Best of 2013: Book Edition, Part 1

This year my goal was to read two books a month, and I managed to stick to that goal for the most part. That means I have a great pool of books from which to pick my top 10. I hope you enjoy numbers 10 through 6!

10. East, by Edith Pattou

East Cover

In keeping with my teen section focus at work, I read more young adult than ever in 2013. East was recommended by my friend Jenny. It’s a fairy tale adaptation that feels different from others I’ve read, perhaps because it’s based on the lesser-known Norwegian tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” I enjoyed the variety of settings, from a Norwegian farm to the polar bear’s underground castle to the troll queen’s ice palace. Most of all, my imagination was captured by the idea of a polar bear companion, which led to YouTube searches for videos of polar bears running. You can read my full review here.

9. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

Night Circus

The strength of The Night Circus comes from its luscious details. And in a novel about a magical circus and the people who created it, you had better have some good details. Celia and Marco are young magicians who have been trained to duel with the circus as their battleground. Naturally they also find themselves inconveniently in love, but The Night Circus is about more than star-crossed lovers. Morgenstern gives the story great scope in both time and geography. Add to that the fanciful Victorian setting, and it’s a novel to savor.

8. The Moon and More, by Sarah Dessen

The Moon and More

The Moon and More is a return to form for my girl Sarah Dessen. It delivers the amusing characters and complex relationships that I expect from her writing, while still managing to tread some new thematic ground. When I read the first chapter, which describes Emaline working for her family’s beach rental business, I immediately settled into the novel. As I said in my full-length review, it explores themes of family loyalty versus personal achievement that should resonate with many young people. It certainly did for me.

7. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones Cover

When I read a fantasy novel, I want to get lost in it. The intricate story that begins with A Game of Thrones is perfect for doing just that, whether told in TV or book form. As I previously mentioned, watching the show first was actually helpful in giving me a framework for Martin’s fantasy world. Then I could enjoy the depth of the first book, which provided me with a detailed map and a better understanding of the history that preceded the series. You have to admire an author who can provide you with generations of history from before his series even starts. Reading the book took me long enough, but it was worth it.

6. The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test

This year another goal for me was to read more nonfiction. The Psychopath Test was by far my favorite of the ones I picked up. Jon Ronson has a background in journalism, which can probably be credited for his ability to both excite and inform the reader. Each chapter examines a different facet of madness, from a successful businessman believed to be a psychopath to failed treatments for psychopathy. The chapters could almost be stand-alone articles, but Ronson brings them together through the evolution of his own understanding of mental illness. You don’t have to be a psychology major to enjoy this book.

Come back tomorrow for the final chapter: my top 5 books of 2013!

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