Okay, it is almost New Year’s Day. A majority of the experts have released the best book lists. These are all books which were released in 2013. Unfortunately for the world, I did not read a lot of books which are released in 2013 because books cost money, and library waits are long. I have read a couple of books this year. Okay, I have read more than a couple. So, I wanted to let the world know about my top books that I had read this year were. Maybe, this will be the final push for someone to read one of these books. I will try to avoid spoilers. It will be divided into three lists. Top Books will consist of six books which are new books that blew me away this year. Honorable Mentions will be five books and are still important in some way; Old Favorites will be four books which I reread for one reason or another.
1. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1961)
I love this book. If there are two characters who I relate to, one is Holden Caulfield. Which is weird because I am a 20 some year old who should not be that moody. But, I sort of explained that earlier in the year. And, I do want to catch people/kids before or during the fall off the cliff. I first read The Catcher in the Rye after years and years of people saying that it was banned. It was not an instantaneous love. It was one which was cemented in this last rereading. Now, I reread The Catcher in the Rye for that Contemporary Literature class. I caught somethings that I missed in the first reading. Yet, I still love this book.
2. Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger (1961)
Franny is one of the most relatable characters in literature to myself. If I would want someone to really get me, I would give them these to books. I am more of a Franny than a Holden. I read Franny and Zooey right after reading The Catcher in the Rye and maybe before Bright Lights, Big City. It was just a coincidence that I was in the middle of a production while reading it. I reread it to do a comparison to The Catcher in the Rye. While looking, there is definitely a Hindu/Buddhist vibe yet there are also these profound moments that seem to promote Christianity.
3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (2008)
This book was introduced to me by a fellow English major a couple of years ago. This English major also introduced me to Bollywood, so she has amazing taste. It narrated by a young girl who is going to commit suicide and a concierge who is more than who she seems. They become friends through a mutual friend. I actually reread this one because I was going to rate it on Goodreads and you need a fresh reading to rate things properly on Goodreads. I got more out of the second reading than the first, which I think is typical of any book.
4. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman (1973)
I first ran across the movie in
eighth seventh grade. Yet in high school, I ran across the book. It is set up as a fairy tale written by a 16th century writer with Goldman’s commentary throughout. This is partially confusing yet so much more effective than just telling the story. Again, Goodreads brought the two of us together. I reread the book and enjoyed it more knowing that my copy of movie the was safely tucked away in my room. For those who have watched the movie and not read the book, the action from the fairy tale is pretty much the same.
1. Irene Iddesleigh by Amanda Ros (1867)
Now, I wrote on Irene Iddesleigh earlier this year. It makes it the Honorable Mentions because of this fact. It was bad. I started reading the book a couple of years ago mainly to make fun of it. Okay, that was the only reason I wanted to read it. Reading Irene was a real challenge. Ros really did not use that complicated of language. She just used words improperly. She stands as an example. If it is old, it does not mean that it is good. People comment that the only books that are good and should be read are the classics. Irene Iddesleigh goes to show that Twilight might be adored in the future for its horribleness.
2. The English Patient by Micheal Ondaatje (1992)
I read this during the Contemporary Literature class that I mentioned in the Top Books section. I enjoyed the story, yet there was one section which really moved me. I even wrote a post about it. I was moved by that thought. The thought that people throughout history have wanted to be remembered. It makes the Honorable Mention section because really it did not have that much of an effect. I liked it. I did. It just did not blow me away like the other books in the Top Books. I was also a little bit confused. The English Patient was my first Post-modern novel.
3. The Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (2005)
Freshman year of college, I bought Memoirs of a Geisha from the five dollar movie bin. It was amazing. I know there is controversy around the casting and all of that. But, I never read the book. I never knew there was a book. That was until I was browsing through Goodreads. The book had so much more information than the movie. Yet for sentimental reasons, I cannot get the movie out of my head. I really do like that we get to learn Sayuri’s fate beyond the end of the movie. She got a fulfilled life outside of the geisha world.
4. The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien (1954)
JRR Tolkien has a unique writing style which one has to get used to. That is why before finishing The Lord of the Rings, some people had to read The Hobbit and Tree and Leaf. I started reading The Lord of the Rings on the last final day of eighth grade. I finished it this year. That is why it has to be mentioned. Without reading the other two books, I still might be reading The Fellowship of the Ring. After finishing the first two books (a.k.a. The Fellowship of the Ring), I discovered Tolkien’s son published The Fall of Arthur which is Tolkien’s tale of the death of King Arthur.
5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
I do not really read Southern writers. McCarthy is an exception. He does not write like a Southern writer. I read The Road during the Contemporary Literature class mentioned above (See a pattern here?). I also started reading the book on a way to and from a funeral. McCarthy has a father and a son walking on a road to nowhere. Yet in the end, there is hope. I love how all of these really bad things happen, yet there is a light (which is not a train) at the end of the tunnel. It was inspiring enough to read Blood Meridian which dashed all hope. PS. Blood Meridian is still good enough of a book to read.
