Monday, December 30, 2013

Best Reads 2013


I wanted to get this up this weekend but I was a little ways away from finishing one of the books on this list and since I very much wanted to include it I decide to read through and delay my post.  I’m sorry I missed the posting this weekend but I will be making my way around to everyone on the list to share in the love of literature.

For those of you who didn’t post this weekend, let me take a minute to inform you that this bloghop is the wonderful creation of my dear friend John Wiswell over at The Bathroom Monologues.  John is one of the most well-versed people I know in terms of his extensive experience reading and loving literature and I don’t think I could identify a better person to host this run-down.  Please go visit him if you haven’t already, and read his list.

My final list consists of four books- two novels and two collections of short stories.  I’m doing it countdown-style leading up to my favorite book of the year at the bottom.  Full reviews can be found for all of these by clicking on the links provided.

I’ve been absolutely in love with Moore’s writing style ever since I picked up Bloodsucking Fiends a few years ago.  That book turned out to be the first in a trilogy that recounts, among other things, a love story between a young vampire named Jody and a young writer named Tommy.  While the primary focus they are by no means the only characters and every character, by the time this third book ended, had gotten ample screen time.  He jumps POV more frequently in this book than in any previous- multiple times in each chapter- but keeps it simple by giving you little headers for each cluster of pages so you know who’s head you’re in.  It absolutely worked and I loved that I got to see the world and the events through so many different people’s eyes.

Aside from Moore being-and I swear I’m not exaggerating here- the funniest author I’ve ever read he also brings a whole lot of heart to his characters.  They talk funny, for sure. Especially Abby Normal who mans the helm for the bulk of this book with her inimitable turn of phrase (such as “Oh my God, you’re like Obnoxious and Annoying had an ass baby!” for instance).  But they’ve all got heart and there are some surprisingly touching moments peppered throughout this tome that keep you aware that while hysterical the story is about a whole lot more than humor.  It was a beautiful end to a trilogy that I have absolutely adored over the years I’ve read it and will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Read the full review here.

I’ve been a huge fan of Gilbert ever since I finally broke down and read Eat, Pray, Love a few years back and this was my first time reading her fiction.  I was a little nervous about it- beloved memoir author does fiction?  What if she’s not good at fiction?  What if memoir is just her thing?  I was delighted to learn that those fears were unfounded and while I won’t say that her fiction is better than her memoir writing (cause I really do love her memoirs) I will say that I believe it is technically superior.

This was the most realistic dialogue I think I’ve ever read.  Her settings and physical descriptions are consistently poetic and just gorgeous.  And the complexities of the characters- their thoughts, motives and struggles are all starkly human and real.  In the end, the best part of reading this was that I got to fall in love all over again with an author who had already secured my adoration.
Read the full review here.

#2: Come to Me by Amy Bloom
This was my very first exposure to Amy Bloom’s writing and I fell over heels for her when I read it.  Much like Gilbert these stories were about humanity- the flaws, the mistakes, the ways we cope with tragedy and the unexpected results of that.  I won’t say that this was an easy read because most of these stories are downright heartbreaking- about broken families and relationships coming apart.  But they are also devastatingly beautiful. 

So many passages were works of art- just as deserving of a frame and a spot on a wall in a great museum as classic paintings and photographs.  My copy is riddled with highlighted passages that just astounded me with their complexity- rich, textured, poetic phrases that hung in my mind for days afterwards like a song.  I can’t think of anything else I’ve read that had the same impact on me.  Perhaps that’s why my Christmas wishlist was filled with more books by this author.  As since I received many of them as gifts you can bet she’ll be on my list again next year as I make my way through those.
Read the full review here.

Drum roll, please…
And my #1 read for 2013 is…

This book absolutely blew me away.  Steve Martin is a genius because he introduced me to one of my most beloved characters of all time: Daniel Pecan Cambridge.  Daniel is a quiet man.  So quiet, in fact, that few people even know of his existence.  There are a myriad of reasons for this but the number one cause is his crippling case of OCD which keeps him confined to a few block radius of his apartment.  At the beginning of the book he comes off as narcissistic- telling us of his incomprehensible intelligence and abilities.  It soon becomes clear, however, that he is telling us this in jest as he is one of the most self-deprecating people in literature.  I won’t say that he hates himself but he believes- and he uses some facts to back this up- that his lack of connection to other human beings is probably a really good thing for them.  It’s heartbreaking.

Thankfully, because at heart I’m a sucker for happy endings, things turn around for him over the course of the book.  But his emergence from the tiny corner of the world he’s painted himself into is so quiet, so small that you only know it’s happening because he tells you what the moments mean to him in hindsight.  I don’t have room here to get into the details of the truly brilliant ways in which Martin uses his words to create this new life for Daniel but suffice it to say that I was absolutely floored by them.  He is an astoundingly talented writer and I will definitely be reading more of him in the future.

But it is Daniel himself- the quiet man with a quiet heart- that makes this my number one read of the year. 
Read my full review here.

Thanks for reading my list of #bestreads2013.  Make sure you visit John's to see the full list of participants and read their lists- you might find your next great love.

5 comments:

  1. These all sound like great reads, you have totally intrigued me with "The Pleasure of My Company." :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, thanks for the compliments, Bev! And thank you for joining us. I've been curious about more Gilbert since enjoying Eat, Pray, Love so much. It's funny that title is so much more legible on the cover here than "Pilgrims."

    Have you heard anything about her new novel?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, John!
      I don't know anyone who has read it yet but the reviews on good reads are generally positive and given my experience with Pilgrims it will definitely make it onto my reading list at some point. I think I'm going to tackle Stern Men first, though since that will be the first fiction novel I've encountered by her.

      Delete
  3. I didn't know she wrote fiction! Well I never read eat, pray and love. and the Amy Bloom book sounds good.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like Christopher Moore and did, in fact, read the first two vampire books. Somehow I never got around to the final one ... you have inspired me! I could use a laugh ...

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment! I will love it and hug it and pet it and call it George. Or, you know, just read and reply to it. But still- you rock!