my favorite (and not so favorite) books of 2013

As I sat down to write my round up of notable books from 2013, I asked myself the obvious question: Why has no one reviewed books using the format of designer impostor perfumes? 

Surely you remember designer impostor perfumes? They were three dollars and just like the real thing, except in a tacky aerosol can. If you like [insert designer perfume], they read, you'll love [insert made up name that is vaguely similar to the original]. My go to was "Wanna Play?!", until I convinced my parents that my life would be ruined forever unless they let me buy the actual holy grail bottle of Clinique Happy. 

Anyway. Tangent!

Inspired by three dollar perfume, I bring you my most memorable reads of 2013. 

(In an effort to reduce clutter, I get all of my books through the library, and then, at the end of the year, only purchase my absolute favorites to add to my library. Those are noted with an asterisk.)

I was not prepared for the weird sexual plot of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. It wasn't my thing. But if you're intrigued and pick it up based on this vague comment, I won't judge you.

I've already gushed about Andre Agassi's autobiography Open.*

The System was a series of interesting -- and sometimes downright depressing -- articles about college football. I loved this inside look at my favorite sport.

I realize Steve Jobs isn't from 2013, but I finally got around to listening to it. I believe there are four stages of handling this book: awe at how far computers have come, depression that I have done nothing with my life, validation at my bossiness in decorating our house (the iPod wouldn't have been the iPod without Steve Jobs's unfaltering vision),and inspiration (to buy a new laptop).

Listening to Open and Steve Jobs made me realize something: hearing biographies of inspiring people is my cure for traffic. Along those lines, the biography of Jim Henson was a solid choice. (And! the other night someone asked a question about the Muppets and I knew all the answers. I'm a hit at parties.)

I read Me Before You in about four hours and cried for about two of them. 

The Art of Racing in the Rain* is about the love between and a man and his dog, which obviously killed me.

Beautiful Ruins takes place partly on the rocky shores of Italy. Is there a better setting for a love story? I don't know that I actually bawled at this one, but it was a close call.

One of the ways I know I loved a book is when I read it in January and still think about it in December. The Language of Flowers* was one of those books.

Okay, a synonym for "bawl my eyes out" is "smile like an idiot". I listened to Eleanor & Park* this fall and, as I mentioned, people driving next to me were probably wondering what the hell was wrong with the girl in the Prius who was smiling like an idiot.  

While dystopian young adult novels are so hot right now, The Age of Miracles takes a slightly different approach and explores the makings of a dystopian future. This teenage love story was set in a world where the rotation of the earth begins to slow. I swear every time I catch a sunset I think about this book and get chills.

The Orphan Master's Son won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction so probably doesn't need my added endorsement. Because of it, I'm now fascinated with North Korea, which will be important when I meet Dennis Rodman. It's also made me the kind of person who spends her Sunday mornings drooling over slideshows like this one. And, it made for an interesting trip to northern Minnesota.

Americanah was a transatlantic love story set between Nigeria and America. I like learning about different cultures through essentially ordinary lives, and while this book wasn't my favorite, I can't really say anything negative about it

While the "mystery" aspect of this book was a little disappointing, You Are One of Them painted an entertaining picture of post-cold war Russia. (I listened to this one, so the Russian accents helped too)

So this might seem a bit specific, but if you love Lauren Graham -- and who didn't adore her in Gilmore Girls? -- you have to listen to Someday, Someday Maybe, a cute, quick book about a struggling actress in New York that Graham wrote and narrates. I snort-laughed several times. And squee-ed. There was definitely squee-ing.

The Interestings* told the story of a group of friends from summer camp and followed their lives into adulthood. As a product of summer camp, there were moments where I felt like the author had jumped into my brain. I loved this book.

The Shining Girls, about a time traveling serial killer. Your worst nightmare.

Where'd You Go Bernadette* is as quirky and charming as all of its many, many admirers say it is.

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls is classic Sedaris, although he added some fiction shorts that I wasn't completely sold on.

Everything's Perfect When You're a Liar was a solid hit for the first half of the book, when Kelly Oxford told stories from her childhood. Then she grew up and her stories were drug and alcohol fueled and it was all kind of, "huh, maybe you had to be there."

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is based on the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald's fascinating wife Zelda. I listened to this one, and let me tell you, Ike got a lot of extra walks so I could finish it faster.