I am back with my end of the year book report. In 2013, I really enjoyed reading, at a pace and intensity I haven't experienced since high school. Some days I think there is hardly anything better than working at a library and being able to spend a few free moments here and there browsing the stacks and bringing home more books than I know what to do with.
In no particular order (except, actually, the order I read them in) my nine favorite books from the year:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I came to the Hunger Games series pretty late - which was mostly due to my resistance of its popularity (which I know is a silly thing when it comes to engaging stories, but I was stubborn). All the same, I knew I'd love it, and that I'd read it some day - and it was certainly a treat! I've still got to read the last two in the series, which is totally on my 2014 reading list.
Wool by Hugh Howey. This book was a game changer for me. I'd been in a reading slump (and have been for what feels like years) when I picked this monster of a book up and couldn't put it down. I loved it. It is an apocalyptic tale, of sorts, but I 100% recommend it even if you, like me, aren't really into sci-fi. You'll be in to this. There are two more books in this series - and they are top of my list for 2014!
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I needed to read this book, and I was so glad once I had. (Or, once I had listened to it, actually, it was an audiobook.) The author spent a year with her family of four eating only things they could grow them selves or get locally, and I am totally in the head space with the author - I agree this is the direction most of us need to be heading, and because of that I completely lapped it up. There are so many things this book taught me to strive for. Not to mention I now (still) have an overwhelming desire to raise chickens and make my own cheese and can hundreds of pounds of tomatoes in the summer.
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. I read a lot of graphic novels, and a lot of them will roll out of my mind quickly, but this one is stuck. It's up there for me with Watchmen and Persepolis. Three separate story lines merge into one, and at the end of this short story (took me far less than 2 hours to read), I was struck with awe and a new outlook. That's not ordinary in a book, so you know it's special when it does happen.
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I grew up on the Disney cartoon of Peter Pan, as well as the live action film with Mary Martin, but I'd never actually read the book! I loved it (especially the audiobook version read by Jim Dale - his voice is magical!), even though it moved slow at times and there was quite a lot of talk about dying and killing, which is something I don't like to pop up too much in children's books. But it is magical, and part of it, I am sure, is that the story is so nostalgic to me. It is truly worth a read, and absolutely worth a re-read once I have kids who are old enough to hear it. (Oh, my heart swoons at the thought of sharing my favorite stories with far-away children.)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This book. This was my favorite book of the year. My favorite book in a very long time. I read it in less than 24 hours (it's well under 200 pages) and I felt the heartbroken at the end, simply because it was over and I didn't want to leave the world. I'd never been a Neil Gaiman fan, but this converted me and I can't wait to get my hands on everything he has ever written. This book is mythical, and magical, and yet so normal and plausible. I can imagine it happening for real, I can almost strain in certain parts of the story to feel like it happened, once, to me.
The World's Strongest Librarian by Joshua Hanagarne. Working in libraries and striving to one day (soon!) go to library school, I literally jump at any and all memoirs about other people's experiences in libraries. This was a good one. It had a few long stretches of things I wasn't expecting, but it was honest and clear and it made me love what I do. And anything that is all those things is certainly a good thing.
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I listened to all 5 of these books on tape throughout the year, and I loved the series. It's geared towards children (the library shelves it in the juvenile section), but I think of it as more of a young adult series. There are harsh topics touched on, in gentler and more slight ways than the Harry Potter series does, but it's certainly similar, and still an incredible growing up story. I'd love to go through the adventures with Percy again some day.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved the Lord of the Rings movies when they came out in the early 2000s, but I was immediately thrown off when I tried to read the books. They were dense and rambly and my pre-teen brain couldn't wrap it's head around the poetry. So I had always written The Hobbit off for the same reasons - but I picked it up again. And read it, with a brain that could finally appreciate the beauty of the storytelling just as much as it could appreciate the story. It was a wonderful book, and I look forward to reading the rest of Tolkien's work in the future!