Each year one of my favourite literary blogs, Large-Hearted Boy, collects a massive list of ALL the best-of-the year book lists they can find. The 2013 version pulls together everything from classic media sources like the New York Times to librarian favourites like Booklist or more esoteric topics like the best hockey books. If you want to know what Rob Lowe’s favourite books of the year were, this is the place to look.
This year, I put a call out to WPL staff asking them to choose a favourite read of 2013 – it didn’t have to be a newly published book, just one that they’d read this year and loved. Here are their nominations for the best of 2013…
Darlene and Lori both chose Life after Life by Kate Atkinson which “weaves the many births, life choices, accidental encounters and deaths of one central character, Ursula Todd, into a fascinating story. The rambling narrative will leave you questioning the true nature of life, death, destiny and chance.”
Jane and Kathy both “without hesitation” named The Orenda by Joseph Boyden “which vividly depicts the meeting of Jesuit missionaries and a Huron tribe.” “His use of three distinct voices is quite amazing-a wonderful literary feat!”
Chance chose Philosophical Interventions by Martha Nussbaum with its “essays on subjects ranging from Alaisdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor to Judith Butler and Michael Warner – even a review of a documentary in which she appears (Examined Life), which she finds lacks the Socratic method.”
Colette picked two books, but we’ll let her get away with it since one is for kids and one for teens. For kids, The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles DeLint is “beautifully illustrated and deeply satisfying storytelling. Lillian is bitten by a snake in the first chapter and is magically returned to life by the cats of the forest. She then tries to become a girl again by visiting the Old Possum-witch. This story is a perfect ‘growing up’ book as it focuses the consequences of our behavior. Destined to be a classic.” For teens, Colette liked The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Totem. “Adam struggles with OCD and falls instantly in love the day Robyn joins his support group. Each member uses a pseudonym and Adam chooses to be Batman to his Robyn. Beautifully written, stays true to the characters, realistic and touching. Adam tries everything to get better even as he loses control over his disease. Wonderful message of being courageous despite all odds.”
Kim calls Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove “a must-read for anyone who loves hip-hop and music in general… part memoir, part conversation and part mix tape. Questlove, drummer and original member of The Roots, DJ and producer, is a gifted storyteller.”
Larisa: Captain Paul Watson: Interview with a Pirate “informs the reader about people’s cruelty towards sea dwellers such as seals, whales, dolphins, or fish whose life is treated exclusively as a commodity for the sake of humans’ profit.”
Lyle said that Joyland by Stephen King is “a well-told yarn of a man remembering a summer in his 20s that forever changed his life.”
Melissa: “Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill is a candid look into what I consider a ‘secret society’.”
Rhonda read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (in e-book format) and describes it as “an enjoyable mystery that draws you in.”
Sally calls The Headmaster’s Son by Vincent Lam “a great choice for readers who like well written historical and suspense fiction.”
Sam: Gun Machine by Warren Ellis is “a fresh take on New York noir, filling hard-boiled cop and serial killer characters with occult comic book archetypes. Loads of fun.”
Trevor found each of the stories in The Tenth of December “surprising in a different way. Some were funny and some were poignant but they stuck with me for quite a while after reading them.”
What great books did you read this year?