Happy New Year! I hope you have a safe and happy holiday. With only a few hours left in 2013, here is my End of Year Book Survey, hosted by the lovely Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner. I’ll see you next year!
1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)
I obviously do have to cheat.
Fantasy - Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – Holy cow, friends. I know you’ve been telling me for (literally) years to read Diana Wynne Jones and I don’t know what kept me away for so long. I loved LOVED loved this book. Everything about it.
Middle Grade - The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly – I want to give this book to every man, woman, and child that I know and love, it was that good. I’m so glad I received this for my birthday. Alyssa knew I would love it.
Nonfiction - Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer – SO GOOD. This is the kind of book that sticks with you long after you read it. So so good.
True Crime - People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry – I totally admit to cheating right now. This is the only true crime book I read this year, but I wanted a reason to talk about both Parasite Rex and People Who Eat Darkness. This book is so interesting because not only is it a story of a crime that shocked two countries, but an in-depth look at the Japanese justice system and how it works.
Comic - Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire – I read so many comics this year, it was hard to pick just one. This one, though, is brilliant and I still think about it all the time. It shows up in my dreams. It’s drawn in Lemire’s signature style and there are many things about it that feel familiar – cold landscapes, absent families, innocence shattered by the real world – but it is set in a disease-ravaged future where mutant children are either a sure sign of our destruction or our only hope. It’s just perfect.
Poetry - Dear Darkness by Kevin Young – Perfect, perfect, perfect. I wrote about this one for a BookRiot Buy, Borrow, Bypass post.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Dinner by Herman Koch. I love literary thrillers about bad people behaving badly. I also love books that are contained in a short time period, so the framing of the story in one meal appealed to me, too. But overall, this really fell flat for me.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham. This is definitely not the kind of book I usually read, but Someday, Someday, Maybe is funny and nostalgic in the best way.
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
I’m desperate to get non-fantasy readers to read Seraphina. I’ve also recommended the audiobook of The Raven Boys more times than I can count. Will Patton’s voice makes that book sing.
5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
Definitely Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire. And, of course, The Raven Boys.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
Kelly Braffet. I read and loved Save Yourself. I can’t wait to read her other two novels!
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
I read a regency romance for the first time this year and I had a blast reading it. Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean is ridiculous and charming and fun, just as advertised.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
I didn’t love everything about Night Film by Marisha Pessl, but I still could not put it down, especially the last third. I just had to know what happened.
9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
You just need to see this in person. It’s stunning. The cover actually looks water damaged and the front and end papers are full color photographs of the hospital during the flood.
11. Most memorable character in 2013?
Sophie, Howl, and Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot. I don’t know that there are any books that have really changed my life or made me think about something in a new way. I’m hoping that I do have a book like this in 2014!
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
Howl’s Moving Castle. The Great Gatsby. I Capture the Castle.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
I wish I had been better about keeping track of quotes from the books I read this year, but I did really love this quote from the poem “Ode to Catfish”: “Remember the day, po boy,/you fried up catfish/with grits for breakfast, your mother/& sisters surrounding us/& you declared it/perfect? Sweet Jesus/you were right./Fish hooks in my heart./My plate full of bones/I’m scared to swallow.”
And this one from Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter:
Weren’t movies his generation’s faith anyway — its true religion? Wasn’t the theater our temple, the one place we enter separately but emerge from two hours later together, with the same experience, same guided emotions, same moral? A million schools taught ten million curricula, a million churches featured ten thousand sects with a billion sermons — but the same movie showed in every mall in the country. And we all saw it! That summer, the one you’ll never forget, every movie beamed the same set of thematic and narrative images — the same Avatar, same Harry Potter, same Fast and Furious, flickering pictures stitched in our minds that replaced our own memories, archetypal stories that became our shared history, that taught us what to expect from life, that defined our values. What was that but religion? (21)
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest book: Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra and Double Shadow by Carl Phillips (both 80 pages)
Longest: A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin (1177 pages)
17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
The ending of Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet. Ugh! Can we talk about this SOMEONE PLEASE? I also squealed a lot about dramatic turns of events in Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Sassmasters Sophie and Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle. Franny and Dan from Someday, Someday, Maybe.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Locke & Key by Joe Hill. I’m really excited to continue reading this series.
20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones recommended by the entire blogosphere. Even though I loved the movie, I don’t know that I ever would have read this book if you hadn’t told me how much you loved it.
21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
I’m actually surprised by this: it’s adult contemporary fiction. But really not by much. Next up after that was fantasy.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
I totally have a friend crush on Lucy Knisley after reading Relish. Lucy, can we be friends? And we can cook and you can teach me how to draw? Ok?
23. Best 2013 debut you read?
I didn’t read a ton of debuts, so I’m going to pass on this one!
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
I know, I’m sounding like a total broken record here, but the world-building in Howl’s Moving Castle was just spectacular. Also Seraphina. And The Raven Boys.
25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
Honestly, one of the most fun books I read in 2013 was the absolute worst book I read this year. My coworker and I have a book club of two, and we decided to read Indiscretion by Charles Dubow. We spent the whole time we read it texting each other about how unbelievably bad it was. I nearly threw it across the room when I finished it, but I was in the subway and I probably would have hit some poor commuter. It was only fun because there were two of us reading together and, fortunately, we both agreed about its terribleness. Otherwise I never would have finished!
As for more traditionally “fun” I’m going to go with Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
The only reason I didn’t outright sob my way through the ending of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is because I was on the subway and I didn’t want people to have to do the awkward “is this girl in serious trouble or is she just crying because of her book?” glance.
27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
I really want more people to read Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet. It’s a beautiful, dark, suburban tale that I loved. I read it because Joe Hill recommended it on tumblr, but I haven’t really heard much about it other than that. Go out and read it!