reader

To Voyage Through Time

Another year has passed, and more books have been read, allowing me to voyage through time. Looking back over my Goodreads list, I am reminded of the best books I read throughout 2018. Unlike 2017, I exceeded my reading goal. While I strived for 75, I completed the challenge at 114 books!

to read.png

Some stories made me laugh, others broke my heart completely, but what follows are my favorite books of 2018:

favorite books.png

1.) The Song of achilles by madeline miller

The battered copy of this book sat on my shelf for years. I must admit, the idea of reading this terrified me, because it was the best friend’s favorite. There was too much pressure. But I asked him so many months ago when I should finally read it, and he said, save it for the sun. So I took this worn copy on vacation. With the sound of the ocean and the too-warm breeze, I experienced the utter beauty and heartbreak that is this book. And somewhere along those many pages, this book became my favorite, too. I shared it with my other best friend, and now the three of us have collectively been ruined by this stunning story. I even received my own used copy, and I can’t wait to reread.

“And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.”

 

2.) The Rules of Magic by alice hoffman

Since childhood, Practical Magic has been one of my favorite movies. So when I discovered Alice Hoffman had released a prequel to that beloved story set in 1960’s New York City, I knew it would be good. I had no idea it would be such an all-consuming read. It was both devastating and hopeful, filled with magic that was all-at-once practical and haunting. This is another book I can’t wait to revisit.

“When you truly love someone and they love you in return, you ruin your lives together. That is not a curse, it’s what life is, my girl. We all come to ruin, we turn to dust, but whom we love is the thing that lasts.”

 

3.) the wicked deep by shea ernshaw

The promise of a novel filled with the essence of both Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus is fulfilled by reading Shea Ernshaw's debut. Within these pages is a story filled with regret, revenge, lies, and most of all, love. And every bit of this summertime story is just as wicked and deep as the title assures. To read more about my thoughts, check out my review, “So Easily Conjured.

“Perhaps we all have some oddity, some strangeness we keep hidden along our edges, things we see that we can't explain, things we wish for, things we run from.”

 

4.) circe by madeline miller

After finishing Miller’s debut, The Song of Achilles, I was excited to read her sophomore novel. Being obsessed with Greek mythology, I couldn’t wait to start reading this. With the combination of heartbreak, fierce femininity, and witchcraft, I was in love. Now I’m left looking forward to whatever Madeline Miller writes next.

"Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.” 

 

5.) the immortalists by chloe benjamin

As someone who enjoys the mysteries of tarot and prophecy, this novel, which begins with the Gold children discovering the day they will die was a perfect read. What follows are five decades filled with family, ambition, dysfunction, and belief. The unbelievably flawed characters within this narrative fear and follow their fate, and the result is both stunning and devastating.

“The power of words. They weaseled under door crevices and through keyholes. They hooked into invididuals and wormed through generations.” 

 

6.) my ariel by Sina Queyras

My unending love of Sylvia Plath led me to this collection of poetry. Sina Queyras explores the pull many feel to Plath’s last collection Ariel, taking inspiration from the groundbreaking text while still making it her own. After following the Plath Poetry Project myself, I recognized some of the most beautiful and horrific themes from Plath’s work, making this one of the most memorable collections I read all year.

“How can I escape the force of her narrative, how she pulls everyone and everything into her design?”

 

7.) my year of rest and relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Upon the recommendation of a coworker, I went into this book expecting some kind of Jane Austen story, but I suppose I was judging too heavily on the cover. What followed was one of the most unlikeable narrators I’ve read in some time, but whom I continued to enjoy page after page for that very reason. Following the year of this unnamed character as she tries to escape the resentment of her past with sleep, much of this story reminded me of The Bell Jar. As such, this book was one of the most surprising and satisfying reads all year.

“But I think I was also holding on to the loss, to the emptiness of the house itself, as though to affirm that it was better to be alone than to be stuck with people who were supposed to love you, yet couldn’t.” 

 

8.) What if it’s us by becky albertalli & adam silvera

Going into this book, I thought about how much I enjoyed Love, Simon and how devastated I was with They Both Die At the End (the title says it all, and yes, it almost made this list). While this book did make me cry, it wasn’t in the same way as the latter. As someone who loved Dear Evan Hansen, who has a fierce appreciation of musical theater, and of course, Hamilton, I absolutely devoured this book. At times adorable, heartwarming, and so honest, this was one book I can’t wait to return to when life gets rough and I need some happiness brought back into my world.

