Tuesday, 31 December 2013

books of the year 2013

We've been reading books this year! 
Although not as many as last year.
Still 89 books (me) and 77 books (bert) are still pretty good going. I mean we've watched a lot of Kojak too.

At the end of the year we put together a top ten of our faves of the year. They aren't ones necessarily published in 2013, just ones we liked the most.

These are mine:
Fairyland: A Memoir of my Father by Alysia Abbott.
This is a memoir about growing up in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s and the death of the authors father from AIDS. It is really warm, smart, sad and powerful memoir and I just loved reading it so much. 
It's my favourite book I read this year.

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
The beginning of this novel in which Reno (the main character) rides across salt flats on a motorbike in order to take photographs of the tracks as part of an art work is one of the most beautiful and striking things I've ever read. It has stuck in my mind since.
It's set in 70s New York and there is lots of contemporary art talk which I loved... the writing is really great too. Half way through it changes direction which did lose me a little.
Ultimately pretty great though.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
I didn't expect much from this as Lauren Graham is an actress (Lorelai in Gilmore Girls of course!) so I unfairly thought this wouldn't be much cop.
But it was just my thing. It's all about a struggling actress in 90s New York and it's funny and smart and a pure pleasure to read. 

It Chooses You by Miranda July
We all know that Miranda July is a genius right?
This books is like a companion piece to her film 'The Future' and is about trying to write and connecting with other people. It has lots of photos too and is sort of like an art book too. 
I love the way July writes with that honesty and charm.

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
Solnit is one of my favourite writers. All of her books end up on my top tens of the year, her books are so intelligent and questioning and yet still easy to read. This book talks about her mothers illness, a big batch of peaches, (uh, actually they were apricots) travel, art, storytelling and fairy tales. But really it's more how she writes than what she writes and I'm already looking forward to more of her work.

Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton
Leanne Shapton is really interesting.
Her books are similar in style to Miranda July or Sophie Calle and often contain Shapton's own artwork too.
I really enjoyed this, partly because I love her writing anyway, but partly because it's about swimming and I did a LOT of swimming when I was young. Shapton has really interesting insights about the little things too and talks about the smell under a watch strap... which took me back to my swatch days.

Necklace of Kisses by Francesca Lia Block
Did you read the Weetzie Bat books back in the day?
well, this is Weetzie Bat number 6! and Weetzie Bat and Secret Agent Lover Man's relationship is on the rocks! nooooooo
I don't know why, but I really connect with Weetzie Bat and this books is as fun and magical and sweet and sad as all the others.
Francesca Lia Block is a really unique writer and I love reading her books.

Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot
This is a history of San Francisco from the 60s to the late 80s and it covers so much - the summer of love, the murder of Harvey Milk, AIDS and gay rights (oh and football, which I read but didn't really take in or understand). It is really fascinating, readable and a bit bleak but y'kno, still great.

Huerfano by Roberta Price
Communes are another obsession of mine. Especially communes from the point of view of women.
Gosh this was good too, Roberta is amazing! she built her own house! she took loads of photos! she rules!

Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Fahri
I read this in January so I can't remember it that well, but I do know it was good.
Fahri is a really great writer so she is fun to read even if this wasn't about yoga.
I really want to read more of her work (and possibly re-read this one too) as in my review on goodreads I said that it had changed my life. I remember it being pretty profound. and yoga is amazing.

And what did Bert enjoy this year? 
Let him tell you!

Queenpin by Megan Abbott
Sexy, gaudy, glam noir from the empress of hardboiled and all round amazing lady Megan Abbott.

Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg
Ultra-Seventies tale of one guy's declining psychic powers and ensuing mid-life crisis.

In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B Hughes
More hardboiled noir!  With actual strong female characters!  
Post-war Los Angeles, crazy killer on the loose. 

Goshawk Squadron by Derek Robinson
A genuine lost classic of British WWI fiction (written in the early Seventies) full of black humour and the insanity of war. Derek Robinson came to sign some copies of this in the bookshop where I work, and I can confirm he is a goodie. 

Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman
This had an awesome hazy, adolescent, mythical, late-Eighties kind of feel to it, conjuring up the weirdness and mundanity of the everyday. 

Jampot Smith by Jeremy Brooks
Coming of age in Llandudno during the Second World War.  Charming, warm and profound, I loved it.

The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon by Daniel Farson
Brilliant biography of Bacon which really evokes that era of Fifties Soho with all its criminals, bohemians, boozers and artists.

Brewster by Mark Slouka
My favourite release of 2013!  Brewster is a tough and beautiful coming-of-age in late-Sixties small-town America.

My Face for the World to See by Alfred Hayes
Lost classic alert!  This is a grim and glitzy tale of damaged people in damaged relationships. Yay!

Maggie Muggins by Keith Waterhouse
Billy Liar by Waterhouse is one of my all time favourites, but this out of print Eighties novel of London and poor, flaky Maggie Muggins is an absolute treat too.

In case you are interested... these are our favourite books from 2012 and go right here for our 2011 list. 
don't forget we are both on goodreads and crying out for new friends!
and we are linking up with click clack gorilla and her book lover blog hop
What was your favourite book of the year?
let us know!
Here's to 2014!


  1. I don't seem to have even heard of a single one of these...which is one of the things I love about seeing people's year reading lists. Here's to a great year of reading in 2014!

  2. So many good recommendations here! The only one I've read was Fairyland (thanks to you), which I also loved.

  3. love the idea of checking some of the memoirs on your list, love yoga too, thanks!


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