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Year in Review: On (and Off) the Needles

Year in Review: Reading Along in 2013

When it came to books, for me . . . 2013 . . . became The Year of the Epic Tome.

According my annual count, I read 47 books in 2013.

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This is down, significantly, from 2012 -- when I read 56 -- but NOT for lack of reading!  I actually read like a fiend this year -- but books just seem to be getting longer and longer.  (Editors!  Step up!)

I ended up reading a number of Really Long Books this year  (including We Are Water by Wally Lamb - 576 pages, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - 756 pages, Paris by Edward Rutherfurd - 809 pages, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens - 974 pages, Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner - 569 pages, The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt - 675 pages, and Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman - 642 pages).

So, you see.  It's not that I read less in 2013.  It's just that I read more pages . . . resulting in fewer books!  (As if that matters anyway.)

I read many excellent books in 2013, including 15 5-star books* (for details on my own, personal rating system, click here).  My Top-Five books for 2013 (in no specific order):

  1. Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  2. Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
  3. Transatlantic by Colum McCann
  4. Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer
  5. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (a re-read of one of my favorite books Of All Time)

Just for contrast, I was also . . . disappointed . . . by a few books.  My Biggest Disappointments for 2013 (books I actually finished, but didn't like all that much):

  1. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (Sorry.  Just not all that interesting.)
  2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (I know I'm in the minority on this one, but I tend to not like Donna Tartt's main characters all that much - in any of her books.  I must admit to being charmed by the first quarter of the book.  After that . . . not so much.)
  3. Heat and Dust by Ruth Jhabvala (Just plain boring.  And, again, I had connection issues.)
  4. The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt (What a slog!  I can't believe I finished it, actually.)
  5. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (Awful.)

For 2014, I plan to continue reading like a fiend!  Mostly contemporary fiction**, I imagine, with re-reads of some old favorites (Dickens, Austen, and Edith Wharton).  I usually try to throw in at least one or two non-fiction books each year.  And this year, I'll be checking out some travel books, too!

How about you?  What did you especially enjoy reading in 2013?  What are your reading plans for 2014?


 *  You can check out my 2013 reading list and star-ratings on my sidebar.

**  I make a lot of my reading selections from the long-lists for the Orange Prize (or whatever it's called now; they changed the name last year) and the Booker Prize.





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I get so little reading done but have chosen my last three books from your and Margene's lists! Currently reading Transatlantic - so glad to see it's made the top five!


I enjoy comparing notes and ideas about books with you as we like many of the same titles. I'd put Constellation of Vital Phenomena at the top. I also loved Fault in Our Stars and many of the classics I read as well. I'm going to try The Goldfinch despite your review.


I am midway through The Interestings right now. It is keeping me interested, but if it disappeared from my bedside right now I wouldn't miss it terribly. I returned The Goldfinch to the library halfway through, but I keep wondering how that kid turned out. A lot of similarities between the two books, though, especially that of a teenager from a single-parent, i.e., money-poor, becomes a friend of another teenager from a rich, Upper East Side family and is sorta-kinda adopted by said family. Yeah, that happens a lot, I'm sure...


I read 20 books in 2013 and that's a big jump for me. Using Good Reads has really been a factor in my reading and I can see that my queue is about to grow some more.


I don't read much (can't read and knit at the same time) but Temple posted a list of 16 books to read before the movie version comes out, and they all seem interesting.


I agree with you on The Goldfinch, far too long and I couldn't put down the other 2.


I've just started the Goldfinch, so you're making me nervous, especially because I didn't really care for The Secret History, especially the unlikeable cast of characters (c'mon, can't somebody by worth liking, like for real?)

On the other hand, Angle of Repose is one of my all-time favorites too! Maybe it's due for a re-read.


I have the Goldfinch to listen (it's a bookclub selection, so I'm feeling obligated) ... 40-some hours. at least I can knit! or walk. or.... while I listen! Enjoying following along with you on Goodreads. Between you and Margene, I get wonderful recommendations. Thank you! (Also, I suggested to her that it would be fun to read a book together and then discuss via Skype - thoughts?)

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