It’s a bit trite, but seriously, where did 2013 go?
Normally at this time of year I’m ready for a new year to begin and have no qualms about saying good bye to the old year. But 2013 was a pretty incredible year for me and while I know 2014 will also be a memorable one (I’m getting married!), I’m a little sad for this year to be over. Aside from the insane amount of books I was able to read (115! A personal best) I got to travel to Edinburgh and Amsterdam, visit with a bunch of faraway family members and wonderful friends, celebrate the engagements of several close friends and welcome a great friend back to my city.
But we’re here for the books. So here’s my obligatory look back at reading in 2013.
For the past 2 years I’ve participated in the 50 Book Pledge at the Savvy Reader. Last year I burned through 82 books but this year I somehow managed to read 115. It still blows my mind. Last year I felt that I hadn’t made enough of an effort to read non-fiction so this was the year that I was going to bring those numbers up. I managed to read 20 non-fiction books this year. I started out with Bill Bryson’s At Home which I loved, managed to make my way through the lives of several royals (Queen Christina of Sweden, King Charles I and his wife Queen Henrietta Maria and King George V, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas II) as well as the Churchills and a couple of incarnations of the Countesses of the Real Downton Abbey. I read about the business of Starbucks and loved Sheryl Sandberg’s take on women in the workplace.
But I’ve said it before, and I will keep saying it, the best non-fiction book I read this year (and possibly ever) was Far From the Tree. I will keep yammering on about this until you read it!
Early in the year I had read an article about trying to read more classics this year and I meant to do that too. But there was something in the water in 2013 where new fiction just dominated. Every time I turned around, there was some brand new must-read book on the shelves. I couldn’t keep up. So although I made time to read (and love) Les Miserables and Wives and Daughters, and to struggle through Villette, it definitely wasn’t a classics banner year. I did end up re-reading Mansfield Park (so much better this time around) and Northanger Abbey because as far as I’m concerned, a year without reading Jane Austen is a reading year wasted. Even though I read a good handful of classics this year, it wasn’t enough – 2014 will be better.
Let’s be honest – this was the year that I fully indulged my passion for crime fiction. I read books by Camilla Lackberg, Agatha Christie, Jo Nesbo, Gillian Flynn and Ian Rankin like it was my job. I wish that it was my job. You think I’m exaggerating but actually out of the 115 books I read, 27 of them were crime fiction. I’m making my way through Ian Rankin’s Knots and Crosses right now, the very first Inspector Rebus book, so it looks like 2014 will start with crime fiction too.
In between all the crime fiction I gorged on, I did manage to be surprised and delighted by a number of wonderful books. This past year I read an incredible amount of excellent books. Some highlights for you:
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – noteworthy for being the 100th book I read this year, it was a hilarious ride through history, chaperoned by one very crusty old man. I ended up being completely charmed by this one.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – similarly charming, this book managed to break my heart and grin like an idiot. Despite the heartbreak, this book was one of the most uplifting books I read this year. Bonus points for being a book about books and reading.
Me Before You – remember when we read this? Even now it gets to me. Funny, completely captivating and ultimately totally devastating, Me Before You was one of the best surprises this year.
The Cuckoo’s Calling – I remember waking up to the news that JK Rowling had written a book under a pseudonym and then being beaten to the bookstore and having to wait for days to get my hands on a copy. The Cuckoo’s Calling was classic Rowling, complete with accents, excellent names and wonderful characters with any number of flaws. Am very much looking forward to a follow up in this series!
This list is getting completely out of hand. For fear of already having bored you, here are some final titles for you: The Dinner (which I’m hoping to re-read soon as it’s our book club pick right now!), Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Where’d You Go Bernadette?, Crazy Rich Asians, The Rosie Project and The Dilettantes!
Happy New Year Book Lovers!