Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Books I Read 2013: Part One (incl. Top 5 Favorites)

It's a little late into 2014 to be doing one of these posts, but I spent nearly the first two weeks of January in Disney World with a bunch of family, so here we are. In past years, I've run the stats of how I acquired the books, the gender of the author(s), and other matters, but this year I'm just going to list them somewhat in terms of how I enjoyed them. If you're really curious about how I acquired a book, just ask. And you can run the gender stats yourself this time. I read 100 books, so it should be pretty easy, though perhaps tedious.

Because 100 books is a shit-ton of books, I'll break my list in to a few posts. This is Part One.

(Read Part 2 here.)

Top 5 Favorite Books Published in 2013:

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg (I only did a short review of this one because I got way behind on reviews this year, but this was covered far and wide. You don't need me to go on about it, I suppose. Just read it.)

My Education by Susan Choi (I still plan on reviewing this one because this book has received a bit of hate, and I was somewhat baffled by it because I loved the book.) Edited to add: Further thoughts about this book now appear on Persephone Magazine.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook (Catch my review here.)

Still Writing by Dani Shapiro (I also intend to talk about this one more too, but in the meantime, here's what David Abrams has to say about it.) Edited to addFurther thoughts about this book now appear on Persephone Magazine.

Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen (The book I loved but never finished the last 30 pages because it had to go back to the library and I was going out of town. Will rectify that soon, I promise. Go read all of it now, please; it's outstanding.) Edited to addFurther thoughts about this book now appear on Persephone Magazine.

Two Favorite Stories that were not technically “books:”

Doctor Who: The Light at The End by Nicholas Briggs (Released for the show's 50th Anniversary, this Big Finish audio drama features Doctors Four through Eight, as well as snippets from One through Three. Past companions are involved. On headphones, it is beautiful, and it's a fantastic story.)

Doctor Who: Embrace The Darkness by Nicholas Briggs (Briggs is not the only Doctor Who Big Finish writer, but I think it's telling that my two favorite audio dramas I listened to this year were written by him. This one features Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and the audio format really works here to make it an unsettling, spooky story.)

Other Excellent Books Read This Year:

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's [Philosopher's] Stone by J.K. Rowling (I'm joining the rest of the world, finally.)
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Sandman Vol.2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman (Again, joining the rest of the world, finally.)
Sandman Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman

The Body's Question: Poems by Tracy K. Smith (Review here)

The Cows by Lydia Davis (Already sort of talked about this when I reviewed Electric Literature #2, but I bought the separate chapbook and enjoyed it all over again — this time with photos!)

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel (My first foray into her work. I really want to read her other graphic novels now.)

Papercraft 2: Design and Art With Paper edited by Gestalten Verlag and Birga Meyer (Review here)

Tiny, Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life by Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (Sugar is magic. Review here.)

Divergent by Veronica Roth (Perfect vacation reading, but I haven't read the following 2 books yet.)

Familiar by J. Robert Lennon (I really meant to review this one, and never got to it. Just take my word for it, and go read it. Spooky, ambiguous, yet very real. And I'll further embarrass J. Robert Lennon by saying he's a fox. *cough* What? Let's move on.)

More Baths, Less Talking (Stuff I've Been Reading #4) by Nick Hornby (I own all of these collections now, and this was one of the first volumes that I'd read a lot more of — or at least was familiar with —  the books he had.)

Stories For Boys: A Memoir by Gregory Martin (Involves Spokane, which made it extra-familiar for me. Review here.)

This Close: Stories by Jessica Francis Kane (Review here)

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma (Honorable Mention for Favorite Books Published in 2013. Review here.)

Dora: A Headcase by Lidia Yuknavitch (I wanted to hug this book's face off. Review here.)

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh (Oh my god, the stories of Simple Dog and Helper Dog. This whole book is hilarious, and she expands many of the original posts from her site.)

Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova (Really interesting stuff. Review here.)

Great Books Having to Do With Cats Because I Have Cat-Deficit Problems

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology by Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton (I already loved Wendy MacNaughton's illustrations, so to pair it with a cat subject? Sign me up. Touching, funny stuff.)

Simon's Cat vs. The World by Simon Tofield (Might have been the last cat-person on Earth to have never seen the YouTube videos until after I read this book. Review here.)

I Am Pusheen The Cat by Claire Belton (Loses a little something not being in .GIF form, but my son and I have read this together probably 10 times already.)

Did I Mention I Also Have Doctor Who Obsession Problems, particularly when it comes to Paul McGann? (...AKA Shut up, I don't have a problem, you have a problem.)

Doctor Who: Invaders From Mars by Mark Gatiss (I quite like War of the Worlds, so combining it into this story was fun)

Doctor Who: Storm Warning by Alan Barnes (My very first audio drama. It takes some acclimating to do that sort of active listening, but I've got the hang of it now.)

Doctor Who: Minuet in Hell by Gary Russell (This one includes Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart! Worth the price of admission, right there.)

Doctor Who: The Chimes of Midnight by Robert Sherman (One of the stronger Eighth Doctor adventures. Goes back to the ongoing Doctor theme of “I've never met anybody who wasn't important.”)

Doctor Who: Seasons of Fear by Paul Cornell (This one was funny, and ended on a cliffhanger.)

Doctor Who: The Stones of Venice by Paul Magrs (The first half was much more interesting than the second. The second more or less spelled out the ending, but there were still 15-20 minutes to get through. Good story, but not outstanding.)

Doctor Who: The Time of The Daleks by Justin Richards (It was good, but not great. Relevant in terms of the ongoing story arc with Charley, but certainly not my favorite out of those I've heard.)

Doctor Who: The Sword of Orion by Nicholas Briggs (Okay, a Nicholas Briggs one I was less crazy about. I think it's the Cybermen. I rarely get super-enthralled with Cybermen stories.)

The Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia by Jason Loboreik, Annabel Gibson, and Morey Laing (Kind of aimed more towards a younger reader, but still quite enjoyable and includes a good mix of classic and current Who characters, up until “The Snowmen.”)

Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Vol. 1 by Scott Tipton (Strikes me that the writer is a bigger fan of Star Trek than Doctor Who, and until I read the second volume, I'm unsure of this story just yet, but this is an amusing crossover graphic novel. Involves the Borg and those bloody Cybermen.)

Doctor Who: The Star Beast Saga #1 by Pat Mills and John Wagner (My 6-year-old son and I enjoyed reading this before bedtime several nights in a row. 1984's printing + a lot of text made some speech bubbles a strain to read, but this was still enjoyable, and I'm glad I stumbled across it in my local comic shop.)


Part 2 of my Books Read in 2013 will deal with other very good things I read that were not cat- or Doctor-related. Promise.

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