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Jan 10

Best Books of 2013

Posted on January 10, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Craig Jacobson

the interestings book cover.JPGIt seems at this point of the year, every magazine and newspaper comes out with their “Best Books of 2013” list.  Instead of offering my “Best Books of 2013” list, I am going to offer a condensed version taken from Amazon’s list, Barnes & Noble’s list, and Publishers Weekly’s list.  I am only going to show you the books that were on at least 2 of the lists from above.

A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout (Amazon, Publisher’s Weekly)
Description: “The spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity in Somalia--a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace.” -Provided by the publisher

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (Amazon, Barnes & Noble)
Description: “Presents a story inspired by human love, how people take care of one another, and how choices resonate through subsequent generations. Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and step-mother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Adbullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything.” -Provided by the publisher

Bleeding Edge
by Thomas Pychon (Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly
Description: “New York City, 2001. Fraud investigator Maxine Tarnow starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO and discovers there's no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what's left of the tech bubble.” -Provided by the publisher

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly)
Description: “In Three Pines Chief Inspector Armand Gamache investigates the disappearance of a woman who was once one of the most famous people in the world and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo.” -Provided by the publisher

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson (Amazon, Barnes & Noble)
Description: “A narrative chronicle of World War I's Arab Revolt explores the pivotal roles of a small group of adventurers and low-level officers who orchestrated a secret effort to control the Middle East, demonstrating how they instigated jihad against British forces, built an elaborate intelligence ring and forged ties to gain valuable oil concessions.” -Provided by the publisher

Life After Life
by Kate Atkinson (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly)
Description: “What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she?" -Provided by publisher.

Someone by Alice McDermott (Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly)
Description: “The story of a Brooklyn-born woman's life - her family, her neighborhood, her daily trials and triumphs - from childhood to old age" -Provided by the publisher

Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders (Amazon, Publishers Weekly)
Description: “A collection of stories which includes "Home," a wryly whimsical account of a soldier's return from war; "Victory lap," a tale about an inventive abduction attempt; and the title story, in which a suicidal cancer patient saves the life of a young misfit.” –Provided by the publisher

Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly)
Description: “Finkel, a journalist, follows the soldiers who serve in the Iraq War as they struggle to reintegrate into American society.” -Provided by the publisher

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Amazon, Barnes & Noble)
Description: “A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld.” –Provided by the publisher

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly)
Description: “Fleeing her violent master at the side of legendary abolitionist John Brown at the height of the slavery debate in mid-19th-century Kansas Territory, Henry pretends to be a girl to hide his identity throughout the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859.” –Provided by the publisher

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (Amazon, Barnes & Noble)
Description: “Forging a powerful bond in the mid-1970s that lasts throughout subsequent decades, six individuals pursue challenges into their midlife years, including an aspiring actress who harbors jealousy toward friends who achieve successful creative careers.” –Provided by the publisher

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Amazon, Barnes & Noble)
Description: “Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue vastly different lives--Udayan in rebellion-torn Calcutta, Subhash in a quiet corner of America--until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.” –Provided by the publisher

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Amazon, Barnes & Noble)
Description: “It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duck pond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.” –Provided by the publisher

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly)
Description: “Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker-a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction-into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist-but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.” –Provided by the publisher

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly)
Description: “Through an examination of the lives of several Americans and leading public figures over the past three decades, Packer portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working, its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation.” –Provided by the publisher

These 16 titles are the only repeated titles in a list that came to 94 titles, between Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Publishers Weekly.  If you have read any of the titles above, we would love to get feedback from you.  We have an amazing service on our website called “Library Voice,” where you can give feedback or discuss in a thread a book you have read recently.   All you have to do is sign in with an email or Facebook account and you can join the conversation!

**picture taken from Amazon’s book page