It’s that time of year again when good-byes are said, and lists of the best moments of the passing year are relived. My way of reliving my year is through books, because every book I read leaves memories with it: Of where I had read it, my emotional state when reading, the images it had painted, and the way it has changed me. So without further ado, here is a list of my favourite books of 2013.
Please note that not all these books were published in 2013, they are simply the best 10 I had read during the year.
Like a whimsical poem, this book gave so much insight about cultures I had never been familiar with. Poetic in language, slow paced and everything a romantic could hope for.
9- The Stranger- Albert Camus
The Stranger introduced me to a completely new way of thinking, and although it opposes everything I had ever thought of the world, it is always insightful to see what surrounds me in a completely different light. Before you read this book, be prepared for long nights of thinking about the meaning of life.
8- The Cuckoo’s Calling- J.K. Rowling
While I would have hoped this book would make it to the top of my list, I find myself unable to rate it more. From the literary genius comes another shift from her former writings (No need to mention what they are). The story is a typical crime/mystery novel- a la Agatha Christie-. Yet Rowling’s style, her characterisation, and her narration in its totality always seem to strike a baffling string around my heart. Although I found the ending predictable, I cannot but emphasise the skill employed in the writing of the book, which proves the point that Rowling is among the best writers of our time. She has a story, and she tells it masterfully.
7- The Curious Case of the Dog In The Night-Time- Mark Haddon
Full of humor and compassion. I learned not only a lot of facts from this book, but also about individuals that many of us call different. I had never known what it would feel like to be in their shoes. Do read this book with an open heart, and you will be surprised at how easily it will creep into you, and how it will become part of who you are.
6- Life of Pi- Yann Martel
I had heard of this book around 5 years ago. I never gave it a chance because of the overwhelming number of unread books I had in my library. At that time, few people knew of it, and fewer still had read it. Then I heard of the movie coming up, yet did not give much time to read it. I saw the movie; I was mind blown and decided to finally read the book: And I was at a loss for words at how beautiful the narration is, and at how powerful the message is, and since I am no fan of didactic art, the novel grabbed at my longing for questions and did not offer a solution. I was mystified, not because it explained something I had not known before, but because it made me ask more questions.
5- De Niro’s Game- Rawi Hage
I am probably being bias when it comes tot his book. Many would not have found it as beautiful. But being born and raised in Beirut, knowing its streets and loving every loud noise it offered, every fetid smell and every war-torn building of its smaller neighbourhoods, I felt attached. Set before my time, although shares many aspects of my childhood, the book made me delve into the lives my parents and grandparents had lived under the threats of the Lebanese civil war. It made me weep for what our fathers had done to themselves and to us. How they created a culture full of segregation and hate. Yet, this book made me hopeful, that we Lebanese have a come a long way since our streets are divided. Although traces of the war still lurk, I believe it shows that we have grown out of it, and we are finally learning to accept, and to love one another.
4- Throne of Glass- Sarah J. Maas
At first it stroke me as a Hunger Games meets Cinderella wannabe. Throne of Glass is far from it. I cannot tell what made me so attached to it. Honestly. I have reason to assume it’s because of the kick-ass protagonist. I’ve fallen in love with her since the opening of the book: her glass heart, her numbness but most of all, her past. She is a character I would love to follow in the series that lay ahead.
3- And The Mountains Echoed- Khaled Husseini
A gorgeous story. A heartbreaking chronicle for the lives of a torn family. It’s so beautifully written that I found myself enthralled and hypnotised. I read through the book at an astonishing speed yet never wanting to finish it, always thinking: Why do some books have to end? And The Mountains Echoed is a class A tear-jerker. It gives you such a mixure of emotions towards some characters, you want to hate them, to blame them for the destruction and pain they cause, yet you sympathise with them; you understand them and you love them.
A few books only caused me to do this: I finished the book with regret. I felt guilty for reading it so fast. It is a book that I would most definitely revisit.
2- The Book Thief- Markus Zusak
And now we’re getting serious.
I just smoked a cigarette and drank half my coffee before I was able to write my review for this book. Yes. It’s that beautiful.
Remembering The Book Thief brings tears to my eyes. It brings so much sadness, so much anger and so much hate to humanity and the destruction we are able to cause so mindlessly in the name of honour through the device of violence and war. Remembering brings fury to the futility that we associate with human life. It makes me weep, and it makes me shudder. I will refrain from saying more, hence I will end up philosophising and spoiling much of the book’s content. I will only tell you of how I finished the book.
I was at home in Riyadh. I was sitting with friends, and when the end of the book was near, I felt something will happen to me, so I excused myself and went to my room and locked the door. And I read, and I cried and I wept to the point where my head literally hurt. Call me oversensitive. Call me whatever you would. But my heart literally broke. I was later told by these friends who were over, that the sound of my cried was overheard around the house.
1- Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell
If I was to make a list of my favourite all-time books, this book would still probably top it. I don’t know what connection I’d made. i don’t know if it was because I read it at a time in my life where I was able to associate and relate to the book, but I do know that this book is one of the few books that have inspired and made much of what I am today. I am not the writer of this review if it were not for this book and only a handful of others.
It took me much time to finish this book; it took so much time and effort to follow the chronology and the patterns by which it is weaved, but I am thankful for every second I spent flipping through its pages. It tells the history, the present and the future of human kind, all jumbled up in 500 pages. It’s so imaginative that you wonder at the power of the human intellect to conjure and produce so much. It makes you feel dull, lacking of creativity and boring. yet it challenges you. There’s many a lines I could quote from the book, but i will share with you my favourite, in hopes to persuade you to read this magnificent literary masterpiece. And I promise you one thing: The movie (although beautiful) does not give it the tenth of its value. If you are looking to be changed. Read Cloud Atlas.
“Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, and though a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud and so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud’s blowed from or who the soul’ll be tomorrow? Only Sonmi the east an’ the west an’ the compass an’ the atlas, yay, only the atlas o’ clouds.”