Our Favorite Books of 2013
How do you choose a favorite book out of thousands? It's never easy, but imagine what it's like to whittle it down when you spend all day handling books, recommending books, reading about books, mending books, talking about books, processing books and sitting at a desk surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of books! Poor us. We managed to narrow our lists down and have included what we consider the very cream of the 2013 crop below.
Click on the book title to place a hold on it or find it at the nearest library branch. An asterisk (*) after the title denotes more than one librarian recommended the book.
Recommended by Regina Greer Cooper – Executive Director
This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Bringing her narrative gifts to bear on her own life, Patchett uses insight and compassion to turn very personal experiences into stories that will resonate with every reader.
Recommended by Greg – Library Station, Reference Department
The Maid’s Version* by Daniel Woodrell.
The American master's first novel since Winter's Bone tells of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations.
Recommended by Michelle – Brentwood Branch, Reference Department
Life After Life* by Kate Atkinson
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original, this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass
America Singer is one of only six girls still competing in the Selection, but before she can fight to win Prince Maxon and the Illean crown, she must decide where her own heart truly lies.
Inferno* by Dan Brown
In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history's most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces.
Recommended by Valerie – Foundation Director
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Tartt's long-awaited novel combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity and art.
Recommended by Kim – Brentwood Branch Library Manager
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Catalyzed by a nephew's thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confront painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys, a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.
The Orphan Master’s Son* by Adam Johnson
The son of a singer mother whose career forcibly separated her from her family and an influential father who runs an orphan work camp, Pak Jun Do rises to prominence using instinctive talents and eventually becomes a professional kidnapper and romantic rival to Kim Jong Il.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Demonstrates how introverted people are misunderstood and undervalued in modern culture, charting the rise of extrovert ideology while sharing anecdotal examples of how to use introvert talents to adapt to various situations.
Recommended by Ingrid – Midtown Carnegie Branch Library, Reference Manager
The Property by Rutu Modan
Mica travels with her grandmother to Warsaw to reclaim family property lost during World War II, but soon begins to wonder if their reasons for coming aren't a little different than what her grandmother led her to believe.
Tenth of December by George Saunders
One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and this is his most honest, accessible and moving collection yet.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected.
Recommended by Becka — Substitute Librarian
Shake by Carli Davidson
This glorious, graphic volume will stop you dead in your tracks as you are presented with images of mans best friend caught in contortion: hair wild, eyes darting, ears and jowls flopping every which way.
Recommended by Emily – Fair Grove Branch, Youth Services Department
E.B. White on Dogs by E.B. White
White's granddaughter compiled the best and funniest of his essays, poems, letters and sketches depicting over a dozen of the beloved author's hilarious canine companions
Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney
Even the slowest tortoise can defeat the quickest hare, and even the proudest hare can learn a timeless lesson from the most humble tortoise: "Slow and steady wins the race."
Jerusalem: a Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
This stunning cookbook offers 120 recipes from the authors' unique cross-cultural perspective, from inventive vegetable dishes to sweet, rich desserts.
Recommended by Bambi – Strafford Branch, Library Assistant
A Little Book of Sloth* by Lucy Cooke
Hang around just like a sloth and get to know the delightful residents of the Avarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, the world's largest sloth orphanage.
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
A shy boy named Oscar who works as the hand to a powerful magic worker becomes the only person who can save his village from an evil monster.
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
In Gardner's stunning novel, set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing.
Recommended by Meggan – The Library Center, Reference Associate
River of No Return, by Bee Ridgway
Waking up in a London hospital 200 years after meeting his death, Nick Falcott is indoctrinated into a time-traveling society and returned to the side of a woman he loves to reclaim a vital talisman, a mission that places the fate of the future in his hands.
Recommended by Kathi – The Library Center, Reference Department Manager
The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler
Pregnant and recently dumped,Esme starts work at a small West Side bookstore, finding solace in George, the laconic owner addicted to spirulina, and Luke, the taciturn, guitar-playing night manager.
Fangirl* by Rainbow Rowell
Cath struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words, and worrying about her fragile father.
The Cuckoo's Calling* by J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling.
