This is the time each year when most people give some thought to setting goals and to looking back at the past year. The internet, newspapers, magazines, and television are full of lists of the ten best--or ten worst--of this or that. I gave some thought to joining in. The only problem is, I either can't make up my mind as to which are the ten best or ten worst books I've read. I read over a hundred books this past year and most were pretty good. A few were exceptional. Some were just so-so, and a few were boring. There were also a few I just couldn't make myself finish. I reviewed a little less than half of the books I read.
So I'm going to give you a list of books I read that stand out in my mind for various reasons. They aren't necessarily the best or the worst; they just clicked with me. Of course the most memorable for me are my own books, Where the River Once Flowed and two compilations that contain short, true stories I wrote, The Art of Motherhood and With Wondering Awe. I don't usually care for speculative fiction, but I read it because reading and reviewing is what I do. I liked The Witnesses by Stephanie Black and I liked The Others by Kristin Bryant. Young Adult fiction is another genre I don't read much of because I review adult fiction. However, I read a few books in this category and liked Hadley-Hadley Benson (Durfee) and Lair of the Serpent (Adams).
Another book that appealed to me on a personal level is Nourish and Strengthen by Maria Hoagland. It's the story of a young wife and mother adjusting to type one diabetes at the same time she is adjusting to a new home and ward. The removal of my pancreas left me diabetic and with a lot of adjusting to do too. I've lived in 22 wards and never found one with as many negative and judgmental people as the main character's new ward, but I found the information on diabetes informative, helpful, and encouraging.
If I had to make a choice, I'd probably say Belonging to Heaven by Gale Sears was my favorite 2013 book. But close behind it would be a non-fiction book, The Mormons, an Illustrated History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other books that top my 2013 favorites list, in no particular order, are Sword of Joseph (Durbin), The Mounds Anomaly (Gunderson), Ashes, Ashes (Bellon), Proceed with Caution (Green), Sworn Enemy (Sowards), Hitchhikers (Poduska), You Came For Me (Bessey), Desperate Measures (McKendry), Checking Out (Poulson), and Longing for Home (Eden). I could easily pick another dozen or so books that could be added to this list. I found something worthwhile and appealing to every book I reviewed for Meridian in 2013.
Most people's reading tastes change from time to time, often depending on the reader's stage of life such as age, health, stress level, etc. This may explain why the best written or edited books aren't always the ones we remember best. It's the book that touches our own dreams, desires, or ideals; the one that takes us on the trip of our dreams, the one that gives us a taste of being the hero, doing something grand, teaches something worthwhile, or supports a cherished ideal that finds a niche in our hearts. Different books fulfill the needs of different people at different times, making it impossible for anyone's "top ten" to be exactly the same as anyone else's, but it's fun to look at those lists and compare our views with that of the list maker. Want to try it? I'd love to know what others found outstanding in the books you read. Readers, in the comment section please list anywhere from one to ten books read in 2013 you particularly liked. Don't worry about whether your choices were the best written or had the best message, were character or plot oriented, just tell me which books you personally liked the most. I'll even do a lucky number drawing and send a prize to one person who responds with his/her own list of faves.