2013: My Favorite Books So Far

It’s true; I’ll admit to it readily.

I’m kind of a book nerd.

I’ve been on a big reading binge for the last year or so, and I’ve been loving it.  I just hit 50 books read so far this year–you can see them all here, if you’re curious–#50 was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

So in honor of my nerdy milestone, here are some of my favorite books I’ve read this year.  And no, not all of these came out this year; these are just my favorites I’ve read so far.

My favorite novel so far:  After Dark by Haruki Murakami

(Runners up:  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Bridget Jones’ Diary)

I’ve never read Murakami before, but I after this, I’ll seek out more of his books.  It’s lovely, completely odd, and totally unforgettable and fascinating.  This book is set during one night in Tokyo–from midnight until dawn.  The book is grounded by the main characters Mari and Takashi, who meet at a 24-hour Denny’s that night.   The surreal elements sprinkled throughout the book might not be for everyone, but I loved the small, lovely moments Murakami creates, regardless of the weirdness–the conversation Mari and Takashi have when they first meet was captivating.  Short, sweet, and phenomenal.

My favorite YA book so far:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

(Runner up:  Code Name Verity, The Raven Boys)

This book caught me off guard with its awesomeness. It’s a simple story–misfits Eleanor and Park meet and fall in love… which kind of sounds horrible when I think about it.  Plus, it switches point of view between the two main characters, which is one of my book pet peeves.  But in spite of all that, somehow, it all works.  It’s really great little love story without the cutesy ridiculousness that bothers me about a lot of YA romance.  This quality of this book blew me away; I loved every bit of it.  I’ve already requested Rainbow Rowell’s next book, Fangirl, at the library.

My children’s lit. pick:  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

(Runner up:  The One and Only Ivan)

I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon for this book (since it won the Newbery three years ago), but I’m pretty glad I did. This is a phenomenal little story–for anyone, not just for kids.  Miranda, the main character, is a normal 6th grader in NYC, until she begins to receive mysterious notes from someone who appears to know her future–kind of an ambitious premise for a children’s book.  The references to A Wrinkle in Time were fun, but the characterization and setting actually reminded me more of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler–definitely a good thing, since that’s one of my all-time favorites.   Smart and charming and clever and likable.  Check it out if you haven’t yet.

My favorite nonfiction:  The Glass Castle

(Runners up:  Relish:  My Life in the Kitchen, Book Love)

It’s hard to believe that this is a true story, and it’s even harder to believe that someone could have that kind of a crazy childhood, become successful, and then be secure enough to write about it.   I recently read an interview with Jeannette Walls and her mother, who is now living in a cottage on her daughter’s property.  Really interesting, considering how horrifyingly irresponsible her parents came across in this book.  I had a bunch of students recommend this book to me, and I’m glad they did. I really liked it. It was very readable; it had great pacing and flow, which I think is sometimes lacking in nonfiction.

Lots and lots of good books–some disappointments, too (I’m looking at you, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, The Book of Lost Things, and Blood, Bones and Butter).  If anyone has recommendations for my next 50 this year, let me know!

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