LitReactor just posted an end-of-the-year roundup, for which I provided my top five favorite books that were released in 2013. Narrowing it down to five was tough. I did my best. Here’s the list I gave them:
- The Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson
- Graphic the Valley by Peter Brown Hoffmeister
- Country Hardball by Steve Weddle
- Junkie Love by Joe Clifford
- Dare Me by Megan Abbott
You can click over to the site to see why I picked these books. Plus, you’ll see the books my LitReactor cohorts picked, and there are some great reads in there.
But there were a lot of other books I read that I really enjoyed and I want to give them their due. So, here are the rest of my favorite reads among books released this year:
- The Twelve-Fingered Boy by John Hornor Jacobs. It’s got an incredible voice and a unique structure and I’m a little desperate for the next installment.
- False Memory by Dan Krokos. Swords! Kung-fu! Teen drama! Secrets! Awesomeness from beginning to end.
- Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. This book is horrifying. Horrifying.
- Blue Blazes by Check Wendig. Irish sandhogs as New York City’s last line of defense against a Lovecraftian hell PLUS kick-ass roller derby girls. How could I not love this book?
- The Little Boy Inside and Other Stories by Glenn Gray. I have a bad habit with short story collections—I read a few stories, put the book down, and then don’t pick it up again for months. This one I went straight through. Between the body-building horror stories and medical horror stories I was squirming from start to finish.
- The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm. Hardboiled soul collector caught in a conflict between heaven and hell. Love it. This is the third installment of a series and while the first two are really good, Holm steps up his game on this one.
- Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. This recount of the 2012 matchup between President Obama and Mitt Romney totally satisfied my political sweet tooth. And there are a lot of fun opportunities for divining the 2016 race.
- The Shanghai Factor by Charles McCarry. There are no big action pieces in this spy thriller. It’s mostly people sitting in rooms and talking. And yet it is monstrously gripping the entire way through.
- Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman. A snowy landscape and a town’s secrets. A recipe for skullduggery here. Beautiful writing.
- Toxic Garbage by Kelby Losack. This is the first book someone has ever asked me to blurb. Luckily I liked it a lot!
- Fight Song by Joshua Mohr. Just when you think the “modern male emasculated in suburbia” trope has been done to death, Mohr makes it special.
- A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz. Dark and challenging. Set in the past, immediate in its exploration of themes like love, and intolerance, and revenge.
And, here are the books I read that were not published this year but I loved the living shit out of anyway:
- In the City of Shy Hunters by Tom Spanbauer. I have never read a book that captured New York City so distinctly. Too early to tell but this may end up being my favorite book ever.
- They Don’t Dance Much by James Ross. It’s a cheap shot because I publish this one, but still, a lost classic.
- Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell. Holy shit Daniel Woodrell.
- The Moment Before by Suzy Vitello. This doesn’t come out until January so I had to shuffle it down here. Still. Beautiful. I love Suzy’s writing.
- The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch. Oh my stars this wonderful thing.
- Dead Calm by Charles Williams. I love Charles Williams so much. I feel lucky to publish his backlist. I read half of his books this year but Dead Calm was my favorite, for a few reasons, but mostly for this stunning passage:
He still hadn’t looked up, and she had no intention of venturing farther into his territory until he’d seen her and she could assess his reaction. From here she could still make it back to safety before he could get out from behind the wheel and catch her, but going too far would be like misjudging the length of chain by which some dangerous wild animal was secured. She waited, thinking of this and conscious of the incongruity or even the utter madness of the simile. Dangerous? This nice, well-mannered, unbelievably handsome boy who might have stepped right out of a mother’s dream? That was the horror of it, she thought. Conscious evil or malicious intent you could at least communicate with, but Warriner was capable of destroying her with the pointlessness and the perfect innocence of a falling safe, and with its same imperviousness to argument.
And… that’s all I’ve got, folks! Until next year, happy reading.