When I sat down this morning to write this blog, I realized that even though I read thirty-four books during the last year, not many of them were released in 2013. I reread the last five books in the Harry Potter collection over the summer, and then I read all three books in The Hunger Games trilogy, so right there eight of the books I read were disqualified from the great books of 2013 list. I read the first four books in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, also written nearly twenty years ago. I also read a lot of Liane Moriarty books, many of which were written in the last ten years, but one of Moriarty’s books that I read was actually released this year.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty definitely makes it into my best books of 2013 list. Classified as contemporary women’s fiction, The Husband’s Secret wove together the lives of three families in brilliant fashion, connecting them to one another with a dark secret that’s been kept hidden for over twenty years. One of the things I discovered during my binge on Moriarty’s book collection is that she does day to day life really well, reeling the reader in with this sticky little web of strings all leading to the same place before all is said and done. She captures moments and people and memories that at first glance might seem a little mundane, and she makes them shine. I don’t often cry while reading books, but Moriarty’s ability to stir emotion with words is done with expert precision. And as I said, they may classify these books as contemporary women’s fiction, but to me this was a great glimpse at life in general. Maybe because I’m a woman, I don’t know, but I do recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a glimpse at life that’ll make you feel like you’re on the inside of the moment.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman made my year. I have been a Gaiman fan for as long as I can remember, and now that he’s got his hands in a lot of different projects, it’s a good year for me when he has time to actually finish and get a novel out into the world.The Ocean at the End of the Lane was rather short, but it still qualified as a novel and it had all the elements of a Neil Gaiman novel that continue to remind me why I love the stories this man tells. Suspenseful, magical and chock full of hope, I finish every Neil Gaiman story feeling like even though life is full of dark and terrifying things that may very well overwhelm us, the journey through those dark things is the only way into the light again.
The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski is not a new novel in the traditional sense of the word new, as Sapkowski wrote the entire Witcher series of stories forever ago, but it was only recently they were translated into English and released in the U.S. The Time of Contempt came to Amazon for the Kindle in August, and I devoured every word like a shameless glutton even though I knew the next book wouldn’t be released in the U.S. until early 2014. Having discovered the books after playing The Witcher: Assassins of Kings video game, I am so glad I read them. Sapkowski has created this dark, politically corrupt world in which the actual monster Geralt of Rivia is often hired to fight seem like child’s play when compared to the people in his world, people who are far more terrifying than monsters. Sapkowski views the human condition through a dark lens colored by all those things we often overlook or simply pretend not to exist. The thing about that is you can only pretend the monster in the room isn’t there for so long before it opens its ugly, needle-teethed maw and takes a bite out of you.
Big Egos by S.G. Browne was another great book from 2013. If you haven’t read Big Egos yet, I highly recommend it because not only is Browne comical and clever from page one straight through to the end, the messages in his social satires are incredibly poignant. I say it every time I read and review an S.G. Browne book, but only because I really see his stories lingering on for centuries to come: the stories he tells will become the literature taught in college classrooms of the future, as students analyze the past to look for the passages that led them to where they are. Maybe there won’t be companies offering a drug-like hallucinogenic experience that allows us to become someone else, but the overall message is one that will never die: BE YOURSELF! S.G. Browne sits you right down in the muck of the world with a magnifying glass and a Groucho Marks mustache and says, “Look at us. Aren’t we absurd?”
Those are my best books of the last year. Of course, many of the other books I read were also great, but as I said above they didn’t come out this year so they can’t be counted among this year’s great books. I am really looking forward to a lot of the books coming out in 2014, and can’t wait to see where the imaginative authors of the world take me in the next year.
What are some of the great books of 2013 you’ve read, and what was so great about them? I’d love your recommendations because truth is, I’m always looking for another great book to read.