Tuesday 31 December 2013

Favourite books of 2013

I wasn't quite sure how to approach my post about my reading in 2013. I've seen all sorts but several people have gone for just choosing a top ten and after some thought that seemed to be the way to do it. So here we go.

If you look at pure numbers of books read by me this year, which is 91, then it would seem to have been a very successful reading year for me. I tend these days though to look more carefully at what I read rather than how many. I'm still pleased. Of the 91, 22 were non-fiction. It could be better but it's twice the amount I read last year. I'd like it be around 30 and therefore a third of what I read so I shall just have to try harder next year.

Another interesting statistic is the library book versus own books one. It seems I read 48 library books which means 43 were either my own or borrowed from family. I had thought that I'd read fewer of my own books, so that's interesting. I'm doing the Mount TBR challenge next year and was aiming for 48 of my own books. Possibly I should have pitched that slightly higher and gone for 60. I'll have to see how I go and adjust my category if necessary.

Anyway, without further ado these are the books I enjoyed the most this year. I've split them into fiction first and then non-fiction.


1. Rendezvous With Rama - Arthur C. Clarke

2. The Help - Kathryn Stockett

3. The Ship of Magic - Robin Hobb

4. Unseen Academicals - Terry Pratchett

5. In the Bleak Midwinter - Julia Spencer-Fleming

6. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklyn

7. The Last Runaway - Tracy Chevalier

8. The Dead Secret - Wilkie Collins

9. Helliconia Spring - Brian W. Aldiss

10. Dawn - Octavia Butler

Looking at these, half are science fiction and fantasy and the rest either crime or stand-alone stories. I would have expected there to be more crime but thinking about it I have enjoyed rather a lot sci-fi this year. Picking a favourite is very hard... three stand out as being terrific: The Help, The Ship of Magic and Helliconia Spring. I'm not sure I can choose: the problem being that months stretch between reading these books and the impact wears off a bit. If I read them one after the other it would be easier to pick. I think the prize has to go to The Help by Kathryn Stockett for being such a compulsive, thought provoking, brilliant book. I really could not put it down and was always keen to pick it up whenever I sat down to read. That for me is proof of a wonderful book.


1. Serving Victoria - Kate Hubbard

2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

3. Down the Nile - Rosemary Mahoney

4. A Point of View - Clive James

5. Travels With Macy - Bruce Fogle

6. One Man and His Bike - Mike Carter

7. Turtles in Our Wake - Sandra Clayton

8. Walk the Lines - Mark Mason

9.A Dog Abroad - Bruce Fogle

10. The Happy Isles of Oceania - Paul Theroux (Not reviewed but enjoyed nevertheless.)

Another hard decision on which is my favourite. I seem to have chosen 7 travel books. No surprise there as I'm a comfirmed armchair traveller. The other three are a book of essays (Clive James), a history volume (Serving Victoria) and the first book of Maya Angelou's memoirs. They're *all* fantastic and trying to narrow it down is hard. It comes down to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Down the Nile and One Man and his Bike. Given that One Man and His Bike by Mike Carter made me want to immediately pack my bags and head off to Scotland, I think it will have to be that.

His wonderful descriptions of the British coast and in particular Scotland - and specifically the Hebridean Islands - stayed with me for weeks. It might seem a bit perverse to choose such an obscure book for my favourite non-fiction of the year, but there you go, sometimes an obscure book will hit you right between the eyes and that one did. Loved it.

I'll leave my thoughts on what I would like to read in 2014 for another post. Suffice it to say that next year is going to be The Year of the Reading Challenge for me. LOL

Last but not least I just want to wish everyone who reads this blog, whether they comment or not, a very Happy New Year. I hope 2014 will be a good year for all and a much better year for those who are struggling at the moment... and I know plenty are. A little bit of peace in the world would go down very nicely too. Surely it can't be too much to hope for.



GeraniumCat said...

That looks a lovely line-up of books read, Cath - I remember wanting to read One Man and His Bike when you first reviewed it, I must see if the library has it.

Hope 2014 is as good a reading year for you - or even better!

Carl V. Anderson said...

Fun seeing what you liked for 2013. Couldn't help but smile to see Pratchett on the list. His books are such a treat.

I've read Clarke short stories and enjoyed them but not read any of his longer fiction...though I have several of these on my shelf.

Hope your 2014 reading year is even more wonderful!!! Thanks for your participation in events that I hosted this year. I do appreciate it and enjoy seeing what you read and what you thought about them.

Val said...

Brilliant reviews ..you found far too many good books for my bedside tables health!
Have a Wonderful New Year with love xxx

DesLily said...

wow! you did fabulous sis! Wish I could say the same, but considering the past several months have been not so great I am happy with my lower amount lol.. got to look them over and see which were my favs and make a post!

Kailana said...

You had an awesome year. I read The Help either in 2012 or 2011 and loved it. I rewatched the movie just the other day. (Also really good!) I hope 2014 is a great reading year for you.

I am so excited about the new Robin Hobb. Back with her original characters. (I mention this because you have her on your list.)

Penny O'Neill said...

Oh, this simple wonderful to see, Cath, and you are to be commended for your determination in your reading, and your wonderful reviews. Congratulations.

We read "The Help" for our book discussion. I will admit that I started reading it a little bit grudgingly, as I usually do for best sellers, then found myself completely immersed and unable to put it down. We had a lively discussion, one of our best. Several of us went to see the movie together, and loved it as well. As a few others have mentioned, you should try to see it. It holds true to the story.

