On My Bookshelf

books to read in 2013

I have a confession to make, and it’s quite a source of embarrassment for me. (Trust me, I would rather admit to something to effect of shoplifting or picking and ingesting one’s boogers than what I’m about to tell you.)

Breathe, Sarah.

I only read 5 books last year, and three of them were the Fifty Shades trilogy.





I’m mortified.

Listen, I’m not calling YOU a dipshit if you didn’t read many books last year. D does not enjoy reading at all, and probably hasn’t read one book since college, yet, not a dipshit. I get it – it’s just not his thing, but me? I LOVE to read. I live to read. I have been a voracious reader my entire life. I started reading at three years old. I can speed read with ease. There is nothing in this world that excites and/or terrifies me more than becoming completely engrossed in a novel. Do you get me? I AM READER, HEAR ME ROAR.

So what happened? Random Internet Surfing happened, that’s what. (R.I.S. is a disease and must be taken seriously. See your doctor.) If I would have opened a book instead of opening my laptop during my free time, my book count would have been drastically different.

Let’s summarize. I only read 5 books last year, and three of them were poorly-written mommy porn. (The other two were Gone Girl and Mockingjay, if you were wondering.) My unnecessary internet surfing is to blame. This kind of pathetic behavior must not be repeated. Ever again. You know where this is leading, don’t you?


Here are some books I want to read this year.

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain

2. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

3. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (I have never read this. I KNOW.)

4. The Passage – Justin Cronin (Books like this freak me out…will I want to build an underground shelter and never come out?)

5. Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

6. The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin

7. Columbine – Dave Cullen

8. The Paris Wife – Paula McLain

9. The Dream: A Memoir – Harry Bernstein

10. Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese

11. The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman

12. The Invisible Bridge – Julie Orringer

What else? What should I add to the list? What’s the best book you read last year? What are you reading right now? Do tell.  (p.s. – I also have a Good Reads account which I opened in 2007 and just visited yesterday for the first time in several years. Let’s connect over there.)

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click a link to purchase a book, I will receive something like 25 cents and, if lucky, be able to buy some froyo, which will keep me happy while writing posts. Thank you for your support of this website!

  1. Jenny

    February 6, 2013 at 7:34 am

    My favorite book of all time (that I’ve reread in whole or just parts at least once a year for probably the last 15 years) is East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

    I recently read The Happiness Project which I’m a little torn on – I can’t tell if it’s inspiring or just completely annoying. I know. I make no sense. (Read it and I want to know what you think!!)

    And I have to throw something fun in — for a quick, make-you-laugh-out-loud read, try Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)”. I read it in one day and it made me cry-laugh more than once.

    • Erica

      February 6, 2013 at 11:35 am

      I was just as torn about the Happiness Project.

      • Jenny

        February 6, 2013 at 11:46 am

        I am so glad I’m not the only one! I made this comment to someone else who recently read the book and they looked at me like I was a monster for even suggesting it could be anything other than totally inspiring. (Which it still was!) (But also kind of annoying.) (In an inspiring way!?)

  2. Jen

    February 6, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Gone Girl was good, but I HATED the ending!
    Cutting for Stone is the best book I’ve read in the last year-should be at the top of the list. I also loved the Solace of Leaving Early.

    • ChrisB

      February 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      I totally agree with you on both Gone Girl and Cutting for Stone, Jen!

    • Jessica

      February 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      I second Cutting for Stone! It’s slow in the beginning but it becomes one of those books you never want to end.

      • Sarah G.

        February 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

        Yet another vote for Cutting for Stone as my favorite read of last year. One of my all-time favorite books is Time of our Singing…. so deeply touching and riveting on many levels: Spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual. I haven’t read it since becoming a mother four years ago. I am heading to Amazon now…

  3. Emily

    February 6, 2013 at 7:50 am

    My favorite book I read last year was WILD by Cheryl Strays. So so good. I cried.

    Columbine was interesting but so depressing, as you can imagine.

  4. Renee K

    February 6, 2013 at 7:59 am

    The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith. Best book I read in 2012, hands down. A gorgeous memoir, but be prepared for some cathartic cries!

  5. Catherine

    February 6, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Read The Dog Stars (which might make you cry, but only for a bit) and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore (which will make you smile). Both are wonderful, especially the latter.

  6. Alisha

    February 6, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I am reading The Passage right now and I love it. It is definitely one of those books that I read with the lights on. I am only about 300 pages in but some nights it is hard to put it down.

  7. Kristin

    February 6, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I read a bunch of junk literature in the latter part of 2013 – so although I read almost 50 books, half of them were one-day trashy reads :) Entertaining? Yes Cerebral? No
    The Light Between Oceans was meh for me – very gray.
    I enjoyed Secret Daughter by Shilipi Somaya Gowda as well as Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (which, despite it’s title, has NOTHING to do with lip biting or blindfolds).
    Gone Girl was frustrating – the ending had me hating them both! Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling was ok, the beginning was slow and boring but the ending was redeeming. If you’re looking for a grown-ups Twlight, check out A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova was a good read too.

