Why do these lists have to number ten? Oh well, I whilst jump on the band wagon, logic be damned.
These aren't necessarily books that were published in 2013, just books I happened to read this year and enjoyed enough to want to tell people about. I hope you enjoy them too.
Make an author's day and buy a book.
Set in the Victorian era, Ms. Wallace strikes gold again, weaving a lyrical tale of three women struggling to find their voice in a turbulent and exotic place - Egypt in 1882. Ms. Wallace's literary historical fiction sears one's heart and mind with images not soon forgotten and characters who speak into one's on life, even though they are a century apart. I will read anything she pens and am just waiting to hear the well-deserved news that she has won the Man-Booker prize.
I really can't say it any better than the book description itself, other than, you will laugh, you will cry, it is better than Cats. Bring tissue to bed and ear plugs for your sleeping partner.
"By turns hilarious and heart-breaking, this debut memoir takes you on a roller coaster ride of hormonal disequilibrium, professional disappointment, hellacious sleep-deprivation and the black pit of postpartum depression, only to bring you laughing back to the light."
So in my other life as a podcast host/producer, we did a show on Stephen King and to prepare, I read King's newest, Joyland. While The Return is a thriller, not horror, it is by leaps and bounds the better book. People continue to compare Gruber to King, but Gruber's more astute, more soul shaking, more gifted in slowly wrapping the reader around his finger and pulling those strings tight 'til the very end. He manages to entertain in the midst of exploring themes of vengeance, violence, evil and what really is moral and just. The answers aren't easy, but you'll enjoy the ride.
I didn't expect to like this book. I worried that it was over-hyped, that it would stray so far from reality as to almost be fantasy. Instead I found a believable, lovable protagonist who struggled with the timeless questions of what we do for love, of where our partners end and we begin, of sacrifice as sacred or stupid or both. Telling the tale of Ernst Hemingway's first wife, Mclain gives us a glimpse not only into Paris of that time, but the beauty and heartbreak of a marriage that made literary history.
When "The Help" came out, there was backlash about the perceived audacity of a white woman writing the tale of black women. But in "The House Girl," Conklin pushes above the fray to give us a story of a human longing to be free in every fiber of her being. Yes, she's a black slave, but her story is that of the universal urgency to loose the yolk of oppression, to be one's own. Conklin pairs two women across the ages, struggling in their own way to shake off the past, shake off the chains of who society says they should be, to strike out on their own paths. This is breathless page-turner, written with a literary, yet accessible sensibility. Can't wait to read more of Conklin's work.
I write historical fiction because I love historical fiction. Now that I write it, I read it at my peril. On every page my mind is a buzz of writerly tension, trying to figure out the author's technique, voice, style. It takes the joy out of my favorite genre. Lucky for me, I found Ms. Leigh. Her story grabbed me so well that only when I had finished I remembered to turn my work brain back on again. All I wanted to do was get to bed and see how her protagonist would get out of the next scrape or would find the justice she sought. If you liked Heirs & Spares, you'll like The Unveiling too...and guess what? It's a series! Love it when that happens.
So we moved this year. In fact, we moved right as I was trying to finish up the first draft of God & King. Zoiks is right, if that's what you're thinking. But Shed is not just a book for decluttering the physical objects in your life, it's for shedding the time commitments, relationships and other "stuff" that we've filled our lives with that may not be life giving any more. Helpful book on many, many levels. Purge, people, purge!
Shameless plug, shameless plug, shameless plug. But, I did read this book about 12 times in 2013 alone and only got truly sick of it by round 9...so that's saying something, right?
First off, this is one of the prettiest cookbooks I've ever seen. It's like a coffee table cookbook. And while no, there isn't a recipe for a coffee table (oh, grammar!), if there ever were to be a recipe for a coffee table that would not only be appetizing, but you would stab others with a spork to eat, it would be created by John Besh. This is a "box of tissue" book as well, simply because you'll need something to wipe the drool off with.
If you are female and over the age, of let's just say, twenty-eight, this book is required reading. Multiple times. If you are male and interested in understanding the females in your life, this is also required reading. This is my third time through, as I read it every couple of years and it always, always, always has something to teach me about my life.