This was a ridiculous year of reading … I set an initial goal of 75 books, and as I write this on December 11th, I’ve blown past that to 105. I’ll probably add another 3-4 books before New Year’s (we’re doing Christmas in Key West this year, which means plenty of sunny, poolside reading!), but spoiler alert: most of those will probably be Jill Shalvis books, because I’m addicted.
At the bottom, you’ll see a gallery of all the books I’ve read (thanks, Goodreads, for making this easy to aggregate!). I’m a major book quitter, so every book listed is one I enjoyed in some way or another, so I’d recommend pretty much everything pictured below. But before we get there …
Favorite Books of 2013
Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Gayle Forman is the very best at writing realistic and yet still swoon-worthy dudes. I like Just One Day, but Just One Year was where the duology really shined. I love reading about and rooting for Willem. And Just One Year made me go back and reread the If I Stay/Where She Went duology … which I think we all know is freaking fantastic.
Jessica Darling’s It List by Megan McCafferty
Glory hallelujah, Jessica Darling is back! Middle grade isn’t usually my bag (she says as she realizes THREE of the books on this list are MG), but I’ll read anything staring good old JD, even a picture book. After five books and all that waiting, I was so pleased that this middle grade prequel lived up to everything I love about that series. McCafferty did an amazing job of letting us see the origin of Jessica’s snark, while also revealing her sweet middle school roots. I’m gonna go ahead and say that Jessica Darling is the most fully realized character in literature.
Doll Bones by Holly Black
This was my first Holly Black book, snagged off the shelf at my local library. Another middle grade, and this one was beautifully written. It captured everything that is great and terrible about being twelve and straddling the childhood-teenagerhood divide. There’s such a sense of childlike wonder here.
The Rainbow Rowell Collection: Attachments, Eleanor and Park, and Fangirl
Ok, this is cheating, but I read Attachments, Eleanor and Park, and Fangirl all this year, and fell completely in love with Rainbow Rowell. Her writing is so honest. I’ll admit, I think Attachments is my favorite (read it, picture Alexander Skarsgard as Lincoln, then write an email and thank me), which is why I’m really looking forward to her next book, Landline. I’ll cash in all my author mojo just to get a galley of that one.
Starstruck by Rachel Shukert
This is the book I’ve been evangelizing to everyone I know, because I think this book is criminally underrated. The writing is fabulous, and the world is so fun. Set in 1930s Hollywood and following three young starlets (and the wild band of crazies that surrounds them), this is like a period Gossip Girl but with way more class and even more intrigue. I was lucky enough to get a galley of the sequel, Love Me, and whoa … I’m all in on this trilogy. Give me third one please!
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
The third middle grade on this list, Nate had me laughing out loud. This read like a middle grade David Sedaris, and I can’t wait for the follow-up, Five, Six, Seven, Nate! I’ll read anything Tim Federle writes, because the guy brings it with the comedy.
The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
Penguin did a bang-up job on the promo for this one, because those book trailers, excerpts, and ad campaigns made me buy this book on release day and then spend the next 24 hours devouring it. I love that even though it’s the start of a series, it feels like a complete story with a satisfying ending. But I’m still clamoring for the next one!
Someday Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
I was going to read this one no matter what, because hello, Lorelai Gilmore wrote it! But this is not your typical celebrity novel. Lauren is a talented writer, and I could hear her voice pouring off of every page. It was hilarious and heartfelt, which is probably why she’s writing a follow-up, and also a pilot script for Ellen Degeneres’s production company! This brought back everything I loved about quality chick lit like Bridget Jones, Devil Wears Prada, and Something Borrowed.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
File this under “Why did it take me so long to read this?!” It absolutely lived up to the hype. I will say, if you’re diving in for the first time, just know that the first 75 pages or so are going to be strange, but power through. It’ll start to slowly come together, and you’ll be so glad you stayed for the show.
Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan
Another criminally underrated book, probably because the main characters are NOT nice dudes and the language is frank and honest. Which, if you’ve spent any time with teenage boys, you know is not always pleasant. But the storytelling is masterful, and I couldn’t put it down. In fact, I read part of this book while standing next to Ian Somerhalder on the Vampire Diaries set because OH MY GOD GO AWAY IAN I WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THIS BOOK!
And now for the superlatives…
Favorite Character: Roux, Going Rogue by Robin Benway
Yep, she won last year, and in the hilarious follow-up to Also Known As, Robin brings back everything I loved about Roux and more. Also, this time she gets an Irish love interest, so YUP YES PLEASE.
Swooniest Dude: tie between Willem and Adam, from the Gayle Forman books
I guess Adam shouldn’t be included, because If I Stay/Where She Went was a reread, but I can’t help it. The boy is HOT. And so is Willem, oh he of the multilingualism and the Bollywood film credits.
Biggest Book Addiction: The Lucky Harbor Series by Jill Shalvis
Holy hotness … I’m on a romance novel kick these days, and these are my crack. No shame, no apologizes.
Book that Scared the Bejeezus Out of Me: Cain’s Blood by Geoffrey Girard
Cloned serial killers who escape and go on a killing spree? Yeah, it had me double checking the locks on my doors.
Biggest OMG Moment: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I’d tell you about it, but I’d probably be lying.
Character I Most Want to See In Another Book: Morris, The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Sarah’s forever bringing back former characters to make cameo appearances, and I’d love to see Morris again. In fact, if she were ever going to attempt to write from a dude’s perspective, I’d love to see a whole Morris book. Something about him was mysterious and interesting and magnetic. More please!
Book Series That Left Me Wanting More: The Disappearance of Lizzy Ross by Jessica Schein
The e-novella series definitely left me with lots of questions, so I can’t wait for the next one. Honorable mention to All Our Yesterdays, because I want to see what she plans to do next.
Best Cover: Giving it to Jennifer E. Smith again, this time for This is What Happy Looks like and The Geography of You and Me
Not to mention that what’s inside those books? AWESOME. Wait, why didn’t I include these on my best books above? Because they were awesome. Read them, now.
Most Feel-Good Read: The Mother Daughter Book Club Series by Heather Vogel Frederick
Maybe it’s that these books take place in New England (Concord, MA, to be precise), maybe it’s that they’re sweet middle grade reads, or maybe it’s just that Heather Vogel Frederick captures all the good parts of being a tween. I haven’t yet finished the series, but every time I need a sigh and a smile kind of a read, I reach for one of these. I only have 3 left, so I’ve got to save ’em!
Books Sitting on TBR Shelf That I Can’t Wait to Read:
Also known as the WHAT AM I WAITING FOR?!?! Award, these are sitting on my shelf waiting for the perfect moment to be enjoyed, because let’s be honest, every last one of them is going to be fabulous.
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Fire With Fire by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Never Fade by Alex Bracken
September Girls by Bennett Madison
Winger by Andrew Smith
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan