Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Turning the Page

Can you believe that it is already a new year?  It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming in 2013 and already it is time to say goodbye.  Once again, I had a year filled with wonderful books.  I revisited old favorites and discovered some new ones.  I read some authors for the very first time, and I finished the works of others.  Here is a look back at my favorite books of 2013:

Honorable Mention: The Professor by Charlotte Bronte.  Reading this was bittersweet as it was the last Bronte novel that I had left to read.  In many ways, it epitomized all of the aspects that I loved about the other works.  It was a wonderful opportunity to see an author work out the themes and plots that would become her later novels.  An excellent way to finish reading the works of this amazing sisterhood.

#5: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Though I wouldn't say that I "connected" with this story or the characters, it is indisputably a fine work of American literature.  Fitzgerald's gorgeous writing and heavy symbolism are the stuff that readers' dreams are made of.  It speaks not only to a specific generation, but also to the idea of the American dream as a whole.  There is a reason they force you to read this in school.

#4: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.  This story is fantastical, magical, and fascinating.  It is not entirely a novel nor a picture book, but rather combines the great aspects of both as well as those of other mediums.  It is great family reading and is a must for anyone who loves film history, or loved the film Hugo.

#3: The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel.  This book tells the remarkable true story of a small group of men whose responsibility it was to protect the great art and architecture of Western civilization.  They worked in the worst conditions, were hampered by members of their own military, and put into harm's way time and time again.  All in an effort to save European culture from utter destruction.  If you have ever been to the great cathedrals or museums of Europe, you owe it to these men to learn their stories.  

#2: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Any book that leaves you asking questions and thinking about it weeks after you have closed it has got to be good.  And this novel certainly did that for me.  It left me thinking about life and death, about love, about the way we treat the dying, and about our desire for life after death in some form or fashion.  And all the while, Green tackles these big questions within the lives of two ordinary teenagers.  This was one that really surprised me.

#1: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  If there was one thing that Wilkie Collins could do, it was tell a story.  Once you get caught up in the mystery of the story, you won't be able to put the book down.  It was so easy to get caught up in the suspense and the fate of the characters.  It was also interesting to see a novel that championed the rights of women coming from a man in the mid-nineteenth century.  Rarely does a novel of the Victorian era truly capture the true spirit of womanhood as Collins does with Marian Halcombe.  This is a classic that deserves to still be read 150 years later.

This year promises to hold some wonderful discoveries as well.  I have the books for the first third of the year lined up and can't wait to experience them.  I am currently reading Our Mutual Friend, the next novel in my quest to read all of Charles Dickens' works.  I'll be reading Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, a modern favorite that will soon be hitting the big screen.  Elie Wiesel's Night will serve as my first foray into Holocaust literature.  I'll prep for my upcoming trip to Scotland with Sir Walter Scott's Rob Roy.  And I'll finally get around to a classic that I have been meaning to read for a long time, Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.  If you have read any of the above books, please share your thoughts on them below.  And don't forget to tell me about your favorite books of 2013 and what you are looking forward to in 2014.  Happy New Year!


hopeinbrazil said...

I've got The Monuments Men on my kindle and really look forward to reading it. Wanting to read all of Dickens is a great goal. I am reading David Copperfield and feel a little bogged down in it. Hope I can pull out of my funk and finish it.

Hannah said...

You've picked some great books! I'm currently re-reading 'The Book Thief'. The last time I read it must have been about 4 years ago and I wanted the book to be fresh in my mind before I went into the film adaptation. I love the book. It's truly haunting and powerful but there's quite a lot of humour in it. The film looks like it's going to be brilliant as well so I'm really looking forward to seeing it. When is it due out in America? In the UK it's out in February.

I've also read 'Tess of the D'Ubervilles' which is another powerful and moving read. It's probably the saddest book that I've ever read actually and yet I still love it. It's just so beautifully-written.

I hope you'll have a lovely time in Scotland. You're going to Edinburgh aren't you? If so look out for the Walter Scott monument that you've got there. It looks like something out of Mordor! It looks really sinister to me!

Hannah said...

Sorry, I meant "look out for the Walter Scott monument that THEY'VE got there". I hate typos. I really should proof read my comments!