Tag Archives: best of 2013

Sarah’s 2013

Mark,

I was just working on my own stats when I saw your post. I’m humbled by your prowess!

I read 127 books in 2013, which is a pretty typical year for me.

The breakdowns:

74 YA and children’s books–mostly YA; 53 Adult books.

35 by male authors; 92 by female authors.

111 fiction; 16 nonfiction.

86 were published in 2013 or 2014.

I only read a couple of graphic novels–one fiction, one nonfiction, and one poetry collection, which I lumped in with nonfiction.
Favorites:

I want to start by mentioning a book I read at the end of 2012 and reviewed for AB4T: Eight Girls Taking Pictures, By Whitney Otto. I read it too late in the year to nominate it for the best of the year list, and in any case, I think it has limited (though real) teen appeal. But this book has been my reader’s advisory triumph of 2013. I recommended it to four different women (including your wife), and each one of them came back to me afterwards to tell me how much they had loved the book and how much it meant to them. Considering how much reader’s advisory we all do with no feedback whatsoever, that’s obviously a success! What was intriguing to me was how each reader noticed and commented on different aspects of the book: father/daughter relationships, mother/child relationships, art/life, career/family, and more.

This year, I read my first Maisie Dobbs book, by Jacqueline Winspear. I know Maisie Dobbs was an Alex winner back when it was new (10 years ago) but I hadn’t read any of the books until this year, when I read the first five.  I also went back and read some of Kate Atkinson’s earlier books in the Jackson Brodie series: Case Histories and Started Early, Took My Dog.  I’m planning to read more of both series.

I also indulged myself by listening to Jim Dale’s masterful productions of all seven Harry Potter books . Thanks to my library’s Overdrive subscription, they were my near-constant companions for a couple of months this fall, while I was knitting some rather large Christmas gifts! It was really pretty fascinating to listen to all seven books in a row, and see the connections.

I feel like I’m way behind on reading Printz-worthy books, and I didn’t really push myself too much this year.  Books that are still rattling around in my brain months later include Black Helicopters  (Woolston),  Yellowcake  (Lanagan), Charm and Strange (Kuehn), Picture Me Gone (Rosoff), and September Girls (Madison).

Books I don’t think have a chance at the Printz but that I personally loved included Just One Year (Forman), The Beginning of Everything (Schneider), and Fangirl (Rowell).

Books we’ll want to talk about in 2014 include Laurie Halse Anderson’s upcoming The Impossible Knife of Memory, and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars.

I see I didn’t read much science fiction or fantasy this year.

And, as always, I wish I had read more nonfiction, although percentage-wise, it’s a pretty typical amount: 12.5% of my reading. I anticipate correcting that in 2014, when I will be on YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults committee. (Of course, although I’ll be reading plenty of YA nonfiction, I won’t be discussing it here.)

– Mom

 

 

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2013 Wrap Up

Mom,

We did this last year, so I thought we’d do it again. In last year’s post I said: “Next year will in all likelihood be back down in the 100s, for my own and my wife’s sanity.” That . . . didn’t happen.

Statistics

Books Read: 279

Gender Breakdown:

  • Female authors: 141
  • Male Authors: 132
  • Both male and female authors: 6

Genre Breakdowns

  • Fiction: 220
  • Nonfiction: 59
  • GNs: 32
  • Poetry: 7
  • Short Story Collections: 7
  • Plays: 6

Age Breadown

  • Adult: 138
  • YA: 83
  • Children’s: 58

Books Published in 2013 or 2014: 178

Favorites

I feel like I’ve talked endlessly about my favorite Adult Books 4 Teens, teen books, and children’s books, so in lieu of listing overlapping favorites, I’m going to leave this year by briefly mentioning my favorite books that I wasn’t able to discuss, generally because they were adult books without teen appeal, were published prior to 2013, or both.

1. The Finno-Ugrian Vampire by Noemi Szecsi. A brilliant adult book with absolutely no teen appeal, more about language and Hungarian culture than vampires. Hilarious.

2. Between My Father and the King by Janet Frame. Previously uncollected and unpublished short stories by New Zealand’s greatest writer. Unpublished stuff unusually stays unpublished for a reason, but not in this case–these are amazing stories.

3. Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law by Joe Mazzone. One of my favorite pet issues–which I did get to discuss in the context of Phil Lapsley’s Exploding the Phone. IP is arcane and difficult, but utterly crucial for all of us living in the digital world to understand.

4. Mr. Posterior and the Genius Child by Emily Jenkins. Jenkins/Lockhart’s sole adult book is just as good as anything she’s done for teens and children.

5. The Story of Ain’t: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published by David Skinner. The story of the creation of Webster’s 3rd International Dictionary. No seriously, it’s fascinating.

6. Tenderness, Heroes, and Tunes for Bears to Dance To by Robert Cormier. I went on a little Cormier kick in October which confirmed for me that he remains one of the towering greats of YA literature.

7. Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare by Paul Werstine. Throughout most of the 20th Century, editors based their editions of Shakespeare on a set of assumptions about the way plays were transferred from the author to the playhouse to the printing house. These assumptions turn out to be almost entirely baseless when you look at the actual manuscripts which we still have access to. Werstine does look at them, and demolishes most of 20th Century editing in the process.

8. A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry. Lowry’s first novel. I was stunned at how much of her greatness was already apparent.

9. Revolutionary Summer The Birth of American Independence
by Joseph J. Ellis. A history of the summer of 1776, looking at the parallel’s between Washington’s military battles and Jefferson and Adams’s political ones.

10. The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno. A decidely minor, but nonetheless engrossing, postmodern detective story.

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Best of 2013 So Far, Sarah’s Take

Mark,

Obviously, there’s still a lot of reading to do, but here are some thoughts on 2013 books:

I agree with you about 17 & Gone, by Nova Ren Suma, and Pieces, by Chris Lynch. More to come, in a later post, on Pieces.

And, as you noted in that post, we disagree about Midwinterblood, which is still rattling around in my brain, so I think it has to go on my list. I haven’t read Yellowcake yet (though I have a copy now) or Primates, but I look forward to both. I’m reading A Corner of White right now, and if it holds up, it may make my list; so far it’s original and quirky and fun.

Other books that are rising to the top for me:

The Lucy Variations, by Sara Zarr. I talked about this book a few weeks ago. I am not sure that it will hold strong all year long, but for now, it’s up there.

I just finished Winger, by Andrew Smith. I will have more on this in a later post, too. Again, I’m not certain it has the staying power, but it was certainly a great read that surprised me in several ways, and that’s always a good thing.

Here are some books that may be contenders, and may require re-reading down the road to be sure. In all cases, my initial response was less than enthusiastic, but I think they all deserve more consideration:

Black Helicopters, by Blythe Woolston. I discussed it here.

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell. Also discussed here.

Uses for Boys, by Erica Lorraine Scheidt. Discussed here.

Reality Boy, by A.S. King. This is a tough one. I found this book so painful to read that I had to keep putting it down. And I mean that in a good way! I wanted to be like the hockey mom, who just gave poor Gerald a big hug–only I also wanted to somehow get him away from his godawful family. But as you said in your Goodreads review, was the family a little over the top? I’ll be interested to hear more discussion on this one, too.

Books that were fun to read, but for which I don’t think there’s enough there there:

The Moon and More, by Sarah Dessen

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

Just One Day, by Gayle Forman

This is What Happy Looks Like, by Jennifer E. Smith.

I haven’t read much nonfiction yet, so that’s something I’ll have to make a point of.

– Mom

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