Adult Fiction · Children's & Middle Grade · Comics · Fantasy · History · Nonfiction · Picture Books · Sci-Fi · YA

Book Recommendations from 2013

I read 160 books this year. (I’m told I’m a fast reader. This also includes graphic novels, picture books, and school books.) I read 236 last year, but I’ve had less time with various school events and whatnot, and I’ve purposefully devoted some reading time to my own writing.

Here’s the breakdown:
Adult fiction: 14
Children’s and picture books: 34
Graphic novels and manga: 61
Nonfiction and memoir: 39
Young Adult: 14

(There’s some overlap so it doesn’t come out exactly 160. There were also a few poetry books or plays and other oddities. Links go to Amazon for more info, I don’t make any money from them.)

Best Adult Fiction
The Dinner by Herman Koch
This book tells the story of a deeply dysfunctional family, as things disentigrate over the course of a meal. Trigger warnings about families here, and also some murders.

Best Sci-fi Novel
Jack Glass by Adam Roberts
The story, in three parts, of the famed murderer Jack Glass. It combines Golden Age sci-fi with Golden Age pulp mysteries to create three separate (but interconnected) science fiction mysteries. You know Jack Glass commits all three murders, but I was still gasping in amazement at each reveal of who Jack Glass is and how he did it. The characters are brilliant, the settings well-drawn, the future creatively believable, and OH GOD I want to write a book like this. I literally do — my novel in progress aspires to be this book, not in specific content, but in tone and theme. Oh, I should warn you, some of the first murders are especially gruesome.

Best Nonfiction
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
Anything by Mary Roach is a delight. This one’s about all the oddities associated with eating, and there are more than you might expect.

Best Young Adult Fiction
Those that go without mentioning: The Hunger Games trilogy, Paper Towns by John Green

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
It’s about a girl falling in love with a boy in one whirlwind day in Paris, but that’s not What It’s About. It’s about a girl falling in love with who she was that day and learning how to be that girl again. It’s lovely.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
One for the horror fans, in the Supernatural vein. A male POV, which is rare in YA and was well done, and the titular Anna is a strong character worthy of his interest. The plot manages to fuse a ghost story with a full-length YA novel. Ghost stories are generally a short-story format with very basic characters, so this novel is no mean feat. I haven’t read the sequel yet.

Best Middle Grade Novel
Wonder by R.J. Palaccio
I believe this was a big award-winner, but you may not have heard of it if you don’t normally read young-audience books. This one is completely worth it. The story is about Auggie, a boy with severe facial deformities, going to school for the first time in the fifth grade. I love this book because life is like this. People feel this way and love this way and hurt this way and do weird things this way. People are horrible and wonderful. I loved Auggie and I want to hug him. His character development is great, so subtle that you barely see it until it’s already happened, and then it’s perfect.

Best Superhero Graphic Novels
Animal Man Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison
It’s older, but I wasn’t very impressed by the new releases this year. (I haven’t read any Marvel NOW stuff yet though.) I liked how Morrison experimented with the genre here, and how he makes Animal Man such a legit superhero even though the concept could easily be laughable.

Ultra: Seven Days by the Luna brothers
In Ultra, superheroes straddle the line between crime fighters and celebrities. It adds something to the superhero conversation, especially since the main characters are women. I wish they had looked more different from each other, but their personalities are varied, and the concept of superheroes-as-celebrities was believable and well done. Also it’s complete in one volume, for those who don’t want to get embroiled in a long series.

Best Non-Superhero Graphic Novels
Saga Vol. 1 and 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
Clever, strange, over-the-top space opera, with an awesome married couple. I love a good married couple because it’s so rare, and the woman herself is both a mother and a soldier. The art is colorful and embraces the strangeness. Basically it’s really good sci-fi!

The Good Neighbors series by Holly Black
This series seems pretty basic to start, the usual dark-faerie stuff, very Holly Black. I did have some trouble telling the difference between characters visually due to the art style. In the end, though, it’s an intense story about beautiful, brutal, inhuman faeries, and flawed, hopeful people. Complete in three parts.

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