My favorite photo of the year.
Two thousand thirteen came with its share of challenges. It was a heartbreaking year, one in which it seemed like one bad thing kept happening after the other. There was also much to celebrate, however. For instance, watching my daughter grow and learn (and just how fun she is!) adopting the amazing Gracie (who is so cuddlicious!), going on a family vacation this past summer, spending time with our families, and just being together. There is also how grateful I am for this blog, and, most especially for all of you.
I have always believed that my reading coincides with my moods and where I am in life currently. I did a lot of comfort reading this year, delving deep into mysteries and fantasy novels. Books are my therapy, in a sense. I also did quite a bit of soul searching, sometimes without realizing it. I read a number of books that touched me to the core, helped me through the rough spots, with characters I could see myself in. It was a good reading year.
I enjoyed answering Jamie's (The Perpetual Page Turner) End of the Year Survey last year and decided to join in again this year. I did alter some of the questions and subtracted a few to make it my own.
1. Best books read in 2013?
I read some wonderful books this past year, but I think these five stand out the most in terms of books I read in either print or e-book format. It is impossible for me to put them in any particular order. Each one was amazing.
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
The House At the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
I did not read many nonfiction books in 2013, unfortunately, but I enjoyed the ones I did read. The one that I had the most fun reading was Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter.
Of the six audiobooks I listened to in 2013, Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin was by far my favorite.
2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
There were a couple of books I was hoping to like more than I did, if only because of all the hype and blogger love the books have already received. I cannot say I am too surprised about one. Stephen King's books are hit and miss with me, but rarely have I absolutely loved any of his books that I have read. The Shining was no different. The other book that disappointed me was The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans. I wanted to like it more than I did.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
I was not sure what to expect going into either Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and World War Z by Max Brooks, but both knocked my socks off.
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
I was recommending books right and left last year, and continue to do so. I even gave several copies of my favorites away as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. Of them all though, I think Christina Baker's The Orphan Train was the one that I recommended the most. I also highly recommended the audio version of William Landay's Defending Jacob to whoever would listen.
5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
Juliet Dark's Fairwick Chronicles swept me off my feet this past year. I fell in love with The Demon Lover and was just as impressed with the other two books in the trilogy, Water Witch and The Angel Stone. I do not often reread books, but this is a trilogy I would like to revisit again one day.
6. New authors you discovered in 2013 and hope to read more by?
While many of the new to me authors whose works I read or listened to last year won me over enough to want to try their other work, a few favorites stand out:
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Lynda La Plante
Simon Van Booy
Menna van Praag
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
When I was a teenager, I devoured romance novels. I burnt out on them eventually and have avoided them more often than not in recent years. This year, I wanted to spend more time exploring the genre and its sub-genres. While I did not read an abundance of romance novels, I did read some that came highly recommended by my fellow bloggers.
My two favorites, however, include Karen Marie Moning's Beyond the Highland Mist and Juliet Dark's The Demon Lover. I enjoy urban fantasy novels, many of which contain strong romance elements, and so it really isn't a big surprise I would be so taken with these novels. I did worry though, given how romance-focused they were, that I might not be easily drawn in. Boy, was I wrong.
8. Top five favorite covers of a books you read in 2013?
9. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
By far this would have to be Rebecca Walker's Adé: A Love Story. The writing was beautiful and mesmerizing. It was like sliding a piece of chocolate onto my tongue and letting it melt in my mouth.
10. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
Two books in particular stand out: The House At the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. Both books spoke to my heart and soul. They came into my life at just the right moment.
Another book that had a strong impact on me was Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin. It was an extremely difficult book to take in, but ultimately one that I am glad I took the time to listen to.
A couple of the books I read caused me to loose sleep at night, including Night Film by Marisha Pessl and Elizabeth Haynes, Into The Darkest Corner. Both were engrossing reads that kept me on the edge of my seat. I still find myself tempted to check all the locks again thanks to Into the Darkness.
