As the year comes to a close, looking back I realize I read a good little selection of books this year. As usual, I probably didn’t read as much as I could have but when you work in the publishing industry, time to curl up with a good book is hard to come by (surprising, I know). As we gather round with friends and family during this holiday season, I hope everyone has a chance to spend quality time and maybe even find a new special read and enjoy my Top 5 Books of 2013.
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I was finally able to work my way through this book after attempting to read it countless times in probably the last 8 or so years. I rarely give up on a book entirely, and my mum assured me I would like it once I worked my way through it. This proved to be true, and it didn’t hurt that the release of the movie this Thanksgiving gave me a bit of motivation. Told from the unique perspective of “Death” this book is incredibly sad and yet extremely worth the read.
Book Synopsis: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I will preface this by saying I don’t just love this book because I share the same first name as the author, but it does help. Ms. Flynn has the rare talent of pulling the reader in within the first pages of the story…I truly never wanted to put it down. Her simple writing style captivated me, as well as her brilliant storytelling. If you’re looking for a book that will keep you guessing, Gone Girl and Gillian’s other novels should be at the top of your list. Keep an eye out for the film adaptations as well!
Book Synopsis: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
3. Defending Jacob by William Landay
After reading Gillian Flynn’s novels I was on a bit of a suspense kick. Because of my reading choices, Amazon graciously tipped me off to William Landay’s Defending Jacob. I was at once hooked by the desperation of a father trying against all odds to protect his son from the court system that he has devoted his life to as a DA. Like Gillian Flynn, Landay’s writing had an ever-present power of keeping me on my toes. And just when you think the twists and turns are over…think again.
Book synopsis: Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected. Admired in the courtroom. Happy at home with the loves of his life, his wife, Laurie, and teenage son, Jacob. Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son—shy, awkward, mysterious Jacob. Andy believes in Jacob’s innocence. Any parent would. But the pressure mounts. Damning evidence. Doubt. A faltering marriage. The neighbors’ contempt. A murder trial that threatens to obliterate Andy’s family. It is the ultimate test for any parent: How far would you go to protect your child? It is a test of devotion. A test of how well a parent can know a child. For Andy Barber, a man with an iron will and a dark secret, it is a test of guilt and innocence in the deepest sense.
4. The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls
The book absolutely captured my heart as a lover of both reading and writing. At the same time as I was reading Ms. Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle, my Granny, by chance, was reading her fiction novel, The Silver Star. The parallels between her memoir and The Silver Star are evident and yet still incredibly fascinating. The bond between Bean and her older sister Liz is beyond heartwarming and engaging and their story is one I will always remember with fondness.
Book synopsis: It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.
An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town—a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister—inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz.
5. Salem VI: Chain of Souls by Jack Heath & John Thompson
It wouldn’t truly be a top 2013 countdown without witches, would it? The sequel to the popular Rebecca’s Rising book (a 2014 movie is in the works) left me spellbound and curious as to what would become of the main character, John Andrews. Readers will be surprised by this next installment in the Salem Witch Trilogy and kept guessing until the very end. After reading, you’ll agree that we are ready for book III.
Book synopsis: Weeks after Salem newspaper editor John Andrews avenges his wife’s four-year-old cold case murder, he’s thrust into the mayhem of another mystery. The Coven, who’s kept tight their secrets of power and blood-lust for centuries, is bent on silencing Andrews. Though his nightmares tell him otherwise, he’s willing to keep things under wraps until there’s proof—he’s a newsman after all. But when the Coven kidnaps his daughter, Andrews must further reveal Salem’s murky past—his daughter’s life depends on it. As the Coven’s onslaught continues and the body’s pile up, good souls and bad, Andrews learns that Salem isn’t the only place controlled by the Coven. It’s an international organization on a dark mission with an even darker past. And so begins the witch-hunt.
What were your favorite reads this year? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!