So the sun has set on 2013, and as we put away our trees, pack away our pressies (marching our unwanted ones to the charity shop or putting them away for handy regifting) I wanted to do a roundup of my favourite reads of 2013. I always have several books on the go between my kindle and my bedside table pile, but this year I want to make more of bedtime and get that glowing contented feeling from…. absorbing myself in a bloody good book (of course). I’m going to start by switching off the technology and not having my phone alarm next to my bed acting as a constant source of distraction for my idle thumbs. I love getting book recommendations from others and always have a wish list of things to read next, so hopefully my reading list might give you a few ideas of your own.
My #1 top read of 2013 was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Fantastical story about the mysterious Cirque de Rêves (Circus of Dreams) and its creators is so intricately described with rich detail it will set your imagination alight, you won’t be able to put it down and you will hope that when you go to sleep you get to wander the circus yourself.
This was truly the most un-put-downable page-turner I’ve read in a long time. The writing is great, the characters complex, the pace is perfect and just when you think it’s one thing then you go and realise it’s something else altogether and that they’ll be twists a plenty still to come. Part psychological thriller, part murder mystery, part unravelling of a relationship with the readability and occasional resemblance to One Day by David Nicholls or High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. This is truly original and a book that you will want all your friends to read so that you have someone to damn well talk about it with.
#3 – The Knife of Letting Go by Patrick Ness
In a town where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts through the noise, secrets can be hard to keep. This is the first in the young adult Chaos Walking trilogy where a boy and his dog journey into the unknown territories with a young girl with no noise, to escape his predetermined future and discover the truth about The New World.
You must have been sleeping for the past few years not to have noticed this smokin’ hot franchise. Even if Katniss’ indecision about whether she fancied a snog with Gale or Peta did get a bit dull, there’s no denying the first two books are hard to put down. In my opinion Mockingjay, the third book in the trilogy, lost it’s pace somewhat and Katniss lost her spunk but I’ll be interested to see how the movie studios spin it out into a two part movie with part 1 due out at the end of this year. If you feel like braiding your hair and donning some Katniss chic there’s even some pretty cool Hunger Games inspired jewellery on Etsy.
And for the non-fiction:
#1 – How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran
My top non-fiction read of 2013 by far. With every chapter I wanted to throw my hand in the air and shout “I HEAR YA, SISTER!” Caitlin Moran weaves in many entertaining anecdotes from her adolescence and beyond and dishes up her feminist words of wisdom on chapters on all the main hazards of being a woman from pubes and boobs to marriage and kids. This is a book you’ll want to read again and buy for all your female friends and relatives.
Bill Bryson doing what he does second best after travel writing, and that’s doing a ton of research and then serving it up for the layman. I loved his A Brief History of Nearly Everything in which he took on the dawn of the earth and civilization and made me wish I’d damn well listened in those school Physics lessons. This time he takes on the home, what we get up to in it, why we do what we do in it and why we live the way we do. Each chapter represents a room in his old rectory house and he retells the anthropological and historical roots of modern society as we know it with his distinctive brand of intelligence and wit. I would so want this guy at my fantasy dinner party.
#3 – MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
Finding friends as an adult is sooo much bloody harder than when you are at school or college. This is something that I’ve written about recently myself in Goldilocks where are you? Looking for Ms. Just right: Why does making friends past 30 seem so hard?
A lady called Rachel Bertsche took the challenge on, not only to find friends but a BFF, by having 52 friend dates in a year. Yes that’s one friend data a week for a whole year. And she did it! This book shares the story of her girl dates blended in with relevant psychological research about the challenges of making friends as an adult. When so many women will happily and openly search for a man, it’s craziness to think that it’s so taboo and sad to admit you need a few more female friends. This book is awesome – I urge you to read it.
#4 – Friendships Don’t Just Happen by Shasta Nelson
After reading MWF Seeking BFF, I got the ‘science of friendship’ bug and read this book by Shasta Nelson who founded girlfriendcircles. It’s an incredibly interesting guide to examining the existing relationships in your life, identifying the holes you want to fill and full of practical step-by-steps to understanding the process of forming and maintaining new relationships. It makes so much sense and isn’t patronising in the slightest. I found it a really enlightening read and will be a book I definately refer back to revisit certain areas. I found it particularly useful for gaining some insight into dealing with a certain FRENEMY which I plan to put into good use…
Luckily this Christmas I didn’t get too much for my charity run and in fact got a great selection of interesting books to add to my ever-growing pile. From a man’s impulsive 600 mile journey when he goes out to post a letter, to a teenage girl writing letters about her guilty secret to a convict on death row in Texas, to one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time written in 1960, to the epic family saga of forbidden love between a young girl and a priest to 50 shades of (air punching) feminism… Another task for 2014 is to get some decent bespoke book shelves built in my lounge so I can actually see all my books (instead of having them 3 rows deep) and have my own little personal library. I quite fancy myself sliding along on one of those old fashioned library ladders peering at my (colour coded of course) library shelves over my Lois Lane specs (I so need to get me some of those too).
I’m starting with this for my new year read, and I’m totally hooked…
Do let me know your comments on any of these books, or any recommendations of your own for my 2014 reading list.