Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Your Friendly Librarian's Five 'Sticky' Books of 2013

I didn't read as many books this year as I have in past years, but that doesn't mean I cannot judge the ones I did read. Yes, many people do "favorite books" or "best books" or "most pretentious literature" of the year awards, yada yada. And that's great. But I have my own version of favorite books. I present you with the Friendly Librarian's Five "Sticky" Books of the Year. (not necessarily all published in 2013.)

How is a book sticky, you ask? If a book sticks with me till the end of the year - if I'm still thinking about it long after, then that is my measuring stick for "best" and what I'm calling "sticky." For example, Susan Beth Pfeffer's LIFE AS WE KNEW IT (and the two that follow) has stuck with me these six years after I read it. There are still times when I open my pantry and count how many cans of food I have, because of that book. Two years after reading Mike Mullin's ASHFALL, I still smell ash in the air when I recommend that book to a student.

So, the following are the five books that have stuck with me the most. I read other great books, for sure. But these stuck with me - each for wildly different reasons.

The Hysterically Funny Award :  WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple   

My original review is here.

These are in no particular order, but if I absolutely had to choose, I'd pick this one as my favorite. As much as I love elaborate science fiction and page-turning suspense, humor is really the key to my heart. Smart, snarky, witty humor is the absolute best. With a review where I shared no less than 4 long quotes, anyone could've guessed that this book would make my list. I absolutely, without a shred of doubt adore this book. It's wickedly funny and it speaks so much truth in so many ways. You should read my original review for more. I can't recommend it enough. Really. Stop reading right now and go get it. Download it. Borrow it from the library. But get it. You will thank me. I swear.

The Coolest Book Award : MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE by Robin Sloan (also the cover-snoozefest award - it doesn't portray the coolness of the book at all)

My original review is here.

The reason this book gets the coolest book award is because it combines my two main passions - books and technology. Heck, those are the two reasons I became a librarian. For good measure, it also has a secret society with secret codes, puzzles, and all manner of mystery. To top it off, they visit Google headquarters to rangle up more powerful computers for code crunching. See what I mean? You should visit my original review to see a clip of the author talking about how you don't have to pick between books and cool stuff. You can have both. He's awesome.

The WTF Just Happened? Award : BEAUTIFUL LIES by Jessica Warman

My original review is here.

I loved this one! It shocked the you-know-what out of me. I'm still not sure I know what happened, which is why it deserves this award. It had a unique premise that the author pulled of brilliantly. The author grabbed me from the first page with her beautiful descriptive writing. I think I may even like psychological thrillers better than violent thrillers. They sure make you think. Plus, where else would I have learned the term "monoamniotic-monochorionic twins?"

Click on my original review for the trippy trailer. I would love to see this one come to the big screen.

Best Use of the 80's Award : ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell

My original review is here.
I'm attracted to 80's books like a nine-year-old girl to Hello Kitty, so this book was an obvious choice. But, Rainbow Rowell pulled off the 80's setting better than a lot of other authors. Some shove it in your face. But this book was more about characters who happened to live in the 80's, rather than making the 80's the character.

But that's not the only way to make my list. This author is also a brilliant writer.
Exhibit #1 :
It made sense that Tina was in Eleanor's gym class - because gym was an extension of hell, and Tina was definitely a demon. A weird, miniature demon. Like a toy demon. Or a teacup. And she had a whole gang of lesser demons, all dressed in matching gym suits.
I mean, that instantly takes you right back to high school, am I right? And the characters are so vividly drawn. I really missed them when I finished the book. Do yourself a favor and spend some time with Eleanor and Park - you won't regret getting to know them.

Because You Need to Read Yet Another Dystopian : DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken

My original review is here. 

Yeah, for real. You have room in your brain to take on one more dystopian. Believe me, I pass them by pretty regularly now too - even the ones by authors I love. But, I just can't take another right now. However, this one is totally worth it.

First of all the concept felt unique to me. Rather than the society going to hell because of politics or war, this one is about a disease. It wipes out most of the kids and those that are left have mental abilities. The abilities are so strong that adults are scared of them and lock them all up. The premise grabbed me.

Fortunately, Alexandra Bracken pulls it off like a pro. There are some cool aspects to the mental abilities the kids have that fascinated me. It was also gripping and action packed. It's well written and I called it "one of the best books" I'd read in a long while, back in January. It has stuck with me, so yes, it definitely deserves a spot here. In fact, it's in my small group of favorite dystopians, along with DIVERGENT and HUNGER GAMES. Alexandra Bracken is a great new author to keep an eye on.

So that concludes my list this year. All five of these books have stuck with me long after the last page. I continue to recommend them to people on a regular basis. Hopefully, you'll find one to pick up and read over the holiday season. Oh, speaking of the holiday season, check out my post from a few years ago with a few of my favorite holiday books. I might just re-read one of those myself over the break. Have a great holiday season!