As promised, here are the top five books from my best of 2013 list. . .
#5 - The Police by Jo Nesbo
Many have described Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series as the successor to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. Other than both being crime/mysteries and both authors being Scandinavian, I really don't see the parallel. Nesbo's books to me are much more a classic detective series. They lack the brutality of Dragon Tattoo. Harry Hole is a brilliant detective character with an uncanny ability to remember tidbits and put pieces together, all the while battling inner demons that leave you rooting for him. All of the books in the series are fabulous. I have heard rumor that there will be only one more. As is often the case with serial writers, the writing matures with each installment and that is true of Nesbo's work as well, though the series is not his first foray into literature. The Police was a true page turner and the entire series is worth checking out if you like this genre.
#4 - And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Having read Hosseini's Kite Runner - a novel I enjoyed for it's beautiful writing even though it was an emotionally difficult read - I was expecting captivating prose and was not disappointed. Unlike Kite Runner, this novel isn't quite as gut-wrenching. To be honest Kite Runner so impacted me that I have not yet picked up A Thousand Splendid Suns (though I may now). And the Mountains Echoed was a beautiful tale of survival and love. While still an emotionally wrought book, Mountains lacks the violence of Kite Runner, while the poetic wordsmithing still brings to life a beautiful, yet harsh and remote world. A book destined to become a classic, I highly recommend reading it!
#3 - Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
The story of a struggling, professional single mother who gets the devestating news her daughter has committed suicide, only to start receiving mysterious texts indicating that her daughter's death was anything but what it seemed. This is an amazingly captivating story that switches between traditional narrative and text message conversations as you journey with Kate to uncover the story behind Amelia's death. A fabulous, fast read that will hook you from the beginning.
#2 - Endangered - Eliott Schrefer
One of my college roommates has, in my mind, a dream job in that she is a young adult buyer for Scholastic books. She is my go-to for recommendations and last year she struck gold when she introduced me to The Raven Boys. This year she steered me toward Endangered and it was fabulous! The story of a young girl's desperate struggle to survive in the African jungle living with a group of bonobos from the sanctuary her mother runs. This tale of survival and familial bonds and the love between a girl and pets that are more than animals, is beautifully written. This was one of those books that I couldn't put down because I had to know how it ended but that I didn't want to ever finish reading at the same time.
#1 - The Fault in Our Stars - John Greene
Toni Morrison is my favorite author but John Greene is a very close second after reading Looking for Alaska and now, my favorite book of last year, The Fault in Our Stars. His writing transports you, his characters embrace you and when you finish his stories you feel changed. The Fault in Our Stars is a truly mesmorizing and haunting tale of living in the face of death. Teenage Hazel has battled terminal cancer her entire life and struggles with the point of it all until Augustus shows up at her support group. Augustus, who is in remission, teaches Hazel to embrace life, to look for adventure and beauty everywhere. This book brought tears of joy and of sorrow and left me reminded of how profoundly lucky we all are - despite whatever troubles we face - to be alive. I have no doubt this will be a book I will pick-up repeatedly over the years.
There you have it - my top ten books from 2013. I hope you find something to checkout. What were some great reads on your 2013 list? My "to read 2014" list is already long but there is always room for more suggestions!