My 12 Days of XXXmas marathon is at its end, so I thought I’d throw out the names of some of the best books I’ve read in 2013, to see us out to the end of this quickly fading year. (Note that these are books I read in 2013, not necessarily books that were published in 2013.)
Buckle up and ready your e-readers for more downloads!
Best Erotica of 2013
This year, oddly enough, I didn’t read much erotica at all. However, the two I enjoyed the most were both by indie authors. Therefore, I pronounce this year’s Best Erotica category a tie between Pavarti K. Tyler’s Sugar & Salt and D.C. McMillen’s The Wedding. Both are short pieces that belong to a larger series, but also stand alone, confident in their stilettos.
Best Western of 2013
Yep, you read that one right. Though I’m not normally a big fan of the genre, and the last western I read was probably Shane way back in seventh grade, my writer pal Ed Kurtz recently persuaded me to give westerns another shot. After quizzing Ed about his book’s relative merits, versus say Annie Proulx’s infamous “Brokeback Mountain” story, I bought a copy of his novella, A Wind of Knives, and tore through it over the holidays. Great book, worth every penny.
It’s also the winner of this year’s Best Title of 2013 award. Seriously, killer.
Best Horror of 2013
Speaking of genres I don’t typically read, Jessica McHugh’s horror cavalcade set in a strip club, Pins, rang in my 2013 as I stayed up super late into the new year to finish it. And holy hell, what a ride it was! Though I can’t say I’m a convert to the genre (gore just not being my jam), I thoroughly enjoyed Jessica’s astutely observed strippers, from the lifers to those just trying to pay the bills, and the kinds of very bad things that can befall them — whether or not they work in a place that doubles as a bowling alley. I’m definitely a fan of the McHughniverse now, though, and look forward to reading more of her cross-genre works in 2014.
Best Nonfiction of 2013
Far and away my favorite nonfiction book of 2013 was Kevin C. Fitzpatrick’s Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide. Not only will this gem teach you how to make fine adult beverages from the 1920s (and beyond!), but it’ll also give you lots of great tippling trivia about Dottie and her gang at the Algonquin Round Table that you can toss like glitter at all the parties you’ll be attending in the New Year. A great reference for writers, drinkers, and Dorothy Parker fans.
Best Graf novel of 2013
That’s graffiti novel, not graphic novel. And yes, there is a difference. The winner, Rage is Back by Adam Mansbach (yes, of Go the Fuck to Sleep fame), spirited me back to my New York City days, most of which were spent commuting on “bombed” subway cars, for at least two hours one-way. I got a helluva lot of reading done on the subway, come to think of it. So, even though commuting in NYC will always suck, I can’t begrudge the time it gave me to speed through tons of great books. If I’d had this one on my lap, things would’ve been even more awesome. More, please!
Best Crime Novel of 2013
Definitely one of the stand-out anthologies of the year, my favorite crime novel of the year was Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense edited by Sarah Weinman. I still haven’t written up a proper review for this one, since it’s hard to pick just a few stories to highlight out of all the great material in here, from Patricia Highsmith to Shirley Jackson to Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, but if you love some damned dames, this is your fix.
Best Poetry of 2013
Another end-of-the-year read, Dena Rash Guzman’s Life Cycle is one of those books that deserves all of its truly abundant accolades. Though I often run screaming from poetry titles, Dena’s book is smart, approachable and often times laugh-out-loud funny, too. A proper review is forthcoming, over at Black Heart Magazine, but for now let me just say I am thrilled to have read this cheeky little volume, and I look forward to reading lots more from Dena in the future. (P.S. You can’t buy this one at Amazon; only through Powell’s Books online or in stores.)
Best Childhood Fave Re-Read of 2013
Pretty much every childhood favorite I’ve re-read this year has been amazing, but rediscovering Roald Dahl’s inventive wordsmithery (not to mention the true meaning of “snozzcumbers”!) has inspired me to take up my quill and go a little crazy on the page in 2014. The BFG was my favorite as a kid, and it’s still the greatest, although I have to admit I also really enjoyed getting reacquainted with Louise Fitzhugh’s marvelous Harriet the Spy - still a favorite amongst those of us who carry notebooks absolutely everywhere.
Best Serial of 2013
I love mysteries — the cheesier and punnier and cozier the better — so I was thrilled to see Neal Pollack had written one for Kindle Serials entitled Downward-Facing Death. As I devoured each new installment, I was panting for more, and Mr. P delivered. I hope he’ll write lots more of these funny, strange mysteries in the future, whether as serials or full-length novels.
And speaking of mysteries…
Best Noir Mystery of 2013
I know everyone read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl last year and went bonkers for it (so much so that it’s currently in production as a David Fincher film, with none other than Ben Affleck in the lead male role), but I read it as part of this year’s Tournament of Books and absolutely loved it. It’s one of the darkest novels about married life I’ve read in recent times, and it’s perfectly disturbing as well as an incredibly well executed mystery. So just go read it if you haven’t already. It’s a great example of he said/she said that actually works and the plot will have you guessing all the way through.
Best Public Domain Book of 2013
Which means that in 2014 I’m totally going to have to write some filthy erotica using everybody’s favorite consulting detective as the star. Yum!
Also, if you haven’t yet grabbed a free copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, you really should. It’s — dare I say it? — elementary.
That about does it for my 2013 reading list. So, what were YOUR favorite books of 2013?