Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The best books I read in 2013

13138 pages and 44 books in 365 days:

It's been a wonderful year of reading (in 3 languages!) This year's booklist is definitely more variegated than last year's - it features the occasional textbook, several short story anthologies, poetry collections, a play and even two memoirs. Not bad. Here are the 5 that have made the deepest impressions (not counting Morrison's Beloved, which I technically read last year):

1) Outliers

This is the pithy, informative read that changed my mind about non-fics. It's also a noggin-filler of research-backed facts, anecdotes and stats that one can whip out at any apt moment - why are Asians better at math? How do one's deep-rooted cultural values affect one's success? I'm glad to have been introduced to Gladwell's genius this year.
The 10,000 hour rule is a definite key in success.
2) Sylvia Plath: The Collected Poems

My (along with many others', I'm sure) favourite poetry collection. Not my first time reading Plath, of course, but this was the year in which I finished reading/annotating-ish the collection. Can one ever 'finish' a poetry collection? Don't think so - but the special lines one culls from compiled poems run and resonate forever.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
3) This Is How You Lose Her

Speaking of forever, Junot Diaz's short story collection was heartbreaking, funny, clever, authentic... it was a refreshing read (esp. with inclusion of swear words, I confess) to tackle after having a hard time with July's People and All the Names. Diaz also responded to my fanmail, which is really the cherry on top.
The half-life of love is forever
4) Wild Swans

I've seen Wild Swans on countless shelves, but never read it until this year. It not only refreshed my memory of a semester spent studying the Cultural Revolution but also helped me overcome my tome-phobia induced by Plath's unabridged (emphasis on unabridged) journals. Meeting Jung Chang was also sublime - she is so regal.
“Father is close, Mother is close, but neither is as close as Chairman Mao.”
5) Quiet

Another non-fiction! Quiet is the Introvert's Bible. It sings the anthem of each bookworm, outcast, nerd... (sorry, getting stereotypical and carried away). It's well supported, lucidly written and a definite comfort-read for any loner informative. Even those who are Loud (haha) will appreciate its intelligibility.
Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.

2014 Reading Resolutions

1) Do not neglect the mother tongue - I'll start adding any Chinese books I read to my Goodreads booklist.
2) Be patient with the esoteric - I was a little restless with E.L. Doctorow...
3) More time on the shorts - I'm still reading Alice Munro's short stories and am about to begin Flappers and Philosophers, which I'll spend more time poring over!
4) Continue blogging!

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