Top 3 Books of 2013

This year has been a strange year for me as far as reading goes. There’s been a lot of starting & stopping, and the stopping is, I’m afraid to admit, winning the battle. I have quite a few books on a permanent pause right now, and they’ve been that way since spring time.

I did a lot of re-reading this year. I re-read Wicked, House of Leaves, American Gods, Latro in the Mist, and The Shadow of the Torturer. Lately I’ve been re-reading a lot of Jack London’s work, too.

Re-reading books as I mature (both personally and as a writer) is really a lot of fun. I can look at books from different angles, find a deeper, more meaningful empathy for some characters, catch things I’ve never noticed before, or see more clearly what an author is doing, and try to learn from it.

And with authors like Gene Wolfe, I find that his books get better each time I read them, which is truly amazing.

I also published my first book this year, and that was an undertaking that often got in the way of my reading. There were lots of days where, instead of doing the reading I might have liked to, I worked on the book–or aspects of it–instead.

So, I didn’t get as much new reading done as I would have liked to, but that’s okay. I still found three new books (new to me at least) that really stood out this year. This list is not ranked, but here they are:

The God Delusion By: Richard Dawkins

I thought this was such a beautiful, profound book. I don’t really like all of the drama that goes on between Atheists and Believers, nor do I pay much attention to it, but I thought this book underscored a very fundamental rule that I try to live my life by, which is to deal with those around me as kindly as possible. Dawkins, despite whatever evidence he provides about religion being a folly for man, does a wonderful job of showing the fragility and alarming beauty of life, and how preciously we should protect it, but often times don’t in the name of dogma.

You can read my full review of the book here.

Into the Forest By: Jean Hegland

This book was stunning, and is so close to perfect it makes me want to give up writing. Hegland wrote a book in which almost every single word used is perfect and necessary. The music of her prose alone could move me without the heartbreaking story she tells, or the wonderfully real characters we follow throughout. Many times the book felt nearly voyeuristic as I read the narrator’s journal entries about surviving in a world which has collapsed.

You can read my full review of the book here.

City of Thieves By: David Benioff

I’ve never appreciated eating a warm meal, in a warm home, more than I have after reading portions of this book. Benioff doesn’t give you a break. Not once. Before I’d even finished this book I said to my wife, “I’ve never lived a hard day in my life! Any thing I’ve ever thought I did that was hard, was nothing other than a privilege.”

You can read my full review of the book here.

Those are them. They aren’t books that were put out in 2013, just books I read this year that not only stick with me, but made a real, lasting impact on my life. There are certainly things that can make me recall any three of these books, and the lessons I gleaned from them, at any given point throughout my day.

I hope you’ve read some wonderful books this year, dear reader. And I hope we all find some prose that moves us in 2014.

Thanks for reading!

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