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.)

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  1. Megan @ Mama Bub

    February 6, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Cutting for Stone is EXCELLENT. One of my favorite books of the last few years. I also loved Columbine so much.

  2. Susannah

    February 6, 2013 at 10:08 am

    This topic is like crack for me… I lurk like nobody’s business until we start talking about books and then suddenly I CAN’T. SHUT. UP. So here are the books that have kept me up WAY past a decent hour because I couldn’t put them down…

    The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
    The Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister (SEQUEL!)
    Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister (yes… I love her)
    The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate
    The Night Circus by Erica Morgenstern (someone already mentioned it, it’s delicious)
    Anything Joshilyn Jackson has ever felt like putting on paper is absolutely wonderful but I’d start with Between, Georgia or Backseat Saints
    The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
    If you liked The Hunger Games, the Divergent books are really good and I can’t wait till the third one comes out. Should be later this year. Those are by Victoria Roth.
    Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane
    The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell


  3. Amelia

    February 6, 2013 at 10:12 am

    I was inspired to de-lurk by the fact that you’ve got Dark Places on your list – like others, I’d warn you to be *very* wary of it. Gone Girl was, in some ways, a serious departure into far lighter material for Flynn (yes, really). I thought Dark Objects was fantastic and compelling, but in an incredibly desolate, disturbing, unsettling way – you can feel hope just leaking out of you as you read it. I’ll second Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books as being AMAZING, well-written detective fiction – definitely start with In The Woods, but oh man, I think The Likeness might still be my favorite.

    Also amazing, and probably things you’d like based on this list: The Fault in Our Stars (Green), Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Brunt), Delicacy (Foenkinos). All of those made me feel all of the feelings.

    And another second to The Discovery of Witches (Harkness) books for fun romance-y stuff.

  4. Heather

    February 6, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Ooo, I see someone already mentioned Room. I read it about four weeks post-partum, when the baby was sleeping on me all the time. So good, but devastating. Possible spoiler: the child does not suffer direct violence, which is the only thing that made me able to keep going at some points. I also re-read all of the Dorothy Sayers mysteries last year; while I enjoy the actual mysteries, I love that each time I pick up more detail and nuance about what the inter-war years were like in England. Since the baby was born I’ve been using iBooks and the Kindle app on my phone a lot. So convenient to get in a few minutes of reading here and there throughout the day. There’s an edition of Pride and Prejudice available for free on iBooks.

  5. Staci Magnolia

    February 6, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Please get your hands on The Absolutist by John Boyne asap.

  6. Ginger

    February 6, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Ooh, one of my favorite topics. Quiet is a great read. For crime fiction I strongly recommend Henning Mankell and Camilla Lackberg books. All of them.

  7. Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian

    February 6, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I read the Happiness Project last year and it’s a great book with lots of useful tips for making your life better.

  8. Christy

    February 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Pride and Prejudice is on my book list. I haven’t read it either, and I’m a reader. Crazy. Two books I would highly recommend – The Help (so good) and Sarah’s Key (this had me in tears at one point).

    • Kristin

      February 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      Sarah’s Key was wonderful!

    • Sarah G.

      February 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      Yep! The Help!! Definitely. Sarah’s Key… still makes my guts churn. I burst into uncontrollable hysterical sobs at one point… Not sure if that’s something I recommend to others.

  9. rachel

    February 6, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Checking back because I am super curious to see what everyone else is reading/has enjoyed!

    I agree with Ginger–Camilla Lackberg all the way! The Ice Princess and The Preacher are fantastic, and the characters carry the rest of the series.

    And if you’re going to go Scandinavian: Jo Nesbo.

    Discovery of Witches/Shadow of Night are entertaining enough but at the end of the day are a slightly improved upon adult version of Twilight. Nothing wrong with that! Just saying. Super light, easy reads.

