Top Ten of Twenty-Thirteen / by Madeleine

Welcome, Twenty-Fourteen!

This year I pledged sixty-five books for the annual Goodreads challenge. I didn't quite make my goal, as I am still in the middle of my sixty-second book. As a full-time college student, finding the time to read outside of class is certainly a challenge, but putting time aside to read meant that I could unplug, relax, and explore new time periods and new places. I learned so much from these books, and I also found connections to them cropping up in the most unexpected of places. Each of them made it onto my all-time favorites shelf (although I'll admit I am quick to add books to that list), and I found myself chattering excitedly about each of them to different people throughout the year. In my opinion, nothing serves as a better conversation starter than a book in hand.

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

This was a recent read, although it has been on my shelf for years. Being from a small town, I loved the way that Groff took her own hometown and crafted it into a place that plays host to a mysterious past and a little bit of magic. I couldn't help but love the way the monsters came into play. 

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

This was one book that I absolutely got lost in after reading. I walked around campus with images of the characters swimming in front of my eyes, and I couldn't shake them for almost a week afterwards. I'm not exactly the type to rave about love stories (and this isn't strictly a love story) but the love in this book was so real to me. Take that, add characters who love books as much as I do (and some Shakespearean conspiracy theories), and I was sold. 

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I waited anxiously for this book to be released. The press for this was insane, and I just knew it was going to be a favorite. I waited for over a month before it was my turn to borrow it from the library, and immediately passed it onto my mom. The story is far more complicated than anything I could ever imagine writing. It's almost pointless to try and describe it, as I don't think I could ever write a recommendation that could do it justice. 

With Violets by Elizabeth Robards

I am a big fan of books about art and artists, especially ones that feature long-lost female artists (ones I feel I should already know about). The imagery alone was enough to make me wish I could have attended dinners alongside Mademoiselle Morisot. 

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The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

This is one of those books that I just flew through and was then mad at myself for reading so quickly once it was over. It was the cover that got me, but the setting was amazing and Gemma's adventures were everything that I could hope for: trying, uplifting, and also heartbreaking. It's based off of Jane Eyre, which I've never read but now feel the need to put at the top of my classics list.

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The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

This one is from a local author and features my hometown. I loved knowing exactly where things took place, and the story itself was enchanting. Definitely a must read for any fans of New England.

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Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran

I picked this one up because it reminded me of something that a good friend of mine would read. I learned so much about the French Revolution and Madame Tussaud (before she was called by that name). Who knew she was such a strong personality and savvy businesswoman?! It only increased my love for this period in historical fiction. A few of Moran's other books made it onto my Christmas list. I can't wait to dive in!

The Millenium Series by Stieg Larsson

I hate to admit that I don't always finish the books that I start. I read the first two Millenium books years ago, and put down the third halfway through. I was inspired to re-read them this year, and boy am I glad that I finished the series. I'm saddened that we'll never be able to witness another great thriller by Stieg Larsson, but these books inspired me to look into similar Swedish crime authors.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

It seems I had a thing for historical fiction books this year, since this is the fifth book on this list in that genre. This one makes it onto my favorite book covers list (to be published soon), and there was something about it that just got me. The writing was beyond beautiful, and the setting was close enough to home for me to feel some connection to it. Note to self: keep an eye out for more books on WWII.