I love Goodreads. It’s like Facebook for readers, and as a book-nerd, I appreciate the book conversations Goodreads allows, even if they happen all too infrequently.
I received an email from Goodreads yesterday that congratulated me on reading 17 books this year. First off, that is not something to congratulate this girl on — that is not a lot of books and is absolutely not brag-worthy. Also, I’ll finish the current one I’m working on before Jan. 1, which makes it closer to 18. But I did not finish all the books Goodreads thinks I read (too much good lit out there to stick with a book that bores you).
So I share with you: My five favorite books I read this year, in reverse order, as if that could possibly build some suspense:
5: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky. I saw the movie first, and it affected my guts so much, I sat in the dark and now-empty movie theater until the credits finished and the screen went black. The book was no better, no worse, which is to say: It was lovely. I love the honesty of our young narrator, and I love the themes of the book. (Date read: July 25, 2013)
4: “Doctor Sleep,” by Stephen King. This rounded out my three favorite King books of all time. It follows up with Danny Torrence from “The Shining” as he enters adulthood and gets involved with a young girl who has the shining stronger than he ever did. The ending wrapped up in much too neat a bow, but I fell in love with these characters enough that I was probably OK with that. (Nov. 13, 2013)
3: “In Dubious Battle,” by John Steinbeck. I adore Steinbeck, and I have since a high school English teacher made us read “The Grapes of Wrath.” I love his simple prose and his everyman-doing-good protagonists. Steinbeck made me care about a labor strike in the 1930s — not exactly the stuff my reading list is typically made of. (Jan. 23, 2013)
2: “Of Human Bondage,” by Somerset Maugham. I picked up Maugham for the first time on my honeymoon. It was the kind of place that didn’t have a TV, but it did have a small bookshelf. I read some of his short stories on the beach and loved them, and I picked this novel simply because I’d heard of it. It’s a tome, clocking in at 720 pages, but it’s amazing. One of the best villains of all time, and a flawed protagonist to boot. Sometimes you root for him, sometimes you want to kick him in the face. The basic plot: An orphan with a clubfoot lives throughout Europe, and we follow him from his sad childhood into an idealistic young man into middle age, where he loses those youthful ideals. (July 20, 2013)
1: “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” by John Irving. This isn’t just my favorite book of the year, but one of my favorite books of all time. Similar to “Bondage,” we follow our protagonist from childhood into adulthood, except the basic relationship of this story is our narrator Johnny and his brilliant, acerbic and very small best friend Owen. It’s a story about miracles and faith, friendship and fairness. This one hurt my guts for days. (April 7, 2013)
Thoughts on any of the above books? And what were the best books you read this year? I’m always looking for things to add to my to-read shelf.