Excluding rereads, I read 47 books, essay collections, short stories, and plays in 2013. Of the 47, most were fiction; I read only 11 nonfiction books this year, though I suppose the play (8 by Dustin Lance Black) could be considered nonfiction. I read 9 young adult or children’s books, and 9 mysteries.
This year, I didn’t have any five star reads, but about half were four stars. Here are some of my favorites:
Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
This is an epistolary novel about finding our way back to the people we love. In short, it is a novel written for me. Elspeth Dunn lives on the Isle of Skye and has never left. She is a published poet, and American college student David Graham writes her a fan letter, beginning their correspondence. The novel is told primarily through their letters, which begin in the early 20th century and continue through World War I, and letters of Elspeth’s daughter written during World War II.
I saw this on the new book shelf at my library and grabbed it. It is Brockmole’s first novel, and I look forward to her second.
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
Another library find, this one a young adult novel about embracing uncertainty. Lucy was a concert pianist, a child prodigy at the top of her game, until she walked away from it. She has’t touched a piano since. Now her 10 year old brother has a piano teacher who may help Lucy find her way back to music. This is from the goodreads description: “The Lucy Variations is a story of one girl’s struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. It’s about finding joy again, even when things don’t go according to plan. Because life isn’t a performance, and everyone deserves the chance to make a few mistakes along the way.”
It’s okay not to know what’s next–a good message for me right now.
I looked for the playlist Lucy makes for Will and haven’t found it, so I have tried to create it myself on Spotify.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)
This wasn’t on my radar until the news broke that it was actually a J.K. Rowling novel. I got a sample on my eReader and was hooked. Jo Rowling is a fantastic writer, and as a fan of mysteries and private detective stories, I loved this. Cormoran Strike is a good lead detective and I really liked Robin Ellacott, his assistant/secretary. The mystery is interesting and entertaining, too. There are more Strike mysteries coming, thank goodness, and I’m sure they will be on many more radars now.
Morantholgy by Caitlin Moran
Ah, Caitlin Moran. To call her Britain’s Tina Fey is insufficient. Caitlin Moran is Caitlin Moran. Funny, fierce, feminist, insightful, etc., her collection of essays cover a diverse range of topics including drinking with Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey, visiting a sex club with Lady Gaga, geeking out on the set of Doctor Who, defending public libraries, her hair, growing up poor, balancing work and parenting during summer break, burqas, internet trolls, and Keith Richards, to name a few.
I adore Caitlin Moran. I follow her on twitter, and I started following the Guardian on twitter and facebook hoping to see more of her columns. That hasn’t worked, but I do appreciate the Brit news.
The Great Pearl Heist by Molly Caldwell Crosby
In 1913, jewel thieves planned and executed a bold heist to steal a pearl necklace. This was before cultured pearls, so pearls were even more valuable. Crosby’s account of the events and aftermath is well-paced and highly readable. It is a heist story, and a true one. I also loved the pre-World War I England setting.