Saturday, December 28, 2013

My ten favorite books read in 2013

I thought it would be fun to go through my booklist from this year, and jot down the ones I liked best. I didn’t plan on any particular number and was quite surprised that my top favorites amounted to ten. I’ve added what I originally wrote about them. They are listed in the order in which they were read. 

3. When We Were the Kennedys: a memoir from Mexico, Maine 
by Monica Wood
nonfiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/5/13

This is a book I really loved. Beautifully written, honest story, has some similarities to Rick Bragg's The Most They Ever Had which I wrote about three years ago. It tells of a mill town, and a family trying to make it after the bread-winning father dies. More here. It is written about a time when there weren't very many families lacking one parent. I can't praise it highly enough. Wonderful.



4. The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection - book 13 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series 
by Alexander McCall Smith
fiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/9/13

I am so happy in the company of Mma Ramotse et al. In this book, the author of Precious' guidebook for her work comes to Botswana. He is surprised at the esteem she feels for his book. Excellent, as always.



12. Daddy-Long-Legs 
by Jean Webster
fiction, 1912
Kindle book
finished 2/10/13



13. Dear Enemy
by Jean Webster
fiction, 1915
Kindle book
finished 2/14/13 



Dear Enemy is a sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs. Both epistolary novels, though with different letter writers. I was so interested reading about life 100 years ago. When I was a girl I read a book about Jane Addams and Hull House. I was so impressed by it that I can still remember where the book was in my library. These books are set during that same Progressive Era in the US. Loved, loved, loved these books. I couldn't stop talking about them. They make one feel that all good things are possible.


29. Stillmeadow Seasons
by Gladys Taber
nonfiction, 1950
second reading
library book
finished 5/25/13 

I first read Stillmeadow Seasons in 2002. My quote book has many offerings from this book, and I've jotted down several more that will appear in my letters at the appropriate time. The book is divided into months, beginning with April and ending with March. Some of her books are divided into seasonal chapters while others are monthly. The monthly ones begin and end variously. She wrote two things in the October chapter, not related to the month especially but interesting to me. One was:
We had two kinds of lettuce when I was growing up. Leaf and store. Now in my salad bowl I may toss two kinds of endive, Oak-leaf lettuce, Bibb, braze beauty, New York 12, and Mayking.
Remembering the book was published in 1950, I was startled to read this. I grew up in the 1950s, and all that was ever on our table was iceberg. It was only in the 1970s that I discovered dark green leafy lettuce that actually had flavor!  As I have said, many a time, this is the wonder of reading old books.

The second noteworthy passage was about fire:
In the dry season we watch the sky anxiously for smoke. Forest fires are the great enemy. … Fires do not start by themselves, and when I think of the devastation a single tossed cigarette can do on a dry roadside, I feel positively murderous. … All modern cars have ash trays, so motorists do not have to fling their glowing stubs to the grassy roadside.
Which got me thinking; now cars do not have ashtrays (notice how the spelling has turned into one word since 1950). And still there are lots of smokers. What do they do with their 'glowing stubs?' Toss them out, I'd guess.

As I finished Stillmeadow Seasons, I wondered if Gladys, wherever she is now, can see me, 63 years after this book was published, living much the same life she was living back then. I hope so.



45. Remembering the Bones 
by Frances Itani
fiction, 2007
library book
finished 8/8/13

I did a full book report on this, and you may read it here.  



48. Up, Back, and Away
by K. Velk
fiction, 2013
finished 8/18/13 

And this one I also did a separate post on here.



52. Old City Hall - book 1 in the Old City Hall series
by Robert Rotenberg
mystery, 2009
Kindle book
finished 9/8/13

A complete book report on this here.



72. Stuck
by Stacey D. Atkinson
fiction, 2013
Kindle book
finished 12/6/13

This is a great book about a young woman living in a fishing village in New Brunswick Canada. Highly recommended, and stay tuned for a book report in the new year.



78. Provence, 1970
by Luke Barr
nonfiction, 2013
finished 12/26/13

One of the few perfect books I’ve ever read. It will also have its own book report coming in 2014.


