2013 is winding down, and it's time to celebrate the year in books! With so many notable titles published this year, picking our top 50 was a real challenge. The full list will debut for the first time in our December issue, but for now, check out #26-50.
26. The Guns at Last Light by Rick Atkinson
27. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
28. Schroder by Amity Gaige
29. The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
30. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
31. The Book of Ages by Jill Lepore
32. Flora by Gail Godwin
33. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
34. Brief Encounters with the Enemy by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
35. At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón
36. Drinking with Men by Rosie Schaap
37. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
38. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
39. Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
40. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
41. Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
42. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
43. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
44. Ecstatic Nation by Brenda Wineapple
45. Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
46. The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler
47. Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones
48. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
49. Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda
50. Gulp by Mary Roach
Starting this week, our editors will be posting about some of their favorites from the list, so there’s plenty more “Best of” coverage to look forward to. Any guesses about who's #1? What was your favorite book of 2013?
Recently, Humanities Tennessee announced the lineup for the Southern Festival of Books, which will take place in Nashville on October 11-13. This "celebration of the written word" is something we at BookPage look forward to all year, and as usual there are some amazing authors attending.
Some highlights from the list so far:
p.s. October will be a big month for booklovers here: Watkins College of Art and Design is having their third annual "Handmade & Bound Nashville" festival October 4-5. It's a celebration of artists’ books, zines, mini-comics and other independent publications that they describe as "part book convention, part literary event and part flea-market art show."
Back in January, we shared our list of 20 most anticipated books of 2013. Now it's time to see the books that have had you buzzing this year. We've compiled the Top 20 books of 2013 (so far!)—based on the number of page views on BookPage.com—and included excerpts from their reviews or interviews with the authors. Click on the links to read more about each book.
What do you think of the list? Any surprises? Or ones you feel are missing? Let us know in the comments.
#20: THE TIN HORSE by Janice Steinberg
"Steinberg, the author of five mysteries, has transcended genre to weave a rich story that will appeal to readers who appreciate multigenerational immigrant family sagas as well as those who simply enjoy psychological suspense." (February 2013)
#19: THE FEVER TREE by Jennifer McVeigh
"The Fever Tree, Jennifer McVeigh’s riveting debut novel, follows a pampered British woman, Frances Irvine, who leaves her insular life and journeys to the Southern Cape of Africa during the 19th-century diamond rush." (April 2013)
#18: WHITE DOG FELL FROM THE SKY
by Eleanor Morse
"Some novels percolate in their authors’ minds for years. In the case of Eleanor Morse’s superb third novel, White Dog Fell from the Sky, the brew-time was at least a dozen and possibly as many as 40 years." (January 2013)
#17: BENEDICTION by Kent Haruf
"There’s no manufactured drama in this novel, and that’s of a piece with Haruf’s previous books. The mastery he displays in this simple, quiet story, and in all his fiction, lies in portraying what one character thinks of as 'the little dramas, the routine moments,' what he calls the 'precious ordinary.'” (March 2013)
#16: THE DEATH OF BEES by Lisa O'Donnell
"This is a dark and mordant novel, yet despite its fighting words, a tender heart beats deep at its center. Although undeniably bleak at times, Marnie and Nelly’s story is not devoid of hope and has much needed punches of humor throughout. The result is a riveting and rewarding read." (January 2013)
#15: WITH OR WITHOUT YOU by Domenica Ruta
“‘Write me a letter,' Kathi asks her daughter. In this stunning new memoir, Domenica Ruta writes a love letter to the woman she had to leave behind in order to live." (March 2013)
#14: THE LAST RUNAWAY by Tracy Chevalier
"Evoking 19th-century Ohio life with a quiet lushness, Chevalier seamlessly seeds vivid period details into her writing. . . . [she] questions the difference between bravery and foolishness and explores whether ideology should displace family ties, and her characters are drawn with satisfying shades of gray." (January 2013)
#13: CHANEL BONFIRE by Wendy Lawless
"There are bad mothers and there are alcoholic mothers, and then there are bad, alcoholic, psychotic mothers like Georgann Rea. Add glamour, beauty and a rapidly dwindling divorce settlement, and you’ve got Chanel Bonfire." (January 2013)
#12: THE HISTORY OF US by Leah Stewart
"Stewart is a wonderful observer of family relationships, and she adroitly weaves the stories of Eloise and the children she’s raised—their work, their loves, their disappointments and dreams—while focusing on what ties families together, and what ultimately keeps those ties from breaking." (January 2013)
#11: INDISCRETION by Charles Dubow
"The complex characters evolve until the final pages, allowing the reader to sympathize and bond with each one. Equal parts passion, heartache and anger, Indiscretion transcends the love story archetype." (February 2013)
