My favorite book of 2013

On Goodreads, I took a moment to remember all the (published) books I read in 2013. Which ones would I read again? Which ones do I want to keep forever? Could I challenge myself to name a favorite?

NYC (8)

There were several books that I enjoyed reading but found the endings to be too disappointing or shocking to want to reread them. Anita Shreve’s Sea Glass was one of those: it was beautifully written and seemed to be one kind of story only to end up in a completely different place than I expected. So, too, was Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One. A few of the books I read, like The Family Way by Rhys Bowen, continued a series but didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Then there were reads I had fun with but don’t feel the need to revisit, and, of course, there were a few novels I simply didn’t like. But did I have a favorite?

I’ve decided that my favorite book of 2013 was A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle. This is perhaps more indicative of who I was in 2013 than any of the other books I read in the year. A Circle of Quiet is the first of L’Engle’s memoirs and spends a lot of time contemplating how we find success, happiness, love, faith, and meaning in our lives. It is, of course, beautifully written, hardly preachy, and incredibly thought-provoking. And as I transitioned from student to a working adult, from living in my family home to finding my own apartment in New York, from editor to whatever it is I’m going to be when I grow up, these were the questions circling around my head. New York may not be quiet, but still, I search for how to make my own quiet wherever I go and how to relish in that quiet no matter what else is going on in my life.

I’ve got a list going of books I want to read in 2014, most of them novels, but I think I’ll add L’Engle’s next memoir to my queue and see what guidance she can give me as I find out who I am this year.

Best Books of 2012

This New Year, there are a lot of lists going around rating the books of 2012. Some, like the New Yorker’s two articles, are based on staff tastes, and these align closely with the award-winners of the year–Louise Erdrich, David Ferry, Junot Diaz–and eclectically with independently-bound novels by unknown artists. Others, like the Goodreads Choice Awards, are based on user votes. Either way, these rankings serve two main functions: to give you a shopping list for the bookstore and to spark heated debates between book lovers.

Perusing these lists, I was shocked at how few of these books I have read! My bookshelf this year was dominated by course books and manuscripts, but I still managed to read a few published novels. So in the spirit of the New Year, here are my best books of 2012 (not including the ones I’ve edited): Continue reading