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Top 5 books of 2013

I’ve stalled somewhat with Mark Twain’s excellent Pudd'nhead Wilson, though will pick it up again, but clearly won’t finish another book before 2013 is out, so this seems as good a time as any to decide what have been my five books of the year. As with any year, it’s been a time of peaks and troughs. The less said about Vanity Fair the better, but there have been quite a few pearls. So my top five of 2013 are, in no particular order:

Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N by Leo Rosten
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

My deepest apologies to those books that might easily have made the cut but missed by the narrowest and most arbitrary of margins: Conundrum by Jan Morris, Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill, Little Eyolf by Ibsen, Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith, and Tom Jones by Fielding. If I had a top ten, these five would make up the rest of the list. But we must abide by the rules. How about you?

Splendid list.  I've read them all except 'Call Me By Your Name' which is TBR.
Joe McWilliams

Top five of 2013....let's see. 44 to choose from, I see, from the list I keep. Glancing over it there are a handful about which I remember little or nothing. Others have become a part of me. Perhaps that should be the principal factor. Several were re-reads, so I think I'll leave those out.

In no particular order:
The Old Curiosity Shop - C. Dickens
Parade's End - Ford Madox Ford
The Fatal Shore - Robert Hughes
Parrot and Olivier in America - Peter Carey
The Indian Clerk - David Leavitt

Fifteen of my 44 books in 2013 were non-fiction, including three impressive Walter Isaacson biographies of Einstein, Kissinger and Steve Jobs.
Gul Darr

I thought this would be relatively easy, as I only have 17 books from which to choose! My top five are:
Canada by Richard Ford
Au Bonheur des Dames by Emile Zola
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
Ever After by Graham Swift
With notable mentions to:-
The Quality of Mercy by Barry Unsworth
Le temps des secrets by Marcel Pagnol
Black Dogs by Ian McEwan
Toby's Room by Pat Barker


I must try some Zola - last time was in French at university over forty years ago, and my French wasn't all that good.

2013 wasn't perhaps a vintage year for me, nothing of the quality of The Moonstone, for instance.  The classic novel I read, Adam Bede, did not make my top five, though parts of it I liked very much.  And one book I rated highly was a rather light book by Dan Rhodes - This is Life.  Had I finished The Pickwick Papers it might have made the cut.  

So here are my top five:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

I found this difficult.  But my choice of Top Five for 2013.

The Clayhanger sequence by Arnold Bennett;( 'Hilda Lessways', 'These Twain' and 'The Roll-Call').
Autobiography of Leigh Hunt.
The Trumpet Major by Thomas Hardy
In The Year of the Jubilee' by George Gissing.
Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton.  

And Thackeray's sprawling 'The Virginians'....I suppose.

The novel that seemed to me the greatest of last year's haul is a re-read -

Dead Souls, by Nikolai Gogol

Otherwise, I made a good start in getting to grips, at long last, with Austen, reading and, for the first time, actually enjoying her first three novels. But I get the feeling that these novels are relatively light compared to her later three novels - Mansfield PArk, Emma, and Persuasion: I look forward to reading these later this year.

My other choices for the best books of the year last year (excluding the plays by Shakespeare and by Ibsen that I re-read regularly) are:

When the Time is Right by Buddhadeva Bose
The Tenant of Widfell Hall by Anne Brontë (quite a surprise, this one: I hadn't executed much from it)
Thunder in the Air by August Strindberg

And, finally,

A History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny

Some may say this last choice is a bit of a cheat, since I've only read so at two of its four parts, covering classical and medieval philosophy. But then again, the four parts comprising this volume had each originally been published separately, so, far from this final choice being half a book, it is, indeed, two books. So I suppose that's a cheat as well...

My top book of 2013 has to be Germinal, I have read till the early hours before now, but this is the only book I have ever read which I have done an all nighter for (not intentionally). A close second has to be The Book Thief one of the most original stories I have ever read.  Number 3 Weirdo which was dark and disturbing but a cracking read. Number 4 The Casual vacancy A story which I thought was uplifting and positive despite its gritty narrative.  

There I am afraid I have to stop, I didn't make the five as the other new books I read were a pile of the proverbial, namely The Crossfire Trilogy - Bared to you, Reflected in you and Entwined with you, three books which were a crude rip off of the fifty shades books and ended up not actually being a trilogy at all despite being marketed as a trilogy it appears two more books of this crap are in the pipeline. Then there was Some day I will find you which was poorly written and full of errors, not to mention a pretty crappy story, and the hugely disappointing final Sookie Stackhouse book Dead Ever After.  All the other books I read this year were re-reads which I am not sure count.

To make up the five though I will add Alone in Berlin to the list as number 5 as it is a re read not because it is lacking in any way at all. If it were to be ranked along side the the other new reads it would be up there with Germinal and The Book Thief.  As it was certainly better than Weirdo and The Casual Vacancy.

I forgot Richard Ford's 'Canada', an outstanding contemporary novel.
Jen M

It is difficult to choose my top 5 of 2013 - I completed just 20 books, most of which I enjoyed, but none were outstanding.  So, I have chosen the books I most enjoyed:

Family Album, by Penelope Lively
A Question of Identity, Susan Hill
Oh dear Silvia, Dawn French
Silas Marner, George Eliot
A Week in December, Sebastian Faulks

Just missed out, and might have made the top 5 on a different day:

The Invisible Ones, Stef Penney
The Hand of Ethelberta, Thomas Hardy
The Thread, Victoria Hislop

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