Thursday, December 26, 2013

Top ten books of 2013

Hello! So in this post I thought I would make a list of the top ten books I liked the most of 2013, mind you these are the books that I read in 2013 not necessarily the ones that came out in 2013. Also keep in mind I only read 63 books this year so that's not a whole lot of books to pick from and there are 12 books this year that were written by the same author (Rick Riodan) and it sounds silly to list him again and again so I am going to lump him into one book to represent the series of his which I have read which leaves about 50 books to choose from, so without futhur ado, let's countdown my favorite books!

10) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd -
I will not explain why I liked this book so much but I will say this, I can see why it is a classic mystery novel.

9) Shadow Blackbird
-Now this book I thought covered an interesting topic I have read about academically but never in fiction (although I am sure there are other books out there about this as well.) It takes place around spiritual photography and is set journeying WW1 in America where the Spanish influenza was sweeping the nation on one side and WW1 was killing soldiers on the other hand. I actually remember my great-grandmother telling me stories about this and how everyone couldn't meet in public and just how scary the entire thing was, which when you think about it on one hand you have fathers/sons/brothers dying in WW1 and the other the people at home dying from disease so an interest in the occult and getting in touch with the people who died far too young occurred. This novel sets itself in the heart of the influenza with our main character who talks to a ghost. I really liked this books however I gave it 4.5/5 because sometimes I thought the main character was a little too perfect. Although, what this book does well is create a mood, it really has depth and fleshes out the world that the main character is a part of. I found it extremely atmospheric, and as good books tend to do I was very interested in the subject manner after reading it and would like to read more books that tackle the interest in spiritualism/occult that occurred around this time. 

8) Lola and the Boy Next Door
-This is a romantic story and I read pretty few pure romance books (you know the kind where everyone lives to the end XD!) But oh my gosh was this adorable. I loved it, the characters were a bit "oh my goodness this could be solved with a good conversation" but at the same time it was sweet and cute and I am willing to make the excuse that  I doubt many teens are willing to be completely honest and open with their feelings to people that they are interested in. I should read more romances.

7) Nietzsche 
-This was is less about the story itself (which at times was a little bit like 'oh Nietzsche, I realize you want everyone to overcome but your love for humanity and sheer misanthropy is kind of impressive') but about the ideas that I had never encountered before and became deeply interested in, and while I doubt I could live a life that Nietzsche advocates it is still interesting and I would like to incorporate some more of this ideas in my life. It may help that while my teacher was a terrible teacher in the marks/passing/assignment part of life he was VERY interesting the teaching/learning/explaining part, if a GPA wasn't a thing I would take that class again. A couple of his quotes stick with me (both the teacher's and Nietzsche, but I am referring to my teacher here) he said "Do not let others make you feel embarrassed!If others can cause you embarrassment, they can then control you." While I do think embarrassment is an important part of our social learning (what behavior are acceptable and what behaviors are not) at the same time I really do believe that we are responsible for our own morality and that while we may be embarrassed by something it is up to each person to decide for themselves if they care and realize that the only person whose morality you have to live up to is your own, which means you have to put thought into what you believe is moral and because you have decided that is moral, you are, as Nietzsche puts it (to my understand) you are your own judge, which isn't necessary a good thing -- also I got rather off of topic. Good book, interesting ideas is what I am trying to say here. 

6) Rick Riodan - The Percy Jackson series and the spin-off The Lost Heroes 
You know sometimes I am wrong. It happens. This was one of those times. See, Percy Jackson series is aimed for kids, under "Kids 9-12" is where I found it in my bookstore. Now, I figured to myself "I am a 24 year old woman, I do not read books aimed at children, because I read much more complicated things than that" this reasoning is rather silly because it is not like I read a lot of children books to even base this reasoning off of! So needlessly to say because it is on my list that I was wrong and these books do interest me, I enjoyed them so much, they are Greek/Roman mythology done in interesting ways, I ended up reading the original myths in many cases because Riodan is clever and works in homages to the original works in most cases. And even better than that, it was just interesting. I started this year off not knowing who "Percy Jackson" was and now I have read every book that is out so far (sans the handbooks) that he is a part of! Plus I have began the Kane Chronicles (Egyptian mythology) and while I do not like it as much, I am still going to read on in the series. Plus, apparently he is working/planning to work on/hopes (?) to work on Norse mythology and I will read that too. 

