Time for the annual list. This year, I read 162 books, and as always, it was fun to look back through them and choose my favorites. Other than saving the very best for the end, they are in no particular order.
1) The Thinking Beekeeper, by Christy Hemenway.
I am very seriously planning to become a beekeeper within the next couple of years, so I have been reading a ton of books and other information on keeping bees. This one is fantastic; Christy tells you how to keep bees the natural way, working with the bees by allowing them to manage their hive according to their own wisdom. Bees know how to be bees, just like quail know how to be quail.
2) Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh.
Allie is quite possibly the funniest woman alive. And she is also incredibly honest, and I now understand all sorts of things about depression that I never understood before.
3) The Outfit, by Richard Stark.
Richard Stark writes pure, brutal poetry. I savor his writing.
4) Boot and Shoe, by Marla Frazee.
It’s pretty rare that a children’s picture book makes my Best Of list, but this is a pretty rare children’s book. Every bit of it, from the illustrations to the words to the emotions, is perfection.
I stumbled across this one as a free Kindle chapter on Amazon, and I’m glad I took the chance. This guy is an amazing writer; you think you know exactly where he’s going…and then he slams you into the ground and stomps on your brain. In all the best ways, of course. I love authors who can do that to me. The two sequels, Shift and Dust, also got five stars from me.
This one gets a little more meta than I’d like, and I’d probably not have included it on this list if it didn’t also possess the best creepy scene I’ve possibly ever read. Seriously. I’d have given it five stars and put it on this list if that scene were the entirety of the book. It’s that good.
7) The Quarter Acre Farm, by Spring Warren.
Inspiring book on having it all…in your backyard. I got so many ideas and schemes from this book!
8) The Food Lover’s Garden, by Mark Diacono.
Another completely inspirational book…this one will make you seek out all the fruits and vegetables you’ve maybe never heard of – but have been missing out on. I now have a kiwi, a gooseberry and a chilean guava planted in my garden, thanks to this book.
9) The Sleep Thieves, by Stanley Coren.
A non-fiction that might possibly save your life. Or at least, change it for the better. Eye-opening and fascinating.
10) Once Upon a Flock, by Lauren Scheuer.
So charming, and the illustrations are marvelous. Totally hit me in the heart…right where my own chickens live. This one probably would have been my pick for Best Non-Fiction Book, if I wouldn’t have read the below:
11) What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, by Jonathan V. Last.
Maybe you believe that “fact” that we’re in a population explosion, and we’re all going to run out of room and omg die if we don’t control our breeding…well, if so…you need to read this and get a dose of the truth. That story about population explosion? It’s been proven to be false. Proven. Yet people still believe it, when in fact the opposite is true.
We are all going to be in some serious trouble if families don’t start making more babies. In other places besides the US, they are well aware of this. In German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the government is actually re-training prostitutes to care for their elderly. Russia is basically committing national suicide – consider this: in addition to all the other factors affecting their population, they have 30% more abortions than births. This is…horrifying. Holocaust-level horrifying. Japan is doing so badly, population-wise, that the government is invoking increasingly more and more desperate measures to try to convince their citizens to reproduce before it’s too late. Even India is barely producing above replacement levels. (This I looked up myself, as it isn’t in the book.) And that level is dropping rapidly, not rising.
It’s a good thing I already know that humanity is not going to go extinct, or I’d be seriously worried after reading this book. Crazy, how we’re spoon-fed “information” (like population explosion) that is the exact opposite of the truth, and people just swallow it down. Maybe this book will open a few eyes.
Also appreciate that in the end, he gives some solid answers on how to improve matters. I particularly loved the section on colleges – so great!
This is my pick for my Best Non-Fiction Book of 2013.
And my Best Fiction Book of 2013?
12) Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater.
If you read my Best Books list for last year, you’re going ‘Wait, what? Wasn’t this your Best Book for 2012, too?‘
Why yes. Why yes it was. I loved it so much that I re-read a couple of months ago, and if anything, I thought it was even better. I mean seriously…this author. She writes so gorgeously, and she just tells you things, and you don’t believe her – until she absolutely stuns you with a massive plot twist you never saw coming. Even though she straight-out told you. That takes major writing balls, my friends.
I wasn’t going to make it my Best Book again, but then I thought: The Raven Boys deserves it. I’m not sure I’ve been so completely blown away by a book since the first time I read Tolkien.
162 books in a year is astounding. I like that your favourite book is the same as last year. It must be wonderful. I hardly ever re-read books, though there are a few I would like to. Do you ever stop reading a book if you’re not enjoying it?
I do stop reading books all the time. I find that the older I get, the less tolerant I become of poor writing! Or, sometimes, the writing itself is fine, but I just don’t click with a particular book. There are just too many books to read to spent time on one that you don’t enjoy.
I agree! I now stop reading too if I don’t like it, whereas I used to persevere. I will do my top books of the year in a day or two when I can. Happy reading!
Cool. I look forward to reading yours!