I realize that all "best" lists are subjective. I can't tell you what books are "best" for you, any more than I can pick your favorite flavor of ice cream. All I can do is make a list of the new books I most enjoyed reading this year (all were published in 2013).
However, I am not putting on this list some 2013 books that I read and enjoyed, that I also worked on—like Marla Miller's heart-warming Deadly Little Secrets. One reason is because people might think I'm biased (I am) and two, because I've already talked about those books—see my previous post (December 3).
I'm also not including on my list the 2013 books that have been bestsellers—a couple of which I admired greatly, like Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters and TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, since they have been lauded plenty elsewhere.
So, here is a list of my five favorite books of 2013:
Hippy Homeschooling By Carlton Smith: One of the most memorable books of recent years—I frequently flash back to one of the many cinematic scenes from this California road trip novel, almost like it was part of my own memories. The author's brilliantly understated prose and compelling characters live on for me. See my review.
How to Thrive on a Tropical Deserted Island by Mike Riley: This nonfiction book is chock-full of fun facts and lessons—everything from how to build a grass hut to how to make liquor from almost anything. Not just for sailors, these clever tricks and treats are for beach bums, too. (The editor in me had a hard time overlooking the many typos in this e-book, but that's the way indie publishing often goes.)
Creating Adventures, Sharing Stories, by Robert Yehling. Many writers have turned collections of their blog posts into books, and the reading road is littered with the missteps that have been published along the way. Yehling focuses on entertaining subjects, including, but not limited to sports and music, as well as the many fascinating people he knows; taken together, it's addicting—heartwarming and eclectic.
Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff: This is not usually my genre, but Blood Moon is a crime thriller that has it all—a gripping plot, great California settings, and a kick-ass female "heroine" (of sorts). Actually, it's often hard to tell who the protagonist is—no worries, they are both great characters. And, yes, it is book 2 in a series. Sorry.
And last, but certainly not least:
When She Came Home by Drusilla Campbell: This book is heartbreakingly true-to-life, set in my own San Diego, and as current as today's front page. The many strands of the life of a wife and mother who is also a returning Iraq war veteran are interwoven expertly, with thoughtful restraint, by Campbell—a master of character and dialogue. This link will take you to a free preview of the first seven chapters for Kindle.