Best of 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

This year I read 32 books.... significantly less than I read since prior to 2008! I also did not focus on new releases as much (reading only 6 that were published this year). But, nonetheless, here are my favorites that I read this year regardless of publication date. Also, most of these have not yet been reviewed here but are coming up in the new year. :)


#5 The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons (2010)

Fascinating insight into how people can be deceived every day. You'd think you'd notice a gorilla walking across a video of kids bouncing a basketball... you'd be surprised!

#4 Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)

A glaring look at how hard it really is to get by or even get a jump start on grueling, minimum wage jobs.

#3 Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (2013)

Practical and succinct advice on how women can play bigger roles in the workplace. But also can be applicable to men in many ways.

#2 Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon (2012)

 As I stated in my review, "In Far From the Tree, Solomon chronicles the lives of various families whose children have created what Solomon terms "horizontal identities"; this refers to the new cultures their children are inherently born into as a result of the differences they're born with such as deafness, dwarfism, transgender, etc. Unlike "vertical identities" where one's children have essentially the same characteristics and life experiences, children with "horizontal identities" become part of a life that their own parents can't truly relate to. The premise of this book was to be the focus of the families themselves and how they manage their differences, but I found it to be more of a sociological study on the different groups Solomon reveals."

#1 Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind by Ellen F. Brown & John Wiley Jr. (2011)

This might be suited to a more specific demographic, those who find both the publishing industry interesting as well as the hugely loved and classic status of GWTW. Fascinating narrative about how the rights of GWTW were protected by the author herself despite all she was up against.


 #6 The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (2010)

I believe this was our book club's favorite this year. An Irish orphan is taken in by a plantation owner and lives and works with the slaves in the kitchen house. But as she becomes older and starts to be treated differently from the main house she struggles to maintain her familial relationships.

#5 It by Stephen King (1986)

Hubby and I read this book, about a group of kids trying to overcome a monster that kills children every 2-3 decades, in Sept/Oct and both really liked it. I surprised myself with how drawn I was to this and how much I flew threw it. I thought I'd be scared but turns out I can handle horror after all. (Thought that was something I left in my teens!) The only downside was that at almost 1100 pages, it was a tad too long and I did think there were some parts that could have been shorter. (Somehow it (the book as well as subsequently watching the movie) lessened my fear of clowns! Weird!

#4 Where'd Ya Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (2012)

This one was a surprise for me, but it has not left my head since I read it. Actually, hubby and I listened to the audio on a road trip this year, and the audio is fantastic. This story about an agoraphobic mom who promises her daughter a trip to Antarctica, who antagonizes the stuck up people at her daughter's school, and who corresponds with a personal assistant in India is so quirky and charming and fun! My husband feels the same way about this one. Turns out this is being made into a movie as well.

#3 Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (2012)

Last year I would have agreed with those who argued over the two, that The Yellow Birds was the quintessential novel about the Iraqi war. But then I read this, which has a completely different tone, and now I don't know! They're so different - this one being more light hearted and satirical - but either way this was one of my favorites this year.

#2 Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (2013)

I don't necessarily know about the comparisons this one has received to Gone Girl. It's different. But it does give you a similar rush when reading and by the end I felt like I had been punched in the gut! Maybe that's not a good metaphor, LOL, but I could not put this one down.

#1 Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (2012)

Like I said, full review to come later, but this was so good and so creative! I put it off for so long because of how vague I felt the description was but I loved this one!

2013 Year In Review

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 was quite a different year in blogging for me, as I took an inadvertent hiatus. Things had already been slowing down at the end of last year, but this year I only had TEN posts... the entire year!!!  Although I miss the book blogging community (and am noticing that a lot of other book bloggers have sort of disappeared too), I did find the break and change in priorities relaxing. I didn't feel the silly pressure to read or obligation to review new books, and I found time for other hobbies and activities. But the downfall was that I ultimately overwhelmed myself by focusing too much on work and sort of forgot how to escape work by putting time into hobbies. And then that translated into not being able to take work off my mind EVER. So I do realize I need more balance overall.

This year, to date, I've only read 32 books (and may finish one more by the end). But I feel pretty good about that. I have not written reviews for most of those books but still plan on it! So maybe I'll end up having a lot to post in this new year. As far as the blog itself, I've made some efforts to make it more anonymous than it was. Anyone know how to/if I can change the main blogger sign in a different google mail account? Also this year I joined a dinner party book club started by my sister and some of her friends, and I was able to invite one of my best friends who recently moved back from New York after several years, so that has been a fun outlet.

As for the non-reading year itself, the hubby and I finally jumped back into dealing with our fertility issues which included additional tests, another HSG, an MRI, and ultimately surgery for me in July. Then I had the mandatory waiting period and we have finally started the next step. For travel, we took a road trip to North Carolina to visit my brother-in-law and his fiance, and in November we took a family trip (husband's side of the family) to Thailand for two weeks! Would you believe that with over 24 hours of travel in each direction, a 10 hour road trip (each way), and other bits of free time I only finished reading one book (and one novella)!?

So when it comes to blogging, I'm still around, and I do still read my favorite blogs (though I still need to comment more). But it probably won't ever be like it was for that few year stretch there! I will be back in a few days with my best-of-2013 lists!Here's to making blogging (and reading) fun again and not full of silly pressure in the new year!