“I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.” 

 

9.) wink poppy midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Since its debut, I’ve wanted to read this gorgeous book. Upon reading, however, I had no idea how dark and twisted this story would be. But I loved every moment within Wink, Poppy, and Midnight’s connected lives.

“People aren't just one thing. They never, ever are.”

 

10.) dark sparkler by amber tamblyn

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this collection of poetry written about actresses lost before their time. But it wasn’t the haunting beauty of this book. Throughout reading, I found myself stopping to look up these tragic stories, or recalling the times I’d heard of these women before. Overall, the experience was somewhat obsessive, so I haven’t read again since, but it is a collection I continue to think about almost a year later.

“I’m told Galileo wept at how big his hands looked, how small they felt, while pointing at the stars.”

 

11.) belzhar by meg wolitzer

Another book brought into my life based on my love of Sylvia Plath, became one I so loved. This was a story I talked about at work and at home and one that truly surprised me, which as a writer, is often a difficult feat. The narrative tackles ideas of lost love, isolation, memories, and writing. With obvious connections to The Bell Jar, I found myself enthralled as these characters tried to bring themselves back to life.

“Books light the fire—whether it’s a book that’s already written, or an empty journal that needs to be filled in.”

 

12.) the night circus by erin morgenstern

Technically this book was a reread, but this time, I enjoyed the story as an audiobook. This second read reminded me why I so loved this story the first time around, and truly came to life through the audio rendering. I found myself getting lost in the circus, and wishing it were real long after the story was through.

“We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place.”

 

13.) the bees by laline paull

As a writer obsessed with honeybees, this story told from the POV of a bee was an absolute delight. This story handled the beauty and horror of what happens in hives, culminating in a terrifying tale of Flora 717.

“You have wings and courage and a brain. Do not annoy me by asking permission."

 

14.) malagash by Joey Comeau

This strange little book found its way to me during one of my many visits to The Strand in New York City. It was one, which sat on my shelf for too long until I took it on this year’s vacation. It would’ve been difficult for even the best of books to follow The Song of Achilles, yet this story still captivated me. Told from a daughter about to lose her father, Sunday attempts to create a computer virus that will preserve her dad forever. It was a beauty and a barrage of heartbreak.

“And if words mean something to you, if an idea moves you, aren't you changed, just a little?”

 

15.) tiny beautiful things: advice on love and life from dear sugar by cheryl strayed

Narrated by Cheryl Strayed, this collection of advice columns, both dazzled and destroyed me as I listened to the audiobook. So many of the anecdotes and advice were profound examinations of humanity and how we try our best to survive. I can’t wait to own a copy of this for myself to go back and discover the beautiful writing that stuck me so completely the first time. 

“Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore.” 

 

16.) grief is the thing with feathers by max porter

I purchased this book for the best friend long before reading Ted Hughes’ Crow. However, it wasn’t until after my love of Sylvia Plath led me to the aforementioned title that I found my way back to this book. It was an oddity, to say the least. But one which examined the profundity of loss and grief in the most vulnerable way. This definitely is a strange read, as Crow helps two young boys and their father work through their grief for the mother and wife they’ve lost. I think I enjoyed this a smidgen more than the best friend for having knowledge of Hughes’ work. But this stunning story is one that can be enjoyed by anyone who’s felt the echo of losing someone they love.

“Ghosts do not haunt, they regress. Just as when you need to go to sleep you think of trees or lawns, you are taking instant symbolic refuge in a ready-made iconography of early safety and satisfaction. That exact place is where ghosts go.” 

 

17.) i am not your final girl by claire c. holland

Another book purchased for the best friend, this collection reminded me of everything I loved about Amber Tamblyn’s collection. These poems follow different fictional female characters from horror films. It is a timely collection, which tackles violence, femininity, and the act of surviving.

“There is nothing else in this world like realizing you’re going to live and not being sure you can.”

18.) these are the women we write about by kayla king

This might be cheating, but if I am being truthful, this book is both my favorite read and proudest accomplishment of the year. Inspired by the women within Greek myths, my micro collection of poetry examines femininity, both past and present. I hope if you are reading this post that you might take the time to discover the women we write about, but never really know.

