Monday, 30 December 2013

My Top 13 Books of 2013 & a Mini Ode To Seamus Heaney.

It's that time of year again where bloggers everywhere collate their favourites of the past year. I'll have a beauty post coming up soon but first, here's my top 13 books of 2013. I found it hard to narrow this lot down and I could easily have added in a few more but these are the ones that sprang to mind first and that have stayed with me long after I finished them. Obviously these weren't all released this year and of those that weren't, they were books I've intended to read for a long while and finally ticked off my to-read list!

Top 13 books of 2013

  • Doctor Sleep. Yizzer all probably sick and tired of hearing about this by now but I really love Stephen King and this was the perfect sequel to one of my favourite books ever, The Shining. Full review HERE.
  • Let's Discuss Diabetes with Owls. I'm also a big David Sedaris fan and so I was thrilled when his latest collection of humorous essays came out this year. It's well worth getting this on Audible because everything this man says is just hysterical. Review HERE.
  • The Age of Miracles. I like slightly odd/dystopian/sci-fi and so I was delighted when himself bought me this one; a look at what would happen if the hours in the day were no longer set to the 24 hour clock and instead altered on a daily basis. Very interesting! Reviewed HERE.
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey. I'm also a big fan of Oscar Wilde and am a bit scarlet for myself that it's taken me this long to read Dorian Grey. Thankfully I loved it, as you can see in my review HERE.
  • Me Before You. I was convinced this was chick-lit before I eventually picked it up but I could not have been more wrong. It's actually a very sensitive look at the life of a paraplegic and his carer. Yes, it's a love story but it's beautifully written and had me weeping like a baby. Full review HERE.
  • Fahrenheit 451. Again, a good whack of dystopia. I read this during the Summer which matched perfectly as the book has lots of descriptions of 'balmy Summer nights' (I love when the book you're reading matches perfectly with real life..simple pleasures). It deals with the dangers of censorship and the importance of expanding your mind through reading. Full review HERE.
  • The Last Runaway. Another one my husband picked for me (excellent taste, obviously!), I loved this tale of a young British Quaker girl relocating to America in the 1830s so much I bought my sister a copy for Christmas. It's a lovely read. Review HERE.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The story of a teenage boy dealing with life through the lens of aspergers, this was a thought-provoking and unusual book that I really enjoyed. Reviewed HERE.
  • The Fault in our Stars. Oh, John Green, you had me blubbing away on the street when I listened to the audio version of this during the Summer. In fact, you made an absolute show of me but I can't stay mad at you! Such a great book, review HERE.
  • The Handmaid's Tale. Another dystopian novel and one that since finishing it I find myself constantly referencing. As in "The Irish government seem to be using The Handmaid's Tale as a general guide for managing female citizens, rather than as a work of fiction". I'M NOT WRONG, PEOPLE. Review HERE.
  • Gone Girl. Although it's a huge bestseller, opinion was divided on this thriller/mystery this year. I for one really enjoyed it, as you can see HERE.
  • The Gift of Fear. An odd choice but this self help book on how to recognise those around you who mean you harm and how to avoid danger and violence was both a terrifying and eye-opening read for me. While I disagreed with some of the victim-blaming elements that were hinted at at times, I also took a lot away from it and more than anything else have learnt to trust my instincts more. It's definitely something I would recommend to most women to read and you can check out my full review of it HERE.

No, I'm not just terrible at maths, there is in fact only twelve there. I've saved no.13 for last because it's a bit more special. 

When Seamus Heaney died this year I experienced an unexpected rush of emotion. In fact, as I just typed his name there I started crying again. While I didn't know him personally, I took his passing particularly hard and I attribute this to a few things. I loved English in school and Heaney's poetry was a big part of that. His words left such clear images in my mind that when I re-read some of my favourite of his work from this collection, I could actually picture those exact same images I had formed in my head over ten years ago. Images, not only of Heaney's world but mine too; my childhood mixed indelibly with his and that makes me both sad and happy but overall, incredibly grateful to have been able to experience the work of such a powerful writer. I also think that I felt his loss so acutely as so many have mentioned, on a more basic level simply because he was Irish and made us all, as a nation, so very proud. 
I'll leave you with this one, from Opened Ground, Poems 1966-1999. This is a more recent favourite (although not recently written) which really just soothes me. It may be the sentence "they stoop into the honeyed corridor" that gets me. Perfect.

A latch lifting, an edged den of light
Opens across the yard. Out of the low door
They stoop into the honeyed corridor,
Then walk straight through the wall of the dark.

A puddle, cobble-stones, jambs and doorstep
Are set steady in a block of brightness.
Till she strides in again beyond her shadows
And cancels everything behind her.

Please let me know below what your own favourites have been this year and if you've read any of mine.


  1. I'm with you on Gone Girl. I really liked it and loved that none of the characters were very likeable. I think that is the biggest complaint from many people- that both main characters were very unlikeable and you couldn't simply root for the protagonist.

    The Handmaid's Tale might be my favourite piece of sci-fi writing and one I always recommend to anyone looking to start reading Margaret Atwood.

    1. I really liked that the characters were unlikeable too, I thought it was actually really unusual and more realistic somehow. I really need to read more Margaret Atwood this year, love her writing. x

  2. Nice mix, I read a handful of those books too. I remember hearing about Seamus Heaney as well, I started crying while driving my car :(

    1. Thank you. Yeah, it was so sad. It actually felt as if we all knew him. x

  3. I love your book posts, I've another few to add to my list here. x

  4. Yay new books to read :) My favourite book of the year was definitely ''One Day'' by David Nicholls, it's written in an unusual format,which was nice for a change.
    Clodagh from Here Comes Clo

    1. I loved One Day too!! One of my favourites, cried my eyes out at it and was genuinely devastated when I finished it :(