#10: A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki
"[O]ne of the questions Ozeki explores here is what it means to live in the present. The book began in her imagination, she says, when the voice of a young girl spoke the words that are now the opening lines of the novel: 'Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being.'” (March 2013)
#9: THE SUPREMES AT EARL'S ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT by Edward Kelsey Moore
"The centerpiece of the novel is one year in the lives of the three friends, but flashbacks told from various points of view reveal mileposts along the women’s journeys, both individual and intertwined. . . . Throughout, everyone circles back to Earl’s, where Moore conjures up the events, sounds and scents of the diner with writerly ease." (March 2013)
#8: THE OBITUARY WRITER by Ann Hood
"Vivien and Claire face individual challenges and quests for meaning in their lives as well as in their romantic relationships. Their compelling stories push the reader forward, to discover both how their lives may intertwine and how each resolves the unanswered questions in her relationships." (March 2013)
#7: COVER OF SNOW by Jenny Milchman
"The suspense locks you in on every page, and snow piles up everywhere: thick, white, all-encompassing and holding everything in its freezing grasp. You can try to run, but you’ll probably slip and fall in a drift." (January 2013)
#6: GHOSTMAN by Roger Hobbs
"Hobbs’ thriller has more twists and turns than a 10-yard-long corkscrew. It opens with an early-morning attack on an armored car delivering money to an Atlantic City casino. Things go terribly wrong when the carefully planned heist turns into a scene of epic carnage." (February 2013)
#5: THE DINNER by Herman Koch
"Koch’s mesmerizing and disturbing novel starts out slowly, as two couples meet for dinner at a pricey, somewhat snobbish restaurant in Amsterdam. . . . Readers will be able to identify with the faults and fears of each of his perceptively drawn characters." (February 2013)
#4: THE STORYTELLER by Jodi Picoult
"In The Storyteller, [Picoult's] latest, she weaves together two parallel stories from the darkest hours of the Holocaust. She explores, along with the reader, the perhaps unanswerable questions of who has the power to forgive—and are there some acts which are simply unforgiveable?" (March 2013)
#3: THE DROWNING HOUSE by Elizabeth Black
"A page-turning chronicle of grief and memory, The Drowning House is a remarkable blend of human drama and satisfyingly Southern Gothic mystery, propelled by Black’s lyrical, haunting narration." (January 2013)
#2: ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes
"Unusually for me—I've written 10 books—Lou and Will were both crystal clear in my head before I even started the book. I knew them inside out. That meant that all I had to do was to put them in different situations and sit back and see what happened. It meant that the book was actually a pleasure to write." (January 2013)
And your #1 pick for 2013 (so far!) is:
Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
Knopf • $24.95 • ISBN 9780307959966
On sale February 12, 2013
You know that feeling when you pick up a book, read the first few pages—and realize you're in for the long haul? (And oh, by the way, whatever plans you had for that weekend are officially out the window.) That's how I felt when I started reading Ghostman by Roger Hobbs, a debut thriller that was written while the author was a student at Reed College.
The story starts with a bang—or several bangs, really, as a couple of criminals botch a heist at an Atlantic City casino. So then our main character, a "fixer" named Jack, is summoned to clean up the mess.
It's a given that this story is suspenseful and zippy, but devoted thriller readers will be happy to hear that it's also stylishly written, thoroughly researched and tightly plotted. Reading Ghostman, you get the sense that you've just discovered an author who may become a favorite for many years to come, and that is an exciting feeling indeed. In fact: Here at BookPage, we liked the novel so much we decided to interview Hobbs for our February issue—so be on the lookout for that in about six weeks.
Here's an excerpt from the beginning of the novel:
It takes months of planning to take down a casino. Luckily for them, Ribbons had done this sort of thing before. Ribbons was a two-time felon out of Philadelphia. Not an attractive résumé item, even for the kind of guy who sets up jobs like this, but it meant he had motive not to get caught. He had skin the color of charcoal and blue tattoos he'd got in Rockview Pen that peeked out from his clothing at odd angles. He'd done five years for his part in strong-arming a Citibank in Northern Liberties back in the nineties, but had never seen time for the four or five bank jobs he'd helped pull since he got out. He was a big man. At least six foot four with more than enough weight to match. Folds of fat poured out over his belt, and his face was as round and smooth as a child's. He could press four hundred on a good day, and six hundred after a couple of lines of coke. he was good at this, whatever his rap sheet said.
Hector Moreno was more the soldier type. Five and a half feet, a quarter of Ribbons's weight, hair as short as desert grass, and bones that showed through his coffee-colored skin. He was a good marksman from his days in the service, and he didn't blink except when he twitched. His sheet showed a dishonorable discharge but no time served. He got back home and spent a year cutting chops in Boston and another browbeating protection money out of dope dealers in Vegas. This was his first big job, so he was nervous about it. He had a whole pharmacy in the Dodge with him, just to get his nut up. Pills and poppers and powders and smokes.