Favourite books of 2013

2013 has been a bit of a rollercoaster – I’ve moved moved mouse-hole twice, met a new Mr Mouse, worried about the health of almost everyone I know (we’re all fine, just), and turned 30. I rather hope that 2014 is going to be a lot calmer and more settled. This year has also seen the publication of some brilliant books – these are my favourite five. I think. I keep changing my mind…too many to choose from!


Kate Atkinson’s Life After Lifewhich I’ve forced into the hands of all who cross my path , was my favourite book for most of the year. Everyone is quite bored of me going on about how fabulous I thought it was so I won’t say it again. Oh.


Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple arrived in paperback and I sped through it. Despite being a bit skeptical initially, I loved it, and haven’t laughed so much whilst reading a book in public for ages. It’s hilarious and poignant by turns and, whilst basically ridiculous, Semple’s writing enables you to (just about) suspend your disbelief. 

Ocean at the end of the lane

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane was completely different – creepy and memorable, with one of the scariest characters that I’ve read  recently in Ursula Monkton. Gaiman really captures the terrors of childhood, but he is also brilliant at adding heart to everything he writes, and I now very much want Lettie Hemstock as a friend. 


The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait has stuck with me, despite reading it in January. The story of how Kit’s family deal with his depression and subsequent death is simply-written and well-crafted, but has powerful emotional punch. Kit’s siblings, Jamie and Emma, are both very real characters, and where Where’d You Go, Bernadette? made me laugh in public, The View on the Way Down made me sob. Wait has written a book that already feels like an old friend.


My favourite book of the last couple of months is one that I’ve actually only just finished. I was sent a paperback of Longbourn by Jo Baker just before Christmas and I devoured it in big chunks between the turkey and the presents. Baker’s creation seems both fresh and familiar, with the characters that we know from Pride and Prejudice flitting around as the backdrop to the lives of those living below stairs. I loved it and found myself reading more slowly as I neared the end to try and delay finishing it.

Honourable mentions go to: The Lost by Claire McGowan; Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary (out in 2014); Elijah’s Mermaid by Essie Fox; American Wife and Sisterland, both by Curtis Sittenfeld; Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant; The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton diSclafani; Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne.

I already have a towering pile of books to start the New year with (including those that I didn’t manage to finish over Christmas) so here’s to a happy and book-filled 2014.

12 responses to “Favourite books of 2013

  1. I keep good things about Longbourn but haven’t fancied it so far, maybe I need to thing again.


  2. We definitely have some favorites in common! Longbourn sounds interesting. I usually avoid books based on Austen or other literary characters, but I’ve seen this book recommended a few times now. Happy new year!


  3. Life After Life is such a brilliant book, so glad I’m not the only one forcing it into people’s hands! Thanks for the honourable mention, too. Happy New Year!


  4. Life After Life has also made it to my top ten, actually, it was my favourite book in 2013. Such an overlooked and complex book!


  5. Life After Life has been put onto all three of my book group lists for this year. I’m determined that everyone I know will read it. The big question, of course, is how will I feel about it after three re-reads.


  6. Happy New year! I’ve been wanting to read four of the books you’ve mentioned, so you might have just fully persuaded me to go out and get them now!🙂


  7. All of them apart from Rebecca Wait’s novel – that’s a new name for me.

    I think I’ve heard about Life After Life from you and other bloggers and have always been unsure whether I would like it or not, but interested to take the plunge and give it a go.

    I heard an interview with the author of Longbourn on the radio and was immediately interested. In fact I’d forgotten about it until reading this post.

    The Neil Gaiman one was impossible not to know about, but have to be in the right sort of mood for his writing, so might wait a bit longer before buying that one.

    Where’d You Go Bernedette has just had some great reviews and I love the front cover!


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