I’ve been away from here awhile, trying to reduce my screen time in my free time with some good reads. My work is heavily centered around the computer and that often carried into the weeknights with side projects. I seldom watch television (by way of Netflix or Hulu) any more, but like many of us I’m heavily reliant on my phone. In 2013 I read quite a bit and midsummer I committed to making way through my growing book list and I’m eager to cross off many more titles in the new year.
Tina Fey’s Bossypants finally came home with me on a flight home from Virginia and I laughed aloud despite strangers next to me. Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me was similarly fast paced, but was not as funny as I’d hoped. Sometimes I grab paperback books for cents on Amazon and they accumulate in a “someday” to do pile. The Pickup by Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer was not an easy read, but a powerful and painful novel about an unlikely couple in post-apartheid South Africa. It was very different from anything I’ve read before, and deserves a second (slower) read.
For my birthday, Anna gave me two titles from my book list teasing I’m always one for dark stories. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman was one of my favorites of the year. It begins with a lighthouse keeper and his wife discovering a canoe washed ashore carrying a dead man and a baby and is gripping to the end. To the last page you feel strongly for these characters and how their choices affect them. I’ve already passed my copy to Neil and two friends. I think this won “best historical fiction” from Goodreads in 2013 and it’s well deserved.
Neil and I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair together and despite my tendency for sad books, this one was pretty tough the whole way through with a happy (?) ending and at least a strong look at socialism, unions, and dirty, dirty meat processing in Chicago. I was also fascinated with how the FDA arose not long after Upton shed light on the nasty conditions of those factories. Ick.
The Female Brain was a fast, captivating look into lady minds by neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine that I highly recommend men pick up. If you are curious about why women are more verbal, remember small details and behave differently than their male counterparts, this is a great. I flew through Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach this fall. Roach takes the macabre subject of death, dying, and all the things cadavers have accomplished in the name of science with just the right dose of comedy. If you have ever given thought to what happens when you donate your body to science and you aren’t easily squeamish, this one’s for you. I want to read her new book “Gulp” next!
I felt obligated to read the Hunger Games series, mostly so I could know what happens in the movies and they are such simple books…then I got sucked into three volumes of short stories by Alice Munro that I read cover to cover starting with The Moons of Jupiter. My favorite collection by far was Runaway for which she won the Nobel Prize in Literature last year. (you can read Runaway in its entirety on The New Yorker). The stories in Runaway revolve around love and betrayal. The characters she creates are so real and familiar and you struggle to understand them as they try to understand themselves. So good! Unfortunately I rented this one on my Kindle from the library. I’ll be ordering a paper copy to keep soon.
The end of my year was quite hectic and crazy with the holidays, work, and unexpected events, but I began The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt that will likely take me until the end of the month at a whopping 755 pages. I remember reading her last bestseller The Secret History in high school and so far this one is living up to the praise.
I know there were more, but these are at the top of my mind. I’m excited to spend my nights cozying up on the new couch with more good books in 2014!
What books did you have a hard time putting down in 2013? What are you looking forward to reading? Send me some recommendations for my list!