Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Favorite Reads of 2013

Instead of blogging for the last few months I've been spending my time reading books. I mean voraciously filling my Kindle with a variety of genres and picking up lots of bestsellers at the library. I've also been keeping a much better record of what I read on Goodreads and even writing a few reviews.

In the past I'd pick up a novel from the library, read it in a day or two and then promptly forget about it. I have no idea how many books I read in a month or year. Since July, 2013 I've been doing my best to remember what I've read in the last few years and recording it on Goodreads and also setting lists of what I want to read next. Part of my 2014 plan is to be more organized, be more deliberate in my reading choices and read more of a mix of non-fiction and fiction from a variety of genres.

As always, non-fiction is hard for me as I have to read it slowly, put it down often and take time to process what I've read. I speed through fiction purely for enjoyment and to find out what's next in the story so consequently I read MUCH more fiction.

So here's my list of my favorite reads of 2013. Not all were published in 2013 but they were the books I loved most. You can see my full reading list least what I remember.

My dear husband bought me Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by
Susan Cain for Valentine's Day. He knows I'm a Super Introvert and he thought it looked good. I gotta say at the time I wasn't impressed but by June I started reading it and couldn't put it down. Quiet helped me to better understand my natural introverted personality. I "discovered" I'm a highly sensitive person and found a self test by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D and also a test you can take for your child. I have one highly sensitive boy and Quiet is also helping me understand and parent him better.
I discovered that I love the Young Adult genre in 2013. I also enjoy dystopian, science fiction a lot although it does mess with my mind a bit. I loved Divergent and read it in a day. The characters were vivid and intruiging and the setting of a futuristic yet very different Chicago was exciting to me. I quickly devoured the second book Insurgent too although I didn't care for the third book in the trilogy and in many ways it ruined the story for me...I like to just pretend it doesn't exist.

Partials by Dan Wells is another Young Adult dystopian science fiction novel. I loved the tv show Battlestar Galactica and you can feel the heavy influence it had on this book. Partials has many twists and turns to keep readers intriguingly off-balance. It takes place in a fantastically complex post-apocalyptic landscape, and is full of thought-provoking twists to a classic story of humanity creating its own doom. I also enjoyed the sequel Fragments and I'm anxiously awaiting the upcoming final book of the trilogy Ruins.

Until WOOL I wasn't sure I even liked science fiction. I absolutely love WOOL and it's sequels Shift and Dust. The main character Juliet is a strong, independent, intelligent woman who carried the story for me. The mystery of what the silos are, how the people ended up there and how the world ended is fascinating. This was another book I could not put down. WOOL is frightening, exhilarating, and addictive.
Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together.  It's about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. This book is a funny, honest and vulnerable spiritual memoir that I enjoyed very much. You can read my full review here.

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism is a fascinating non-fiction book that gives a peek into the mind of Naoki Higashida. Using a special keyboard this Japanese autistic boy who is barely verbal demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions like: “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) This book took me less than 2 hours to read but the insights it gave me into my own child on the spectrum are priceless.

I've read some amazing books in 2013 and I'm eager to get reading for 2014. I'd love to hear more book suggestions to add to this years list so offer me some in the comments or friend me on Goodreads

Time to go read!


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