Countdown to 2014: 2013 Books

Last year, I read 13 books! This year I read 12, although 3 of them were A Series of Unfortunate Events books I am reading to my babysitting charge. However, last year many of my books were very short (3 The Walking Dead trades, for example) and 1 was also a Series of Unfortunate Events book, so I think I’m pretty even this year.

1 of the books I had started reading in a previous year, but it was a long book (Backlash) and I was only halfway into it. Overall, I read 4 Children/Young Adult series books, 1 classic novel, 5 non-fiction (1 biography, 1 history/personal account, 1 humor biography, 2 feminist texts–well, 1 feminist text and 1 pseudo-feminist text depending on your views), and 2 adult fiction series. All but 1 were by American authors. 2 were by an author I work with. 1 I read because it related to something I was writing.

I did also read 14 New Yorkers and 5 New York magazines in between each book, plus some New York Times and various other magazine and website articles.

My favorite books of the year:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Worst book of the year:
I didn’t read any bad books this year.

The List:

1. Richard Rodgers by William G. Hyland
Even though it read more like a textbook than a biography, it at least helped me put the pieces of Richard Rodgers’s life together. It would be interesting to read a more in depth biography or his autobiography to get some actual perspective. Still, I enjoyed moving through all his shows, especially his batch with Hammerstein after my Rodgers and Hammerstein concert the previous October.
Finished: February 23, 2013

2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Hugo is becoming one of my favorite novelists. Hunchback is the second book of his I’ve read recently, and while it was not as thrilling as the longer Toilers of the Sea (the 1st Hugo book I read), it was still a great read–full of suspense and Hugo’s beautiful prose. Also, I’m impressed Disney was able to make a children’s movie out of this. There’s so much lust and death.
Finished: April 19, 2013

3. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to read this book with my company as part of a special book club. After years of reading articles on these topics and discussing them with my friends (especially my fellow Barnard women) it was a new experience actually bringing this discussion into the workplace. I also appreciated how prominently Barnard is featured in the book. However, the book pales in comparison to real feminist texts and doesn’t really deliver on what I believe to be its thesis: that the upper middle class (usually white) women in high positions at companies should not opt-out so that they can enact workplace policies that benefit all women.
Finished: June 5, 2013

4. Children of Paranoia by Trevor Shane
I would not have read this book had the author not been a lawyer in my office, but I’m glad I did. Aside from it being cool to know the writer, the first book of this trilogy was very well-done, both in terms of writing style and story. It reminds me a lot of The Terminator, except without robots or time travel. I’m currently working my way through the trilogy.
Finished: June 7, 2013

5. Underground: My Life with SDS and The Weathermen by Mark Rudd
Great read, all the way from Columbia in 1968 through the rise of The Weatherman to life underground to reflecting on the whole movement today. I read this book for a writing project, and it was very informative in that respect. I only wish Rudd had been part of the leadership when he went underground instead of just merely hiding out so that I could see that perspective. I’ll have to read a different book to get that. It was great for the Columbia and early Weatherman parts, though.
Finished: August 6, 2013

6. Bossypants by Tina Fey
I enjoyed many of Fey’s stories, especially the parts about SNL and 30 Rock, and laughed out loud quite a bit. I’ve always felt a kinship with her, as we are both writers from the Philly suburbs, but now I also know that, like me, she can’t form an emotional connection to dogs.
Finished: August 30, 2013

7. Children of the Underground (Children of Paranoia book 2) by Trevor Shane
I don’t usually read the second book of a series so quickly after reading the first, but because I know the author I wanted to speed up the process so I could discuss the book with him. The second installment was quite different from the first, with a different narrator and a somewhat different style. I liked it slightly better because of the interaction between the two main characters and for the opening up the world with hints of what is to come in the third and final book (all marks of a good second part). I’m looking forward to reading the third.
Finished: October 26, 2013

8. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
I read the first half of this book in 2007 (and a chapter in my first-year seminar class at Barnard), so this book has been with me for a long time. I’m glad I finished this book in the era of the Facebook news feed because it was fun to post about my struggle with carrying this large book around. As for the book itself, it contains SO much, but my main takeaway is that the most important aspects of feminism are law and media, especially law. We can chat about feminism all we want, but so much comes down to what’s happening with the law. Also, I will never look at the 1980s the same way again.
Finished: December 23, 2013

9.Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Until I reached the final 100 pages, Mockingjay was very sluggish, with few events taking place other than a couple battles. Everything basically happened in the last 100 pages, which, aside from some confusingly written action sequences, were actually pretty good. There were some good twists, and the ending was sad but satisfying. I had been ready to call this the worst book of the trilogy until it redeemed itself. Now I think Catching Fire is the best, then Mockingjay, then The Hunger Games.
Finished: January 5, 2014 (I’m still counting this book for 2013 because I started it on December 27, 2013.)

10. The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events book 2) by Lemony Snicket
I’ve read this book maybe 4 or 5 times at this point. It’s not part of my main list because I read it at babysitting to my four-year-old babysitting charge. Every time I came over (once or twice a week) we would read a little before bed. As you may have noticed, I love the Lemony Snicket series, so to read this book to a child, who enjoyed it, was a wonderful experience. This book was a particularly interesting experience because when we got to the death of Uncle Monty, their guardian, she became very upset and we had to stop reading the book for a while. Finally, I coaxed her back into reading it.
Finished: May 11, 2013

11. The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events book 3) by Lemony Snicket
This book is also not part of my main list because I read it at babysitting. With this book I think she REALLY got into the series. Before I had to kind of push her to read the book, and with this book it was expected that she’d read it before bed. She also really began connecting to the character of Violet because they both like to design and build inventions. She once even said that she wished Violet could come out of the book and play and make inventions with her.
Finished: Summer, 2013

12. The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events book 4) by Lemony Snicket
Once again, this book is not part of my main list because I read it at babysitting. I didn’t remember this book as well as the first three, so it was nice to revisit it. In some ways it is my least favorite book of the series because not as much happens and the supporting characters are not as fun as they are in other books, but there are some nice moments.
Finished: Early December 2013

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