“I’m still too brilliant to become anything else. But I’m not sorry for what I’ve written.”

As I dive into some new books this year, I can’t wait to be transported to different worlds and to voyage through time, book after book! 

Want to know more about the books I read in 2018? Be my friend on Goodreads

All best,Kayla King.png

A Girl in a Coffee Shop, Or When did I Stop Reading for Fun?: A Guest Post

Contributed by Holley Long

The last semester of my senior year of college was the most stressed I have ever been, and if you know anything about college, that’s not supposed to be true. I myself had been dreaming of that last semester since my first, three years before, thinking about the filler classes I’d sign up for, like ballroom dancing and basket weaving. I’d watch every TV show on Netflix, I’d lay in the sun, I’d breathe.

coffee books.png

Instead, I decided to graduate early, so I had to cram my last degree requirements into the 18 hours I was allotted. I elected to write a senior thesis (creative, but still) and wrote through at least three drafts of a novella. I helped form a writing society on campus and completed a publishing internship, and between all that I tried to keep up with my own, personal writing.

Like I said: Stress.

It wasn’t anything I didn’t sign up for, and it helped my resume look a little less skimpy when I decided to apply for jobs after graduation, but it was a lot. One day, I was working in the campus coffee shop, on my third mocha and second chocolate muffin, writing furiously to finish a chapter of my thesis novella, and wondering if I should do my literature homework next or plan out a meeting for the writer’s society when I looked up, and saw a girl.

She was young, maybe a freshman, so girl seemed a fair term. She was dressed nicely, her hair and makeup neat, and carrying a small cup of whatever hot drink she’d decided to order. She hadn’t rolled out of bed that morning, throwing her hair into a hasty bun before putting on clothes from the top of her laundry hamper, having realized she had no more clean T-shirts. Her drink, more than likely her first of the day, probably didn’t have two shots of espresso because she was existing on three hours of sleep that morning. She looked the picture of stress-free living, which was completed when she reached into her bag and pulled out a book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and started to read from the first page. She became lost so easily in the pages, sipping her drink occasionally, like all that remained in the world was her and the story.

Eventually, I realized I was staring crazily at a complete stranger and I averted my eyes. But everything about that scene stuck with me. As a writer, all kinds of people and scenes stick with me as possible characters and settings, but this was different. For the first time, seeing someone so calm sitting just a few tables away from the madness of my own set up didn’t strike the writer in me. Instead, it struck the reader in me, someone I’d forgotten.

Being an English major (even just being a writer) meant it had been a very long time since I’d read anything for simple, pure enjoyment. With my reading lists stacked as high as they were, for classes, for my thesis, for research for whatever I was writing at the time, I just couldn’t justify sliding in anything that I could read for just…fun. In fact, the last time I could remember reading anything without hoping for some kind of gain from it was when I was reading children’s books, like Harry Potter.

When I want to sound smart, I tell people my favorite book is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. When I’m being honest, I say my favorite book is Flipped, by Wendelin Van Draanen. If you’ve never read Flipped (a darn shame, if you ask me), then I’ll give you a quick overview: an eighth grade girl, Juli, has loved the boy next door since he moved to town when they were seven. The boy, Bryce, is not so much a fan of her affection. Though Juli can’t put her finger on what she sees in Bryce, beyond his darling blue eyes and thick dark hair, she does not relax in her endeavours to be noticed by him, until one day Bryce shows his true colors. As Juli’s feelings begin to wane, however, Bryce starts to see Juli in a new light, one more awe-inspiring than he’d originally cast on her. Thus, their situations…flip.

It’s a cute book. It’s short, and sweet, and packs a lot into its pages. I’ve read it so often I can quote lines in casual conversation, and at the end I always wish for a sequel, even though the author has explained so many times why there isn’t going to be one. Sometimes I think it might have been the book that made me decide to be a writer, but back when I read it for the first time it was just a story, filling the heart of a preteen girl.

Though Flipped left a lasting impression on me, I didn’t read it for anything more than what the story offered. The same is true for my other childhood reads: The Babysitters Club, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Nancy Drew, and, yes, Harry Potter. That’s not to say these books didn’t offer anything; on the contrary, they’ve given more than most of the “adult” books I’ve read to this date. But I didn’t want anything from them other than a good tale that made me feel less alone in the world. Back then, reading was new, and joyful, and not fuel my own creations.

