The Best Books of 2013 (so far)

Since half the year is over, we thought this would be a good time to review the best books of the first 6 months of 2013. We compiled a list of the books voted best of each month by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Christian Science Monitor, those that received three out of four possible starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal or Publishers Weekly, and the books listed in BookRiot’s “The Best Books of 2013: Halftime Report,” Flavorwire’s “The 10 Best Works of Nonfiction of 2013 So Far” and “2013’s 10 Best Works of Fiction So Far.”

So what did we discover? The different sources agree on a lot of the titles, and the picture of 2013 so far is beginning to come into focus. Of the 145 books on the list, here are those that were chosen by at least three of the sources mentioned above.

The Top Picks


Philipp Meyer – The Son | Available in OverDrive Read, EPub, MP3 and WMA formats
East of Eden meets Cormac McCarthy according to one reviewer. Others compare it to the works of Frank Norris, John Dos Passos, and Larry McMurtry. This is a multigenerational saga set in Texas from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil boom of the 20th Century. An epic tale of more than 150 years of money, family, and power, told through the memories of three unforgettable narrators.

Karen Russell – Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories | Available in OverDrive Read, EPub and WMA formats
Russell’s Swamplandia was a finalist for the Pultizer Prize. This collection of eight strange tales reminded one reviewer of Ray Bradbury’s October Country. “Hilarious,” “stupendous,” “innovative,” “flawless,” “magnificent,” “astonishing,” “beautiful,” “with prose so alive it practically backflips off the page,” are just some of the words used to describe this book.

George Saunders – Tenth of December: Stories | Available in OverDrive Read and EPub formats
Saunders has been called “one of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation,” and a master of the short story. Saunders has “a wonderful ability to portray a character’s inner monologue,” and his satiric view of America has been called “dark and demented.” But this winner of a MacArthur “genius grant” has written what the New York Times Magazine called “the best book you’ll read this year.”

Kate Atkinson – Life After Life | Available in Kindle, OverDrive Read, EPub, MP3 and WMA formats
“An audacious genre-bender, and a work of literary genius.” “A deft and convincing portrayal of an English family’s evolution across two world wars.” “You can’t put down Life After Life until you finish it, and then I suggest you read it a second time.”

Bill Cheng – Southern Cross the Dog | Available in Kindle, OverDrive Read, EPub, MP3 and WMA formats
“An epic literary debut in which the bonds between three childhood friends are upended by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.”

Joseph Ellis – Revolutionary Summer | Available in Kindle, OverDrive Read, EPub and WMA formats
The summer months of 1776 witnessed the most consequential events in the story of our country’s founding. This book is by one of the premier historians of the American Revolution.

Neil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane | Available in Kindle, OverDrive Read and EPub formats
Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys. A middle-aged man is on his way to his sisters after a funeral, and is inexplicably drawn to the house where he grew up. He then narrates a strange tale from when he was 7-years-old. A creepy fairy tale.

Elizabeth Kelly – The Last Summer of the Camperdowns | Available in MP3 and WMA formats
Canadian writer Elizabeth Kelly sets her latest novel in 1972 on Cape Cod among the Irish aristocratic families who have many secrets to keep hidden. “A unique beach read, the kind that might keep you glancing over your shoulder to make sure no one is sneaking up behind your beach chair.”

Herman Koch – The Dinner | Available in Kindle, OverDrive Read, EPub and WMA formats
The Wall Street Journal called this one “a European Gone Girl.” Two couples in Amsterdam struggle to make the hardest decision of their lives — all over the course of one meal.

Colum McCann – Transatlantic | Available in Kindle, OverDrive Read and EPub formats
National Book Award winner McCann has set this sweeping novel in 1919 Newfoundland where two aviators are determined to make the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic, in Dublin in 1845 and 1846 where Frederick Douglass on a lecture tour finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause, and in New York in 1998 where an Irish-American Senator is chosen to shepherd Northern Irelands volatile peace talks. These crossings are connected by a family of remarkable women—an Irish housemaid who crosses paths with Douglass, and her daughter and granddaughter.

Blog by Cindy Orr, reblogged by permission from our partners at OverDrive.

2 thoughts on “The Best Books of 2013 (so far)”

  1. I love this list. I added a bunch to my Good Reads list – any chance we can link our library system with Good Reads?? Viva KRL!

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