This year is definitely the best year book-wise for me. I don’t rate many novels five stars on Goodreads—I try to save that rating for only books that are the best of the best, and as such, I end up rating most books only 4 stars, even if they may be more of 9/10 or 9.5/10, instead of 5. But this year, every single book on this list was a 5-star book, more than I’ve ever had before. But I can still rank them fairly easily (much more easily than the top ten film list), so here it goes.
Top Ten Books I Read in 2013
- The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m ashamed and saddened that I hadn’t read this until this past summer. Though, I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate. I definitely started reading Fellowship a couple times, and I feel like I may have gotten farther than that once, but I simply can’t remember. I do know that I was read the trilogy as a young kid, but I don’t count that as reading either (nor do I remember it). So either way, since I don’t remember how much I read, I consider this my first read. And it was amazing—definitely a book I’ll be reading many times. The last two pages of “A Siege of Gondor” are honestly my two favorite pages I have ever read—so beautifully and chillingly written. Not that I expected any different from Tolkien, but still. I loved this book, and it’s definitely my favorite book I read this year.
- The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I really wish I could say this was my favorite book this year, because this book was so amazing to read, but then I read LotR over the summer. =P This book is so fascinating, though. If I had to describe it in one word, I’d probably say “magical”—because that’s really what it is. This book, more than any I have ever read, really takes me away from the real world to become immersed in the world she creates with the circus. This novel isn’t fast-paced by any means. It does have a lot of descriptions, but the descriptions are such a joy to read that, to me, it didn’t matter. I wouldn’t compare the writing style to Tolkien, but they are similar in that they both have a lot of description, and do so incredibly well (though differently). This book, more than most, made me want to ignore so many things in order to just stay absorbed in the world of the circus. Highly recommended.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. I read this book in a single day. It’s not long, so that’s not surprising, but still—I don’t think I even took a break, because of how engrossing this story was. To put it simply, this book is amazing. Gaiman has shown his brilliance time and again (and unfortunately I have not read nearly as much of him as I need to), but this book was particularly striking. From living in books (something I can definitely relate to), to nostalgia and reflection, all wrapped around an underlying fantasy setting, Gaiman portrays the hardship of life, remembering, relationships, discovery, vulnerability, and more in a truly wonderful short novel. Definitely recommended.
- The Prestige, by Christopher Priest. After seeing the amazing film by Christopher Nolan, I knew I had to read the book. Sure, Nolan is my favorite director, but still—this film was simply amazing. And after reading The Night Circus, which also has magicians, I really knew I had to read this book, and began frantically looking for it at used bookstores. It’s definitely a lot different from the film, but that’s one of the things I loved—both were amazing, and neither spoiled the other, either. I honestly can’t decide which I like better, but the book was great, and one of my favorite books this year.
- A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin. This whole series is fantastic, and each book is 5-star worthy. But this book in particular stands out, and for anyone who read it can probably relate. There were several different times where I practically ran to the computer to talk to GSR and/or Tolkien to talk to them over Skype about things that I had just read (in fact at one point Tolkien was just like “I’ll see you in 10 minutes” aaaand yeah. Intense stuff). There’s some content I don’t like, but overall Martin does an incredible job, and I cannot wait to read A Dance with Dragons.
- The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. Children’s books really can be the best sometimes. Harry Potter, Narnia, this, A Monster Calls, Holes, etc. There were so many clever phrases throughout, and a fun adventure with enjoyable characters. I may have read this a long time ago, too, but if so I don’t remember it, unfortunately. At least I finally read it this year, and it was fantastic.
- Holes, by Louis Sachar. Yet another book I’m surprised I hadn’t read until this year (I must be one of the only people who didn’t read it in middle school, as my brother and sister did), but a very enjoyable one. I couldn’t put it down, starting it one night and finishing it the next morning. Every character was round and unique, a hard thing to accomplish when you’re dealing with so many, and the plot was fun and exciting. Overall, it was simply a very enjoyable, easy-to-read, and fun book. Highly recommended in case there’s anyone else out there that hasn’t read it. I’ll definitely have to look into more of Sachar’s work. Not a bad film, either.