When the girl left the coffee shop that day, long before I’d finished the million things on my to-do list, I wanted what she had, or at least what I perceived her to have (I’m not going to try and pretend to know what kind of life she lived; for all I knew, her life was busier than mine). I wanted to sink into a book, and not think about what it could teach me for a class or for my writing. I wanted to just be in the story, no ulterior motives.

I’m not there yet; even after graduating some few months after that day, I still choose books based on what I’m writing. I feel compelled to, as I try and build my writing career day by day. One day, though, I will search my shelves for that old favorite. I’ll pull it from its spot, running fingers over the worn cover and dog-eared pages. I’ll sit down with a cup of coffee (De-caf!), not a care in the world, and flip to page one.

 

About Holley Long

I'm Holley, and I like to write things that make readers say, "Hmmm..." I'm a graduate of the University of Alabama's English and Creative Writing program, and currently I work at a news station as a digital reporter. My blog is A Writer's Life For Me (awriterslifeforme.com), where you can read all about my trials and tribulations as an aspiring author. I have multiple works in progress, and my biggest flaw is sticking to just one. I live in the South with a cat and a handful of people who don't quite get my writing life but who are always there to cheer me on.

Thanks for sharing, Holley!

All best,Kayla King.png

Fangirling Over Fangirl

I just finished Rainbow Rowell's young adult novel, Fangirl, and I'm so sad it's over. Reading this book was like finding a piece of sea glass on the beach when you're not looking, like wishing on a fuzzy dandelion and having your wish come true. It was completely unexpected, but so rewarding in the end. Picking up this book, I knew it would be good; I'd already madly in love with Eleanor and Park when I read it back in January.

library.png

There was something about Cath, Wren, Reagan, and Levi, which made them seem so real despite the fact that they are just characters in a book. They are flawed, imperfect, and speak their minds honestly. And for the short time I spent with them in this fictional world, they were like my best friends. I connected with Cath as a writer and lover of a fandom, which many people often snub. But luckily, like Cath, I've found friends who support my love of all things nerdy. I have family to supports me, too, and a love for the stories I've read, and the stories in my head. 

fangirl.jpg

I can't wait to go back and read this lovely piece of YA lit. again, but I'm also saddened because I'll never have the unknowingness the next time around. There is something so perfect and magical about reading a really good book for the first time. But there's also something wonderful about reading your favorite book again and again because you never read it the same way, even if the book doesn't change. You're the one who's changed. And because you've changed, there are certain lines you pay more attention to, which make you smile a little brighter, phrases to break your heart, and scenes that still make you cry. 

I think that's the beauty of all books. Having the ability to go back and spend time with some of your favorite people in worlds you enjoy is important to stay positive, to have faith in this world when bad things happen. And for me, it's even more important because it shows words and stories are still important, making me believe my words and my stories are important. too. And I can't wait to share them with the world. But until then, I think I'm going to fall into fictional place I love!

Book Love

Today, I wanted to give some much deserved book love to Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

I absolutely loved this book! It was refreshing to see Cinderella be more than someone scrubbing floors and wearing pretty dresses; Cinder is a bad ass female! The way Meyer twists the traditional fairytale, breathes new life into Cinderella, while all at once delivering nostalgic gems hidden within the text.

There is a beautiful moment in the story: 

 "If there was one thing she knew from years as a mechanic, it was that some stains never come out." 

Though simple, this seems to encapsulate everything, which later happens within this delightful retelling. It's exciting to see that other people are just as enthralled with fairytales as I am. I can't wait to read Scarlet and Cress, the next books in the wonderfully eerie Lunar Chronicles.

A Letter To Those Who Wish To Ban Books

Dear You,

You, who try to stamp out these books, which have not grown to harm our children, but rather, have sprouted from the hands and the souls of writers who were once children, who now wish to spark a flame in the mind, and to heal a wounded heart. You who try to say these books are not important, that stories are not important,  have you ever had someone say your story is not important to this world? 

How can you say that children should not see and hear the things that are happening around them? How can you say they should keep their noses out of books, and instead, pressed to the glass of school bus windows where children sit and talk with mouths full of words we'd rather they not speak? How can you say we shouldn't talk about the things, which hurt our children, and torture our children, that come up to our children with a plastic cup filled with beer or whiskey or whatever they can find to drown out the pain? Why would you rather they taste the booze between those sweet lips instead of tasting it through a voracious literary appetite? 

