Monday, December 9, 2013

Best Books of 2013: Fiction

In case you missed it on Friday, this book was my favorite that I read in 2013.

This year I seemed to read more nonfiction than fiction books perhaps because I abandoned a couple novels halfway through that were either too boring or depressing to waste my time reading. Life is too short to waste time with a bad book, right?

So here are the fiction books that I read this year that did make it to the top of the list. (Check back to 2012's best fiction books for more great novels.)

This series was a childhood favorite of mine, and since John had never read all seven books we read them together this year. Although it's a children series, Lewis weaves in deep themes, metaphors, and allegories that led to rich conversations. Whether you read them aloud to your kids, discuss them with a spouse, or enjoy the books by yourself, the story will take you in and captivate your imagination.

Read this post, Wisdom from Narnia on Difficult Decisions, for a peek at my takeaways from one of the books.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

This book is the perfect beach read and a page-turner, yet it has surprisingly deeper themes that you're still thinking about once you've finished reading it. 

The last that Alice remembers is being 29, happily married, and pregnant with her first child. Yet after hitting her head and coming to, she is suddenly 39, getting divorced, and has three children.

As she puts the pieces of her life together, you see the pain and struggle of daily decisions that add up to a lifetime. It leaves you considering your own life and what trajectory you're heading down. 

"She said that sometimes you have to be brave enough to 'point your life in a new direction.'"

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

This beautifully written historical fiction novel will draw you into a story of family, immigration, war, and love. To quote the Amazon summary, it's "a breathtaking multigenerational love story that spans two continents, two World Wars, and the quest of two star-crossed lovers to find each other again." The novel spans from the 1910s to the end of World War II, centering around the lives of Ciro and Enza, who immigrate from the Italian Alps to New York. 

" must dig constantly for meaning in the sorrow of this life, and this sorrow must galvanize you, not define you."

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

We read this book for Book Club, and the novel's complexity and interwoven characters led to an engaging discussion about the meaning of our connections with others. 

Hosseini is the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, but unlike those books, this novel is not as graphic or shocking. Instead, it spans generations and shows the ripples from the choices that we make in life. It is set in Kabul, Paris, San Francisco, and the Greek island of Tinos, including loosely intertwined stories but related themes.  

"They say, Find a purpose in your life and live it. But, sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind."

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl is a suspenseful mystery story that grabs you from the first page. It's strange and twisted yet you can't put it down. It's a tad bit creepy with a lot of plot twists, which made it another great Book Club discussion. I won't give any of the plot away except to say that a wife goes missing on her 5th wedding anniversary. 

"We are all working from the same dog-eared script."

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

I remember first reading this book in high school and being drawn in by Fitzgerald's writing and descriptions of the Jazz Age. As I re-read the book this year, in preparation of seeing the new movie with my Book Club, I again soaked up the way Fitzgerald moved the plot along with engaging dialogue and captivating descriptions. 

It's worth a re-read if you haven't read it in a few years mainly because of the beautiful writing. Yet the themes, however hopeless, are also worth reflecting on, and read my post, A Not So Hopeless Hope, for my thoughts on the book.


  1. I loved What Alice Forgot and The Shoemaker's Wife. I need to add And the Mountains Echoed to my list because I've loved everything else he's written. I hated Gone Girl (but I think I'm in the minority on that one!) Here's my list of favorites:

    1. You either love Gone Girl or you hate it! I cannot imagine it being made into a movie though. Thanks for sharing your favorites :)

  2. Oh, that Gone Girl. My mom and I raced each other through it last Thanksgiving. :)

    1. haha yes, my mom and I had about an hour long discussion on it!

  3. Good stuff here! (Well, I didn't like Gone Girl, though I did think the structure was cool.)

    And The Mountains Echoed has shown up on so many lists. I've been afraid to pick it up (since I abandoned The Kite Runner years ago--it was a little too intense for me) but I'm reconsidering...

    1. And The Mountains Echoed is very different from his other writings (not graphic/violent) so I would recommend giving it a try, especially since the structure of the book is different from others I've read as well