Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Parliament Convenes: 2013 in Review

So, we know it's 2014. And we know everyone else has already published their year-in-review posts. But we're still writing 2013 on things by mistake, which means it's not too late to share our favorites from last year. Right?

Before we begun, if you're looking for something really good to read, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein all made it onto multiple owls' top five lists for 2013.


Five Favorite Books Read in 2013

  1. The Archived by Victoria Schwab 
  2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane  by Neil Gaiman
  3. The Theory of Everything  by J. J. Johnson
  4. Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley - This was definitely my favorite Flavia book! I adore this world and I especially adore Flavia! I love listening to the audiobooks for these, Jane Entwistle does a great job! I constantly get little sayings from these stuck in my head. I have yet to find someone that doesn't like Flavia (and we are talking a wide range of ages, genders, and reading interests)! 
  5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - I was nervous to read this one, but I actually don't remember crying when I read the book. I plan on going to the movie and ugly crying with my friends, but I don't think the book made me cry. However, I loved it. John Green is a wonderful author and really knows how to connect the reader and the character so you feel their emotions for fully and are immersed in their world. 
I noticed something odd about my top 5 books. They are ALL blue. Apparently I'm pretty into that color.

I read less in 2013. School, oddly enough, is a time suck. My goal in 2012 was 100 and I just made the cut! 2013 was lowered to 75 and I managed to squeeze out 84. 2014? Yeah....about goal is 50. So far we have a whopping 3 books under our wing. School is trying to ruin my life! Ok, that may be a bit dramatic. But seriously...

Reading Goal for 2014: 50 
Like Sonya, I would also like to read more non-fiction. I noticed a trend in my non-fiction: animals and eating disorders. I don't entirely know what that says about me, but you can't say I don't know what I like. I just get bored very quickly with real people and their lives and I tend to give up. I read 5 non-fiction books in 2013. That is kind of embarrassing....I can't help that I love my murder books and my teen angst!


Five Favorite Books Read in 2013

  1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - I could not put this one down, and was an absolute wreck at the end of it. My husband saw me crying over this book and thought I was being a bit melodramatic. Later, I tried to explain to him what had me so upset and as a result, ended up crying in the middle of the coffee shop where we were playing Scrabble. If that isn't a good book, I don't know what is.
  2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - This book was so inventive with the world the author created. It had great tension and the story and suspense just kept building. The writing was wonderful and I always wanted to know what would happen to Karou and her mysterious Akiva.
  3. Graceling by Kristin Cashore - Another amazing YA book where the author creates a captivating world with compelling characters with quite interesting abilities. I devoured this first book in the trilogy as well as the following two books. All three were top notch but the first was my favorite.
  4. Life of Pi by Yann Martel - I read this book in one day. I couldn't put it down because I had to know what was going to happen to Pi and the animals with him. Reading this was like being unable to turn away from a train wreck. So many awful things happen in the duration of this story but I just couldn't stop. Then, the twist at the end where Martel leaves the reader wondering if it was all real just blew my mind.
  5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - This may have taken me 6 months to finish but nonetheless it was well worth the read. The story is beautiful and tragic, and we can't help but sympathize with the toils women had to deal with in that time. I already knew how this one ended but it did not diminish the poignancy with which Tolstoy shows Anna's spiral into madness.
Library School definitely put a damper on my reading for the past year and a half. In 2012 I read 66 books, and in 2013 only 30. Granted, some of the books have been outrageously long books like Anna Karenina and Vanity Fair, but still. It looks like my favorite books from 2013 were dominated by young adult novels. It really is my favorite genre.

Reading Goal for 2014: Nonfiction!! I want to find a nonfiction book that I can like as much as I like a great novel. I've read a handful of nonfiction books but none have really kept my attention or made me want to read them. I basically end up browsing through the book. In addition, I definitely want to read more than I did in 2013. Only 30 books. Pitiful. I think a nice healthy reading goal is 50. (Zelda, we can try to recommend nonfiction to each other! And compete to see who makes it to 50 fastest!)


Five Favorite Books Read in 2013

  1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys - This story of a teenage girl who is shipped to a Siberian work camp with her family and thousands of other Lithuanians moved me to tears multiple times. There was so much about the history behind this story that I wasn't aware of and the story of these survivors was incredibly inspiring.
  2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  3. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
  4. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton - A very big concept SF book complete with alien swarms, sentient worlds, medical-enabled long life, inter-world portals that could easily have become unwieldy, but Hamilton keeps it grounded by focusing on the human condition. Normally I'm not a huge fan of something that is so purely science fiction, but the world building in this book blew me away.
  5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - I'll admit, I was afraid to read this book for the longest time because of the hype - usually when everyone loves a book, I'm disappointed, but I'm happy to say this wasn't the case in this situation. Rarely does a book come along that deals with such a hard topic with the humor that John Green does with this book. Although I had been warned that this was a "crying book," I still wasn't able to adequately prepare myself for how moving the story was.

Wow, so I definitely read fewer books in 2013 than 2012. Who knew that grad school would take up so much of my free reading time. When I did find time, I wanted to numb it with terrible television rather than invest in a book. I also read some pretty terrible books this year that had come highly recommended. My two biggest disappointments were Wicked, which I started after seeing the musical last fall and couldn’t even finish and Forever, the classic book that I found waaaay too focused on sex.

Reading Goal for 2014: I've decided not to focus as heavily on numbers this year, but instead focus on reading widely. While taking a course on Young Adult literature last semester I realized just how few books I had read written by minorities or who had main characters of another race. Living in North Dakota means that my daily life is pretty homogenous, so my goal this year is to expand my horizons.


Five Favorite Books Read in 2013

  1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (the link will take you to a post my human alter-ego wrote for a public library blog, or you can read my review of the follow-up book on Owl You Need is a Good Read)
  2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  3. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  4. Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dinah Nayeri
  5. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Struggling for some originality here, but grad school really cuts into the free reading time! I read 107 books in 2012 and only 70 books in 2013. I've already dissected my 2013 reading with charts and graphs. Honestly, it wasn't my best year for reading in more than just numbers. I liked all the books above, but I liked my top five books of 2012 a lot more. My worst book of the year was Vanity Fair, which I couldn't even finish. On a more positive note, I did reread several of my favorite books of all time: Jane Eyre, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and The Book Thief.

Reading Goal for 2014: 50. And I want to make it to at least 1945 in my Newbery Medal Reading Challenge. With the Newbery Challenge and potentially a Reader's Advisory class this summer, I think I should be able to make it over 50 books.

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