The season of “best” books is upon us, bringing reminders of the books we loved, meant to read, still want to read, or somehow missed. Library Journal recently published its list of top picks (see LJ‘s Best Books 2013: Top Ten), and everyone from the New York Times to several American Library Association (ALA) divisions will soon follow suit (look for the announcements of The Reading List, The Notable Books List, and the Listen List, among others, on January 26).
Matching the idea of best books to the upcoming holiday of Thanksgiving, here are five (of the many) titles published in 2013 for which I am grateful.
- Longbourn by Jo Baker (Knopf).
In the face of Jane Austen’s masterpiece Pride and Prejudice, Baker’s story stands on its own as a classic while at the same time conjures an entirely new world. This is a novel to be celebrated.
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (text) and Matt Kish (illus.) (Tin House).
The beauty and pleasure of a book that is finely illustrated, engineered, and designed as a narrative is as important to the reading experience as the words and pictures it contains.
- Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink (Crown).
Clarion clear yet nuanced nonfiction that stands as both a witness and a chronicle to an event that changed the course of thousands of lives is essential reading.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Morrow).
Stories that manage to immerse, surprise, enchant, and be told in a style that makes one completely happy to spend time with the author are a literary treasure.
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown).
Exquisitely crafted sentences that in length are short and last for only a few seconds but invite readers to stay within their context, appreciate them, and unpack their meaning for far longer after the first read.