My 5 Favorite Books of 2013

Hyperbole and a Half author Allie Brosh
Hyperbole and a Half author Allie Brosh

I’m pretty sure I read more than the 14 books I recorded on my spreadsheet, but that’s what I have to work with today. Thus these are my 5 favorite books of 2013.

5. Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie: My agent gave me this as a reading assignment for my Kickstarter book, and I loved it. Mycoswkie, the founder of TOMS Shoes, uses anecdotes to teach you how to run a generous and profitable business. It’s a really easy read, like you’re just having a casual conversation with him.

4. Room by Emma Donoghue: I know I’m a few years behind on this one, but wow…this was intense. I couldn’t put it down. The book is told from the perspective of a boy who has spent his entire life locked in a single room with his mother, and that’s what he thinks the world is. It sounds depressing, and parts of it are sad, but you will never root for characters more than you’ll root for those two.

3. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: Pictured on the right because she’s cute is one of the most brilliant bloggers (and now authors) out there. Brosh combines whimsical drawings with laugh-out-loud stories, many of which touch upon what makes us human and alive. If I could give out Pulitzer prizes, I would give one to Brosh.

2. Leviathan Wakes/Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey: This series of books was recommended to me by fellow game designer Grant Rodiek. For some reason I was in the mood for space-adventure sci-fi, and these two books completely satisfied me and left me wanting more (which is good, because there’s another book out and another on the way next year). 

1. The Art of Fielding by Carl Harbach: The book that I’ve thought about the most this year by far is The Art of Fielding. Earlier this year I was craving a campus novel…I don’t know why, but I wanted to be a part of a college campus for a few hundred pages (a literally college campus where it’s always autumn and classes are held outside, not a real college campus). The Art of Fielding has some of that, but it’s much more about…well, honestly, I bet it’s about something different to everyone. There’s baseball in the book, but it’s not a book about baseball. There are relationships (romantic and friendly) in the book, but it’s not just about relationships. To me it was about what happens when we overthink something instead of going with your gut, especially in sports, but also in life. This is a book that I’d love to read again someday–I hardly ever do that, so that says something. Highly recommended.

What were a few of your favorite books from the past year? I love a good book recommendation.

8 thoughts on “My 5 Favorite Books of 2013”

  1. Currently reading Dune as so many geeks treat it as a bible. Not bad so far, but I’m not getting the hype. We’ll see how I feel at the end. I’m about halfway through the book and it feels like the actual meat of the story is just starting now.

    Pat Rothfuss reviewed a book on Goodreads, The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, book 3 of the Gentleman Bastards series. I was unaware the third one came out so I stopped all other reading and devoured it. What a marvelous series so far. Fantasy crime caper with so many twists and turns with vibrant characters and vivid landscapes. Highly recommended.

    Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins is my first by him. This guy may be one of the most quotable authors ever. He has a few phrases that just ring you like a bell. This particular title asks the question of how to make love stay. I’ll leave it to you to read for the answer.

    Changes by Jim Butcher. The Dresden Files are admittedly not the easiest to get into. The first book isn’t terrible, but it’s meh. The second book is better, but still pretty meh. The third is better than the first two, but…you get the point. Necessary evils because from book 4 on, it’s remarkably entertaining and fast paced. Harry feels like an old friend. I didn’t get it at first, but I’m a full on Dresden geek now.

    This may not count because I’ve read it a number of times over the years, but How Shall I Live My Life? by Derrick Jensen is a powerful collection of interviews that will simultaneously open your eyes, stomp on your heart and give you hope. Given my tastes, a non-fiction book has to be pretty incredible to keep my attention, and this one has several times over.

  2. Dune is really just the first chapter in an epic space opera. Much like anything, what was amazing and new when it was published has been done and redone (sometimes better, sometimes just a complete rip off). Between new books, TV and movies, its easy to see where someone would only see another sci-fi story (that’s all I ever saw). A lot of people panned the Sci-Fi channel’s Dune and Children of Dune, but for me, those mini series finally allowed me to understand the books enough to want to revisit them. I still didn’t find them to be life changing or anything.

  3. I didn’t read nearly as much this year as I would have liked, so I’ve resolved to change that for 2014. Unfortunately, the recurring feeling I got from the novels I did read was, “It had the potential to be so much better.”

    The first offender in that category was “The Never List.” This book happened to benefit from a “ripped from the headlines” timeliness, as it came out a few months after the three women in Cleveland were discovered after being held captive for 10 years. This novel, though written well in advance of their discovery, has a number of eerie similarities to what we know of their ordeal. The first few chapters reeled me in, but then it veered off into clichéd, unbelievable, Lifetime movie-of-the-week territory. It was so incredibly disappointing.

    Another one with so much promise was “13 Reasons Why.” It seemed to have a great (if depressing) premise, and I liked that it was a YA book that wasn’t inexplicably set in a dystopia or containing supernatural elements. (I do enjoy books like that, but it seems like there are so many of them now that to find a “regular” story is actually somewhat refreshing!) It’s told from the point of view of a high school student who receives 7 cassette tapes recorded by his crush, who recently committed suicide. Each side of the tape is targeted towards a specific person who had some kind of influence on her decision to take her life. The person she calls out on tape 1, side A is to listen to them and forward them to the person mentioned on side B of the first tape, and so on. Unfortunately, the voice of girl didn’t strike me as particularly believable or sympathetic, and a lot of the events and decisions made towards the end seemed odd. It’s a shame too, because I feel like the idea could have had a lot of impact, but it didn’t leave me feeling much of anything.

    I’ll second your recommendation of “Room.” I read it when it first came out and it’s stayed with me all this time. Although I know you’ve already read it, “The Fault in Our Stars” was a good one I read earlier this year that can’t be mentioned enough.

    I’m just about ready to start “More Than This” by Patrick Ness, which was recommended to me by someone at Festivus. Here’s to hoping that it starts off my 2014 reading list the right way!

    • Also, I haven’t read Allie Brosh’s book, but I love her blog with all of my heart. I’ll definitely have to order a copy! I was dying from laughter when I read her entry about her magical powers when she wore her dinosaur costume as a child, and of course, her older entries are poignant and amazing.

    • I love The Fault in Our Stars. John Green is brilliant. Sorry to hear about those other books. In case it’s not online, Brosh’s book is worth the price alone for the introduction and the goose story. They’re amazing.


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