    I also just noticed you have Columbine up there, in which case We Need to Talk About Kevin might appeal to you. This essentially negates what I said about Dark Places, because it is perhaps more disturbing than the latter and while I can’t say I “enjoyed” reading it in the conventional sense of the word, I do feel I got something very significant out of it.

    In a completely different genre (Gothic Mystery I guess): The Forgotten Garden.

  10. Allison Hasel

    February 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Oooh, the best book I read last year was The Book Thief. Someone chose it for my book club and on the first page I was like, “Huh?!” But I gave it a bit and then loved it. It is a young adult book, but don’t let that deter you! It is devastatingly wonderful.

    I also really enjoyed A Discovery of Witches, which is pretty much the polar opposite. It is a fun vampire/witch read, much more adult than Twilight and fun for a history buff.

    Happy reading!

    • Staci Magnolia

      February 6, 2013 at 11:51 am

      LOVED The Book Thief!! Tried his other one (The Messenger) and didn’t even get through it all.

    • Lynne

      February 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      I agree! I loved The Book Thief.

  11. Erica

    February 6, 2013 at 11:49 am

    My favorite topic! I read the Happiness Project and as mentioned earlier was torn. I don’t recommend it to anyone. The whole book felt a little self indulgent to me. There are good points to think about, but you have to be able to deal with the tone.

    The Blind Assassin is one of my all time favorite books. You won’t be disappointed. I am a big Margaret Atwood fan.
    Cutting for Stone is good, but very long. It is a beautiful book. At some points you wish they would speed it up a bit, but it is amazing.

    Books that are not on your list that should be (most of which were mentioned above):
    Night Circus – One of the best books I read in a long time. Loved every minute of it.
    The Fault in Our Stars – It is a young adult book. I will take you 6 hours to get through. Really good.
    Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies – If you are into Henry VIII history at all, this trilogy is fascinating. Wolf Hall is really hard to read at points mostly because the voice that she uses in the book. Bring up the Bodies is much easier to read and an amazing sequel.
    Deborah Harkness’ Discovery of Witches and then Shadow of Night – Discovery of Witches moves much quicker than Shadow of Night. As previously mentioned it is a “grown up” twilight. Worth the investment.
    The Marriage Plot – I enjoyed this one a lot, but you will want to talk about it with someone.

  12. Joy

    February 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I read Quiet last year and it made me so, so happy. As a quiet introvert, this book had me saying, Yes! That’s me! over and over.

    I read The Happiness Project and thought it was “eh” but I’m currently reading Happier at Home (her follow up book) and am finding that I like it better than The Happiness Project.

    If you haven’t ever read it, I highly recommend The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It is amazing. And if a YA book might make you happy, the best one I read last year was Ask the Passengers by A.S. King. A seriously beautiful book about accepting yourself and dealing with, well, life.

    • whoorl

      February 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

      I really enjoyed The Glass Castle!

      • Lynne

        February 7, 2013 at 2:11 pm

        Jeannette Walls 2nd book, Half Broke Horses, was also very good! I highly recommend.

  13. Kristen Howerton

    February 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    If only you had some external pressure to read books. Like, I don’t know, a friend who keeps relentlessly inviting you to join a book club or something. :)

    But seriously – tomorrow I’m going to give you some of my favorites. And I just ordered that Quiet book on introverts – can’t wait to read it.

    • whoorl

      February 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      One day, one day….

      (So excited for some books tomorrow!)

    • Roxanna

      February 6, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Kristen, I just finished Quiet and LOVED it. You will too. Sarah, that’s another one for you.

  14. Kristen Howerton

    February 6, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Also: Cutting for Stone and The Passage were amazing reads!

  15. Margot

    February 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Just finished The Buddha In The Attic by Julie Otsuka. It is a gorgeous read, and easy to get you back into reading as it is just over 100 pages long. My favourite book that I read last year was East Of Eden. I have just started Andrew Solomon’s new book, Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, it is fascinating! Happy reading!