Sophie’s Top Picks of 2013

Sophie SmithI love end-of-the-year best-book lists. I get a great deal of satisfaction  going through them and finding which ones I’ve read on my own, which ones I’ve at least heard about, and which ones are brand new on my radar.

I went through the books I read this year (86 so far) and identified my top 10. Of those, six were written in 2013. Two of my favorites, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Gulp by Mary Roach, I’ve already talked about. The other four I’ll mention quickly, and then let you get back to your holiday festivities.

Tenth of December by George Saunders. This book is a collection of shortTenth of December stories that are beyond amazing. They all pivot on a slightly surreal interpretation of American dreams and American disenchantment. I read this book in early January, and it’s stuck with me all year.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. This book is a hilariWhere'd You Go Bernadetteous and touching account of a reclusive mother who disappears, and her precocious daughter who pieces together what’s happened. The book is a series of newspaper clippings, chat transcripts, emails, and other assorted ephemera which create the captivating and funny narrative.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson. In an age where hackers are getting more and more Alif the Unseenattention, this book paints a fascinating fictional portrait of a young Arab hacker in an unnamed part of the Middle East. He’s working to take down the heavy hand of the government, and in doing so, codes himself into a fantastical world ripe with Gulf mythology and legend. It’s a different type of fantasy book, one that I highly recommend.

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This short book is a beautiful and haunting tale sitting on the edge between reality and fantasy. The language is beautiful and the story is tight. The world Gaiman creates is powerful in both its beauty and its terror, which you feel firsthand through the eyes of the narrator.

What was on your list this year? Which best book lists do you rely on for quality recommendations? Or, if you want to know any more of my favorites of 2013 or past years, feel free to email me at

About Sophie Smith

Sophie Smith is the supervisor of teen services at the Nashua Public Library and can also frequently be found at the reference desk. As a history and Spanish major at Kenyon College she spent a year in Salamanca, Spain. She earned her master's in library and information science from Simmons College.

1 comment to Sophie’s Top Picks of 2013

  • Carol Eyman Carol Eyman

    I too loved “Tenth of December,” even though I usually hate short stories because I like getting to know characters more deeply than you can in a short story. I find I forget short stories much faster than novels. But these stories are unforgettable.