Tuesday 2 July 2013

Top ten books of 2013 so far/Once Upon a Readathon

I'm really cheating here, because this was The Broke and the Bookish's top ten for last week, but I was away from my computer for a couple of days and missed it.

My blogging resolution for 2013 was to read quality, rather than quantity: to take my time reading books I could fall in love with, instead of skimming through things I didn't care in order to reach a target. So far it seems to be working. I haven't even kept track of how many books I've read, and deleted my Goodreads account, but there seem to be a higher proportion of great reads on my list.

Top Ten Books of 2013 So Far (in no particular order)

1. Paper Towns by John Green. Although Looking For Alaska, which has similar themes, has more publicity, I preferred this story of a boy piecing together the mystery of his friend and crush's
disappearance. I love a good treasure-hunt story, a mystery with clues to solve, and the interesting and little-known facts and details that make Green's books come alive and appeal to us nerdy types.

2. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. I am very much not into zombies. They Warm Bodies was the exception: Somehow Marion was able to convey just what it would be like to live as a zombie, trapped inside a mind that is almost but not quite eroded, snarkily humorous but surprisingly thoughtful and compassionate. (The book is better than the film.)
do nothing for me.

3. Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I found this book just after the death of an old friend, and it was just what I needed to read at that time: a tale of grief and young love, family and growing up, and the confusion that comes when someone dies. I haven't seen much publicity around this book, which is a real shame. Highly recommended.

4. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. A story of a friendship between a bright but unusual teenager and a grumpy old man. An odd mixture of humour and sadness, this book challenged me to think. Alex Woods is a wonderful character, and I defy you not to fall in love with him.

5. After the Fall by Charity Norman. This is an odd one, because I wasn't sure I was going to like this book at all. I felt sure I knew where the story was going - and I couldn't have been more wrong. I love books that surprise me; that manage to sneak past the emotional barriers I put up, making me care for the characters more than I intended to. Challenging, heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful.

6. Watchmen by Alan Moore. A dark and dismal story that takes a sideways look at the concept of superheroes, and wonders what kind of world it would be if they really did exist. An uncomfortable and sometimes unpleasant read, posing difficult questions about morality, heroics
and the human race as a whole, but one that stays with you for a long time.

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Did I mention that I love a good treasure hunt story? This one is set in a dystopian future, but its true setting is within the internet itself, in a virtual reality that is a geek's paradise, stuffed with references to gaming, science fiction, cult films and TV, in
particular of the 1980s. A thriller with all the adrenaline-rush of the best video game in the world.

8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman This was my most
anticipated read of the year, and it did not disappoint. A children's tale for grown-ups and a short story grown long, this is all about childhood, magic and memory, filled with deep-down truths that I can't quite grasp, but that Gaiman has made sense of through story. As soon as I finished this book, I started at the beginning once more, a thing I haven't done since I read the final Malory Towers book at the age of 11 or 12.

9. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke I only half-watched the film, which probably demands one's full attention, but is extremely slow-paced. The beginning is bizarre, the middle a respectable science fiction movie slowed right down, starring the world's most sinister computer, and the ending both terrifying and a complete mind-screw. I didn't love it, but it lingered, and when I saw the book in the library, I took it home to read straight away. The novel and film are really two halves of a whole: the film shows, while the book explains what we're seeing. And as I read, a long-forgotten part of my childhood returned to me. When I was seven or eight, I was fascinated by the solar system; the vastness of space, the strangeness of all the planets, and the dream of space exploration. I had a space encyclopedia I could pore over for hours - but as I grew older, I'd forgotten all of this. 2013 has been the year of me discovering I actually like science fiction, but the realistic journey of the Discovery to Jupiter and Saturn gives a far greater idea of the size of space than all the fictional galaxies of Star Trek and Firefly. 

10. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo This is not a book I intend to reread from start to finish regularly, the 1000+ page tome breaking from the story every few chapters for Hugo to pass judgement at great length on history, politics, life in a convent and the sewers of Paris. Of course, you can enjoy the musical without reading the book - from the comfort of your own home now it has been filmed - but the book is so much deeper and richer.

Once Upon A Readathon: Mon 8th- Weds 10th July 2013

After last month's Bout of Books readathon, I've found myself bitten by the bug. Of course, I can devote any of my free time I choose to reading, and do, but it's easy in these days of wi-fi to spend more time tweeting about books, reading blogs about books and setting off a TvTropes tabsplosion about books, than actually reading. A readathon is a great incentive to actually sit down, ignore all the distractions, and actually get lost in a good book or three. So I've decided to sign up for Once Upon A Readathon, which takes place next week. I don't expect to read more than two books during that time, as I'll be at work on two of the three days. Monday will be my day off, and so I intend to get as much reading done as possible that day. Can't wait!


  1. Yay, another Once Upon a Readathonner! I'm working two out of three as well, and I've got my big assessment appointment on Monday morning, but I'm going to give it everything I've got on Tuesday! Around packing, anyway... :)

    I'm really really REALLY looking forward to Alex Woods and Ready Player One, but they'll have to wait a bit longer. Since they're definitely-keeps I'm leaving them shelved and trying to plough through a few books from lower down the priority list before we move. More read means less to cull, right?

    1. I'm glad you decided to keep those two books. Yes, definitely hold on to them, even if it means waiting longer to read them. They're worth the wait. (and less wasteful to get rid of books once you've read them.)

      Yay readathon! I think Monday's reading will be done on a beach.

  2. I am hesitant to see the film of Warm Bodies because I read the book ages ago and absolutely fell in love with it. I really don't like the marketing they've done with the film even though plenty of people reallye njoyed it. It just puts me off. I don't think the film can do what the book does even if it does keep to the plot.

    1. It is very different from the book. In the book you see R's life from inside his head, whereas for a film you are always going to be an outsider looking in - and on the outside, all you see of this kind of zombie is the "Grrrr... brains..." kind of thing, which I can't take seriously. So I wouldn't recommend it to everyone - probably best avoided if you loved the book. (Others probably would disagree.)

  3. i am really curious about tell the wolves i am home. i've heard another friend rave about it (she said it was very moving)

    i love how your list is so unique! lots of different genres and themes.


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