Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Sister Reads | My Top 13 Books of 2013

Hello, hello! The New Year is barely three hours away and, yes, an exciting time is being had by us as we cook something yummy and watch movies at home. So much better than trying to beat the traffic and get to any restaurant or some such, in my opinion.

2013 has been a good reading year for me. I discovered some new authors I love and I read about topics that I hadn't read about before. The latter, really, is one of my top reasons for loving to read as much as I do. I love that books can take us to a different world, open our minds to magic and that books can help us walk in someone else's shoes. Books are magical! So, without further ado, here is my list of the 13 books that I absolutely loved in 2013.

I started the year by reading Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love. I loved this book for its great writing, the subject- I did not know much about Rumi or Shams Tabrizi apart from their poems- and the lovely "rules" themselves. I reviewed the book HERE.

Kate Morton is an author we discovered last year. The Secret Keeper was a book I read way back in January and really loved. Kate Morton's writing style is very beautiful and I love how her stories switch back and forth between two time periods. This particular book was all about family and secrets and World War II- all things I enjoy reading about. 

The Light Between Oceans is a simple yet beautiful story, which also happens to be very well written. There are several dilemmas that the characters in this book face and I enjoyed the complex motivations of each character. I reviewed this book HERE.

Those Who Save Us presents a very different and, in my opinion, an essential perspective on World War II Germany. There is so much written about- in fiction and non-fiction- about the Holocaust, the way life was in the UK, other parts of Europe but not so much is written about how things were in Germany. The Book Thief did that and so does this book. Those Who Save Us is a wonderful story of struggle, survival and the cost all of it extracts on your soul. Anna is barely 20 and pregnant when she has to fend for herself in Weimar, Germany against the backdrop of the rising power and cruelty of the Reich. She tries valiantly to do her bit for the Resistance but when it seems like she will be caught and/or shot, she makes the harder choice of trying to survive for the sake of her young daughter. 
What I love about this book is the whole theme of survival and shame. Anna was so ashamed of the choice she makes that right until the end, she does not take credit for the "good" that she did. Her daughter, Trudy, who has grown up without fully knowing the truth of the war years, assumes things about her mother that are just not true. The mother-daughter dynamic in this book makes it a very interesting reading as well. 

Markus Zusak does it again with I am the Messenger. This is a wonderful, heart-warming and lovely book about caring for those around us- in our community and our lives. The review is HERE.

The Round House is a coming-of-age tale set within a Native American Reservation. Again, this book was a lovely peek in the lives and culture of Native Americans as well as a wonderful coming-of-age tale of the protagonist- Joe. I reviewed this book HERE.

A Sherlock Holmes novel that truly reads like something Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself wrote!! Can there be a higher compliment than that? I don't think so! This was an amazing book and it took me back to my tweens when I used to devour Sherlock Holmes books during summer vacations! The review is right HERE.

One of the best non-fiction books I have EVER read! One of the best books I have read this year. What a charming and lovely voice Jeannette Walls has! The review can be found right HERE.

Speaking of best books and charming voices, one simply has to mention Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides. What a brilliant book about gender, identity and what it is like to live your life as the real you. This book is simply magnificent and I should do a full review of it soon! Highly, highly recommend! 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is a simple, poignant and sweet tale of a boy who is going through the very worst time in his life. It is about growing up and things that make us sad and learning to deal with loss. It is such a lovely, lovely book. Pooja has reviewed it HERE.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a magical (hah and magical realism induced) story about the need for human beings to connect and that simple truism that if you want something badly enough, the universe will send it to you. This is a lovely charming book about relationships and love and it is set in Alaska during the Gold Rush! Highly recommended! 

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is a thought-provoking little book about the consequences of words and actions, no matter how unintentional they may be. I reviewed the book HERE. I highly recommend it. 

Last but not the least, Stef Penney's The Invisible Ones is a well-written, exciting read with likeable characters and a peek into the life, beliefs and culture of the Romanies. Ray Lovell, half-Gypsy, is a private detective specialising in cheating spouses. When another Gypsy, Leon Wood, approaches Ray to look for his daughter, Rose (missing or the past six years), Ray gets pulled into the fringe world of the Gypsies.  The book has two main narrators- Ray and JJ (a 14 year old who is the missing woman's cousin by marriage). Through their eyes, the reader is led into the fascinating world of the Gypsies- a group of people who are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their "traveller" ways in our fast-changing world. As Ray intensifies his search for Rose, long-buried secrets of the Janko family begin to tumble out with shocking results. 

Hope you got a few books to put on your reading list for 2014! I have a few books that I super excited about reading next year and I hope I can read as much as I did this year! 

Happy New Year, guys! :) See you in 2014! :) 

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