The 23 Books I Read in 2013: Part 1

Last year I read exactly 23 books, until this year (2014) I have had school that got in the way of reading for fun for at least part of the year, so in 2014 I want to double that number. I’m always on the look out for good book recommendations, which usually means combing through Good Reads or begging my friends for the names of books they like. For anyone interested or looking for a list of some good books I have complied a short review of each book I read in 2013. Books are listed in the order I read them and rated out of 5 stars (5 being the best) and I’ll do a top 3 list at the end of part 2.

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  1. Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen
    • 3 stars. I got my Kindle in April for my birthday and this was offered for free. It’s a good read if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Set in the 30’s with a traveling circus,  I enjoyed the parts that included the elephant.
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  2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling
    • 3 stars. This is a fast funny read in the same category as Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants. The stories are from Mindy’s real life and include some funny body image stories. This would be a great airplane read.
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  3. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
    • 4 stars. I read this in Ireland. It’s a great story about a British couple (Annie and Duncan) and a reclusive American rock star(Tucker). Duncan is obsessed with Tuckers music and when a remixed version of Tuckers most popular album, Juliet, is released Duncan writes a glowing review online. However Annie feels differently and when she writes a less than positive review Tucker reads it and he and Annie start up an  email correspondence. The book explores human relationships, fandom, and the way the internet has effected both.
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  4. My Life in France by Julia Childs
    • 3 stars. If you know anything about Julia Childs you know she led a very eventful life, she was witty, and she was a firm believer that women could do anything men could do. This book chronicles her life in France (obviously) and how she started cooking. Even if you’ve seen the movie Julie and Julia this is a worthwhile read.
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  5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    • 3 stars. I felt like my impression of this book was clouded by the fact that I had seen the movie Capote. It’s an interesting look at the murder of the Clutter family in rural Kansas. To me it was worth reading just for the fact that it was completely revolutionary for it’s time; I know we all have grown up watching Law and Order but when Truman published his graphic retelling of the murders and interviews with the killers it was a complete shock to readers at the time. Be warned though that although Capote always claimed it was a completely factual account there have been some documented discrepancies.
  6. Summer Crossing by Truman Capote
    • This was actually the book Capote was working on when he died, he only had two chapters which were available to me at the end of my In Cold Blood copy. The chapters were published as a book but really unless they appear on your In Cold Blood copy  probably not worth seeking out.
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  7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
    • 4 stars. Set in an over populated future where the majority of people spend their time in the Oasis, think virtual reality meets arcade game, this novel is not your average dystopian fiction. When the creator of the Oasis suddenly dies leaving behind his estate to whoever can find three keys hidden in the virtual world a whole subculture is born in search of Halliday’s Easter Egg. Wade is a poor teenager who dedicates his life to finding Halliday’s egg. The book focuses on friendship and hard work and is a fun and thrilling read.
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  8. Just Kids by Patti Smith
    • 3 stars. I’m usually a huge fan of memoirs and although Just Kids was interesting it fell flat for me in parts. Patti Smith started her career while living in Brooklyn in 1970’s era New York. She lived with her best friend and sometimes lover photographer Robert Maplethorpe. The story is most definitely a love letter to NYC in the 70’s and coming of age story. I think I loved it more because I was reading it while living in NYC but it’s still a good read for anyone in their early 20’s.
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  9. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
    • 5 stars. I think everyone should read this book, and I think it would appeal to most everyone. Kavalier and Clay follows the story of two Jewish cousins who break into the comic book industry in the time before, during, and after WWII. Set mostly in New York City the book explores the emotional gambit of love, friendship, family, responsibility, guilt, and forgiveness. The book and characters are beautifully written by Chabon who gives his characters a complexity which draws the reader in.
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  10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
    • 3 stars. The best part of this dystopian fiction is that it takes you a while to realize it is a dystopian fiction. The book is broken into three parts; Childhood, Adult, and Donor. Masquerading as a story about friendship at it’s core it is a story of a love that is easy and real and loss that is inevitable and will probably make you cry.
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  11. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
    • 3 stars. How to be a Woman is Caitlin Moran’s memoir/feminist book where Moran talks about everything from her childhood, to falling in love, to why she won’t pay more than $20 for a purse. Told with a witty and dry humor the book is a fast and good read for any modern day woman, and although I don’t agree with everything Moran does I would recommend this book.

I’ll publish the second half of the list on Friday!

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