My Favourite Books Published in 2013

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2013 has been a strange year for fiction. There have been a lot of great books, but none have really blown me away (I haven’t awarded to any 2013 fiction release). It seems that 2013 has been more about pushing the boundaries and breaking the taboos that have existed in literature until now. I’ll explain more about that next week, but for now I’ll leave you with my favourite books of 2013:

Note: The titles of the book link to my full review.

Kiss Me First

Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

One of the most modern books I’ve ever read. Its insights into social media use and online identity are so relevant to today’s society that it will make readers look at their online activity in a whole new light.

Beneath the Darkening Sky

Beneath the Darkening Sky by Majok Tulba 

An horrific insight into the plight of African child soldiers. It contains some disturbing scenes, but you can’t help fall in love with the little boy at the centre of this story.

The Last Banquet

The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood 

This book is bizarre, but very entertaining. It isn’t for the squeamish, but if you can tolerate some slightly strange butchery you’ll be rewarded by an atmospheric story that is packed with surprises.

The View on the Way Down

The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait 

Realistic story about how one family copes with a suicide. The grief and depression are described with an accuracy and sensitivity that deserves special praise.

The Rosie Project 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 

(review coming soon)

The Rosie Project is the only book that has managed to make me cry with laughter this year. The observations of those with Asperger’s syndrome are spot-on and it is fantastic to read a book on the subject that isn’t depressing.

The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

(review coming soon)

Good old fashioned storytelling, packed with vivid characters, period detail, and wonderful snippets of information about 19th century botany.

My Notorious Life by Madame X

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

An atmospheric book set in 19th century New York. It deals with the controversial subject of abortion in a sensitive and thought-provoking way and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys intelligent story-telling.

Tampa

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Controversial look at a female paedophile. It is graphic and shocking, but exposes our differing attitudes towards male and female sex offenders.

The Son

 

 

 

 

The Son by Michel Rostain

The Son isn’t an easy read as it is based on the true story of a man who lost his teenage son to meningitis. The realistic nature of the text makes this book heart-breaking in places, but it is also full of hope. I’ve never read another book that makes me understand the emotions of another human so completely.

 Magda

Magda by Meike Ziervogel 

A short, but powerful insight into the reason Magda Goebbels chose to murder her own children. It isn’t a happy read, but I love books that pack an emotional punch in this way.

My Favourite Book of the Year:

Far From The Tree: A Dozen Kinds of Love

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

The only 2013 release I’ve awarded 5 stars to is Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. This non-fiction book will make you look at disability, parenting and society in a whole new light. The world would be a better place if everyone read it.

Have you read any of these books?

Did you love them as much as I did?

If you’d like to see which books other bloggers are recommending head over to Kim’s advent calendar, where a different blogger reveals their favourite book of the year each day.

We Love This Book also have a great list of blogger favourites.

I’ll be back soon with a list of my favourite reads from the past year.

 

 

 

 


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34 Comments

  1. David says:

    I haven’t read any of those you’ve picked out, Jackie. Other than ‘The Signature of All Things’ and ‘Magda’ I haven’t fancied any of them, so perhaps it’s time for me to have another look at them.

    There have been a few 2013 books that I’ve really loved. I haven’t read as much British fiction as usual this year (not by design, simply they haven’t been the books that appealed to me) and that is reflected in my favourites, which would be:

    ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ by Richard Flanagan (Aus)
    ‘The Lion Seeker’ by Kenneth Bonert (Can)
    ‘Eleven Days’ by Lea Carpenter (US)
    ‘Minister Without Portfolio’ by Michael Winter (Can)
    ‘Barracuda’ by Christos Tsiolkas (Aus)
    ‘Someone’ by Alice McDermott (US)
    ‘Coal Creek’ by Alex Miller (Aus)

    I’ve also read some cracking 2013 story collections (not your thing I know!):

    ‘Something Like Happy’ by John Burnside (UK)
    ‘Little Raw Souls’ by Steven Schwartz (US)
    ‘You Only Get Letters from Jail’ by Jodi Angel (US)
    ‘Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility’ by Théodora Armstrong (Can)
    ‘Stay Up With Me’ by Tom Barbash

    I’m looking forward to your list of favourite reads of the year. I have two that stand head and shoulders above the rest (one from 1954, one from 1985) and they’ll likely enter my personal pantheon of all-time favourites – usually I count myself lucky to read ONE book like that in a year.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, Thanks for the list of favourites! I haven’t read any of them, but it is interesting to note that hardly any of them were actually published in the UK this year. I think that just confirms that it has been a poor year for fiction in this country and with most of your list being published here next year it looks as though 2014 will be a cracking year! I’m especially looking forward to all those Australian books on your list.

  2. I haven’t read any of these, Jackie, but am nearly halfway through The Signature of All Things on audio and think it’s wonderful! Will take a closer look at the others.

    1. Jackie says:

      JoAnn, It is great to hear that the audio version is good so far. I look forward to comparing notes on the entire book soon :-)

  3. Marina Sofia says:

    I’ve heard such good things about Far from the Tree (including an interview with the author on radio). It’s certainly on my wishlist but a bit expensive and hard to find over here in France.

