Books I Read in 2013: The Good and The Bad

One of the 101 Goals in 1001 Days I really stuck to during the challenge was reading more.  I used to read all the time when I was younger and somehow got away from it when mandatory reading for school came into the picture.  I thought I’d share my favorites of the books I read in 2013 in case any of you are looking for recommendations!

Favorite Books Read in 2013Must Reads:

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us {My Rating: 5 of 5} – This is not a diet or health book, but more of an in depth history of our food and how the products we all know came into being and developed throughout the years.  It also explains a lot about food science, why products taste and look the way they do, why they are advertised the way they are, and more.  No judgement is passed on the companies or the food items they produce, but cold hard facts are presented which will make you think twice before buying another processed “food” item.  By far my favorite book of the year.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar {My Rating: 5 of 5} – This book is sort of like a more intense version of Chicken Soup for the Soul.  It’s a collection of the best letters written to “Dear Sugar,” an anonymous advice columnist later revealed to be Cheryl Strayed, and her responses to those letters.  Both the questions and advice given are so raw and honest that they will likely change the way you feel about your own life.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette {My Rating: 5 of 5} – Written in the form of compiled emails, official documents, doctor’s bills, magazine articles, and more from the perspective of a daughter searching for her mother, this book made me laugh out loud on many occasions and kept my interest throughout.  I think I read it in about three sittings, which is quite unusual for me.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson {My Rating: 5 of 5} – I had read and loved every John Green book thus far, and this was no exception.   It is a cute story about two boys with the same name who wind up meeting each other, finding love, and putting on a musical.  It’s funny and heartwarming and honest at the same time.  The chapters alternate between the perspectives of each of the two Will Grayson’s, as does the novel itself, as John Green alternates writing every other chapter with David Levithan.

Recommended:

Paper Towns {My Rating: 5 of 5} – Another John Green book.  Surprise, surprise.  Hopefully he comes out with another in 2014 or I’m out of luck.  It’s funny and mysterious and is such a great coming of age young adult novel.  I wish he had written these books when I was a teenager.  This is a much easier read than The Fault in Our Stars and won’t leave you sobbing through the chapters.  Recommended.

I Wear the Black Hat {My Rating: 4 of 5} – Chuck Klosterman is ridiculously great at writing about pop culture in ways that no one else can.  In his newest book, he questions the modern understanding of villainy and philosophizes about why human reactions to these villains are so varied and unpredictable.  This book would receive 5 stars from me if I was a bit older, as  some of the pop culture references were before my time.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls {My Rating: 4 of 5} – We listened to the audio book for this which is voiced by David Sedaris himself  on our road trip this summer.  It’s hilarious and touching and perfect for road trips or commutes since each chapter/segment is a collection of short personal essays.

The Kite Runner {My Rating: 4 of 5} – An awesome book, but not for the faint of heart.  I have not yet seen the movie, but I plan to see that and read his other books at some point.

The Great Gatsby {My Rating: 4 of 5} – A classic, of course, and a great quick read just before the Leonardo DiCaprio movie came out.

Not Taco Bell Material {My Rating: 4 of 5} – A great book for any Adam Carolla fan.  Many of the stories have been discussed throughout his radio shows and podcast episodes, but there are some new gems and it’s a much more organized history of his life.

The Firm {My Rating: 4 of 5} – I had never read a John Grisham book and the mister recommended that I read one.  It was definitely a captivating thriller and a good intro to John Grisham.  It’s not my favorite genre, but it was an enjoyable read, so that’s saying something!

Skippable:

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail {My Rating: 3 of 5} – I read this because I loved Tiny Beautiful Things so much.  It was definitely an interesting true story, and made me cry a few times, but overall I felt no sympathy for the author.  Essentially, she was just a very ill-prepared and immature woman dangerously hiking alone on the Pacific Crest Trail.

The Bell Jar {My Rating: 3 of 5} – Yes, it’s a classic, but I simply did not find much joy in reading it.  It’s a depressing book and one that many can relate to, but I felt sort of nonchalant about whatever came Esther’s way.

Dad is Fat {My Rating: 3 of 5} – Love, love, love Jim Gaffigan.  He is definitely my favorite comedian.  The problem with the book is that it features almost exclusively jokes from his stand up routines, which I already know quite well and prefer to see him deliver on stage rather than read it.  Others who haven’t seen his stand up may enjoy this more, especially if they have kids.  I’d recommend checking out Mr. Universe or Beyond the Pale, two of my favorite of his standup specials, instead.  Your abs will get a good workout.

Eleanor & Park {My Rating: 2 of 5} – In my opinion, this was the most overrated book of the year!  It topped many “best book” lists and caught my eye enough times in the bookstore for me to pick up my own copy.  I was so overwhelmingly disappointed with it, though.  I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters and didn’t find their actions to be at all realistic.  This is the only book I actually regret reading from this year.

If you have any favorite book recommendations to add, feel free to let me know in the comments!

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