Why should we let girls struggle with weight and rape and the utter pain of a broken heart, alone? Why should we let boys treat girls like they don't matter? Why should we categorize and stereotype the experiences of these young adults? And for that matter, why should we call them young adults if we do not let them behave like adults who are young? 

Why would you take away a hunger for words trailed across the page like spaghetti, wound around the mind like pasta around the tines of a fork? Why would you discourage a belief in books, in magic, in wonderful words, which broaden the mind and make the world beautiful, and true? 

You see, I just don't understand. I am a believer in books. In words. I stories. But you see, I am a writer. And I am a reader. And I was a girl who walked through school hallways with bullies and wounds that could not be bandaged over. But you see, I did not become like those girls on the news. I did not become a statistic. Books rescued me. And that's why I can't understand why you'd take a book from the hands of our children and instead replace it with a smart phone. I can't understand why you'd let these things poison them from the inside out when words could heal them.

 I guess I'll never understand because I believe in books.

Just Another Drop In the Ocean

Yesterday, I briefly touched on my views of book banning, but figured I'd wait and do an entire post about this controversial topic today. Let me preface this post by saying I believe in books, and intend to fight for them as long as there is a fight to be had. As a voracious reader, and a writer who would like to be published someday, book censorship is a topic close to my heart.

ocean.png

Recently, I found that a number of books, including Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, were being challenged at my former high school. At first, I felt outraged, but then, I just felt saddened. Much of my writing grows from these more intense emotions, and this time was no different.

You can find my response to this news in a letter I wrote here. I've thought and stewed and simmered about this since the beginning of January, but I've finally done something about it. I sent a letter to the superintendent of my former high school, and included information to help her understand why no book should ever be banned. And I included why I thought The Bluest Eye held literary and personal importance for students. Then I added a wonderful article and manifesto from 2010 about the dangers of book banning, which you can find here. This is a beautiful and powerful manifesto written by one of my favorite YA authors, Ellen Hopkins. She has certainly seen her fair share of her own books being banned because of the tough topics covered therein. But I've always thought that was what made her books so uniquely important to young adults. 

Of course, I understand why books are being challenged. Books are the most dangerous weapons we have at our disposal; all at once having the power to broaden the mind and connect people, which, can be dangerous. And of course, I understand why canonical texts are used, why they're important, and how the Common Core is changing education. But still, I don't think censoring literature is the answer. 

Why am I talking about this here?

Do I hope all of you invisible readers out there will understand how important books are? Yes, of course. But I also want you to understand that you have the power to stand up for these books, for your ideas, and for your right to read. In my quest to begin a campaign against book censorship, I found a wonderful website, which reviews banned books and explains why they are important. You can find that website here.

I passed the website along to the superintendent as well, and then reached out to R. Wolf Baldassarro, the writer and publisher of that amazing website. I wanted to share my gratitude for his site, explaining how it helped me organize my thoughts around this campaign. He very graciously emailed me back yesterday, and thanked me! And then, he emailed me again with a link to his page where he not only thanked me, but said some very poignant and beautiful things about this cause. You can find his post here

In the post, he said something remarkable:

 "We are each of us a drop of water, but together we can wash away the fear and ignorance of the world."

So I suppose, though I am just a drop in this vast ocean of people fighting against book censorship, my drop makes that ocean bigger. His post ended by saying that "the ripples have begun. In time it shall become a tidal wave." I am hoping all of us, the readers and the writers of the world, can become that tidal wave.

The Most Memorable Books of 2013

Below are the thirteen most memorable books I read in 2013, in no particular order of course. There are still many more on my to read list but I guess those will just have to wait until 2014!

1. )Allegiant by Veronica Roth 

Though I have traveled with the characters of this series since it first came out, I'm not sure I could be any more devastated to finish this book. I, however, didn't love this book the way I'd hoped. And not for the reasons you might think. There were moments, which seemed to negate everything Roth worked so hard to build in her other two books. If you're looking for a book to make you feel brave or simply a world to get wrapped up in, I do suggest this series. Even though this is the final book in the trilogy, this doesn't mean Roth is done. Stay tuned for Four , her collection of short stories coming out in 2014, and the Divergent movie making it's big screen debut March 2014! 