22 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. And I probably would not have read any of yours either. :<) that' the joy of reading that there is so much out there. Really there are books for every person's interests!

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  2. I loved the Daddy Long Legs books too. And I have Up, Back and Away on my Kindle ready to read. I suspect I read your review and decided to get it. It could also have been free or very cheap. I've written down a few of these books to look into. And I may just pinch your idea for an end of year post as I was wondering how to do it differently this year.

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  3. I've not read one of these either, Bellezza. But I have Provence, 1970 on my desk. I had actually considered sending it to you, Nan! Guess i'll keep it for myself. :)

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  4. Replies
    1. It was such a good year of reading for me. All these plus discovering Charlie Chan and Hildegarde Withers!

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  5. I liked your list, with a lot of variety. I am especially interested in the Rotenberg book. That was an excellent review of that book.

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    1. I went out and bought the next ones in the series. I was really wowed by it.

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  6. I read Daddy Long Legs when I was in school (a long time ago) and also love the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Interesting thought about the ashtrays. I recently read Friday the Rabbi slept late in which one of the clues to a murder was found in a car ashtray. I'll add your other books to my list because we seem to enjoy the same books so value your opinion. Hope you have a wonderful New Year.
    Ann

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    1. It is such a dear book. You read the Kemelman books!!!! Yay! How I love them. I keep thinking I'll go through and read them all again, one right after the other. I learned so much from them.

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  7. Another wonderful list for me to tuck aside and refer to when I'm looking for books, Nan, some I've read, others I've wanted to, and a few I had not yet heard of. Thank you.

    I've been enjoying the short stories of Bess Streeter Aldrich in Journey Through Christmas this season and wanted you to know. Though I received it from Tom last year, I've been enjoying most of the stories this year. I'm so glad you are blogging.

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    1. Oh, thank you for saying that. It means so much to me.

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  8. Your book reviews are always done so well - you tell us enough of a book to make it sound interesting, but not too much. From your list, the only one I have read (in my early teens) is Daddy Long-Legs.

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    1. I appreciate your words especially because sometimes I feel badly that I don't write more. Thanks.

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  9. Did I thank you for recommending Old City HAll? I loved that. also loved "When we were the Kennedys". What I really love about your reading is the mix of new and old. It just makes me happy that you like to read that way... I always have, but have never known anyone else who did! .... I never read a post of yours without, at the very least, adding a book to my TBR list. Usually I actually buy it right away. (I grabbed my Kindle and bought "Stuck" just now.)

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    1. I knew you'd like it! And the WWWtK was a really special book. I'd love to hear the author speak about it somewhere. I do like old and new, and my new is often very different from the best seller new.
      And Stuck is so good. I hope she sells a zillion copies. She's a great writer. I'm so happy you bought it.

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  10. I read Daddy-Long-Legs for the first time in 2013. I would also put it on my top 10 list. It was one of my biggest reading surprises for the year, too, because I was not expecting the main character to be both endearing and independent. I read it on the Kindle, but I liked it so much that I'm going to buy a print copy to add to my library. I haven't read Dear Enemy yet because I'm afraid that it won't be as good. But it sounds as though you really liked it, so perhaps I will add it to my list of books to read this year.

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    1. Oh, did you really?! That's quite amazing, don't you think? Not a book the world is racing to read, but we both read it this year!! Dear Enemy is also very good. Jean Webster wrote another one which I read in 2012 called The Four-Pools Mystery about life in the south after the Civil War. I liked it a lot. She's a good writer.

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  11. Oh my--how I got here, I do not know, but I know you're on my Favorite list now. What a beautiful header; and you're a reader and I need more introductions to books I haven't read. So, I know I'll be back. I can't wait to read more of your entries! Since I can't think of anything to blog about anymore, I look forward to reading good ones by people who have plenty to write about--like yours.

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  12. What a great list, Nan! I am so behind in the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I am hoping I can get a little more caught up this coming year. I do love the author's books.

    Have a Happy New Year, Nan!

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