Monday, December 30, 2013

The Best Books of 2013 According to, Well, Pretty Much Everybody

It is that time of year. The calendar is running out of days, and pretty soon we'll all be making resolutions we may or may not keep, figuring out our reading goals for the new year, while being completely unable to switch over from 2013 to 2014 anytime we have to write the date.  It's also time for all the lists of "Bests" according to everyone with an opinion.  My favorite local radio station has been encouraging their listeners to complete their "obligatory year end survey", choosing the Philadelphia metropolitan area's favorite modern rock tunes, bands, etc. of the ending year.  It is no different for the reading community.  

I know how very subjective the reading experience is. I also know that way more books are published every year than I can possibly get to, a fact which pains me often. I like to see the books that consistently show up on the "you should be reading this now" lists throughout the year and the best books lists at year's end.  I get to feel very satisfied with myself when I've read and enjoyed them. Since I know that I missed so very many, books appearing on multiple lists get pushed up to the top of the TBR list.  

And, now I present, my list of all of the Best Books of 2013 lists that I've seen so far.  

  • January Magazine has their list of The Best Crime Fiction Books of 2013.  They plan on posting other genres in the coming days, so check back for others.  I haven't read a single one of these.  As far as The Hour of the Rat goes, I read Brackmann's Year of the Tiger and I really didn't care for it.  I guess it wasn't much of a year in Crime Fiction books for me.
  • Buzzfeed books posted this list of 20 of the Best Children's Books of 2013.  I read and really enjoyed 5 of them and have requested most of the others from my local library.  I add a book to every gift I give every child for every occasion.  There are plenty of children's books that I'd like to put in the hands of adults that I know.  There seemed to have been a huge number of kid's books about trains this year.  I know a guy who is really into them and always wonder what he'd think of them.
  • Over at they've posted their list of the Best Books of 2013.   I haven't read any of these, either, but half of them have been on my TBR list since I saw them listed as up and coming books, before they were released.  I think that The Flame Throwers book should probably be my next read.  And, I can't figure out how it's possible that I've let the new Claire Messud book go unread this year.  I read her The Emperor's Children for The Morning News' Tournament of Books a few years ago.  I guess if this one gets picked for 2014, I'll be sure to get to it.
  • Bookish has really taken the best list seriously by including alternate choices for each of their categories.  This is an excellent list with so many varied selections.  Definitely see what they chose for their Bookish Awards for the Best Books of 2013.  They also posted articles on their Favorite Novels of the year. I know that YA isn't a genre, but its ever growing popularity makes it deserving of its own lists.  Bookish compiled theirs and you can find the results here.
  • You can read all the opinion and literary criticism you want, but there's no disputing the cold, hard numbers.  Here's Amazon's list of the Best Books of 2013, and by that, they mean the ones most often purchased.  Of course, it isn't only that.  In fact, the link takes you to a page offering lots of choices, Amazon's editors picks of the top 100, the best books for kids and teens. a selection of best book choices from celebrity authors and readers,  a selection of popular books to give as gifts, and they've even got a free kindle book available with essays and reading guides for some of their most popular books.  
  • I can't forget contributions from my beloved Flavorwire. Here's the list of their 15 Favorite Novels of 2013.  None of these titles should come as a surprise to anyone. All of them have been touted since well before their official release dates.
  • If you are looking for an incredibly eclectic mix of books in your best of book list, you need go no further than, Culled from a variety of sources (namely, their contributors and readers) this list offers something for everyone.  It does include books I've read this year, meant to read this year, intend to read very soon, will eventually get to and, even a few I've never heard of and/or would probably never be interested in reading.  One Good Earl Deserves a Lover?  The title definitely forced a smirk out of me, but it reminds me more of the books my grandmother adored, than anything I'd really be interested to read.
  • Buzzfeed also has a list of the 12 Greatest Fantasy Books of 2013., the majority of these titles and covers do nothing for me.  However, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was so so good and The Golem and the Djinni and Baba Yaga are both on my list of books to get to soon. I've even had them out of the library, but was forced to return them before I got a chance to read them.  The stacks of books I pick up there every week may just qualify me as an official weight lifter.
  • I'm not through with the Buzzfeed goodness yet. Here's their post on the 14 Greatest Science Fiction Books of the Year.  It turns out that, despite the number of amazingly good science fiction books I've read, I don't really feel any strong attraction to the genre as a whole.  Of course, I love Margaret Atwood. I read Oryx and Crake and somehow was unaware that it was part of a trilogy. Now, the plan is to go back and read all three, since the release of Madd Addam has made that a necessity.  There are a few books on this list that I've heard about and have a little interest in.  That Mira Grant one about the sentient tapeworms sounds fascinating and potentially really really gross. I think I'd like to look more into the Bennet and Lord books, too.
  • Back over at good old Book Riot we have this list of their readers' 24 Favorite Books of 2013 and you know you've read or heard about these titles often throughout the year.  Every last one of these is either a book I've read, or intend to read.  They even provide you with a glimpse of the spreadsheet they used when tabulating the results.. You may also want to check out Book Riot's The Seven Funniest Novels of 2013.  I read the A. M. Homes and it was quite a read, but I don't know that I would have qualified it as one of the funniest of the year.  I can only go so far as darkly comic at times.
  • Wondering which were the best short story collections published this year?  Flavorwire discusses that here.  How about the 10 Best Debut Novels?  The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P was very good.  There are a few others on this list that I have been trying to get around to reading.
  • The AV Club didn't let everyone else have all the fun and you can find their extensive and impressive list here.  Not only do they have those books you keep seeing and know you must read, but they even throw in a few that you wouldn't have expected or didn't even know existed.
  • Wondering what the good folks over at NPR consider to be the best books this year?  Then, look no further, because today is your lucky day.  This may be the best list ever. Yes, it's hyperbole.  Speaking of which, Hyperbole and a Half is on the list, along with Eleanor and Park (if you haven't read this yet, I don't know what you are waiting for, it is so good), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the amazing Night Film my Marisa Peshl, J.K. Rowling's wonderful foray into the world of detective novels, The Cuckoo's Calling, and the surprisingly good, Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great.  I totally bought that to give to a niece this year. I didn't even realize there was a sequel to The Apothecary before reading this list.  I'll definitely be adding that to my TBR list.  
  • The New York Public Library published their list of 100 Children's Books of 2013 to Read or Share and it covers from picture books to middle grade readers, fiction and nonfiction. How many happy readers can I make from this list?
  • The New York Times has posted its 100 Notable Books of 2013.  So many great titles to check out.  I may need to get an extended case of the book flu, or take a reading vacation just to make a dent in all the great books I've missed out on this year.
  • The Kirkus Review has posted its list of the Best Fiction Books of 2013. (cough, cough).  I think I may be coming down with something.  I won't know for sure, until I see just how long the reserve list is for the books I'll be requested en masse from my local library.
  • Okay, this last one isn't technically a best books of the year list.  It may be even better.  Here you will find New Century Reading's list of the books they think may make it to the 2014 Tournament of Books.  I really look forward to this every year.  I am constantly checking in at The Morning News website to see how things are shaping up.  I want to read all the books on the longlist, get excited by the names of the judges, and follow along every day, filling in my brackets and reading the official commentary and all the comments in the peanut gallery.  It's the end of the year, the talk should start heating up any day now and March is not that far off.  I just can't wait!
I'm sure this isn't the end of the lists, but I'll try to keep any but the absolutely most exciting to myself from here on out.  Next, I'd like to see what kind of challenges book bloggers are cooking up for 2014.  I've already seen a couple that I definitely would like to take part in.

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