Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Books of the Year 2013 and of Things to Come

Time for my favorite post of the year!  This was a good year for me in terms broadening my reading and, better still, I wasn't merely reading new-to-me stuff for the sake of doing it, rather, I actually like poetry.  A huge thank you to The Parrish Lantern for many a good suggestion in that category.  An unofficial goal for next year will be to continue to seek out new poets that I like, just as I do with fiction.    

I read all of seven books of poetry this year and if I learned nothing else it is that poetry slows me down more than fiction.  Why this is I don't know for certain, but I'd guess it has something to do with my inability to quickly pick up on the obvious important stuff upon first reading.  

I finished eight short story collections which I'm pretty sure is a record for me.  

I finished thirty novels; forty-five total 'books.'  

This is officially not a "Best Books of 2013" list.  I've only read three books from this year.  As such, these are the books that stood out to me--enough to merit some special designation--at the end of my year of reading.

Favorite work by a new to me Author

Poetry.  Thanks to Ted Huges for Crow; Thomas Lux for Half-Promised Land, John Siddique for Full Blood, David Lloyd for Warriors.  I don't yet know what I'm doing in reading poetry nor do I feel confident to talk about what I like and why, but I do know what I like, and I'm hoping to find more of it in the coming year.  

The "Dear God, Why did I put up with Reading this Book" Award

The Ocean at the End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman and Among Others by Jo Walton.  I'm pretty sure nothing happened in either one of these books and I like it when things happen… Both books certainly have their fans and that's fine by me, but I didn't see the attraction to either.

Biggest Surprise

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.  I've no idea why this hit me as hard as it did but I loved every word---at times against my own volition.

Stories that I can't get out of my mind

"Kiss me Hardy!" is a phrase from Code Name Verity that I'll probably never get out of my head.  It was a great story--and a well written one--that I didn't care for.  It just wasn't for me but yeah, I don't think I'll ever forget it.  

Everybody has Everything by Katrina Onstad is a story that so many of us experience everyday: how could it be forgotten?  The End of the Whole Mess by Stephen King from Wastelands is a short story that manages to combine sentiment, wit, and the end of the world all in twenty pages.  I don't think I've ever read a novel of his but wow is he good at short stories.  The Matter of Seggri by Ursula K Le Guin in The Birthday of the World--for me--is quiet literally unforgettable.  It made me think and see things in a new ways until my head hurt, and it was a pleasurable pain at that.  I'm partial to Sara Zarr (okay, honestly: I'm in love with her) so year I remember Story of a Girl very well.    

The Best Book I Read in 2012

Happily, I'm skipping over the 'favorite' category as it gave the judges and viewers such fits last year.  

There are three books in the running: The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin, Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown and Soon I will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.  I've said enough about each of these books already so follow the links for more: read them all.  They are all great.  

It's been six months and I still get ridiculously excited thinking about Perfect Escape.  I loved it.  I wanted to be in the car on this road trip to yell at people and fix everything.  When it was over all I wanted to do was undergo the anxiety of being with them more and reading it again.    

So what's coming next year?  I won't be surprised if there is a good bit of science fiction, and books in a series.  I've also singled out ten books that I absolutely must read this coming year if only because it seems I've been avoiding them for a long time.  They are all really big and scary looking with lofty reputations.  If I were to make a new year's commitment--which I'm not--it would be to make certain I get through those ten before 2015.

Happy New Year.     


Maria said...

Will you share what are the ten books you are considering?

Chad Hull said...

I addressed this matter just for you!