It’s time for Alison’s Best Reads of the Year Awards!
The rules are as follows:
1) I must have read these books for the first time in 2013, though they don’t need to have been published in 2013.
2) Books I read as ARCs in 2012 do not count, even if they came out in 2013. (Unfortunately, this eliminates all my critique partners’ books from the running… but I’ll give them their own special section at the end.)
3) Books are listed in no particular order.
4) I am not allowed to choose more than five books per category, but I can choose fewer.
5) Books may receive more than one award.
Here we go!
ELEANOR AND PARK, Rainbow Rowell
FANGIRL, Rainbow Rowell
ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE, Benjamin Alire Saenz
CHARM AND STRANGE, Stephanie Kuehn
GONE, GONE, GONE, Hannah Moskowitz
THREE TIMES LUCKY, Sheila Turnage
NAVIGATING EARLY, Clare Vanderpool
SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY, Karen Harrington
THE REAL BOY, Anne Ursu
THE YEAR OF SHADOWS, Claire Legrand
THE SNOW CHILD, Eowyn Ivy
LIFE AFTER LIFE, Kate Aktinson
THE INTERESTINGS, Meg Wolitzer
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE?, Maria Semple
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, Neil Gaiman
BIRD BY BIRD, Anne Lamott (granted, this is the ONLY non-fiction I read this year… but it’s also the best non-fiction I’ve read maybe ever. I love it.)
And now for the special awards:
THE LAUGH-OUT-LOUD-ON-THE-SUBWAY AWARD: ME, EARL, AND THE DYING GIRL, Jesse Andrews. Never would’ve thought a book about cancer could be hilarious. It can!
TEARJERKER AWARD: THE YEAR OF SHADOWS, Claire Legrand. Man, what a gorgeous book. Also, extra points to Claire because when told her about my copious weeping, she gleefully said, “I’m so happy I made you cry!” Honorable mention to my reread of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, because… obviously.
MOST SATISFYING REREAD AWARD: THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, which makes me all melty and warm and fuzzy and stupid, and HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. HP5 is still not my favorite of the HP books—it’s my third favorite, after 3 and 6—but I loved it WAY more this time around than I ever had before. It was a very pleasant surprise.
BEST BOOK WITH ILLUSTRATIONS: A MONSTER CALLS, Patrick Ness. Seriously, just LOOK at it.
BEST COVER AWARD: ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE, Benjamin Alire Saenz, and PARCHED, Melanie Crowder.
THE CLINGINESS AWARD: FANGIRL, Rainbow Rowell. I loved this book so much that I was weirdly unable to let it out of my sight after I read it. The ARC lay on my bed for days and days, and I didn’t even bother to move it when I went to sleep. When the hardcover came out, I bought it that day, brought it home, and told myself I was just going to look at it “for a second.” Then I proceeded to read the entire thing again.
THE UNDER-MY-SKIN AWARD: WILD AWAKE, Hilary T. Smith. Though this wasn’t one of my favorite books of the year, I could NOT stop thinking about it after I read it. It made me all itchy and antsy and uncomfortable, and I worried about the main character for days after the book was over. That, to me, is a mark of really excellent writing. I can’t wait to see what Hilary writes next.
THE UNEXPECTED ADORATION AWARD: THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE, Leila Sales. I liked both of Leila’s other books, so I was certainly expecting to like this one, too. But I loved it way, WAY more than I expected. I’ve been recommending it to everyone.
THE SATISFYING ENDING AWARD: THE BITTER KINGDOM, Rae Carson. I don’t want to say anything that might spoil people for the first two books, but I’ll just say that there’s this THING that I really thought might happen, and I DESPERATELY didn’t want it to happen, and it didn’t happen, and I was so relieved.
THE CLIFFHANGER AWARD: REBEL BELLE, Rachel Hawkins. This is a 2014 release, so I’m breaking my own rule here, but I purposely tried not to read books with cliffhanger endings this year. However, when I got to the end of this one, I burst out laughing, pointed at the book, and shouted, “WELL PLAYED, HAWKINS.”
MOST ASTONISHING READ OVERALL: A MONSTER CALLS, Patrick Ness. The reason this book isn’t listed above is that I have no idea how to categorize it. The main character is middle-grade-age, but the book says “14 and up” on the back, and I would really only recommend it to adults. But I’ve never read a book that dealt with grief in such an astute way without being at all manipulative. This book had been sitting on my shelf for two years, and I’d been too afraid to read it, having lost a parent to cancer myself. But I’m so glad I picked it up, and I’m sure I will do so again many times. The whole time I was reading it, I sat there going, “Yes. Yes. Yes. YES.”
And now, because I can’t help myself… here are some 2014 books I’ve read that I know you’re going to love. They are all by people I adore, and I can’t wait to watch them make their way out into the world!
I HEART BAND, Michelle Schusterman (January 9)
FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE!, Tim Federle (January 21)
POINTE, Brandy Colbert (April 10)
LIFE BY COMMITTEE, Corey Ann Haydu (May 13)
THE FOURTH WISH, Lindsay Ribar (July 31)
THE TERROR OF THE SOUTHLANDS, Caroline Carlson (September 9)
AT YOUR SERVICE, Jen Malone (Sept 26)
Happy new year, and happy reading!