- S., by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst. This is quite possibly the most fun I’ve had reading a book. Reading the conversation between the two young people (like a play), reading each of the inserts, feeling like a part of the discovery—it really was just simply fun. Unfortunately, though, the book itself (“The Ship of Theseus”) was not as good as I had hoped. Not that it was bad, but it wasn’t completely amazing, either. Perhaps I built it up too much, but in the end, I was left feeling slightly disappointed. That said, it was still a 5-star book for me, because of how fun it was to read, even if the novel itself may not have been 5-stars alone.
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. This was heartbreaking. Perhaps the best words for it would be from the New York Times Book Review: Powerful & haunting. Because it was definitely both of those. The Kite Runner made the reader care—left an impression in the reader. Haunted the reader with the reality depicted within. Horrible, heart-wrenching things happened, but they happened to characters you cared about. Characters you cared about did despicable things—but they realized they had done wrong. The Kite Runner opens your eyes to the world, the harshness of life, yet the beauty that remains even through that harshness. The good that still exists through the bad. The Kite Runner is a beautiful but haunting book. Not for the faint of heart, but an amazing book, worth reading, I think, at least once.
- A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The first Sherlock Holmes novel I’ve read (I’ve read a lot of the short stories before), and it didn’t disappoint. I’m still planning to make my way through every single SH story, as I have a leather-bound Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection, so I’m going to read them all in order, too. I had hoped to read the first set of short stories by now, but haven’t yet. Still, though, I look forward to doing so, as I loved this (and The Sign of Four so much).
Runner-Up: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Perhaps I liked this better than one of the last couple books (hard to decide…), but I already had a Gaiman book on here so I’ll just leave this as the runner-up. Still, it was really an amazing book, and even though I liked Ocean a lot more, I still loved this one, and would definitely read it again. I really look forward to reading more of Gaiman’s work.
Books I’m looking forward most to reading next year:
- More Than This, by Patrick Ness (currently reading, actually—I started it and read over half of it yesterday).
- A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin. Been waiting for when I have some free time to read this—I’m hoping that’s this week.
- 11 Doctors, 11 Stories, by various authors (including Patrick Ness, Neil Gaiman, and Eoin Colfer). It’s Doctor Who and all these awesome authors. I’m hoping it lives up to all the hype I’m giving it.
- Skin Game, by Jim Butcher. One of my favorite authors, and Harry Dresden is one of my all-time favorite characters.
- Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. My sister keeps saying how I have to read it, but more than that I just really want to, because of how much praise it’s gotten (and it sounds interesting). Plus, I need to read more great Sci-Fi. I’m also excited to read Hart’s Hope, because I love stand-alone fantasy books and I’ve heard this one is amazing.
- The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Just ordered this from Amazon, so I’ll probably be reading it soon.
- Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, by Matt Fraction. Thanks to the recommendation of Chocolate Frogs, I recently bought this from Amazon, too. I also hope to get Sandman, Vol. 1 soon, but I decided to get Hawkeye first because I really want to read a superhero graphic novel.
- Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. I’m really excited to finally read some of her work, and I promised myself I’d read her first two before I readGone Girl, which is the book I’m particularly excited to read, especially because David Fincher is directing the film based off of it.
- The Gods of Guilt, by Michael Connelly. I love Connelly’s work, and I haven’t read a thriller in a while. Plus, my hardback copy is signed, and somehow that makes me more excited to read the book.
- The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K. Rowling. I’m really excited to finally read this, as I love Rowling’s writing. And while I wasn’t a huge fan of The Casual Vacancy, I still really enjoyed the writing style, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she does with a mystery novel. Speaking of mystery novels, I’m also really looking forward to reading The Second Death, by Caleb Peiffer; and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Conan Doyle (the first set of short stories).