2.) The Giver by Lois Lowry 

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Have you ever been asked what your favorite book is and had a difficult time answering? It seems like the typical college question, which I've encountered, and I always start thinking of my top five. Because my favorite is always changing, but the list of absolute favorites usually stays the same. And this is one of the books from that list. So why am I reviewing it under the 2013 books? Well, I reread it again this year, and fell in love with it all over again! Each time I read this book, I take away something new. I remember the first time I read this in eighth grade, thinking it was such a simple story, and yet, it is probably one of the most complicated books I've ever read. If you found your way to this book yet, you need to just that! And if you have, well I'm sure you know what I mean when I say it's amazing. Though this is an older book, they are making it into a film in the future with Jeff Bridges playing the Giver. I guess, until then, I'll just have to keep reminding myself that the book is always better so as not to be too disappointed when I actually see the movie.

3.) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I don't think I can properly assess this book just yet seeing as I'm not quite finished with it. But there's still a few more days in 2013 so it will happen. This is the third book by Gaiman that I've read this year and I've been just as pleased. In fact, I had one of those weird, geeky, my mind has just been blown moments while reading this book. There is a moment when Bod, the protagonist, meets the spirit of a witch named Liza Hempstock, which, if I'd read this first probably would have meant nothing. But because I read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane earlier this summer, I noticed the last name. You see, invisible reader, Gaiman's newest adult novel which debuted this summer is based around a group of witches named Hempstock. So you can see why my mind just couldn't take that connection. It made me start thinking about all of these irrational things about lineage and future stories and endless questions that really had nothing to do with my current reading of The Graveyard Book. Needless to say, I'm taking my time with this one. There is so much to find between these pages, which teaches you about life and love and imagination. It is worth your time to read!

4.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling 

What can I say about what might be my favorite book series of all time? Certainly, if I don't say this is my favorite book, then I can say Jo Rowling is my favorite author. She gave me a childhood filled with magic and imagination and words and stories; she is the reason I still love words today. But as for this little boy with glasses and a lightning bolt scar, I just want to say thank you. This book and this series taught me about the importance of friendship and love and Harry Potter has been my best friend since third grade, and still is today. So why did this make the most memorable books of 2013? Well, invisible reader, I read this book every year during the holiday season, and every year it makes me feel like a kid again. Thus, I'm more able to enjoy the magic and innocence of Christmas. During this time of year it is easy to get lost in wrapping paper and shopping and the stress that always follows, but Harry always seems to make this season a little less stressful and for that, I'm always thankful.

5.) The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen 

Though this book ended much too soon, I absolutely fell in love! It was one of those books that I bought on a whim, which then sat on my shelf for far too long, and then completely consumed my life while I was reading it. Filled with magic, heartache, love, and loss, this book is one that is truly special to me. For anyone looking for a beautiful world to fall into, I would recommend this 110%. I look forward to reading more books by Allen and to falling madly in love all over again with her characters! There is something really special about an author and a story that can create magic like Allen and The Girl Who Chased The Moon. I can't wait to read this again in 2014!

6.) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman 

As previously mentioned, I loved this book! Gaiman is the master of creating haunting stories, which stay with you long after the book is finished. The Hempstock ladies in this book gave a great example of female power and the importance of family. I've recommended this book to so many of my friends now that I've started to lose count. It's just that good. This book taught me that magic and whimsy combined with darkness is just like real life, and that it's okay to use both when writing. In fact, it's more than okay, it's necessary! If you're craving a good scare or just a fantastical world to escape to, read Gaiman's newest book!

7.) Oh the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

For the longest time, I'd never really read this entire book. It may seem childish, but I promise Dr. Seuss writes about some pretty life-changing things in this short book. And this year, between graduating and getting into graduate school, I think I needed to read this book. I bought this for my sister this summer as a high school graduation present, but ended up reading it three or four times before I gave it to her. Sometimes we don't need thick tomes about life to help us see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, all we need are a few rhyming words, some colorful pictures, and a guarantee that even when we can't see it, we'll be going places soon!

