Top 20 Books of 2013

Top Books of 2013

Writers are, above all, readers. So in the tradition of all the fun Top 10 posts that fly around the Internet this time of the year, here are my top books of 2013.

At any given time, I usually have a bookmark in four different books: a novel, a general non-fiction book, a writing book, and a devotional book. I’ve highlighted my Top 5 favorites in each category below. And, just for fun (and because I’m a trivial stats nerd), here’s how my reading habits shook out this year.

Total books read: 149

Fiction to non-fiction ratio: 84:65

Male to female author gender: 84:65 (not a typo, and, no, the males didn’t write all the fiction I read and the females didn’t write all the non-fiction)

Top 5 genres: Classics (with 33 books), historical fiction (22), writing how-to (22), non-fiction history (17), fantasy (13).

Number of books per rating: 5 stars (8), 4 stars (58), 3 stars (64), 2 stars (17), 1 star (2).

Top Fiction Books

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

1. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

3. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

Sweetie by Kathryn Magendie

4. Sweetie by Kathryn Magendie

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

 

Top General Non-Fiction Books

Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends by William Guarnere and Edward Heffron with Robin Post

1. Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends by William Guarnere and Edward Heffron with Robin Post

Natasha's Dance by Orlando Figes

2. Natasha’s Dance by Orlando Figes

 

In Tuscany by Frances Mayes

4. In Tuscany by Frances Mayes

Faith and Flight by Sammy Mason

5. Faith and Flight by Sammy Mason

Top Devotional Books

The God of All Comfort by Hannah Whitall Smith

1. The God of All Comfort by Hannah Whitall Smith

31 Devotions for Writers edited by Susette Williams

2. 31 Devotions for Writers edited by Susette Williams

What Is Faith? by R.C. Sproul

3. What Is Faith? by R.C. Sproul

The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul

4. The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul

Grace for Gaps by Kerry Johnson

5. Grace for the Gaps by Kerry Johnson

Top Writing Books

The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke

1. The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke

The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams

2. The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

3. Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran

5. Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran

Tell me your opinion: What are your top books of the year?

Top 20 Books of 2013

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. I just finished I, Claudius and started the second book Claudius the god. Great Books!
    I also really liked Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran, 1984 by Gerorge Orwell, and Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet.

    Thanks for the book list The Night Circus sounds great.

  2. Tickled to see one of my fiction faves on your list, and one that bears my name in the list of authors. Thanks!!!

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      You bet! I loved 31 Devotions for Writers. Lots of unique and poignant thoughts. I probably never would have bought it if you weren’t one of the authors, but I’m really glad I did!

  3. I read so many good books this year, but a few of the stand-outs were Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, Poem-Making by Myra Cohn Livingston, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings by Joyce Sidman, After Eli by Rebecca Rupp. I could go on, but these are a good representation. I found some things on your list I will be putting on mine. Thanks.

  4. Great list! The Night Circus and Sweetie are GREAT! For good–no, great, writing books, one that’s probably overlooked unless you’re a science writer is “The Science Writers’ Handbook.” While written by science writers for science writers, I found it one of the very best books on writing I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot of them!)

  5. I picked up Divergent for the first time this year. But I keep going back to my old favorites. Ender’s Shadow. The Hobbit. Shadowfever. Did discover the Walt Longmire books. LOVE THEM!
    I tend to be very headshy about picking up new books though. I’ve got alot of samples on my Kindle of new ones I want to try, but I’m afraid to start reading because then I might lose my writing momentum.
    One thing I wonder. What’s with all the emphasis on screenwriting? So many writing websites push information on screenwriting. And so many books too. Is there nothing new and wonderful about just wanting to write prose any more? So confused.

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Save for some obvious differences, the basics of telling a story through the medium of film are the same as in a novel. So the information in screenwriting books is just as useful to novelists as screenwriters. The reason screenwriting books are often so highly touted among novelists is primarily the fact that screenwriters are so much farther ahead of the ball when it comes to structure. There’s also a greater focus on the bottom line when it comes to plot, character, and theme. That’s totally generalizing, of course, but I absolutely recommend novelists read at least a handful of the best-known screenwriting books (Syd field’s Screenplay is one of the top books I recommend to writers).

  6. I want to know how you managed to read 149 books in a year! I feel like my nose is *always* in a book, but I have yet to hit 60 for this year. Which I guess is still a good amount.

    Loved Screenplay, and Michael Hauge’s book. And Save the Cat. I also have The Road on my list. And The Night Circus. And too many others!

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      I’m a bit surprised at that number myself! One hundred forty-nine is about fifty more than I usually read. I’m not sure exactly how that managed to happen. At any rate, I schedule about an hour and a half reading time every evening – and guard it like a mad dog.

  7. Aunt Barbara says:

    Katie, Of all the books I read this year–and maybe even in my lifetime, The Night Circus is my hands-down favorite–and Life of Pi was pretty great too!
    Aunt Barbara

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      It’s such a visual book. Achingly gorgeous! The use of color is amazing – especially since most of it is black and white.

  8. Wow! I thought I was good for reading 42 books. 🙂 It’s hard to say which was my favorite since I read so many good books. At the top of my list are NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl, THE DINNER by Herman Koch, and THE SALINGER CONTRACT by Adam Langer.

  9. My favourite reads for 2013:

    J.G. Ballard – The Kindness of Women, Kingdom Come. (This man can foretell the future!)
    Robert B. Parker – Night and Day (Classic detective story-teller)
    Alberto Villoldo – The Four Winds (Non-fiction. About shaman practices in Peru)
    Diane Capri – Due Justice (I like the way she juggles with a huge cast of characters)
    Ian Rankin – Doors open, A Good Hanging.
    Bret Easton Ellis – The Informers
    Brent Ghelfi – Volk’s game (An impressive debut novel)
    Nelson Demille – Night Fall (Another writer I discovered)
    Richard Ford – The Lay of the Land, and my favourite, by far, Canada

    I envy people who can read 100+ books in a year. I can never manage more than 52, one a week.
    I’m impressed with all the classics, and the non-fiction, you get through. You’ve given me a fresh urge to tackle my pile of must-read classics that are gathering dust.

  10. I am awed. How did you manage to read 149 books in one year??!!! I will certainly try your recommendation of a guarded reading time each day, maybe 1 hour to start with. Great to see a number of books I started but yet to finish on your list. I’m encouraged to finish them now. I will also look out for 31 Devotionals for Writers. Looking forward to writing about my reading accomplishment at the end of 2014. Thanks for the push.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I have to admit I’m a little surprised at that number myself. I usually average around 100 books a year. Maybe the books I read this year were shorter. :p

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