Best of 2013 for Grown Ups


Everyone has done their Best of lists for the year, so I thought I’d add to the abundance. I polled my family, friends and colleagues in the Monroe County Library system for their favorites of 2013, and I got dozens of replies. So many, in fact, that I have decided to break the list up into three separate posts, and add a fourth for “Most Anticipated of 2014.” Enjoy!

Longbourn by Jo Baker – Claire Talbot (Greece Library) – Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own.

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin – Claire Talbot (Greece Library) – In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Light in the Ruins – Chris Bohjalian – Claire Talbot (Greece Library) – Set against an exquisitely rendered Italian countryside, The Light in the Ruins unveils a breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty, and the mysterious ways of the heart.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – Patricia Uttaro & Adrienne Furness (Henrietta Library) – Touching, absurd, and darkly comic, Allie Brosh’s highly anticipated book Hyperbole and a Half showcases her unique voice, leaping wit, and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations.

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Claire Talbot (Greece Library) – A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – Carol Moldt (Central Library) – In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery.

I Dreamed I was a Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell – Ashley Armstrong (Lyell Library) – The sharp, lyrical, and no-holds-barred autobiography of the iconoclastic writer and musician Richard Hell, charting the childhood, coming of age, and misadventures of an artist in an indelible era of rock and roll…

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – John Scalzo (Irondequoit Library) & Heidi Jung (Gates Library) – NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – Carol Moldt (Central Library) – Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Trial of Fallen Angels by James Kimmel, Jr. – Mary McDonald Camille (Reader Extraordinaire, Hilton NY) – When young attorney and mother Brek Cuttler finds herself covered in blood and standing on a deserted train platform, she has no memory of how she got there. For one very good reason. She’s dead. But she doesn’t believe it at first. Trapped between worlds, Brek struggles to get back to her husband and daughter until she receives a shocking revelation that makes her death no longer deniable: She’s been chosen to join the elite group of lawyers who prosecute and defend souls at the Final Judgment.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King Adrienne Furness (Henrietta Library) & Heidi Jung (Gates Library) – King’s enormously entertaining sequel to The Shining in which we meet Danny Torrance, all grown up.

Attempting Normal by Marc Maron Adrienne Furness (Henrietta Library) – Attempting Normal is Marc Maron’s journey through the wilderness of his own mind, a collection of explosively, painfully, addictively funny stories that add up to a moving tale of hope and hopelessness, of failing, flailing, and finding a way.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClennan – Nell Ruedin (Central Library) – In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets? PROMISE OF BLOOD is the start of a new epic fantasy series from Brian McClellan.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – Marjorie Shelley (Pittsford Library) – A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Something Red by Douglas Nicholas – Patricia Uttaro – An intoxicating blend of fantasy and mythology, Something Red presents an enchanting world full of mysterious and fascinating characters— shapeshifters, sorceresses, warrior monks, and knights—where no one is safe from the terrible being that lurks in the darkness. In this extraordinary, fantastical world, nothing is as it seems, and the journey for survival is as magical as it is perilous.

Lean In: Women, Work & the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg – Matt Krueger (Irondequoit Library) & Patricia Uttaro – Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Human Division by John Scalzi – John Scalzo – Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race.

Drinking with Men: a Memoir by Rosie Schaap – Ashley Armstrong (Lyell Library) – Rosie Schaap has always loved bars: the wood and brass and jukeboxes, the knowing bartenders, and especially the sometimes surprising but always comforting company of regulars. Starting with her misspent youth in the bar car of a regional railroad, where at fifteen she told commuters’ fortunes in exchange for beer, and continuing today as she slings cocktails at a neighborhood joint in Brooklyn, Schaap has learned her way around both sides of a bar and come to realize how powerful the fellowship among regular patrons can be.

Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick – Claire Talbot (Greece Library) – Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple – Chris Christopher (Rochester City Hall) – Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – Claire Talbot (Greece Library) – It’s 1950 and the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie Moraine wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton – Clair Talbot (Greece Library) & Patricia Uttaro – Stanton began photographing people on the streets of New York City three years ago, and those portraits have come to represent the diversity, depth, and beauty of the city. His best work appears in this collection.

The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman – Chris Christopher (Rochester City Hall) & Marjorie Shelley (Pittsford Library) – Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half day’s boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Carol Moldt (Central Library) – Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

Disclaimer: All the links go to Amazon.com, and the annotations have been borrowed from Amazon.