it.  Having gone through a life threatening surgery or my own, I was blown away by the beauty of language that Wiesel found for something like facing mortality.  Open Heart captures his own vulnerability in a really beautiful way.

The final category is really my Favorite "Escape Read" Category for 2013, which deserves an extra award for helping me unwind from the stresses of life!  I did notice that a lot of these books tend to fall into the romance category.  What can I say?  At the end of the day, let me get away from what I normally do with a fun, modern chick story.  Here were some of my favorites this last year.

This was my last review for 2013 and such a great one to go out on.  Honestly, I love Bridget Jones and felt that Fielding did a good job of honoring her story and staying true to her characters.  No, the situation was not ideal, but the story was still honest and real.

The Chocolate Thief was the book that snuck up on me from nowhere!  I saw several book bloggers raving about these books by Laura Florand, such as Angieville, and had to give them a try.  Around Fall Break, I checked this out from the library and devoured it in one sitting.  Now that's an escape read!  My only regret was that I didn't have a box of chocolates to eat when I read this sweet read!

Here was another read that I couldn't put down!  Blackmoore was a book that had me in tears and flipping pages almost faster than I could read.  This was a book that I handed out and passed around to my friends, but ended up losing to someone!  That was how popular it ended up being.  Such a great read.  I highly recommend it.

Megan Mulry has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary romantic reads.  I've loved this Unruly Royals series so much!  Her characters show a lot of range and I love to see what they are each going to do.  These are sexy little reads, so hang on for the ride!  I've loved each and every one of them, but I have to admit that I keep thinking about A Royal Pain, about Bronte Talbot.  Maybe it was because Bronte was the first one to learn her guy was a royal and that's an exciting prospect, but I really liked this first book and it was my introduction to Mulry's fun style.  I'm excited to read more in the coming year!

Okay.  Like everyone else, this book blew me off my feet and probably blew out a few tear ducts!  I had seen this one floating around a bit and really didn't think I'd be interested, but how in the world could so many people be giving it a solid 5-stars on Goodreads?  I finally folded and checked it out on audio book at the end of October to listen to back and forth from work.  The audio book was really amazing, but it was too slow to listen to, so I had to return it before I could finish it and had to buy a used copy of it to tear through the end of the book on my own.  Yes.  I cried and then reread the ending.  I'm still thinking about it.  That's a great read.

Well, that's my year!  2013 was a great year for reading and I look forward to seeing what 2014 has in store.  I hope you all have a great one as well and would love to hear what book(s) you loved this last year!


  1. Hm, I think my most favorite read was The Bridge, but I also really liked The River of No Return and Hell is Empty.

    1. I've been meaning to read The Bridge. I'm still kind of intrigued by it!

  2. I am hoping to read Wolf Hall in 2014. :) Happy New Year, Becky!!

    1. Wolf Hall is a tough one, but worth it once you get into it. Happy New Year to you too! Thanks for stopping in! :)

  3. I'm really so delighted you enjoyed the first Amour et Chocolat book. And seriously let me know when you finish the second one and what you think. I adore those two in particular. But, of course, the third is perfectly lovely, too. Lol.

    Happy New Year!

  4. Great list! And so many that weren't on my radar before! I listened to Wolf Hall on audio at the end of 2012, but have let all of 2013 slip by without listening to the next book, Bring Up the Bodies!

  5. planning to read Wolf Hall soon. saw it at the used book store along with Bring Up the Bodies (already marked down in hardcover). maybe next trade-in I'll get them! some good reads!

  6. Brzmi świetnie ;D... szkoda aby, że jedyne co ja teraz czytam to pit przez internet :/... w tym roku czeka mnie mój pierwszy i juz się denerwuje aby wszystko było na pewno ok.