My year of reading 2013

Arcane BookshopI was asked for a three-book ‘best of’ list and summer reading list for a feature  in The Melbourne Review, with the stipulation that all books had to be released in 2013. (Quite by chance, the three were laid out together on a display table at The Arcane Bookshop in Perth–see photo–when I visited last month). I’ve reproduced my lists below, with links where I’ve reviewed them on this blog.

Best of 2013
Hannah Kent, Burial Rites (Picador)
Christos Tsiolkas, Barracuda (Allen & Unwin)
David Whish-Wilson, Zero at the Bone (Penguin)

Summer reading
Amanda Curtin, Elemental (UWA Publishing)
Garry Disher, Bitter Wash Road (Text)
Laura Jean McKay, Holiday in Cambodia (Black Inc.)

I was also invited by my partner, author/reviewer/blogger Andrew Nette for my top five crime reads for 2013, regardless of release date. My list for Pulpcurry comprised:

Top crime reads 2013
Honey Brown, After the Darkness (I reviewed her 2013 release, Dark Horse)
Robert Gott, The Holiday Murders
Hannah Kent, Burial Rites
Dennis Lehane, Live by Night
David Whish-Wilson, Zero at the Bone

with honourable mentions to:

Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
Adrian McKinty, I Hear the Sirens in the Street
Don Winslow, Sartori
Felicity Young, Antidote to Murder

But even taking liberties with list limits doesn’t allow me to do justice to all the great books I’ve read in 2013. So in addition to the above, here’s my year of reading, now with fully customisable lists.

Books that made me laugh
The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
Gentlemen Formerly Dressed, Sulari Gentill

Books that made me cry
The Australian Fiancé, Simone Lazaroo
Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas

Books that made me think
The People Smuggler, Robin de Crespigny
just_a_girl, Kirsten Krauth

Books that made me swoon
The Beloved, Annah Faulkner
Her Father’s Daughter, Alice Pung
Harmless, Julienne Van Loon

Books that taught me something new about the world
The Occidentals, Caron Eastgate Dann
Burial Rites, Hannah Kent
If the Moon Smiled, Chandani Lukogé
Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil
My Island Homicide, Catherine Titasey

Books that made me miss my tram stop
After the Darkness, Honey Brown
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Gone Again, Doug Johnstone
Saints of the Shadow Bible, Ian Rankin

Most useful book of the year
On Writing, Stephen King

Stats (if you’re into that sort of thing)
Thirty-one of the 55 books I read this year were written by Australian authors (56%), although 12 of these were set in countries other than Australia, including Cambodia, Iceland, Sri Lanka and Singapore. All up, I read books set in 18 different countries.

Thirty-one of the 55 books I read this year were written by women, with two others (anthologies) also including female authors. I read four books by Kathy Reichs (swotting for our interview), three books by Honey Brown, and two each by Dennis Lehane and Ian Rankin.

Thirty-nine out of my 55 reads were crime/thriller novels (71%), 13 literary fiction, and three non-fiction — three times as many non-fiction books as I usually read.

Which reads from 2013 make your list(s)?

About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. She won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and the Scarlet Stiletto Award short story award. Her latest novel is, Mother of Pearl, published by Transit Lounge. Angela holds a PhD in Creative Writing, is former CEO of Writers Victoria, and currently works as CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.
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13 Responses to My year of reading 2013

  1. Thanks so much for the mention, Angela! Reading 55 books is very good going, I must say. I’m planning to do a post on my top reads of the year, but they include The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton (which I haven’t finished yet, but am 90% through the 834 pages, so feel confident it will be in my top reads); March by Geraldine Brooks, a fabulous but heart-breaking story of the American Civil War; and your own The Dying Beach, which I found compelling and multi-layered. Honorable mention goes to The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling, which had unexpected depth, exposing the trivia of middle-class angst juxtaposed with the hopelessness of the impoverished. Probably the most delightful book of the year for me was Death Comes to Pemberley, a masterful sequel to Pride and Prejudice, by P. D. James.


    • angelasavage says:

      Thanks for sharing your top reads, Caron. Especially happy to know The Dying Beach makes the cut. I haven’t read The Luminaries — definitely one for long winter nights on the couch, I feel. Like you, I found The Casual Vacancy a surprising novel and couldn’t help admire that JK Rowling, the world’s most famous self-made woman, chose to critique those who would say anyone could do as she did.

      I look forward to your blogged list.


  2. amandacurtin says:

    Thanks, Angela, and I hope you enjoy Elemental. My sister (an avid crime reader) unwrapped The Dying Beach yesterday, so I know exactly what she’ll be doing today 🙂


    • angelasavage says:

      Amanda, I’ve been saving Elemental, which I picked up at The Arcane Bookshop, for a holiday couch read. It might be my first read of the New Year. Meanwhile, I hope your sister enjoys The Dying Beach.


  3. Margot Kinberg says:

    Angela – Thanks for sharing your year in books. You’ve mentioned several (e.g Zero at the Bone and Burial Rites) that I want to read. I like the variety in books that you’ve chosen too.


  4. Angela, I liked your classification of books, very innovative. I love reading books that make me laugh. Belated Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family!


  5. A great list Angela, some of which will appear on my own favourites list for this year but I have a thing about waiting until the very end of the year to finish compiling it (although neither of the books I am reading now are in much danger of challenging for a spot). Great to see the Aussie fiction holding its own…as it should.


    • angelasavage says:

      Thanks Bernadette. Can’t wait to see what makes your list. I did think about holding off to 31 Dec to post my list(s) but wanted to make the most of the quiet period between Christmas and New Year. I’m ending the year on a high note, reading-wise, with The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels, planning to move on to Amanda Curtin’s Elemental in the New Year. Here’s wishing you a great year of reading in 2014.


  6. A privilege to make you laugh Angela. I’m choosing to assume it was for the reasons I intended! 😉
    Brilliant classifications… The Dying Beach falls into my “Made me think” category and my “Made me proud to know the author” category. Happy New Year my friend.


  7. David’s Zero at the Bone was my favourite of the year as well.


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