8.) No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel 

I borrowed this from the best friend, not really knowing what it was about. I started it the same way. But by the time I was done, I realized this was more than just a book. It was a testimony to the importance of words and stories and how they can carry us through even the worst moments of life. The book begins with a character who tells us about her story, but ends with a character who has had to change her story just to survive. It was beautiful and magical and devastating. If I had the chance to reread this, I would. In fact, I loved this book so much that I gave it to one of my own characters to read. And though that sounds crazy, it's not. I love the fact that this cover is not covered in disingenuous promises of greatness. It never boasts that it is wonderful and mesmerizing. It waits until you are waist deep in its words to whisper about how amazing it really is. If you are looking for a fantastic piece of fiction, this is one of them! I'm sure you've noticed that most of the books on this list are young adult fiction because the majority of the books I read are YA. But this book was so good I didn't even notice it wasn't YA.

9.) Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott 

I read this book to do a book "report" for my Writing for the Professions class and ended up loving it more than I thought I would. I've read quite a few books about writing. While those books have been informative, none were nearly as enjoyable as this one. The great thing about this book is that it doesn't simply profess all the things a writer should do. It gives wonderful anecdotes mixed with sage writing advice. And Lamott never says you should take her advice. She just puts it out there for you to take for yourself. There are several techniques I've used from this book that have worked quite well for my daily writing routine, and then there are others which didn't work for me. But that's the amazing thing about writing! It's a unique experience for everyone. So for any of you that are writers out there I recommend the book. And for those of you who aren't writers, this book is great regardless.

10.) Requiem by Lauren Oliver 

I am so sad that I had to give this three stars on Goodreads ( and even that's generous). But I promise it was necessary. The first book in this series, Delirium, was amazing. The second book, Pandemonium, wasn't spectacular but second books rarely are. But most often, the third book in a series is mesmerizing and beautiful and ties up all its loose ends. This, however, was nothing of the sort. I'm not sure if any of you have seen Silver Linings Playbook, specifically the scene where Bradley Cooper throws his book out the window. But that was the same reaction I had to the end of this book. Only I didn't throw it out the window. Instead I woke up the sleeping members of my family on our way home from Myrtle Beach. Though I wouldn't necessarily say you shouldn't read this series, I would caution you to begin the last book with care. It will most likely disappoint you. But for me, it gave an example of what not to do when I finish my series. So even though the end of this book was not amazing, it taught me that endings are just as important as beginnings.

11.) Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares 

Unlike Requiem, Sisterhood Everlasting was a great end to a beloved series. Though this book brought back some of my favorite characters, they were older, and so much had happened since I finished reading Forever in Blue (Book Four). This book was filled with an inescapable sadness, which left me weeping into the wee hours of morning. But that's life I suppose. And though these characters are flawed, they are more real to me than most people I know. If you haven't read The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants series yet, you should. And if you're scared to read the adult versions of your favorite characters you should be. But sometimes, even when we're most scared, life offers us the best experiences. This book was one of those great experiences.

12.) Crash by Lisa McMann 

I read this book pretty early into 2013, and can't wait to read the sequel, Bang, as soon as I have time. Plain and simple, this was a fun read. Lisa McMann is at her best when writing these supernatural books (I fell in love with her Wake series years before) with characters who are flawed, and often don't see themselves as special despite having unusual gifts. And yet, McMann creates characters for readers to care about. I read this book in one sitting, glued to the edge of my seat, and flipping furiously from page to page. If you're looking for a great, suspenseful read, look no further. As the first McMann book I've read since the Wake series finished, I was impressed!

13.) Smoke by Ellen Hopkins 

I have been waiting for this book since I finished it's companion in high school. And I must say, just like Burned, this did not disappoint. Ellen Hopkins has a way of writing about life, which feels real and gritty and flawed and beautiful, all while fitting into the constraints of poetic prose. The book brought me back to my first journey with Pattyn and I felt just as enthralled by this experience as the first time around. I don't think I could have asked for a better way to wrap up a story I have been thinking about for the past several years. Well done, Ellen Hopkins! Well done!

This concludes my reviews of the thirteen most memorable books from 2013! I hope you have found some great new books to discover. I hope you've looked back at the most memorable books you read this year. And if you're not a reader, I hope this post has made you interested in reading. It's truly one of the greatest things life has to offer. I firmly believe it only takes one book to make people life-long readers. And who knows, maybe one of those books is listed here for you!