1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013)
In the book market, there is an emerging trend called New Adult literature. Rainbow Rowell is leading the charge it seems. Rowell creates her own homage to Harry Potter called Simon Snow. While mentioning that, Cath and Wren are twins going to college. Cath writes her own fanfiction to the Simon Snow series. She is also a little socially awkward which is great to see in fiction that not everyone is gifted in socializing. You also get to see Cath and Wren drift apart which is something that sometimes happens. Rowell also published Eleanor and Park this year. I would also recommend that.
2. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher (2013)
Yes, it is as gimmicky as it sounds. It takes Star Wars and translates it to Early Modern English (not Old English). Doescher uses a Chorus. Shakespeare does use this in Henry V, and I cannot think of a better play to use. In addition to the Chorus, Doescher takes some of the famous speeches and intertwines them into the Star Wars story. Shakespeare might have even written Star Wars in this way if he lived in a galaxy far, far away. Oh and, R2-D2 has several asides and is given depth as a character thus fulfilling his and C-3PO’s roles as clowns. Just wait for my wonderful production of this play.
3. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth (2011, 2012, 2013)
I am including the three books into one slot. I know it sounds like a cop-out. Roth invited us to imagine Chicago in the future. Now, this was one of two controlled societies that I read this year. The other one was Matched and the first two chapters of Crossed. Roth had the better of the two. I really want to give away spoilers. But, I won’t. People are always looking for lessons within books to justify reading them. Consistently, Divergent and its sequels give the lesson of self-sacrifice starting in the first book. And, that is all I can say without getting too much into the plot.
4. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (2013)
Yes, I really liked the feminist propaganda by a privileged white woman. I was even planning on writing a post about women in college student government. Yet, Sandberg gives readers an inside look to women in major companies. One thing that really stuck with me was the mentoring of people with less experience. It really does not matter where you are working. Everyone needs encouragement when starting something new. I did realize that this was needed. I knew that people needed other people for support. Women should be the ones supporting women. The age of the queen bee should be a thing of the past.
5. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (1598/1599)
I actually did not read the play. I watched it. That is the only way to really experience a play. I actually watched two versions of the play. The first was the David Tennant/Catherine Tate version, and the second was the Joss Whedon version. I love Shakespeare in general and have used this play to against Bard haters. Beatrice is a strong speaker along with Rosalind and Viola. Nothing is as it seems throughout the play. There is a masque in the play. This is only a foreshadow of things to come. Shakespeare uses illusions to make the entire play a masque of sorts.
6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005)
I read this book for a Contemporary Literature class earlier this year. So, I read half of the book for the first week and then, the second half. I, then, reread the book to remember everything. It is the story about the aftermath of 9/11. The protagonist is a 10 year old boy whose father died in the attacks. Yet, there was a subplot involving the grandmother who was from Dresden (yes, this Dresden). This book made it on the list because of what I did during the rereading. It includes a letter from the grandmother which ends with the grandmother asking herself if she should tell her sister that she loves her. I, then, Facebooked messaged everyone in my immediate family “I love you.” This was also the book that I was studying when I found out my grandfather had died. So, it is very important to me.
The radios are completely in the Christmas swing. There is no avoiding the Christmas madness. Yet, not all of those songs are Christmas songs. Where does “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” go? Technically, there is nothing in the song about Christmas. There is dreaming by the fire, walking through the snow, and playing with a circus clown. Yet, where does it go after Christmas? It stops getting played. I have my own list of probable reasons for this. (This excludes “My Favorite Things” which is neither a Christmas song nor winter song.)
1. The Music Industry controls the radio.
I know there is some bottom line somewhere. Someone wants to make a profit, and you cannot make a profit when in you are playing winter songs. In the new year, music companies are looking to release the first album of the year. It looks better for the artist who makes the first top 10 single of the new year. Grant it, the single will most likely be forgotten before the awards are even nominated. Yet, it looks nice for the artist for a little while. Yet, look at the profit that could be made. The artist release a Christmas album and make an album full of winter songs! This is twice the profit from one season. Also, why stop with just a Christmas album? There is at least Valentine’s Day for an album.
2. The repetition of songs would drive people crazy.
There are only so many winter songs that can be played. If the Christmas music starts on November 1, there are only so many times the radio station can play “A Marshmallow World” until someone cracks. This would call for an increase in winter songs being made. On the bright side, we can also revisit old Christmas songs. These songs are often looked over for songs which are more popular. This would be good for the mentioned above music industry. With more winter songs, there would be more potential albums for artists. Yet, we are already listening to songs on repeat for at least November and December. We could also integrate the songs about winter into the regular lineup. Also if we start playing Christmas songs later, we could stop the repetition of songs.
3. Some people do not want to be reminded that is cold outside.
I am, of course, excluding the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” which reminds the listener that it is cold outside. Yet, there are great summer songs, or the songs have a music video outside having fun during summer. Yet to believe that people can have fun during winter outside Christmas, it is almost unbelievable. If we believe that Santa is on Snow Miser’s payroll, we have to believe that the Music Industry is on Heat Miser’s. Yet, there are people who do like the cold. There are winter songs which are very pleasant. Why is snow after Christmas a bad thing? Why is snow only acceptable during December? Going back to “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” the people make a snowman and pretend to get married by it. That sounds to me more like Valentine’s Day than Christmas.
Off the top of my head, these would also be winter songs:
- “Let It Snow”
- “Jingle Bell”/”Jingle Bell Rock”
- “Frosty the Snowman”