Top 10 Reads of 2013
2013 has been a fantastic year for our reading lists (or a horrible one, if you consider how much larger our to-read piles have grown). We’ve read a lot of brilliant books, but we’ve managed to narrow our list of favorites down to the top ten books that truly resonated with us this year.
MOGSY SAYS: I read more than 200 novels this year. 200. Asking me to pick just a handful of my favorites is a nigh impossible task, because I read so many amazing books in 2013. I could easily fill this list myself with 10, 25, or even 50 of my greatest reads this year, but alas I cannot, or my co-bloggers will surely beat me into coma with their heaviest of epic fantasy tomes (they already let me choose four instead of their three).
But Wendy has helped me narrow things down, with the description she wrote for the post above. The keyword is “resonate”. And I suppose few other books have resonated with me this year as strongly as Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty. In a future full of advanced technology, people still strive for that timeless, formless, unshakeable connection to another soul known as love. It is what makes us human.
Provocative. Thoughtful. Beautiful. Passionate. This book is all that and more, and definitely deserves more attention. Way more. (Read more in my review)
The Boys by Garth Ennis
TIARA SAYS: This year has been all about the comics/manga for me, so while I’ve read some really great novels, I wanted to do something a little different and highlight some of the great comics I’ve read this year starting with The Boys. Now, I haven’t actually put up a review of this series yet, but I’ve been working on one that may find its way to my personal blog because it’s a long, introspective thing that keeps growing. The Boys is bloody disgusting. Within these pages, you will find an overabundance of disgusting human behavior. There is an excess of gross conduct and no one is truly beyond it. It’s offensive, hard to swallow, and out of control. It is also BRILLIANT.
Depending on your view of things, you may either feel that Ennis pointed out some very disturbing trends in comics, especially as they start to explore darker concepts with the audience shift, or you may feel that he missed the mark on some issues which has started some interesting debates. Personal interpretation is everything with this series. I’ve seen interpretations of the same events in to the book differ wildly, but prove to be valid ways of looking at things. Either way, this series is one of those stories that’s hard to shelve. You want to look away, but it’s such a veritable, horrific mess that you just can’t stop reading it.
MOGSY SAYS: Like Wendy, one way to know that a book has impressed me is when I go on the hunt to track down all of the author’s other works as soon as I’m finished reading. This is exactly what happened when I finished The Thousand Names.
This book was so difficult to put down; I devoured all 500+ pages in days. I couldn’t even make myself slow down to savor it because it was just that absorbing. I’ve always had a soft spot for flintlock fantasy, Wexler gave me everything I wanted with his epic fantasy featuring magic, revolution, blood and gunpowder.
Military fantasy fans as well as wargamers rejoice, this book will put you right where the action is, with rich world-building as well as memorable and fully-realized characters to boot. (Read more in my review)
Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama
TIARA SAYS: Before I started reading this (and watching the anime), if someone had asked me what my favorite manga of all time was, I would’ve said, “Simple. Tite Kubo’s Bleach.” If you were to ask me now, I’d probably do some fidgeting and get annoyed because I think this series has claimed the number one spot in my heart, and I feel like I’m cheating on my first love (Bleach) that I’ve been with for years. I still love you, Bleach. Don’t leave!
I’ve gotten into quite a few new mangas this year, but none have fascinated me quite like this one. What I love about this series and what always stays on my mind is how human these characters are, how vulnerable they are both physically and metaphysically, and how these characters, the situation they’re in, captures so much of the human need to fight and survive–even when it looks hopeless. It’s a story about the courage in the face of fear. It presses upon the reader that, in order to survive, humans have to depend on each other and bring their individual strengths to the table to win this fight. It captures the indomitable spirit of humans without compromising other emotions such as fear, trust, and uncertainty. The fact that all this captured with few words and visuals. Amazing! (Read more in my reviews)
WENDY SAYS: This is a sneaky little book. It’s actually a romance that cleverly disguises itself as science fiction. While you’re blissfully enjoying the displaced Sadiri people’s hunt for suitable mates to help replenish their society after the heinous destruction of their planet, you slowly come to realize that you’ve fallen in love with Delarua and Dllenahkh, who slowly come to realize that they’ve fallen in love with each other.
