Thursday, 19 December 2013

My Favourite 13 of '13

It has been an excellent year of reading!  Going over the list of books that I read this year made me so thankful that I have access to the voices of so many talented writers, and that I am able to engage freely in conversation about the books I read.  Choosing my favourites for the year was not so easy this time around.  For my Favourite 13 of '13 I decided to limit my choices to books that I read for the first time this year.  That automatically eliminated some of my most enjoyable reading experiences so I've added my favourite re-reads at the bottom.

I have been facing some challenges to my health this fall, culminating in a 9-day hospital stay this month.  I have Ulcerative Colitis, and suffered a serious flare-up at the beginning of the month.  I had hoped to catch up on writing about some of the wonderful books I read, especially in November, but I have to accept that is not going to happen.  I have linked back to my original thoughts on each of my favourite books and will be happy to talk about the unlinked selections if you are curious about any of the titles.  I am very disappointed not to be able to share my thoughts on some of the most amazing books I read this year (Merilyn Simonds' The Holding, Irmgard Keun's The Artificial Silk Girl, Willa Cather's Shadows on the Rock...) but have decided to let it go.

1. The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata.

2. The Sacrifice by Adele Wiseman.
3. Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi.
4. La Guerre, Yes Sir! by Roch Carrier
5. Tay John by Howard O'Hagan.
6. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster.
7. One Happy Moment by Louise Riley.
8. The Artificial Silk Girl by Imgard Keun.
9. W;t, A Play by Margaret Edson.
10. Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven.

11. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood.
12. Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather.

13.  Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Most Enjoyable Re-reads

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler.
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.
The Holding by Merilyn Simonds.

I look forward to seeing everyone's end-of-year summaries, and the goals and challenges for next year.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear that you had been hospitalized! I did notice that you hadn't written in a little while. I hope you are doing better now. I'm sure that your girls are happy to have their mom back :-)

    I love year-end lists like this and I enjoyed seeing your list of favorites. I definitely would like to read more Japanese writers as well as Margaret Atwood, so I will look up those respective titles. I am curious about the others too and will check those out.

    By the way, I liked your updated blog look - it's beautiful! Happy holidays!

    1. Thank you, Cecilia. It is wonderful to be home again. My mum is here and managing everything so I am able to focus completely on recovery. I hope you enjoy the holidays with your family!

  2. P.S. I also got Wild for myself for Christmas. I'm glad that it is among your top 13!

    1. Wild is one of the books about which I really would like to share my thoughts. It seems to be quite a polarising book - love it or hate it! The reason I loved it so much is because of my fascination with the woman + long distance hike + solitude equation. I spent six months traveling by yself at the same age and loved the truth of her experiences that I shared. Anyway, I really look forward to hearing your thoughts on Wild!

  3. I loved Surfacing, and Shadows on The Rock, and The Old Capital, too. Talk about a wide variety of books, but that's what we like, isn't it?

    By the way, a long overdue thank you for the sweet comment you left on my Thanksgiving post last month. I'm just now finding time to return comments, and promise to do better in 2014! xo

    1. Thank you, Bellezza! Shadows on the Rock was such a wonderful surprise for me! I could hardly believe such a book had escaped my notice until now. I hope you have a wonderful break over the holidays. All the best for 2014.

  4. I hope you're feeling better, Lee-Anne. 9 days can't have been at all easy, although kudos for mentioning it here on your blog.

    Thank you for this lovely list - Surfacing is a book I must read! And it's great to see The Enchanted April listed as one of your favourite rereads :)


    1. Thanks, Lucy! I am preparing for my first non-medical excursion since December 8th today to... guess where?... a bookshop of course :). I look forward to watching your blog grow this year, and reading all your thoughtful posts. Glad to have found you on Twitter too. Happy New Year, Lucy!

  5. I do hope you're well on the mend now, and that you scooped up a good number of books on your outing at the end of December.

    When I'm making lists, I find it very hard to deal with the reread/new read distinction; I mean, I probably loved the book if I'm rereading (not always, sometimes it's a matter of revisiting because others are reading it and I'm joining in, but usually it's because I'm fond of it), so in that same it seems as though all the rereads should be on the list of favourites. And, yet, it's not that simple. Have you read Wendy Lesser's Nothing Remains the same, about rereading? You might like it.

    On your list, I am most intrigued by One Happy Moment -- am nearly desperate to find a copy -- and have most loved The Holding, The Sacrifice and Surfacing (can't choose). And I'm curious about the few I don't recognize, as we seem to have similar taste, so I would likely enjoy them too.

    Good reading to you in the year ahead!

    1. Thank you for the Wendy Lesser title. I've never heard of it but it has gone on my Lifetime List (I've just added a page of the 1000 books I'd like to read at some point in my life) because it sounds like just the thing for me. For years it seemed like all I ever did was re-read. I'm trying to branch out a little more with my reading so am actively trying to keep re-reads to a minimum, but the pull is there as strong as ever!


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