Saturday, January 11, 2014

Best Books of 2013

I've picked out the best books I read in 2013 to share with you. They weren't necessarily published in 2013, but that's when I enjoyed reading them.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

I received a free copy of this Australian novel at a conference, and now that I've read it, it's firmly on my keeper shelf. Excuse me while I pinch content I wrote somewhere else.

One of 2012′s 50 Books You Can’t Put Down, M.L. Stedman’s debut novel draws us in to the lives of Tom Sherbourne and his new wife Isabel. It’s 1926 and Tom is a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off Western Australia. The logbook is supposed to keep a record Tom’s daily activities, but Isabel convinces him to leave out the entry that should read: Boat washed ashore with two occupants: father, deceased; and infant.

Isabel can’t bring herself to give up the baby girl, and Tom can’t bear to see his wife childless and unhappy. The consequences of their decision are not made clear until years later. A delicately balanced story of right and wrong, and the fog in between.

Spin by Charles Robert Wilson

Spin won the Hugo award for best sci-fi novel in 2006 but it is so much more than sci-fi. It touches on science, religion, romance, Martians and the end of the world. It's a long book, and dense. This is more of an observation than a criticism.  It’s excellent, but a bit heavy – like another favourite, Hugh Howey’s Wool – and I find I need to step away and let my mind absorb the themes.

10-year-old Tyler Dupree and his wealthy neighbours, Diane and Jason Lawton, are in the backyard together when the stars go out.  This would be Tyler's story, except that his life is so bound up with the Lawtons' he can't quite separate himself from them. The novel follows Tyler, Jason and Diane through adulthood and makes some very uncomfortable conclusions about the nature of humankind.

We learn that there is a protective barrier around the earth, keeping it from ageing as quickly as it should under the persistent heat of the sun. Earth's scientists dub the makers of the barrier, the Hypotheticals - but who are they, where are they from, and what are their motivations?

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