Let’s kick things off with my favorite books from 2013, while I’m still adjusting to 2014. Quite a few of these books were published in 2013, but I included older titles as well–those need some love too!
Conspiracy of Faith
In Adler-Olsen’s third entry in the Department Q series, Detective Carl Mørck and his unorthodox team of assistants investigate a bloody message in a bottle that washes ashore 14 years after its composition. Conspiracy of Faith lives up to the expectations built by the first Department Q entry “The Keeper of Lost Causes”, and surpasses the somewhat disappointing follow-up “The Absent One”, with intricate plotting and suspense.
The first two parts of this history/personal memoir hybrid detail the thrills of ballooning and of new love, and the inevitable plunges back to earth for each. These serve as a preamble to the final section, in which Barnes meditates upon the deep grief that accompanied the loss of his wife.
“Any Human Heart” is the personal journals of the fictional Logan Mountstuart, a remarkable man who wanders through much of the twentieth century, as a spy, a writer, a soldier, and a lover. I found myself rooting for Mountstuart, despite his deep flaws in character, through all his triumphs and tragedies in this clever and moving novel.
Willa Cather’s best novel details an aging professor whose routine is upset by the move to a new house. He clings to the past and reflects back on the impact that an idealistic student had on his family.
This coming-of-age tale of a young boy and his other-worldly tormentor haunted me long after the book was finished. “Ocean” is Neil Gaiman’s best novel since “Coraline”.
Following a global outbreak that wipes out much of the population, pilot Hig, his dog, and a gruff survival partner Bangley struggle to protect what’s left of their existence. Heller’s novel is less about physical survival and more a meditation on spiritual survival in a world where so much has been stripped away.
Though very different in form and tone, Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep” was a welcome follow-up to “The Shining”. Worth reading if for no other reason to find out just what happened to those characters decades later.
Full of twists of plot and parallel points of view, “Alex” lives up to its “exhilarating, literary, Hitchcockian” (Le Monde) description. Due to some brutally violent scenes, it’s not for everyone, but I for one look forward to the next translation in the Commandant Camille Verhoeven series.
Simsion’s debut novel is best consumed with a large bowl of popcorn by your side. Despite hitting all the standard plot points expected in a romantic comedy, I still flew through the pages “The Rosie Project” pulling for self-micromanaged Don to set aside his social quirks and find his perfect match.
Tenth of December
Those who enjoy biting satire will find much to love in these complex and dark morality tales from Saunders. His previous collection, “Civilwarland in Bad Decline”, is also a winner.
The adventures of Bertie Wooster and his faithful valet Jeeves are always good for a laugh, and this one just might be Wodehouse’s funniest.
Have a beloved book from last year that you want to recommend? Talk to us in the comments section!
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