Snowed in on New Year’s weekend seems the perfect time to curate a reading list for the winter months. This list includes the books I am reading or plan to read over the coming months, as well as a few other notable recommendations.
Have you been inspired by a recent read or have you compiled a reading list of your own? We’d love to hear your recommendations (or links) in the comments. At the bottom, find more links for reading resources.
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Recommended Fiction from 2013
- Alice McDermott, Someone (September 2013). Folks, help me lower my expectations as I’m really expecting lots from this one (no, don’t really). McDermott has been one of my favorite authors for her nuanced characters, and an excerpt from Someone was one of my favorite short stories in the New Yorker in recent years. Let’s hope the novel measures up.
- Anthony Marra, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013). I can’t tell you my excitement when Marra’s novel was longlisted for the National Book Award, as I “knew” him from an online writer’s forum years back. He is a graduate of Iowa and Stanford, whose writing maturity and complexity have been compared to Jonathan Safran Foer. I’m really curious to read this novel. From the New York Times, here is an interesting piece on research for the book, and here is a review.
- Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch (October 2013). This one has made it to my “must read” list after feedback from reading friends. My mom was slow to warm, but gripped at the end. Missouri Review editor Michael Nye tweeted me, “It’s a book you want to rush to finish AND don’t want it to end at the same time. That’s rare (for a grouch like me!)”
If you haven’t yet read Donna Tartt’s THE GOLDFINCH put down what you’re reading and start now. Trust me on this one.
— Michael Nye (@mpnye) December 29, 2013
- Colum McCann, Transatlantic (2013). I will get myself to read this… but must confess I’m afraid it might disappoint, which pains me, as he is a favorite of mine. McCann’s writing can feel effortless and powerful (as in Let the Great World Spin or his story/novella collection Everything in This Country Must), but the research level of Transatlantic makes me worry it will have the overwrought weight of Zoli (can anyone convince me to finish reading that one?). Hoping for the best case scenario — I’ll let you know.
- Amy Greene, Long Man (February 25, 2014). I am so excited to read this new release by critically-acclaimed writer, Amy Greene (a Southern Living book of the month).
- Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (October 2013). This winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize and the Canada Governor General’s Literary Award is described as “a breathtaking feat of storytelling where everything is connected but nothing is as it seems.” I’m in.
Other 2013 Fiction on My Radar
- Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (2013).
- George Saunders, Tenth of December: Stories (2013).
- Amy Tan,The Valley of Amazement (2013).
Carried Over From My Summer Reading List
- Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed (May 2013). This one released too late to fight its way ahead of other reading, so will make my list for winter. Hosseini’s prior novels – The Kite Runner (2004) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2008) — were stunning. Read this New York Times review.
Continuing the Challenge: Reading the Books You Always Meant to Read
- Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans (2001). Last spring, I pitched a March Reading Challenge to read the books you always meant to read. Ishiguro made my list as I had loved his Remains of the Day , but read no more of his work. I met the challenge by reading his Never Let Me Go (2006), which was the sci-fi antithesis of Remains of the Day. I picked Orphans off my mom’s bookshelves while visiting for the holidays this week. It’s intriguing (if heavy on unnecessary clauses), but if you’re looking for a recommendation, I’ve heard An Artist of the Floating World is better.
- Gary Shteyngart (anything). Shteyngart makes the short list of writers universally admired by many of those I commune with on social media, although my exposure to his work has been limited to short posts and articles online. He hit my radar recently via this New York Times review of his memoir, Little Failure (out February 2014). His novels include The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2003) or Super Sad True Love Story (2010).
Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction
- Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief (2007). Well, yes, the opening of the film adaptation in November provoked me to pull this one off my classroom bookshelves, where I’d included it based on a passionate recommendation from a colleague (for 12 & up). I brought it home to buddy-read with my 7th grade son, before seeing the movie. Random plug for an indie bookseller: this book was included on the weekly bestseller list for Village Books of Bellingham, WA. Click the link if you’d like to buy from them.
- J.K. Rowling, The Chamber of Secrets (2000). I’m re-enjoying this one as a bedtime read-aloud with my sons.
- Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman, How Not to Write a Novel (2008). Not sure if I’ll actually bite on this one, but I’ve heard only great things about this book, which presents writing advice in the negative by sharing “200 classic mistakes and how to avoid them.”
- Donald Maass, Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012). How to sum this book up? I don’t read it as much as, each time I begin to read, it instantly engages me back in revisions to my novel. I am not big on “how to write” books, but Maass writes amazing prompts to challenge structure, character motivation and more.
- Margaret Searle, Causes and Cures in the Classroom (November 2013). I’m fascinated to read this one, which draws connections between executive functioning and behavior to optimize learning.
Want more reading recommendations?
- New York Times Sunday Book Review: 100 Notable Books of 2013.
- Salon: Top Critics Pick the Best Reads of 2013
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What Are You Reading?
I’d love to hear your own reading suggestions in the comments. Let us know the favorite books you’ve read this year or ones on your must-reads list. If this inspires you to blog your own list, share link to your post so we can come read with you.
Where do the book links take you?
For convenience, you can click book titles for their link on Amazon — or find them at your favorite indie bookseller through indiebound.org:
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More on Books and Reading:
- My Summer Reading List 2013
- March Reading Challenge: The Books You Always Meant to Read
- My Reading List: Winter 2013
- 2012: Year of the Book
Or, on Writing and Revision:
- For holiday travel: Motivation to Write: Keep Writing on Vacation
- On revision: Writing Character: Say the Things We Never Say