Saturday, January 5, 2013

2013 Books

It can't really be time to start a new list, can it?  I've been keeping track of the books I read each year ever since 2007.  At some point, I added a rating and a short blurb to help me remember what I thought about it and maybe to help others decide if it's a book they want to read or not.  This little 10 point scale has been a perfect fit for me as I rate books...

1-3 I wish I could burn all copies of this book.
4-6 Had a few things going for it, but definitely not my favorite.
7-8 I enjoyed or got something out of this book, worth reading.
9-10 One of the best, highly recommended.

So without further are the books I read in 2013:

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman 9 This is an excellent way to start the year.  An excellent choice for book clubs because it raises a ton of questions about motives, love, decisions and the consequences that change lives and can't be altered.  The characters and situations of this book have stuck with me for days.  One of the reasons I can't stop thinking about it is because it perfectly highlights how good people can make bad decisions.

Under the Dome by Stephen King 3 One of the worst books I have EVER read.  Just a foul, vile, worthless excuse for a book.  There is no town in America with people as evil as the ones in this book.  It's so unbelievable and disgusting to read.  I don't appreciate murder and rape being on every other page of a book.  And the entire plot was stupid, too.  The writing was not good, and it needed to be edited down another 500 pages.  I was 30% into and felt like I had been reading 50% I thought what more can happen if I'm only half into this book, at 70% I thought maybe I should just quit.  But I had too much invested so I finished it.  Regret that.  Terrible, depressing book!

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller 8 This post apocalyptic book was a great surprise.  It was fresh, absorbing, thought-provoking.  A page-turner, I finished it in less than a day.  Some graphic and uncomfortable parts, but those did not seem added for shock factor, they seemed to flow with the story.

My Father, Maker of the Trees by Eric Irivuzumugabe 6 Not my favorite book on the topic of the Rwandan genocide.  It's not bad, but there are many better books in my opinion.  Still, I am glad he shared his story.

Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck 8 Great story, loved the setting and time period, had a lot of great lines and words of wisdom to think about and made for great discussion at book club.

In the Shadow of the Banyon by Vaddey Ratner 7 Good story, informative of the time and place (set in Cambodia in the mid 1970's), a little too slow paced for me.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 10 reread this favorite to prepare for hearing Zusak speak .  Read it in 2 sittings over the course of 2 days and it seemed to fly...the character development, the creative twists, the beautiful word imagery, the way it provokes a pondering of humanity (beauty and destruction).  I love this book.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl 9 Really like this thought-provoking book.  An excellent book club choice.

Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda by Rosamund Carr 9 I read this while IN RWANDA which was super cool.  Her story is amazing.  She lived in Rwanda for about 50 years and I felt like I gained so much knowledge of the country through her story.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan 6 It's a good book, but too heavy on tech-y stuff and just not my cup of tea.  I bet some people really like this one, but not me.  Seemed just out of belief the entire time.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn 7 Well-written, intriguing story that kept me interested but left me feeling empty and kind of dirty because the topic was just so disturbing.  Too much violence, sex, and despair for me to really end up liking the book.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich 8 After reading this I realized what was missing from Mr. Penumbra's: great characters!  I fell in love with the characters in Round House, and the story was good, too.  Just goes to show how important believable, well-developed characters are to a novel. 

Tenth of December by George Saunders 5 A collection of short stories that were hit or miss for me.  Only a couple of them really intrigued me and all of them were fairly dark which just isn't my cup of tea.

State of Wonder by Ann Prachett 6 Not my favorite.  Too unbelievable, both the setting and plot and the actions of the characters.  I kept thinking: people would never act like that!

The Lost King of France by Deborah Cadbury 9 I really enjoyed this book.  The history portion (which is 4/5 of the book) is fascinating.  I didn't know much about Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, their family and the French Revolution.  The rest of the book which is DNA crime-solving focused is interesting too as they try to prove definitively if 8 year old Louis XVII died as a prisoner after his parents were beheaded.

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron 8 Well written fiction set in Genocide-era Rwanda.  This is a good book to read AFTER reading a lot of non-fiction accounts.  The story really captures the every day lives of those who endured the horrific events.  

The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart 6 I loved parts of this book.  The writing was often clever, quirky, deliciously funny and smart.  However, sometimes it went too far into annoying or repetitive territory.  Because I enjoyed the good parts of the book so much, I was willing to put up with the times it missed the mark.  I read it because this is the area of France I will visit in June.

The Measure of a Man by Sidney Pointier  5 Not my favorite.  I disagreed with a lot of his conclusions about the spiritual life, and I found him to be slightly arrogant.

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey 8 A really good classic.  Makes one consider what is right/wrong.  Great characters, interesting plot...would be a good discussion for book clubs.

The Franchise Affaire by Josephine Tey 6 A decent read, with the characteristic wit and clever writing from Tey I love.  The story was not as compelling for me as Brat Farrar, but still interesting and worth the read.

Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Cron

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Garcia-Marquez 6 Not my favorite from this author.  I found myself not caring much about the characters, though I still enjoyed his fantastic style of "tall-tale"ish writing.

The Pleasures of the Table by Brillat-Savarin 8 Translated from French, this book from 1825 was the perfect thing to read while visiting France.  It covered all aspects of eating, cooking, and wine and was surprisingly relevant for today while giving a glimpse into French history.  Loved it!

The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley 6 Set in France, alternating between present and WWII.  Interesting enough to keep me reading, and I enjoyed the setting and historical aspect but the present day story line was hard to believe or enjoy.

Chasing Francis by Ian Cron 8 I've got a lot in common with this author.  Our childhoods, our search for intimacy with God, he even threw Rwanda into this book.  Was he writing it just for me?  It's fiction on a mission, as a pastor goes to Italy to find out more about Saint Francis of Assisi.  I learned a lot.

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan 7 His books are hit or miss with me so I usually love or hate them.  This time the hits and misses were combined in one book with slightly more hits.  It's a clever book that gets bogged down in espionage and history and a few graphic sex scenes but is otherwise enjoyable and highly engrossing.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis 7 I'm so glad I finally read this sci-fi, time travel classic.  It was really good, with interesting characters.  The plot was slightly weak, and the work could use a stronger editing (quite a bit could be cut without sacrificing the story I think).  My eyes glazed over every time the scientific blah-blah would cover a page, and I still don't understand a few parts of the book, but the characters and witty writing make up for that.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer 8 Really liked this book and wrote a review about it here.

The Healing by Jonathan Odell 4 Even though it received high reviews on Amazon, I didn't care for this book.  I found it tedious and boring.  I wasn't interested in the characters.  It felt repetitive and immature despite the strong references to women's periods and birth tossed in every now and then.  It also relied too heavily on the mystical over and over again instead of reality.  Not impressed.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I see that you enjoyed The Round House. Erdrich is one of my favorite authors...I was introduced to her in my Native American literature class in college. You should read Love Medicine. I think you would like it.