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Best books of 2013

You will see my top ten books for 2013 under ‘Reviews’, but my blog this time is about how I went about whittling it down to only ten books. On average, I read as many as 300 books a year. I know! It’s a crazy amount of books, but I’m blessed with being a fast reader, and reading is something that I love. Of the 300, I probably write on average of a review a week – and they are always the books that I have enjoyed the most. So that means I had to choose 10 books from the 50 or so I had reviewed this year. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, no it wasn’t, it was like trying to pick your favourite child from a large family where you love them all in different ways. (Or trying to pick your favourite chocolate from a selection that are all deliciously yummy.)

In the end, I settled on a list of adult fiction, with the thought that if other people were looking for great books to read over the Christmas break my list might be helpful. Also, it becomes too hard to compare non-fiction and fiction as you are really looking at different things in each.

I included Paris by Edward Rutherfurd immediately. I’m a huge fan of Edward Rutherfurd’s dense historical novels that bring to life any city that he chooses to tackle, and this fine novel is no exception. This is perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction, who wants to learn some history at the same time.

I also included The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt for the incredible writing. This is an author who spends a decade on perfecting each book, so her latest novel is well worth reading if you are interested in great literature.

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan made the top ten as my pick of debuts for the year. It is poignant, raw and beautiful – and it begs to be made into a movie.

I simply had to include Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. I’ve long had a fascination for the Fitzgeralds, but this stunning novel, I think, finally captures the shining but tragic life of Zelda Fitzgerald in all its complexity, out of the shadow of her famous husband.

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson had to make the top ten too. How many authors could write such a brilliant book, where the main character keeps living multiple lives until the end?

I also had to include the well-researched and utterly compelling historical novel, Blood & Beauty by Sarah Dunant that brings to life the infamous Borgias family.

I didn’t want my top ten to be too ‘high brow’, so I also wanted to include some thrillers in the mix. And you really can’t go past Con Law by Mark Gimenez and Cross Fingers by Paddy Richardson for intelligent, thrilling, page-turning reads. I also wanted to include at least one book that should be praised for its warmth and sheer humanity, a read that will bring a smile to your face: Lifesaving for Beginners by Ciara Geraghty. And I also wanted to include Hannah Richell’s second novel, The Shadow Year, a book that I thought was very moving, involving two stories that finally come together at the end. You can read all of my top ten reviews under ‘Book Review’s on this website.

But there are a number of brilliant books that I almost put on the list, and for a while I toyed with a ‘baker’s dozen’ and other numbers, before coming back to the fact that a top ten should be just that. Ten books.

But if I could make my list a top 20, I would also include the following books (in alphabetical order):

Angel Fall by Susan Ee – a brilliant young adult novel and start of a new series.

The Astronauts' Wives Club by Lily Koppel for a fascinating non-fiction read about the space race.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith – a wonderful crime novel that has since been revealed to have been written by J.K. Rowling.

The Food of Love Cookery School by Nicky Pellegrino – the perfect escape to Italy with sun, food and romance.

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh – this is a real wild card on my extended list, but it is the best fantasy book I’ve read in 2013.

The October List by Jeffery Deaver – quite simply, a masterpiece of plotting.

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper – this is a novel that will make you laugh out loud.

Requiem by Lauren Oliver – the last book in a brilliant book for young adults, in a world where love is considered to be a disease that needs to be cured.

The Universe vs Alex Woods by Gavin Extence – an amazing debut, quirky and thought-provoking.

Watching You by Michael Robotham – simply thrilling!

To read reviews for my extended list you will find them by their genre under 'Reviews' on this website. Enjoy some great holiday reading!

And I should add that at the date of this post, I haven't yet read The Lumanaries by Eleanor Catton, so will look forward to reading this over my Christmas break!


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