Dori’s Best of 2013

Another year of great books, but when I read all these end of the year lists, all I can think of is that there are so many left undone! But enough wallowing…here are my favorites:

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra: delves into the surreal horror and tenderness of the lives of Chechens during their ethnic civil war. When Russian soldiers kill her father, a village doctor hides a young girl with a surgeon in the nearest city – we learn of their past, present and future and how they all weave together.

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride: a remarkable look at abolitionist John Brown – told from the perspective of a young slave – there was some repetition that an editor should have addressed, but the subject, story, language and wit made it unique and wow, that John Brown was some crazy bad*ss!  – crazy sane!

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner: this one was a difficult read, but it’s stuck with me – the story of a woman artist in the 70’s – the tone was so amazing plus the cover, I mean, come on, doesn’t that tempt you?

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes: what starts out as a seemingly cute potential relationship story evolves into one addressing euthanasia – really well done.

The Son: a Novel by Philipp Meyer: an epic western historical saga – just my cup of tea – with lots of details about the lives of American Indians and Anglo/Mexican relations. I could not put it down.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Gaiman’s weird world of memory and childhood; so intriguing.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer: I listened to this one on audiobook and even though I did not love all the characters, I found this story of a group of friends who meet at an arts camp as teens funny, relatable and heartbreaking.

Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers: this is one I listened to as well – it is told by a soldier in Iraq and his experiences of friendship and tragedy – a powerful and beautifully written first novel.

Death of a Nightingale by Lene Kaaberbol: I do love some Scandinavian mysteries – so dark, wintery and gloomy and this one fits the bill perfectly. Instead of a detective who’s going off the rails, it stars a Red Cross nurse, and in this one she’s trying to save the life of a Ukrainian refugee and her daughter.

2 for the price of one – Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery and How the Light Gets In: I started late in the Inspector Gamache series, and these two latest show Penny at her best – with page turning suspense, heart breaking relationships and multi-dimensional characters.

Oh and I’m in the middle of listening to The Rosie Project by Graeme Simpson: an autistic Australian professor of genetics navigates love – it’s funny, touching and clever – you will fall in love with Don Tillman!

And I guess I should make it ’13 in 13′ like my colleagues – so I will add the The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman, another first novel. A comedy of manners about the love lives of smart, hipster Brooklynites – she does some fine skewering!

That’s it – must get home to get some more reading done (in between decorating, eating, etc.)! Happy Holidays to all –

~ Dori

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