Part way through this book, Tiara asked how I was enjoying it and I gave her a gushing response about how it felt like sitting comfortably on a couch, hanging out with good friends – who happen to like science fiction.
This book was so subtle and unassuming, which made it easily able to get right under my skin. (Read more in my review)
MOGSY SAYS: This was a book I read in early spring, so sadly I was unable to feature it in my “Best of Summer” list. That’s why I’m so glad to have the opportunity to talk about it now in our year end Top Reads post.
Simply put, this book is gorgeous. The writing, the depth of the characters and the strength of their emotions made me want to hurl myself to my knees and thank the book gods that we have writers like Teresa Frohock and novels like Miserere. It is an intensely alluring book, taking its time to reveal its true nature, doling out details about its world in a trickle as you read. Needless to say, patience will be rewarded — in spades. The author’s talent is on full display, giving us the most brutal and disconcerting elements of horror, but as well showing how the most powerful of loves can endure and offer redemption. And Teresa Frohock does it all oh so beautifully. (Read more in my review)
Batgirl by Gail Simone
TIARA SAYS: I’ve read many amazing comics this year, and I could gush on and on about books like Saga, East of West, and Locke and Key just to name a few. However, I wanted to highlight Gail Simone’s Batgirl for a few reasons. One being that it’s been a long time since I really appreciated the story in mainstream comic. This book joins books such as Kingdom Come and Old Man Logan as a book that rises above the usual wash, rinse, repeat in mainstream comics, and it’s not even an AU (alternate universe) like those two–unless you just don’t acknowledge the DCnU, which is totally legit in my opinion.
Now, admittedly, I think Gail’s writing can be a little corny (and I still think Barbara is more formidable as Oracle), but I have been enjoying Batgirl. First, I think Gail has done a wonderful job of showing Barbara as a survivor, a survivor who both rejoices in and questions her miracle, a survivor who has triggers that she’s still trying to overcome, a survivor who questions the validity and intent of Gotham heroes, even herself. Of the books I’ve read, Barbara’s stories have highlighted many of these issues, showing the upside and the downside. I think Gail does a wonderful job tackling some harder issues. Barbara’s return has been plagued with issues and doubts she’s dealing with, and I appreciate Gail doing that rather than trying to make Barbara’s return to the mantle all rainbows and good times. (Read more of my reviews)
WENDY SAYS: All of my subsequent YA reads have to stand up to this book in terms of characterization. I love the way Stiefvater writes young adults. They are not the obnoxious, completely self-absorbed creatures that I don’t enjoy reading. That is, sure they are a bit self-absorbed, but they aren’t written in such a way that their teenage flaws become grating. Yet they aren’t written as adults in teen bodies. Stiefvater handles them respectfully in a way that both teens and adults can appreciate.
The other thing that I adore about Stiefvater’s writing is the way she foregoes allusions when painting her world. Instead, she uses actions and absence to describe a scene, and most importantly, to make her characters very, very real. Her descriptions are absolutely delicious. (Read more in my review)
MOGSY SAYS: It’s a great time to be a speculative fiction reader right now, with so many great and original ideas having found their way to being published in recent years. Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter have their place too, because if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of reading this incredible book in 2013.
What struck me about Hollow World isn’t so much the story, but the main character’s personal journey — the things he learns about himself and the questions he asks about life and love. I didn’t expect such heavy subject matters when I first picked this one up, but it was a welcome surprise. The book took my emotions on a roller coaster ride — I felt ecstatic, shocked, angry, sad, annoyed, disturbed, deeply touched, so moved that I was almost in tears…all that and more just from reading the story, and any book that can give me the kind of feels that Hollow World did certainly qualifies as having resonated with me. (Review coming in Spring 2014 closer to release)