11.Shortest and longest book you read in 2013?
Die For Her by Amy Plum was the shortest book I read this past year at 60 pages. The longest was Stephen King's The Shining, which was 672 pages.
12. Book that you most wanted to talk about with someone else?
There were several, actually. We Need to Talk About Kevin and Defending Jacob most definitely, both touched on similar issues and provided much food for thought, especially from a parent's perspective.
Night Film is another that just begs to be discussed for much different reasons--probably the book I most would like to talk about. But maybe that's because I just finished the novel and am still walking around under its cloud.
13. Favorite book you read in 2013 by an author you’ve read previously?
Reading Sue Grafton's T is for Trespass was like coming home. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Kinsey Milhlone, and look forward to catching up with her again this year.
14. Genre you read the most from in 2013?
I would say a good 24 books I read this past year fall into the crime fiction category in some way. I read 73 books in all.
15. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of 2013?
I utterly failed the year long read-a-long for War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. My second attempt to read the book, and I couldn't manage it. I still want to try. Just maybe not yet.
I also attempted the What's In A Name 6 Reading Challenge, but came up short. I came in strong in four of the categories, but two (3 and 4), well, I did not manage to read books with titles that fit into those, as you can see. I did not go out of my way to read books that would meet the challenge requirements, I confess. So, I think I did pretty well considering.
1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title.The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
2. A book with something you'd find in your kitchen.A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri
3. A book with a party or celebration in the title.Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur (I know, totally doesn't fit--but it's a kind of party in twisted and wrong sort of way.)
4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title.Damn Him to Hell by Jamie Quaid (okay, so huge stretch--it's hot in Hell, right?)
5. A book with an emotion in the title.His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal
6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title.The Missing File by D.A. Mishani
Although I did not commit to reading any particular books this past year, I did make a list of hopefuls. I only read three of the books on the list.
1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy2. Garden Spells by Sara Addison Allen3. The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
4. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
5. Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian6. Nightwatch by Sarah Waters7. The Blind Assassin by Margeret Atwood8. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss9. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
10. The Outlander by Gil Adamson
At the beginning of 2013, I said I would read The Shining by Stephen King at the urging of Trish and Jill who led a read-a-long, and I did.
* * *
So many book bloggers I love and have followed over the years have stopped blogging or have scaled back considerably. I am determined to make it to year 10. After that, who knows. I was more consistent in posting to this blog in 2013 than I have been since 2011, although I took a number of unscheduled breaks here and there. I don't know that much will change in this New Year. I am less concerned about that as I once was.
I do not have the time I used to when I first started this blog. Meaning, time spent writing reviews and other posts has suffered as a result. I have given myself permission, however, to be more free with my reviews, write less if I want to or make them more personal reflections of how a book impacted me (which is what I prefer to do anyway). It's a constant balancing act, trying to find time to read and blog in between my other priorities. I am sure many of you can relate.
I have no set goals for this year. After much thought, I have decided not to participate in any challenges, with the occasional drop in for Carrie's "I've Always Meant to Read That Book!" Challenge. There are a number of books up for discussion this year that I too have been meaning to read. Now seems like a good time! I do want to take part in more of the book discussions in my one online reading group that has monthly group reads. I already have the first two books we are discussing for this year ready to go (Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie and The Husband's Secret by Lianne Moriarty). I also want to make 2014 a Year of Re-Discovery. I want to spend the year reading authors who are old favorites and dive into the back lists of authors who I have only tried once or twice. I will still be reading new books--I can't help myself--but expect to see some familiar authors and titles popping up too.
I do not know what 2014 will hold, but I am hopeful. I am looking forward to spending another year with you all, and hope you will continue to visit and comment when you can.
May 2014 be filled with much love, laughter and happy memories for you all--as well as many good books!
Mouse and Her Grandparents, Christmas 2013
© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.