Earlier, I wrote about my top five favorite young adult books that I read last year, and thought it would be fun to also recap my top five fiction books. For the past couple of years, I’ve been alternating between reading fiction and YA. Last year, I somehow read way more young adult books than fiction, but there were still a few fiction books that I enjoyed and really stood out to me.
My favorite fiction books that I read in 2013 (not in any sort of order) were:
1. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (2012). This novel is set on a remote island lighthouse in 1920s Australia. The story revolves around a childless couple, a baby girl who mysteriously washes up in a boat on the shores of their tiny island, and the consequences of their decision to keep her. It is a bit overly sentimental in places, but still a beautiful story revolving around a moral dilemma, love, betrayal, and loyalty. This book was on many top books of 2012 lists, with good reason.
2. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (2013). The ninth story of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series brings us back the quaint village of Three Pines. Gamache is called in to help Myrna find her friend, an elderly woman with a deep secret who is expected to visit Three Pines for Christmas but never arrives. Gamache’s famed homicide department has been devastated, with his best agents transferred out and his second-in-command, Jena-Guy Beauvoir, now battling his addiction demons while working under Gamache’s rival Chief Superintendent Francoeur. Only Agent Isabelle Lacoste remains loyal to him and together what they discover about Myrna’s missing friend shocks the country. This book was a great improvement over the last, The Beautiful Mystery, which I also read, but thought was the weakest in the series. I fell in love with the Gamache series several years ago, after my first trip to Quebec. After returning, I looked for a book set in the region and discovered the first novel, Still Life.
3. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (2006). I can’t say this is an uplifting novel in any way, but it did completely draw me in. It is dark. Depressing. Twisted. Uncomfortable. Not the type of book I normally look for, but I wanted to read this much earlier novel, rather than Gone Girl (which, incidentally, I also read in 2013 and hated to the point I couldn’t even finish it). Camille Preaker, a journalist in Chicago, is sent back to her hometown by her editor to look into the deaths of two local girls. It’s a deeply disturbing look into a dysfunctional family. This is not a book that I will ever reread, but months later, I still haven’t recovered from reading it and rarely do I feel that way.
4. On a much more lighthearted note, The Spellman Files (2007) and Curse of the Spellmans (2008) by Lisa Lutz are next on the list. These are the first two books in the Spellman series, about a family of private investigators. I may be a bit biased toward this series since it is set in San Francisco and includes many references to one of my favorite dive bars, the Philosopher’s Club. The books focus on Isabel Spellman, or Izzy, who works for the family PI business. Everyone in the Spellman family follows, wiretaps, manipulates, and blackmails each other and conducts background checks on potential love interests and friends. They take out restraining orders on each other and call their vacations “disappearances”. It’s dysfunctional, yet somehow functional all at once. Izzy is a mess, with a history of petty vandalism and too much partying, and she refers to the men she meets as “future Ex-Boyfriend #X”. It’s not really about the cases Izzy is hired (or chooses) to solve, it’s about the family craziness. Lots of snarky fun.
5. Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton (2011). This is the first title in the Lacey Flint series (it seems like everything is a series now!) and on Library Journal’s Best Mystery Books of 2011 and Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011 Mysteries lists. Set in London, Lacey Flint is a rookie detective constable. She unwittingly becomes involved in a series of Jack the Ripper copycat murders, where each victim is left in a place is personal importance to Lacey. This was a well-paced, exciting thriller with lots of twists and turns. I haven’t gotten around to the second novel in the series, Dead Scared, yet, but it’s definitely on my to read list.
What were some of your favorites that you read last year?
Now reading: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
All images via Goodreads.com