Recommended by Erin – The Library Center, Reference Assistant
Palisade's Park by Alan Brennert
In the 1930s, a family of dreamers explores ambitions and cultural boundaries that are challenged by the realities of the Great Depression, multiple wars and the legendary Palisade Amusement Park's eventual closing in 1971.
A Higher Call by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander
This is the true story of the two pilots whose lives collided in the skies over wartime Germany in December 1943: the American 2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown and the German 2nd Lieutenant Franz Stigler.
The Unwanteds: Island of Fire by Lisa McMann
The magical world of Artimé is gone and the Unwanteds are looking to Alex Stowe for answers, but while his twin brother Aaron continues to build his army in Quill, a very dangerous common enemy is revealed.
Recommended by Stephanie – Early Literacy Specialist
Rose Under Fire* by Elizabeth Wein
When young American pilot Rose Justice is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp, she finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners.
Journey* by Aaron Becker
Using a red marker, a young girl draws a door on her bedroom wall and through it enters another world where she experiences many adventures, including being captured by an evil emperor.
Inside, Outside by Lizi Boyd.
In this story without words, a boy and his dog play inside and outside of their home.
Recommended by Janice – Outreach Librarian
Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine
In the Greenwich Village of 1964, eleven-year-old Fin moves in with his glamorous, careless older sister, and it's hard to tell who's raising whom.
Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende
After the death of her grandfather, nineteen-year-old Maya Vidal turns to drugs, alcohol and petty crimes, and becomes trapped in a war between assassins, the police, the FBI and Interpol.
The Good House by Ann Leary
When a cluster of secrets become dangerously entwined, the reckless behavior of one friend in a New England town threatens to expose the secrets of the other, and this darkly comic novel takes a chilling turn.
Recommended by Vanneshia – Republic Branch Library, Library Assistant
We Are Water by Wally Lamb
Anna Oh, a middle-aged wife, mother and artist, divorces her husband after 27 years to marry Vivica, the Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success.
Recommended by Cayleigh – The Library Center, Circulation Assistant
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater are awake, magic is swirling around Blue and The Raven boys and Ronan Lynch's ability to pull objects from his dreams is almost out of control.
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
Scarlet Benoit and Wolf, a street fighter who may have information about her missing grandmother, join forces with Cinder as they try to stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen in this story inspired by Little Red Riding Hood.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Violet is in love with River, a mysterious seventeen-year-old stranger renting the guest house behind the rotting seaside mansion where Violet lives, but when eerie, grim events begin to happen, Violet recalls her grandmother's frequent warnings.
Recommended by Catherine – The Library Center, Reference Associate
The Ocean at the End of the Lane* by Neil Gaiman
The fantasy master's newest novel presents a modern fable about fear, love, magic and sacrifice in the story of a family at the mercy of dark forces, whose only defense is the three women who live on a farm at the end of the lane.
The Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik
Shipwrecked and cast ashore in Japan with no memory, Captain William Laurence finds himself tangled in deadly political intrigues that threaten not only his own life but England's already precarious position in the Far East.
Monty Python's Flying Circus: All the Bits
Here are the complete scripts for every episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus and some of the most entertaining writing on television anywhere — every silly set-up, clever conceit, snide insult and saucy aside from these now classic skits.
Recommended by Nancee – Youth Services Coordinator
Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner
Mr. Wuffles ignores all his cat toys but one, which turns out to be a spaceship piloted by small green aliens.
Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival, and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
In 1942, a U.S. B-17 sent on a search-and-rescue mission but got caught in a storm and crashed. Miraculously, all nine men aboard survived and spent 148 days fighting to stay alive while waiting for rescue.
Other Librarian Recommendations
Still Foolin’ 'Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell are My Keys? by Billy Crystal
Crystal's memoir offers hilarious and heartfelt observations on aging from one of America's favorite comedians as he turns 65, and a look back at a remarkable career.
The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family* by Joshua Hanagarne
This inspiring memoir tells the story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette's found salvation in books and weight-lifting.
Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family by Ezekiel J. Emanuel
This portrait of the dynamic Emanuel brothers cites their achievements in medicine, politics and Hollywood, offering insight into the family history, unique upbringing and social atmosphere that influenced their lives.
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