    • Emily

      February 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      I ADORE A Discovery of Witches! I have the second one on my nightstand waiting to be read. My feelings were the same about the Casual Vacancy – it was pretty slow and there were SO. many. characters.

      I’d also definitely add The Night Circus to your list! It was my favorite book of last year.

      • Kristin

        February 6, 2013 at 1:40 pm

        Thanks for the recommendation! Also, have to clarify that Left Neglected is not Twilightish at all – I am just ADD in my responses.

  8. Angela (@Aferg22)

    February 6, 2013 at 8:30 am

    I would swap out Dark Places and read Sharp Objects instead. Both by the same author, but I had a hard time with Dark Places because the characters were so strange. Sharp Objects has strange characters as well, but I was able to get into that book much quicker.

    Also, I love A Discovery of Witches and the sequel, Shadow of Night.

  9. Abby

    February 6, 2013 at 8:30 am

    I’d recommend first that you start with a fast, light read. I love to read too, and actually fall into otherwise unexplainable funks when I go through reading dry spells. Whenever that happens, if I try to start up again and it’s a more challenging read, I get frustrated and stop and then I’m even more depressed. I know it’s sad that so much of my mood depends on this, but… that’s the life of a reader!

    So I’d say to go with something like the Mindy Kaling book that Jenny’s recommending, or if you want fiction, I’d go with Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. It’s also about a woman who disappears, but unlike Gone Girl, it’s a bit breezier in tone with a sharp satirical bite.

    Last thing: I started reading WAY more when I got a Kindle, but (sadly) I almost never pick up my actual Kindle any more. Instead, I have the Kindle app on my phone, iPad, and (this is key for me) computer. So sometimes when I wander over to my laptop for a bit of light reading, instead of going straight to my browser, I flip over to the Kindle for Mac app and keep reading whatever book I’m on. Especially when it’s a gripping story, that’s been a lifesaver for me to keep the reading going!

  10. Janssen

    February 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I LOVED Quiet (in fact, it was my choice for bookclub this year – I’m so excited to read it again). And I’m a mega fan of The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin is just my kind of Type A reader/writer/history buff. I think you’ll love it.

    I also absolutely loved Room by Emma Donaghue. The summary sounds insanely depressing, but it is really really great.

    • whoorl

      February 6, 2013 at 8:38 am

      I was waiting for you to comment, Janssen! :)

  11. Melissa

    February 6, 2013 at 8:46 am

    My favorite book last year was The Rules of Civility…so good!

  12. Hillary

    February 6, 2013 at 9:20 am

    I just finished reading ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ for my book club (http://www.amazon.com/Guernsey-Literary-Potato-Peel-Society/dp/0385341008/) and I highly recommend it! It’s a pretty quick read, but a really lovely story, written entirely in letters just after World War II.

    • Sarah G.

      February 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Yes! A fabulous book!

  13. meaghan

    February 6, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I just finished Quiet, and it was great!

    Favorite books from last year were The Book Thief, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Night Circus.

  14. rachel

    February 6, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I had the same thought after reading Gone Girl, but Dark Places was seriously so gross, disturbing and not okay, with such awful, unlikeable characters with a lack of redemption, that I actually regret reading it. And I’m saying that as someone who reads ~100 books a year, a large majority being in the murder-mystery/mystery family.

    From last year, I recommend Broken Harbor–Same recession-based, broken down American Dream landscape as Gone Girl (even down to being set in a waterfront community, albeit in Ireland), but a completely different story. Much darker. The whole Dublin Murder Squad series is actually amazing, if I do say so myself, so if you wanted to read the whole thing, I would begin with In The Woods. Love, love, love Tana French.

  15. Jen

    February 6, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I’m actually reading “The Paris Wife” right now and can give it a thumbs up. Before this book, however, I read “Moloka’i” by Brennert. I expected an interesting, fairly easy read, but I was surprised by the way this story has stayed with me. It’s historical fiction set in late 19th-early 20th century Hawaii and takes a look at the leprosy issue. I KNOW. It sounds cliche and whatnot, but it was good. Characterization, relationships, terribly hard decisions and circumstances but an underlying spirit of love and hope. And redemption! It’s not entirely depressing.

    Also, “Quiet” = yes. Very good. And “Cutting for Stone” is a masterpiece.

    One of my all time favorites is DuMarier’s “Rebecca.” Just fabulous. And if you need a great laugh of all time, you must read Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country.” There are no words to fully describe Bryson. Just read it. (If you’ve already read it, try “A Walk in the Woods,” unless, of course, you’ve already read that too.)