A few years ago I realized that even though I had an apartment with the perfect built-in bookshelf, I had done very little reading since I moved to the city, and I wanted that to change. I made a New Year’s resolution to read more and it’s probably the only resolution I’ve ever kept. I updated my Amazon wishlist, put some books on hold at the library, and voila – a few months later, I had read a bunch of the books from my list. Even though I often feel frustrated because new books are always coming out that I MUST READ IMMEDIATELY and bump the rest of the books on my list further down, I’m always trying to read more each year. Here are some of my favorite books from 2013.
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight — This book has been compared to Gone Girl, and rightfully so – the suspense! The carefully unraveling mystery! The horrible high school girls! I remember reading the New York Magazine cover story, A Suicide at Dalton, about the death of Teddy Graubard, which was part of the inspiration for this story. This book was un-put-downable.
The Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg — Elizabeth Eulberg has been named a “romantic comedy superstar” and lives up to the title with this book. It’s partly inspired by TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. The main character is the older sister of a pageant princess and it was so interesting to see what life is like from her perspective. I loved this book!
Jessica Darling’s It List #1: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness and Perfection by Megan McCafferty — I can’t think of a better non-millennial way to describe how I felt when I heard about this prequel being published than I LEGIT DIED. Jessica Darling is my favorite literary character of all time. I just feel like she gets me. She understands what it’s like to grow up in the suburbs and I just feel like we see the world the same way. And for reasons I can’t explain, I’m obsessed with middle school, and books about being awkward in middle school, and am especially obsessed with prequels to anything. Lisi Harrison’s Clique Prequel, Kate Brian’s Private Prequel, and Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl prequel were my favorites out of the entire series. I watched a webcast with Megan McCafferty and Lisi Harrison recently and Megan said something that really summed up how I feel about writing for teens (since I have been writing for the teen website Gurl recently): “The core issues of being an adolescent don’t change over time. People ask me all the time…how can you get into the head of a twelve year old. For me, it’s almost like, how do I get out?”
So yeah. Read this in two days, and only because I had to take breaks to do other things in those two days, like go to work.
Trinkets by Kirsten Smith — I read an excerpt from this book over at Rookie and I knew I would love it. First of all, I love anything that has to do with fashion, even if this book’s connection to fashion is girls who meet in a Shoplifters Anonymous class. That means they’re really into fashion, amirite? This book reminded me a lot of The Breakfast Club: a few misfits thrown together against their will who form unlikely bonds and realize that they aren’t, in fact, so different. I especially liked that the book is written from multiple perspectives, so you can really get into the heads of the different characters.
Pretenders by Lisi Harrison — This book is also told from multiple perspectives — the diaries of the five most popular freshmen at an uber-competitive high school. The idea of reading someone’s diary is always appealing to me as a long-time keeper of a diary, because it’s the one place people don’t self-censor. I tore through this book and my only complaint is that it ends in a MAJOR cliffhanger and I NEED to know what happens like, yesterday.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple — I had been reading great reviews of this book everywhere and finally picked it up. After her mom, Bernadette, disappears, her teenage daughter has to figure out what led to her disappearance. We try to untangle the mystery of Bernadette’s disappearance through notes and emails. (I always enjoy emails in books, ever since the first book I read in emails, Boy Meets Girl, by Meg Cabot.) The book critiques the high-end/organic/progressive/ridiculous lifestyle of the Seattle elite through Bernadette’s increasing agoraphobia. And as anyone who has ever worked in an office knows, anything that sounds ridiculous in person sounds even more ridiculous in an email, which is why I found this book so entertaining.
Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill — This book actually comes out January 7 but I was lucky enough to get an ARC. Fans of The Parent Trap will especially love this book about two girls with the same name who meet and switch places on the way to figure skating and ice hockey camp in Canada. Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon each believe the others’ life will be easier, but they may be in for a surprise. Even though the adult in me wants the girls to face their problems head on, I couldn’t help but root for them to keep up the facade of their borrowed identities for as long as possible.
What great books did you read in 2013?