I read this many books in a week (sadly, this is true)
You know when you’re little and your parents yell at you to stop watching TV/playing video games/playing with your friends outside and GO DO YOUR HOMEWORK (insert expletive if you had really rude parents). And you’re like “But I hatttte reading mom lemme play wah wah whine.”
Well, this is a story about how that never happened to me, because I am an enormous dork, whose parents literally had to limit the time I was allowed to READ on school nights so I’d do other things like have friends (socializing with other people is just gross) and do my math homework (WHO LIKES MATH!? I mean, ew). I read a lot. I read all the Wrinkle in Time books, but didn’t stop there – I read pretty much every book by Madeleine L’engle there is. I read Anne of Green Gables, but didn’t stop there – I read every book by L. M. Montgomery known to man. I basically grew up in the 19th century, because now that I think about it, all the books that I read that involved love stories were published like before the turn of the century, and that’s weird and maaay have somehow warped my views on love, but whatever that’s neither here nor there, and obviously a topic for a) my psychiatrist and b) another post.
Anyway, so I get asked a lot these days for book recommendations, by friends (yes, I have friends – my parents evil plan to socialize me apparently worked) who are like “I finished reading Gone Girl, are there any other books out there?” (Note: this is not a diss on Gone Girl – I read it. I liked it a lot.) But, yes, there are other books out there that didn’t make the NYTimes best seller list, and I’m here to help you find them.
Presenting: I’m Not A Witch’s Top 14 Books of 2013
(Disclaimer: These were not all published in 2013, probably, just ones I read last year, deal with it)
12. The Last Policeman: Ben H. Winters
If you’re still into end-of-the-world books, but are a littttttle bit tired of the same overwrought YA fiction that has interchangeable female protagonists (not that I dont appreciate the fact that so many YA books DO have kick-ass female protagonists, but like could we try to at least make them a little different from one another?! Divergent, I’m looking at you) – this is the book for you. There’s a meteor heading toward Earth – one big enough that will likely wipe out a significant portion of the world’s population and do massive damage to civilization as we know it. This book deals with the minute (how people go about their every day lives in the face of imminent disaster) as well as a broader world view (the politics) while its narrator tries to pretend nothing has changed and goes about his daily job as a policeman, solving a murder. Hopefully that explanation wasn’t too convoluted, because it’s a great book (and the first of a series of three).
11. The Interestings: Meg Wolitzer
I always love books that span the lives of characters – and this one starts with an intriguing premise – a handful of kids at a gifted art camp, and where life takes them. Interesting to read their journeys, and Meg Wolitzer is, as always, superb.
10. The 5th Wave: Rick Yancey
Fine, so maybe I still like YA dystopian fiction with female protagonists, no matter what I may have claimed in #12. At least, I loved this book, the first of a series of three, maybe because you have no idea who can be trusted apart from the book’s protagonist, because the aliens who have attacked earth have taken the form of other humans. It’s dark and twisted. Read it.
#9. Visitation Street: Ivy Pochoda
I’m weirdly obsess with Red Hook in Brooklyn, and this book takes place there. It’s also does a great job balancing a mystery (the disappearance of a young girl) against the changing neighborhood and its history. Red Hook 4 lyfe.
#8. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells: Andrew Sean Greer
Look, no matter how much my husband hates stuff that involves time travel (he’s seriously super grumpy about it – always, except for maybe like Terminator) I personally love it. Sure there are probably some things in this book that don’t make logical sense BUT IT’S ABOUT TIME TRAVEL and as far as I know, no one’s invented time travel yet, so who knows what’s accurate and what’s not accurate and ugh stop being so grumpy about it!!! (also read this book it’s good)
#7. The Universe Vs. Alex Woods: Gavin Extence
This book might not be for everyone. Like, it’s premise is a dude that gets hit by a meteor, which is bizarre and sounds all science-fiction-y, but it’s really not a science fiction book at all, it’s really about a kid trying to make his way in the world but there’s some great philosophical stuff about euthanasia and Kurt Vonnegut and astronomy and the writing is superb. Maybe this reviewer on goodreads said it best: “this book is that it reminded me of a mixture of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Up, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and The Fault in Our Stars.”
#6. Reconstructing Amelia: Kimberly McCreight
Two words: literary thriller. If you liked the aforementioned Gone Girl, me thinks you’ll love this book. Check it.
#5. Looking for Alaska: John Green
Look. This is probably a controversial statement, but I think this book is Green’s best. Or, at least his most interesting. I know, I know, but what about A Fault In Our Stars that’s like the best book ever and I cried so much etc. LOOK MAYBE I JUST DONT LIKE BOOKS WHERE ALL THE CHARACTERS HAVE CANCER. It’s exhausting to read and I just have issues with books about kids with cancer because I feel manipulated from the beginning. Yes, I’m a terrible person, but I liked this book better, and I read all his books this year, in a row.
#4. The Rosie Project: Graeme Simsion
You know when writing teachers talk about VOICE in novels and you’re like “what do you mean by that, that seems silly and how hard is it to write a strong voice I mean I think to myself all the time, and that’s a voice, so that can’t be hard to do.” THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE IN A STRONG VOICE. It’s also a totally sweet love story that’s romantic without EVER being cheesy and sweet without EVER being sappy. Also, Australians are awesome, and books set in Australia are awesome too.
#3. Eleanor & Park: Rainbow Rowell
Like six months before this book came out (or maybe like six months after, before I admitted to myself that I love YA books, which by the way is odd that I would have denied that considering I am obsessed with anything that relates to teenagers in the tv/film world) — anyway like six months before/after it came out, I read her first book called Attachments and I was like eh it’s pretty good but like not amazing so when this book kept popping up on my radar, I was pretttttty suspicious and didn’t believe the hype BUT THEN I READ IT and it’s awesome and a little precious, sure, but also just so well written and lovely that you get over that quickly. Yeah it’s YA but as I always try to tell the husband, JUST because something has teenagers in it doesn’t mean it’s vapid and dumb (he doesn’t believe me, even though Friday Night Lights is like one of his favorite shows, which need I point out IS ABOUT TEENAGERS, ugh whatever). What I’m trying to say is, read this book. It’s good.
#2. Brilliance – Marcus Sakey
Yeah it’s similar to X-Men, sorta, but is that a bad thing? NO! I love shit about alternate universes and people with special powers (like when I was younger I would read books about girls who got their superpowers at 13 and when I turned 13 I was like DO I HAVE ANY? but i didn’t, and that was f’ing depressing, let me tell you). This book is being made into a movie (I’m sure it’s not the only one on this list) but read it because as we all know, the film never does the book justice (usually).
#1. Lexicon – Max Barry
Ahh, this book was so good I wish I could scrub the insides of my brain and forget that I read it, and then read it again. What you need to like to enjoy this book: linguistics/etymology / sci-fi thrillers / rhetoric. I’m a fan of all three. From the publisher: “At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics–at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade.” I dont want to give away anything more about it. I loved it.