Ergo, a topic I missed from a few weeks ago.
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1. Lilith by George MacDonald
—I sat on a blanket out in the sun with tears running down my face, feeling as close to having glimpsed a bit of the afterlife as ever I get.
2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
—From its beautiful title and short, haunting first chapter, Kvothe’s story sets itself among the great works of fantasy.
3. The Giver by Lois Lowry
—The book... offers hope despite its horrors and uncertainties—a hope centered in the redemptive character of Jonas. Like many a child protagonist, he sees the world with an innocent clarity, a striking purity of heart. The very hopefulness of his closing dreams and of his selfless bravery are the sort of thing that can stand between the human person and inhumanity.
4. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
—Some may find it too neatly tied up, but I am shameless about such things. I can’t believe it took me thirty years to find this book. I adored it.
5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
—Ella has the pluck to accept her plight as something she must live with for the time, while always searching for her escape. Her playful spirit and her knack for the goofy linguistics carry the story, making her positively irresistible as a heroine.
6. Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
—Good worldbuilding is supposedly the high point of fantasy, and it’s still one of my favorite discoveries to make in a new author or book. Shinn’s quasi-medieval Auburn... [is] beautifully realized.
7. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
—Cazaril proved both interesting and sympathetic, a good man who becomes a great one not so much by growing from naivete to wisdom (though there is some of that, particularly as regards his relationship to the gods) as by continual willingness to obey the demands of rightness despite his feelings.
8. The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5) by Rick Riordan
—It’s hard not to love Percy’s enthusiastic, humorous middle-grade narrative, and he doesn’t let us down in this final installment.
9a. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
—One of Card’s greatest strengths as a writer is in his empathy. Whatever a character thinks or believes or does, he is capable of putting himself into their mind and heart, showing the best of who they are and placing the reader firmly on their side.
9b. Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card
—Card’s Ender is arguably one of the most wholly and intrinsically lovable characters in fiction.... Larger than life in his wrongs and compassion as well as his intelligence, Ender turns his own unbearable guilt into humility, wisdom and understanding—a broken hero, but then, that’s the only kind humanity ever has.
10. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
—The novel’s third great success was the mythology of the capaill uisce themselves. Stiefvater portrays them with all the beauty and mystique of a horse, all the danger of grizzly bears, and all the magic of the Pegasus.
What were the best books you read in 2013? Or your favorites, at least?