Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “top ten books I read in 2013.” 2013 was an excellent year for reading, thanks to the discovery of both Goodreads and book blogs. While it’s virtually impossible to narrow down all 217 books that I read this year to the 10 that I thought were the best, the ten below are ones that I really enjoyed reading — and ones that I’ll likely read again.

1. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
When I received this book, I stayed up all night reading it — I laughed, I cried, I highlighted poignant quotes, I had my heart broken, and I felt a strange sense of hope within all the angst and despair. It’s such a touching, important, powerful book, and I can’t recommend it enough. My review can be found here.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I’m convinced that Rainbow writes books for me, personally. Fangirl perfectly captures what it’s like to be a fangirl and what it’s like to go away to college in true Rainbow Rowell style: it’s quirky, fun, adorable, and character-driven. My review can be found here.

3. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it completely surpassed my (already high) expectations. I don’t know how I’m going to survive the wait until the third book — I need more of my Raven Boys in my life!

4. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Crown of Midnight addressed all of the issues that I had with Throne of Glass, kept me guessing at every turn, and made me feel all the emotions. It’s such a good example of how to write a sequel since I enjoyed it a lot more than Throne of Glass, and I can’t wait to see where the series will go from there. My review can be found here.

5. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Between swoonworthy boys, magic, and inventive fairytales/mythology, this series is so enthralling. And the Darkling! (I know that I already said swoonworthy boys, but he really deserves his own special mention). Can Ruin and Rising please hurry up and be released?! My review can be found here.

6. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
The Archived has such a unique and spooky premise, and it definitely delivered on that front. I easily got lost in its world, which I desperately wanted to know more about, and the mystery aspect of it, which kept me guessing throughout the story. My review can be found here.

7. Angelfall by Susan Ee
Angelfall single-handedly redeemed angel books in my eyes, which is certainly no small feat! Its post-apocalyptic setting, amazing female lead, and brutal angels make it a step above the rest for good reason, and it’s definitely worthy of all of the hype surrounding it. My review can be found here.

8. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This book both broke my heart and healed me. It’s a really moving piece on grief and loss, and I’m so, so glad that I read it. My review can be found here.

9. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy NelsonThe Sky is Everywhere is a beautiful piece on grief, love, and loss. It’s lyrical, moving and honest, and will definitely stay with me for a long time to come. My review can be found here.

10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I don’t even know how to describe The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s beautiful, haunting, nostalgic, creepy, and filled with so much wisdom. There’s a reason that Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, and this book is just another reason why.

What were some of your favourite reads of 2013?3

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Top Ten Books That Should Be Required Readings

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week she posts an idea for relating to books, and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own “top ten” list.

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This week, we had a choice between “top ten books that you’d pair with a required reading” or “top ten books that should be required readings.” I decided to do the latter, so here are the books that you’d have to read if you were in my high school English class:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak / Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
These books are thought-provoking, heartbreaking, and honest accounts of World War II. They may be works of fiction, but they’re just as impactful as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

Paper Towns by John Green / Every Day by David Levithan
Paper Towns reminds us that loving the idea of a person can be dangerous; we should love people for who they truly are, not for who we envision them to be, which is a lesson that everyone could benefit from learning.

Every Day teaches a very similar lesson: we shouldn’t judge people based on their appearance; instead, it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts. I’m not sure if it would appeal to the guys very much… so if not, they can always just read Paper Towns.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins / Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
These books are more accessible to students than Brave New World or 1984, but they still contain many of the same important ideas as the dystopian classics.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Many high school students face the same problems as Charlie and his friends, making it a book that’s easy to relate to and easy to learn from.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson / A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
These books hold so many important lessons about life and loss. They’re both so different from one another, which is good; after all, the grieving process is different for everyone and there’s no “right” way to do it.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Before I Fall shows the power that our actions and our words truly hold. It caused me to reevaluate some of my life choices, so hopefully it would remind students that they should think before they act – after all, we aren’t all lucky enough to get a second chance.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick / The Bully Book by Erik Kahn Gale
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking and deals with heavy subjects, but is a story that everyone needs to hear. Bullying is a problem that a lot of people ignore until it’s too late — until someone is pushed over the edge like Leonard is. I’d also hand out copies in the staff room, since the well-meaning Herr Silverman, who actively takes an interest in his students’ lives, is the kind of teacher that every teacher should have as a role model.

I know that it’s a middle grade read, but The Bully Book is incredibly important. It examines why the “grunts” are chosen to be bullied, the effect of bullying on the victims, the bystander effect, and peer pressure. Since bullying is (unfortunately) a reality in many schools, the powerful and thought-provoking message that The Bully Book holds would hopefully make a difference in at least one student’s life.

Extra Credit: read more books! I’d be happy to provide a list of my favourites in hopes that it would inspire more students to read for pleasure. Of course, this list would include the Harry Potter series, Shadow and Bone, and Throne of Glass, so there’s really no excuse for them not to become voracious readers.

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Which books would be on your required reading lists?3

ARC Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was—that I couldn’t stick around—and that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking from the start. The writing is angsty and, at times, downright depressing. Leonard is initially a difficult character to empathize with, though your heart will certainly break for him as he hands out gifts his four gifts and reveals bit by bit what led to this decision.

The story is slow to build, showing us just how intelligent Leonard is – and how different from his peers. He has an immense feeling of loneliness and is desperate to see that the future holds happiness and something truly good. This desperation is perpetuated by the unhappiness of the adults in his life: his absentee father with drug and alcohol problems, his mother who prefers working to spending time with her child, and the adults that he sees on the train who are headed to work and dislike their jobs.

Through the relationships that Leonard does have – his favourite teacher, his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a violinist at his school, and the pastor’s daughter that he met at the train station – we’re shown a different side of him. One that might just have a reason to keep on living. I particularly loved his relationship with Herr Silverman, as he’s the kind of teacher that every teen should have.

This story is interspersed with letters from the future that Leonard had written to himself. While this shift in perspective threw me off at first, I quickly grew to love the idea – and the feeling of hope that it brought.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a powerful and important book that everyone should read. I have a feeling that it will stay with me for quite a while.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.