    1. Jackie says:

      Marina, It is an expensive book, but I thought it was worth every penny. If you aren’t in the situation where your parent/child is different from you in some way then it probably won’t be as important. It is still worth reading, but perhaps wait for the paperback?

  4. Marie says:

    Ooh, great list – I haven’t heard of some of these. Looking forward to your review of The Signature Of All Things. I have to agree that I haven’t been wowed too much by any 2013 books either. Kiss Me First has to be one of my favourites.

    1. Jackie says:

      Marie, Glad you hear that you enjoyed ‘Kiss Me First’. Christmas/New Year is fast approaching so I’m not sure I’ll be able to squeeze in a review before I get swept up in the festivities, but I should have it up early in the New Year.

  5. Kailana says:

    I haven’t read any of them, but they all sound really good!

    1. Jackie says:

      Kailana, I hope you enjoy any that you decide to try.

  6. Loved Kiss me First – Rosie Project, not so much.

    I think you read Tell the Wolves I’m Home, another book that I loved (think I read it in 2013)

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, Great choice! I LOVED ‘Tell the Wolves I’m Home’! It was one of my favourites of 2012: http://www.farmlanebooks.co.uk/2012/the-best-books-of-2012-so-far/
      Strange that such an American book was released in the UK before the US – you’d expect it to be the other way round. Nevermind. At least we’ve both discovered its brilliance!

  7. Alison P says:

    I’ve read (and enjoyed) 4 on your list (Kiss me First, The Rosie Project, The Son and Magda) and another 5 are on my TBR bookshelves patiently waiting – hope you realise the influence you bloggers have…!! I’ve read good things about Someone by Alice McDermott from David’s list

    1. Jackie says:

      Alison, It is so lovely to know that you are trying my selection and they are working for you. I hope that you enjoy the rest just as much.

  8. Great selection – I have The Rosie Project on my wishlist, along with The Last Banquet, but I’m not going to squeeze them in this year: perhaps they’ll be my favourites in 2014!

    1. Jackie says:

      Vicki, I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did!

  9. Sandy says:

    I always have to pay attention when you rate a book highly. I DID listen to Kiss Me First, and it was really good…very gripping and definitely makes you think about today’s social media and technology! My book club chose The Rosie Project for our January meeting, so I’ll be reading that next.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I’ve persuaded my book group to read The Rosie Project so I hope it makes an interesting discussion for us both. Fingers crossed you enjoy it as much as I did.

  10. Annabel says:

    I have only read Magda and the Rosie Project from your list and loved them both. I plan to read the Grimwood very soon – each review I’ve seen of it tells me I will love it too, and the Lottie Moggach book sounds interesting too. Lovely list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I think you’ll love the Grimwood and the Moggach. I hope you decide to try them soon :-)

  11. JoV says:

    Always love this top 10 posts of yours. None of it I have read before, also due to the fact I haven’t read much this year. I am going to add “Far from the tree” and Rosie project in my list. Big thanks!

    1. Jackie says:

      Thanks Jo! I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.

  12. kimbofo says:

    Great list, Jackie. There’s a few on there that will make my top 10 too (which I haven’t put together yet), including Tampa and My Notorious Life.

    And thanks for linking to my advent calendar and taking part in it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I look forward to seeing which books make your list as I’ll be reading any I haven’t tried yet :-)

  13. Hannah says:

    Thanks for this post! I haven’t actually read any of these, so you’v given me some ideas for new things to put on my To Read list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Hannah, I hope you find something you will enjoy reading!

  14. Lu says:

    I haven’t read any of these! But The Rosie Project and Far From the Tree are high on my list of books that I want to read next year!

    1. Jackie says:

      Great choices! I look forward to seeing what you think of them :-)

  15. Charlie says:

    I’ve only read Magda from your list (I want to read Far From The Tree) but I have to agree, it’s an excellent book. I think the angle the author took, the daughter’s perspective, was such a good choice, it made it all the more powerful.

    1. Jackie says:

      Charlie, Yes, Magda was very cleverly structured and managed to fill an awful lot into such a short book. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did.

  16. Kerri says:

    Out of all the books you have chosen, I have read The view on the way down and wasn’t disappointed. I totally agreed this year choices of fiction books has been hard going, therefore I ended up going through my list of 2012 that I hadn’t read. However 125 books down this year I can’t wait for 2014 instalment and await it with eagerness.

  17. A lovely list Jackie! I must get round to reading Tampa, seen it on a few lists, bought it ages ago but not read yet. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, look forward to your posts in 2014!

  18. Cleo says:

    I have The Signature of All Things on my TBR so I will look out for your review of that. I started the year really well with some great reads but the second half wasn’t quite so good. I have read Kiss Me First and The Rosie Project (which got 5 stars from me) so I will check out the others on your list.

  19. It was hard not to love The Rosie Project… and The Signature of All Things was surprisingly good. Both made my list too.

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