My Favorite Books of 2013

Crossing to Safety- Wallace Stegner
This novel asks, "How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these?" The answer: just like this. Stegner weaves a compelling story out of four ordinary lives and their extraordinary, life-changing friendship as it spans across forty years, tackling themes of love and marriage, calling and duty. One of the best explorations of friendship in literature. This gorgeous, graceful novel will appeal to fans of Wendell Berry and Marilynne Robinson. Finish the book and go right back to the beginning—so much becomes clear on a re-read. With a deliberately paced, steady feel. in good hands.
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Imagine the best of the Food Network, with a lot more girl talk mixed in. Niequist's food writing will make your mouth water, but this book isn't just about the food. Her recipes are vehicles—to conversation, community, and all good things that happen when people gather around the table. Bread and Wine contains some great-looking recipes (Green Well salad, Michigan blueberry crisp, magical white bean soup) that will inspire you to get cooking. The short chapters make this perfect summer reading. Just clear your calendar for that dinner party you'll want to throw when you're finished with it.
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This is the Brené Brown book best suited to the beach, and since you need to read at least one Brené Brown book in your lifetime, go ahead and throw it in your swim bag. Brown is a researcher and a storyteller: while she’s educating you about vulnerability and courage, you’ll find yourself thinking she’d make a great girlfriend. Funny, insightful, and wise.
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Any Morton novel would make a great summer read, but The Secret Keeper is her finest. When she was 16, Laurel witnessed a violent crime involving her mother, Dorothy. The family hushed it up, and Laurel hasn't spoken of it since. Now, fifty years later, Dorothy is dying, and Laurel is determined to unravel the secret while there's still time. As Laurel pursues her clues, the story flips back and forth in time between today and the years before and during World War II, including the London Blitz, which Morton recreates so vividly you can almost hear the bombs dropping. Filled with twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the end.
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This book is all about how to get better at getting better—at anything, whether it's sports, music, math, or business. Coyle delves into the science of how the brain acquires skill, then shows dozens of ways top performers are putting those theories into practice every day. This book has changed how I work, and how I talk to my kids about their work and play.
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I finished this one on a weekday afternoon when I was supposed to be working, because all I wanted to do was finish this book. (Interestingly, I also inhaled Rowell's newest, Landline, which just came out yesterday. But I didn't like it nearly as much.)
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Patchett realized she wanted to be a writer about the same time she learned to ride a tricycle. In this mini-memoir, Patchett sketches a path from childhood all the way to the completion of her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. Stops along the way include her college years (complete with fabulous teachers), a failed marriage, the Iowa writing program, and a waitressing stint at TGIFriday’s. You’ll come away inspired to sit down at your keyboard and write.
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You’ve heard the buzz; maybe you’ve read the reviews. What can I say? Read it. Using equal parts memoir, instruction guide, and manifesto, Sandberg tells her story of how she built a career that made it worth staying in the workplace, and she encourages other women to do the same. A timely read, for women and men.
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