It has been a huge year for my reading-life. I've branched out way more than ever and had a terrific time. Here is my 2013 book list plus the year's Highlights and Lowlights.
What We Read 2013:
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
- The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
- Mr Penumbra's 24 Hr Bookstore by Robin Sloan
- The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
- Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany
- The Adventures of Tintin Volumes 1 - 7 by Hergé
- Atonement by Ian McEwan
- Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
- The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
- Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
- Sin City: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller
- The Adventures of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
- The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
- White Teeth by Zadie Smith
- This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
- Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
- Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
- Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
- Esio Trot by Roald Dahl
- Tampa by Alissa Nutting
These are the books I didn't enjoy and would not read if I went back in time. Forgive me if any of these are your favourites!
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan is talked up a lot, especially as a past Booker prize-winner. However I guessed the plot twist almost as soon as the characters were introduced so it was a big anti-climax. Ultimately it's no more than a hiccup in my longterm love affair with McEwan as a writer.
Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany was the 2013 winner of the Stella Prize for Australian women's fiction. The tone and mood feel like an imitation of Tim Winton's work. Besides being unsatisfying and offering no room for empathy with the characters, I felt it portrayed a poor ideal of what it means to be Australian.
These are the books that made me think and feel, new favourites to revisit forever.
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling is so different from her other work, but incredibly thought-provoking. It is an edgy and often confronting read with a good pace driven by character and plot development. Notions of privilege, justice and family are challenged by this depiction of truth.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky had a huge resurgence in 2013 due to the release of its film adaptation. It's a young adult fiction that tackles some controversial and topical subjects, while at the same time reopening timeless ideas of love, family and identity in a way that guarantees its status as a contemporary classic. It's emotionally engaging and memorable.
Atonement by Ian McEwan is an epic masterpiece that redefined my standards for fiction. It is sensationally well written. Its tragically beautiful plot left me hopelessly moved.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith is a brilliant début. It is sassy and cunning, memorable for its wit and ingenious way of tying up threads. It also boasts one of the most engaging openings to any novel I've read.
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh is grit and filth and so much fun. Unique in every way, the genius of this confronting little book cannot be silenced. The prose is addictive.
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton is an Australian classic that I feel pristinely defines what it means to be alive. This book is written with love and pain, and the magic and earthiness of its prose will colour its reader's perception of life. It is an experience and a supreme gift of literature.
So thankyou for coming along on my reading adventures. Hopefully we'll have the opportunity to recommend each other plenty of great new reads for 2014.