Saturday, December 21, 2013

Best Books I Read: 2013

Another year has come and gone. For each year that I've had this blog, I've posted a list of the best books I read within the year. I've succumbed to a sort of end-of-year-blogging schedule. This year, the meme I began to participate in earlier in the year, Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish, is using this topic for Tuesday, December 31, so I will link this list there when the time comes.

Across the Universe
by: Beth Revis

This is one of those books that I've wanted to read for years but just never got ahold of in a timely manner, but better late than never. This dually-narrated novel blew me away! I absolutely couldn't be parted from it; my continual anxiety for Amy and Elder just kept skyrocketing as I read. The general scenario of a community on a spaceship in itself intrigued me, and the dystopia woven into it made it so intense, especially with such frightening enemies. Beth Revis' mere ideas for Across the Universe were a perfect recipe for a novel. I will definitely make reading the rest of the books in this trilogy a priority for 2014.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by: Stephen Chbosky

I guess I didn't really believe everybody when they said that The Perks of Being a Wallflower was similar to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. I just didn't think it was possible. Still, both books are different from another nonetheless, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower certainly has a profound effect of its own. It made me so depressed the entire time, but my gosh it's good. Even when I didn't catch the revelation at the end, it cut me deeply... But of course, when I found a discussion of what went over my head... What I found out that I didn't pick up on while reading really overwhelmed me with grief - not just for Charlie, but for anyone else who has been wronged like that.

If you haven't read this book yet, read it. Every quote you've seen on the internet from this book will come alive and mean something so much more.

Life of Pi
by: Yann Martel

It almost feels odd to include Life of Pi on this list considering that even now as I think of it, my stomach hurts from feeling so much, but that was really the point anyway. I analyzed this book in my head for days after finishing it; I thought I was losing my marbles for sure. Let it be known that I am strongly opposed to stories that involve being a castaway, but Life of Pi was different. Pi was an interesting person in terms of his knowledge of animals and his ability to be a Hindu/Christian/Muslim, and putting a tiger on a lifeboat is definitely an interesting toss-up. I felt emotional for Pi and the animals in the Pacific Ocean with him. But then the infamous second story is introduced... If the ending of the movie The Sixth Sense is a slap in the face, Life of Pi's is like a shot in the head. I bawled even before it all was told because like anyone else at the beginning of that part, I knew exactly how unbearable it would be. In the initial story it was already really difficult to read, but this was nearly impossible. I was so racked up that I could hardly continue... I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it. But again, that was the point.


Sailor Moon Volumes 6-12
by: Naoko Takeuchi
This year, I read my way through the Infinity, Dream, and Stars story arcs of the renewal Sailor Moon books. I thoroughly loved all three. Infinity (books 6-8) was just as awesome as I expected with the appearance of Sailor Saturn, a character that always intrigued me when I watched the anime. There were more differences than I expected between the show and the books, but I really appreciated the differences in both. (However, I do wish that Dr. Tomoe could have a happier ending like he did in the anime.) I wasn't sure what to expect from the Dream story arc (books 8-10), but I ended up really liking it. The whole fanbase seems to really love Stars (books 11-12), so I was really excited to begin that story arc with book eleven. I must admit I wasn't the biggest fan of the eleventh book, but it really set the stage for the series' epic conclusion in the twelfth. It was so unique compared to the rest of the series. As always, friendship was a huge theme, but it also gave us insight on forgiveness, redemption, and the largeness of the universe. A very powerful ending to an inspiring series.

An American classic, and rightfully so. I was a bit surprised by how much I ended up liking this 20s-based book. Fitzgerald's writing was very flowy despite the lack of commas, and generally just very pretty. Nick Carraway's perspective showed us a melancholy chaos that surrounded everyone in this big city life, and in terms of plot, I don't think the explosion of drama could've been any bigger. These poor characters dismantled their own dreams within their attempts to live the clichĂ© 'American Dream,' and I felt a sense of sorrow for them (except Tom Buchanan; he was a jerk). The Great Gatsby also had a lot of powerful symbolism; I actually teared up at the "beautiful shirts" part. A fantastic novel even by today's standards.
Destined is the fourth and final book in Aprilynne Pike's Wings series, which I have been quite fond of. While the entire series has had a generally lighthearted feel with its focus on friendship, Destined still honors this characteristic, but it's much darker. There's a lot of action and more is at stake than ever, and I loved it. Plus, the love triangle was pushed way out of focus (I mean, between all the chaos and the simple fact that Laurel would have to choose between Tamani and David at some point), and that made me quite happy; that particular element probably bugged me out of the middle two books of this series... I'm quite picky when it comes to love triangles. I don't like them easily. Anyway, I became quite emotional at the bittersweet, all-too-realistic ending. Destined took a turn I never expected from this series. Aprilynne Pike did a fabulous job!

by: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

I can hear you. "SHE'S GOT TO BE KIDDING!" you exclaimed. But I'm not.  Everyone loves to hate the House of Night series; I realize this fact - but I don't get it (well, I'm theorizing that people want to finish the series despite not liking it that much and are just exasperated considering that Hidden is the tenth book), and I don't care. I freaking love these books. I wasn't the craziest about them at first, but after a while they just kept getting better and better. They're just so much fun! I love how magical and elemental they are, I love how the characters have grown, I love the theme of forgiveness... Hidden was such a cool installment. Quit judging me!

So, those were the highlights of my year in reading. I think it's a pretty interesting bunch, if I may say so myself. I didn't get to read nearly as much as I wanted this year since some of these masterpieces (particularly Life of Pi and The Perks of Being a Wallflower) required post-reading recovery time, so my reading list for next year is a bit large. Anyway, I hope you're all enjoying the holiday season and all the end-of-year blogging wrap-ups that many of us are reading and writing. There's more to come from my end! And make sure you guys share your lists with me too and let me know what you thought of mine. Yay!

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