Happy New Year!

Danielle said...

It looks like you had a really great reading year! I really must read The Help, which I have had in paperback since it came out and have heard so many very good things about. The problem with these favorites lists is I end up adding far more books to my own reading pile than I have room for (and all those plans I already have....). I would love to read much more nonfiction (I have Walk the Lines thanks to you--it sits on my reading pile! :) ), but I am such a slow NF reader I can't seem to get through them fast so inevitably I reach more for novels--more instant gratification. Always happy to see any Wilkie Collins on a list by the way! Best wishes for 2014!

TracyK said...

Nice list in both areas. I wish I could get myself to read The Help but just can't do it at this point. I do have Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter on my Kindle. Definitely plan to read some Terry Pratchett this year. Just not sure where to start.

Good for you for reading non-fiction. I love the idea of that but in practice I have a hard time following through on the books. My husband reads a good bit of non-fiction.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I really can't believe how long it is since the last time we spoke.

The old saying certainly seems to be holding true ... 'The older you get, the faster time goes', I really don't know what has happened to 2013!

My reading year has been very slow and has been severely influenced by factors pretty much outside my control, so here's hoping for a better reading year for us all!

I would just like to wish you and your family all best wishes for the New Year.


Cath said...

Geranium Cat: I hope your library has One Man and his Bike. Perhaps you could reserve it online. Happy reading in 2014 to you too.

Carl: I honestly would never have thought I would have liked a Pratchett book with a football theme as much as I did. Incredible.

It seems I have a taste for the classic sci-fi writers such as Arthur C. Clarke and Brian W. Aldiss. A nice thing to discover when you hit 60. LOL

My pleasure and thank you for hosting such interesting book challenges.

Val: Thanks! And I'm so sorry about your bedside table. ;-)

Pat: I think you did great with your health issues etc. Loved reading your post.

Kelly: I'm excited about Robin Hobb too. I watched the movie of The Help this year too and enjoyed it... but preferred the book.

Penny: Thank you for your kind commenst about my reviews.

I too am never fond of starting best sellers and it did take me a couple of years to get to The Help. Yes, I've seen the movie too. I liked it a lot, the acting was wonderful, but I prefered the book.

Danielle: You're right about some non-fiction taking a long time to read. I often have one going for a couple of months as well as an easier non-fiction and something fictional. Oh how we readers like to complicate our reading! I think you will love Walk the Lines. It's so quirky. I'm hoping to read more Wilkie Collins this year.

Tracy: I understand completely why you have a problem with books set in the south.

Where to start with Terry Pratchett? Goodness, there are *many* differing views on this and I'm no expert. But I started with book 3 I think, Equal Rites, and just slowly worked my way through over a number of years.

Yvonne: Thank you, and I wish you and yours a Happy New year as well. Yes, time does seem to speed up as you get older. I try not to worry about it, but it's hard. I hope 2014 is a good year for you.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

Cath, congratulations! especially for all that non-fiction - I hope to read more of that this year too.

I'll have to retrieve my copy of Rendezvous With Rama from the loft to read that this month - I missed your review earlier in the year. We've had this book for donkey's years and I may have read it but reading your review I don't remember it now, so maybe not. And I had no idea that he lived until 2008!

And The Help - such a fantastic book - I'm glad you loved it too.

Well, I hope 2014 throws up such good books too - Happy Reading!

Nan said...

I'm all for 'obscure' - I love reading booklists that don't have the titles I've heard of already. This one sounds wonderful. There's a whole world of people out there doing interesting things.

Cath said...

Margaret: Thank you, I was quite pleased with the non-fiction total.

Rendezvous with Rama has stayed with me since I read it near the beginning of the year. There are sequels but I gather they're patchy. Yes, he only died a few years ago. Brian W. Aldiss is another classic sci-fi writer who is still with us.

Happy Reading to you too for 2014. I have a feeling it's going to be a good year for books.

Nan: You're so right when you say that there's a whole world of people out there doing amazing things. I wish I had another lifetime to read about them all.

Peggy Ann said...

All in all I would say a very good year! I haven't read a non-fiction in quite awhile. I need to change that.

Cath said...

Peggy: A very good year for me, I don't remember reading more books than that in one year.

I just started my first book for your Scottish challenge. :-)

Susan said...

Love your lists, Cath. That is quite a list for 2013, a lot of nonfiction, and a stunning total, one I've only managed once so far. Well done! I hope you find as many good books you love this year too :-)

I have to read that In the Bleak, Bleak Midwinter, which I have had on my shelf forever.....and I read the Robin Hobb series in their entirety (the LIveship Traders) because you named this one as one of your favourites for the year! and I so loved the whole series. Very very good.

Now to see if I can find One Man and His Bike for my husband for his upcoming birthay...He loves travel books like that set in the UK.

I hope you and Peter have a fabulous 2014, Cath.

Cath said...

Thanks, Susan. It's a pretty hefty total of books for me and I was very pleased with all the non-fictions.

In the Bleak Midwinter was very good - I just gave it to my daughter to read the other day.

I have book 2 of the Ship of Magic on my pile for OUaT in a few weeks. I want to try and get several chunky books off my tbr mountain for that.

If Toby likes that kind of book then I think he will love One Man and His Bike. You too would love the Scottish sections I think.

Thanks, Susan. I do hope you and yours will soon get over your winter illnesses.