Hemning Sternberg (moonshadow) wrote in bookish,
Hemning Sternberg

My Best Books of 2013

This is the second year I have posted a "best books" list without logging every single book that I read throughout the year. That is interesting in part because I have to think back and figure out what books stayed with me the most, as opposed to only going by my initial reactions.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson A- I found it interesting that one month this year, the Indie next list had two books on it called Life After Life. I was only interested in one of them. This is a very unusual book, and it's mostly set in Europe before and during the World Wars. Most of the really terrific books I've read so far this year are nonfiction but this one was excellent.

The Essential Rumi edited by Coleman Barks (I found this in a box of my stuff while clearing out my parents' attic and decided it was time) - A If you haven't read Rumi, you should. I'm really glad I committed to actually finishing this book.

A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Bornstein (you know how much I like her) - B+ and it made me want to hug every trans and genderqueer person I know. It would be worth it just for her description of life as a Scientologist.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie A Man, why did I never read this book before? I think it's because I thought it would be sort of sleazy. How to make people like you and do what you want. Boy, I sure was wrong. I mean, it IS about that but it is the furthest thing from sleazy I could imagine. Using what I'm learning from it is already helping me.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. A- (I found this book at a thrift store.) This book is just so sweet and reminds me of my days as a goth.

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman et al. A-. This is a really creative take on Marvel superheroes in Elizabethan England. A- because i didn't love the artwork.

What Makes Love Last by John Gottman (I was inspired to read this by a class I took that talked a lot about communication.) A John Gottman does actual research on couples to find out what makes relationships work. Some of what he says is a little hard to map onto poly relationships, but I found it to be very valuable nonetheless.

Wool by Hugh Howey. A. Think the postapocalyptic novel is done and tired? Think again. This novel about a group of survivors in a silo (who believe God provided their silo with everything they need) will rock your world.

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson. A. This is a fascinating science fiction piece set in a matristic postapolcalyptic Brazil. That's not enough for you? Then let's bring in some queer characters and a lot of guerilla art and make the whole thing noncolonial. If you're not ready to read it now, I'm not sure what to tell you.

The Expats by Chris Pavone. A-. Kate has a secret from her husband - she is a retired CIA agent. When the two move to Europe with their small children, they meet a couple who Kate begins to suspect are also not what they seem. Her dilemma about what to say to her husband about this is only the first of many as a tense and tangled plot unfolds.

The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro A (I was inspired to read this because it is the Somerville Reads book this year. I am glad I moved through the reluctance I felt because I didn't like last year's book, Farm City.) A fascinating book about secrets, art, relationships, reputation, and success. I read it in less than a day.

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon (this is a really long, intense, amazing book - I was sad when I began the last chapter even though it was 1200 pages long) - A+ for a completely new way of thinking about identity, and compulsive readability all the way through.
Tags: review list: yearly

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