The Best Books I Read In 2013

(As usual, please note, these are not necessarily the best books YOU read in 2013, or the best books some critic at Salon read in 2013, they’re the best books I read in 2013, and some of them weren’t published in 2013, so in no universe do I claim that it’s THE DEFINITIVE LIST OF THE BEST BOOKS WRITTEN IN 2013.  It’s just the Best Books I READ in 2013.  And that maybe you didn’t like. Or won’t like.  Or hated. Or will hate. Got it? Ok then.)

Also to be noted is that this year was BLEAK in the world of Elizabeth’s Literary Trials. Last year I had a difficult time narrowing a list to 13 books and I had a ton of runner ups.  This year I had a hard time finding 10 and I don’t really have any runner ups.  I don’t know if it’s because I read less or just because I was in a bad mood or what the deal was, but I did go through all the “Best Of” lists put out by everyone and I’d read almost all the books on those lists and nope.  Just nope. I mean, Night Film? ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THAT?

Hold on a minute, I have to pause to throw some random italics in here.

Whatever. Here’s my favorite books from this past year.

1. Blind Sight

blind sight

I loved this book.  I just loved it.  It was that book that connects with a place you’ve been in your life as if the author knows that place, and has been there, and then writes about it and somehow fixes it a little bit for you simply with the writing down of it. With the exception of a tiny thing at the end, which I did not love, it really was a favorite this year.  It just hit home for me. I really hope Meg Howrey keeps churning out books because I am a big fan.  (I just found out she’s half of the alter ego Magnus Flyte and wrote this book! Best news ever!)

2. Eleanor & Park


This book has my heart.  It was, for me, perfection. Tied for my favorite book of the year.

I still remember having this book on hold at the library for ages, before anyone was really talking about it, and even though I was excited to read it I assumed it’d be either of no consequence or terrible.  The author’s name was RAINBOW, for god’s sake.  And then I read it and it lodged somewhere in my soul like a shard of glass, and then everyone else read it and people talked about it everywhere, Twitter and blogs and I sent copies to people I love and then Rainbow Rowell wrote a new book and then all of a sudden our world had been changed.  By someone named Rainbow, and the books she wrote.  And man, I just love that.  Today is different than 364 days ago because of BOOKS.  Best.

3. The Interestings


This was one of those books that I wasn’t sure about until after I finished reading it and gave it some breathing room, and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the more I thought about it the more I liked it.  It was no Prep, but it was definitely worth a read, and the characters were fantastic.

4. Me Before You

me before you

I could not love a book more than I loved this book.  I loved every single thing about it. I am sad that I’ve already read it so I can never read it again for the first time.  This is my other favorite book of the year.  Absolutely the best in every way.

5. Life After Life

life after life

I’ve told everyone I know to read this book, and no one hasn’t liked it.  It’s really just wonderful. Fascinating, interesting, spellbinding, all the good adjectives.

6. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Bookstore

mr penumbra

God, I thought this was just such a great book.  Funny and smart and clever and interesting and fun. Finally a fun book! And I loved it.

7. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

constellation of vital phenomena

I will remain bitter to the end of my days that this book did not win the National Book Award. This is my high faluting literary favorite book of the year.  Seriously, this book.  A tour de force. Not a fun book, but nevertheless, amazing.

8. Fangirl  


The other Rainbow Rowell book of the year.  While it did not hold my heart in its hand the way E&P did, I still really really really liked it.  I think most people prefer one or the other, and E&P is the one I LOVED, but this was still a really good book. For me, it was not EXCEPTIONAL the way that E&P was, but it was still better than 9/10th’s of the other crap I read this year.

9.  Heft


I have no idea why I had never heard of this book, it was published in January of 2012, but my neighbor loaned me the paperback and I looooooooved it.  So heartbreaking and wonderful.

10.  The Orchardist

the orchardist

This was the first good book I read in 2013 and so it earns a spot on the list just for that.  I think I would describe it as a bit of a hard read, it’s not endearing, I wouldn’t say.  But to me the writing was so impressive and the story so heartfelt that it was worth the work of reading it.  I never would have thought it was the kind of thing I would love but I found myself thinking “Damn. Now that’s a writer,” the entire time I was reading it.  It’s a long, quiet, strange book, but it’s also majestic, in its way.

Don’t forget to go enter my give away if you haven’t yet, and thank you for all the good book suggestions over there! Here’s hoping 2014 is the Year I Love All The Books.


8 Responses

  1. I loved E&P, Me Before You, 24-Hour Bookstore, Constellation…, and Orchardist. Haven’t gotten to Life After Life or The Interestings yet. I have to admit that I did like Night Film, even though I usually find pretentious style choices like italics annoying, because I love the detective noir genre and will always get into literary takes on it. I also really liked The Best of Youth, which you didn’t. Did you read Goldfinch? I’m interested in your take since we have some crossover on our favorites.

  2. I read six of the ten, and I enjoyed 5 of those six. The Orchardist was just too much for me.

    Thanks, this was fun!

  3. I loved E&P and Me Before You, too…and now I’m looking forward to adding more to my reading list for 2014. I always love your favorite books list – thanks for posting!

  4. I haven’t read Blind Sight and Heft and I HATED Me Before You, however, the rest of this list is perfect.

  5. Did you read Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell? I think it’s her earlier book, and I actually loved all three books, but Attachments may have been my favorite, although I loved E&P so much as well. Thanks for a raft of book suggestions as well.

  6. …and now I know how I’ll be spending much of the Amazon giftcards I got for Christmas. Thank you for sharing – I always love your lists because your reviews are so honest.

  7. Of course, my favorite book on this list (besides E&P obvs) is the one where the character tries to kill Hitler. (Obvs.)

  8. Isn’t Rainbow Rowell awesome? Even though I’m still all, “Wait, your name is Rainbow? For reals?”

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