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Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Discussion: Best Book You Read in 2013 Part 2

This week, I want to hear about your favorite book you read in 2013 that was NOT published in 2013. In other words, your favorite back list title.

I went back through my 5 star books for the year and found 2 back list contenders.  I will walk you through my reasoning for how I picked my winner.

Each year I pick at least one of the best books of the year to save to read early the next year. [For example, I will be reading one of the consensus 2013 top 10 books, Doctor Sleep, in January.]  This year's contender was The Round House by Louise Erdrich, and oh my, did I love this book.  Read my review for more detail on why. As the year continued, I figured it would for sure hold the top spot here today.

But then I was asked to interview Luis Alberto Urrea for Fox Valley Reads and read the book, Into the Beautiful North [2009].  I went into reading that book as an assignment for a job, and came away from the overall experience of reading the book and being able to talk directly to Urrea about it, absolutely captivated.  I think the fact that I was caught off guard by how much I loved this book coupled with the author himself being such a fabulous person made reading this book one of the highlights of my entire year.

So, while The Round House may be a better read overall, my best book that I read in 2013 that was not published in 2013 was Into the Beautiful North, and it wasn't even a hard choice.

But why walk you through all of this reasoning? Because I want to use it as an example of reading tastes and how they are influenced by more than how a book is written.  As you see here, in a vacuum, The Round House was the best book not published in 2013 that I read in 2013, but life does not happen in a vacuum, and for reasons related to the book itself and my experiences with it, reading Into the Beautiful North was the best reading experience I had in 2013.

As you help readers, it is important to remember what they bring to the table in terms of what is going on in their lives as you suggest books to them.  Looking at yourself and why you found some reading experiences superior to others will help you to be more attuned to your patrons needs. I share my personal example in the hopes that you can use my example to help others.

For past Monday Discussions, and in particular, to add to last week's Part 1 of the best book discussion, click here.

Next week is the last Monday I am working during 2013, so we will tackle Reading Resolutions for 2014.


Kimberly said...

You know the old question about which book would you take if you were about to be stranded on a desert isle? In my case, it would have to be something that starts with the phrase "the complete works of" because a single story would never do. Picking a single favorite is beyond my ability, and as we know from RA work, what is great one month is need what entices us the next.

Having said that, this year I finally got around to The Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Unlike Becky, I'm not a horror reader, but this main character was someone I came to care about, the pace was unremitting, and the action enthralled me.

Like Becky, though, I also was much taken with a book in part because I heard the author speak at a panel discussion on genres at ALA this year. I found The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway a work of "women's fiction" that more than satisfied my need for literary language, a quirky and complex main character, a situation requiring a type of coming of age (emotionally, at least)and issue driven story perfect for discussing with other readers. I liked Dilloway's previous book, but this one enchanted me.

I also read Becky's pick for favorite Into the Beautiful North as part of Fox Valley reads. It's a great book and I agree with the reasons she mentions (except interviewing the author!) so it also went from assigned reading to a great favorite. The best part was that as part of a program like Community Reads, I had so many people I could talk to about it. There's just nothing like sharing a book, is there?

John BPL RA said...

This is a very difficult question as the books I've read this year really have not been very good. That said, you may laugh but I read a history of ninjas that was quite good. Ninja: 1000 Years Of The Shadow Warrior, A New History by British historian John Man.

Mamie Ney said...

The best book I read was from 2012 - a goodie, but not an oldie. I really enjoyed "Yellow Bird" by Kevin Powers. I usually don't read war stories, but this was something of an assignment. As a poet, Powers used some stunning language to reach into the souls of the characters to bring them to life and help the emotions come right at you. I cannot recommend this book enough.