What I read in 2013

The Miracles of Ordinary Men, by Amanda Leduc

I’m already off to the races with some delicious 2014 reading, but I know I need to take a look back … so here are the books I read in 2013, with links to reviews (here on this blog or on Goodreads) where I have them. Again, as I’ve done in previous years, this is an exhaustive, “all of” list, not a “best of” list. (Have we had enough “best of” lists, perhaps?)

In addition to the interesting and often challenging complement of books I enjoyed this year, I continued my commitment in 2013 to a daily devotion to at least one poem … and usually more, as more and more friends on Twitter began to generously share their poem choices and reflections via the #todayspoem hashtag. Now two years in, it continues to be a truly revelatory and wonderfully communal experience. I’ve now pondered the works of over 450 unique poets, writers, songsmiths and wordsmiths I’ve revisited or unearthed myself, and countless more via others wielding that often eye-opening hashtag. I’m continuing with my #todayspoem habit every day heading into 2014, and I hope many will continue or join anew.

As I did in 2012, I also celebrated some beautifully built books in 2013, including:

The books I read and relished in 2013 …

  1. The Age of Hope
    by David Bergen

  2. May We Be Forgiven
    by A.M. Homes

  3. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
    by George Saunders

  4. Pastoralia
    by George Saunders

  5. Red Doc>
    by Anne Carson

  6. Tenth of December
    by George Saunders

  7. Traveling Light
    by Peter Behrens

  8. Stories About Storytellers
    by Douglas Gibson

  9. How Should A Person Be?
    by Sheila Heti

  10. Seldom Seen Road
    by Jenna Butler

  11. The April Poems
    by Leon Rooke

  12. The Shore Girl
    by Fran Kimmel

  13. Li’l Bastard
    by David McGimpsey

  14. 1996
    by Sara Peters

  15. One Bird’s Choice
    by Iain Reid

  16. Clear
    by Nicola Barker

  17. Under the Keel
    by Michael Crummey

  18. Coping with Emotions and Otters
    by Dina Del Bucchia

  19. The Miracles of Ordinary Men
    by Amanda Leduc

  20. What’s the Score?
    by David W. McFadden

  21. Bone & Bread
    by Saleema Nawaz

  22. Lyrics and Poems 1997-2012
    by John K. Samson

  23. Journey with No Maps: A Life of PK Page
    by Sandra Dwja

  24. Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock
    by Jesse Jarnow (read aloud)

  25. Rosina, the Midwife
    by Jessica Kluthe

  26. October, 1970
    by Louis Hamelin, translated by Wayne Grady

  27. Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility
    by Theodora Armstrong

  28. All We Want is Everything
    by Andrew F. Sullivan

  29. The Soul of Baseball – A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America
    by Joe Posnanski (read aloud)

  30. Let Me Eat Cake
    by Leslie F. Miller

  31. We So Seldom Look on Love
    by Barbara Gowdy (reread)

  32. Minister Without Portfolio
    by Michael Winter

  33. Hellgoing
    by Lynn Coady

  34. Caught
    by Lisa Moore

  35. How to Get Along With Women
    by Elisabeth de Mariaffi

  36. The Old Lost Land of Newfoundland
    by Wayne Johnston

  37. Leaving Howe Island
    by Sadiqa de Meijer

  38. Cataract City
    by Craig Davidson

  39. Going Home Again
    by Dennis Bock

  40. The Embassy of Cambodia
    by Zadie Smith

  41. A Fairy Tale
    by Jonas T. Bengtsson, translated by Charlotte Barslund

  42. The Dove in Bathurst Station
    by Patricia Westerhof

  43. Monoceros
    by Suzette Mayr

  44. Correspondences
    by Anne Michaels (portraits by Bernice Eisenstein)

  45. Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis
    by Robin Richardson


A read aloud book is a book that my husband Jason and I read aloud to each other, typically while one was, say, cooking dinner, doing dishes, driving, what have you … and the other was, well, reading aloud. Each read aloud book was read in its entirety. Other than the read aloud sessions that took place in cars, zesty beverages were often consumed. It’s a wonderful way to read and share a book.

A reread is a revisit with a previously read book. The book is completely read again, not just browsed. I try to reread at least one book every year … but I think I’d like to up that quotient, even just a bit.

Currently in progress, heading into 2014:

Writer Pasha Malla made some interesting year-end observations about achieving balance in one’s reading (be it gender, genre, region and more), which should remind us to expand our reading horizons by being aware of our defaults (Globe Books 2013: How can you change what (and who) you read? Globe and Mail December 27, 2013). Inspired by his books “numbers game” (male/female author split in reading), I checked my own 2013 reading. I read 45 books, with two in translation, so 47 writers and translators: 22 men and 25 women. In terms of gender, that looks like a pretty balanced reading selection in 2013. I suppose I could tip and turn that list a few more ways: between fiction (novels and short stories), non-fiction and poetry; author nationality and race, and more. I don’t want to get overly conscious but I do want to be aware of the balance of choices I’m making, while still going with the lovely flow of natural discovery and kismet and all the rest as I go from one book to the next.

Looking back fondly on my 2013 reading, looking forward eagerly and with anticipation to my 2014 reading, I’ll simply conclude (as I did last year) …

It’s not how many you read that counts. It’s that you read that counts.

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