5) Across the Universe Series
-Going on a similar vein this is a Young Adult novel, after realizing that I had not read very much YA novels back in the day I would be considered an Young Adult (15-18 I think is about where they are targeted to, or at least that seems to be about how old everyone is) I have been reading them with a vengeance lately. This is how I came to this science fiction series. And I have to admit of the series I have finished lately (and there is a decent number- I think- of YA series I am finished off lately the ones that come to mind are Hunger Games, Twilight, Ruby Red, Divergent, and this one) this series has the best beginning, middle, and end. At no point did I think to myself "what is the point of that" or  "that seemed to be unnecessary" or "this didn't need to be a series/this many books". Now, this may be because I do have a love for science fiction, however, even my boyfriend read it and loved it (mind you he loves sci-fi too so that might not actually prove anything). This series was so interesting, I loved how they explained things, at time the character could be a little, hot-headed but I will roll, because you know flaws and such, but my gosh did I love the technology, it was explained in a way that was both easy to understand and yet really cool and interesting, which I think is hard to do (probably, I mean I have never tried it but still, it seems like it would be.) I was really intrigued the entire time, it gave me a mystery, it gave me good technology and even a bit of a love story. Gosh, I enjoyed it all the way till the end of the third book. 

4) The Summer of my German Soilder
-This book I read a long time ago (well, 8 years actually, so that not long but still that a third of my life - but I digress) and at the time I thought it was terrible, because a certain romance I wanted had not happened how I thought it should have happened. However, on this recent reread I think I got more out of it. Firstly the main character is very well developed, every choice she makes is understandable why she would make it. In a book where the premise is about a jewish girl taking in a german POW in WW2, to answer why she would do it is very important and this books makes it not only plausible but logical. It goes deep into what her life is like and how she lives day-to-day and it even briefly and subtly touches on how jewish people were perceived by others. It is much more than a romance or a forbidden love it is more about human desires and why people do the things they do. 

3) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
-This book attempts to answer many questions, but the main question it attempts to answer has to do with identity and how human's identify themselves and what happens if you try to change your identity. It does this all while being from the point of view of a preteen native american. It has drawings which at are time funny and at others heart breaking because it reflects a reality that contradicts that idea that anybody can be "whatever they want to be" and yet that is what the main character strives to be. It is a really good book, and it covers a lot of deep issues while at the same time being something that realistic could happened.

2) The Great Gatsby
-This book was really popular this year because a film based on the book recently came out. So like many others I figured I might as well read it, join the bandwagon of people reading it before seeing the movie (which I haven't seen yet mind you...I should get on that) plus it was short and apparently an American Classic. So I read it. Wow, Fitzgerald can really write. Firstly his writing I found to be lyrical, beautiful and yet worked to tell the story. The story was interesting (which I know I have used a lot in this blog post, but they were!) I love stories that start with characters we are suppose to dislike (another notable favorite of this for me is Gone with the Wind) it is a bold choice because, at least I think that most people like to find similarities between themselves and the characters they are reading about and so when you choose characters everyone will dislike, well, usually it is for a reason. Great Gatsby looks at the jazz age with a light that is not very flattering. It focuses on self-discovery or the utter lack of doing so, it is about dreams and not giving them up even when you clearly should, it was about the wealthy and it mocks the idea of the "American Dream". This book is about so much and it cannot even though I have tried to convey what emotions this novel left me with I will inevitably come up short.

1) Black like Me
-This book shocked me. It is in the number one spot because this was a topic I knew little to nothing about, the treatment of african americans in the southern states in the 1950. It is a biography and it disgusted me. At first I was angry at the different people in the novel for being so cruel towards something this person could not change, but by the end I wasn't surprised just how ridiculously the people in this book were treated, but I was outraged, with so many no-win conditions, and the utter torrents of hate and not even the overt hate, but the subtly "you are not worthy" hate that parade itself as pity or as helping. This book made it to number one because it opened my eyes to something I did not know anything about and I was not happy with what I saw there, but one of the reasons I read is to come in contact with important things and learn about things I did not know about before. And I learned a lot in this book.  

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