Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

ttt

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

Top Ten Books That Should Be Required Readings

ttt

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.

1b2

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.

1b2

Which books would be on your required reading lists?3

Book Review: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

1Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

My Rating:  5 cupcakes

It’s safe to say that this is not for everyone; I’ve seen so many mixed reviews of this book that I was quite hesitant to begin reading it. Luckily, I can count myself as one of the people who absolutely adored The Sky Is Everywhere – and even went so far as to re-read it a few days later.

The Sky Is Everywhere provides a thoughtful, emotional, authentic, and revealing portrayal of grief. It shows how grief can drive people together who were never really that close; how relationships can form as a crutch of sorts, allowing those involved to soak up each others grief as if it were their own, to provide comfort and strength, and to help each other feel less lost and to feel whole, if only for a little while. It also emphasizes that there is no “right” way to express grief or cope with loss, as Lennie’s response involving music, writing, and juggling relationships with two boys certainly shows.

While this is primarily a book about grief, relationships, both familial and romantic, play a very important role. Lennie’s eccentric grandmother who believes that Lennie’s life force is tied to a plant; her Uncle Big who is known around town as a womanizer; her mother, who had the “restless gene” and left, resulting in an unconventional upbringing; Toby, Bailey’s fiance, who understands her grief more than anyone; Joe, the new boy in town, who shows Lennie that it’s possible to find love after loss – all of these relationships help Lennie to find herself and come to terms with the loss of her sister.

Jandy Nelson’s writing is incredibly beautiful and evocative. Poems and notes that Lennie has written on whatever she can find at the time of inspiration (coffee cups, trees, candy wrappers) are interspersed within the narrative. These are filled with conversations between her sister and herself, memories of the two of them, dreams, and questions, which give us an honest glimpse into the depth of her grief and make her feelings seem even more real.

I’m so glad that I had the experience of reading The Sky Is Everywhere, and I know that it will stay with me for a very long time.