Best and Worst Reads of 2013

Unless I finish Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis before midnight tonight, I will have read 49 books this year. That’s down significantly from last year, but in my defense I’ve been working full-time on my dissertation, which has left little time for reading books (and writing blog posts) that are unrelated to the project. So most of what I’ve read in 2013 have been for the dissertation or for the two literature classes I’ve taught this year.

As usual, I’m listing the five fiction and five non-fiction books I’ve enjoyed best this year–and the five books–fiction or non-fiction–I’ve enjoyed…er…least. Books I’ve read before are not included in the lists.

Best Fiction Reads of 2013
1. The Age of Innocence–Edith Wharton
2. McTeague–Frank Norris
3. Byuck–Theric Jepson
4. The Scholar of Moab–Steven L. Peck
5. The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint–Brady Udall

Honorable Mentions:
Lightning Tree–Sarah Dunster
Aspen Marooney–Levi S. Peterson
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets–Stephen Crane

Best Non-Fiction Reads of 2013
1. The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation–Armand Mauss
2. What of the Night?–Stephen Carter
3. The Mountain Meadows Massacre–Juanita Brooks
4. The God Who Weeps–Terryl and Fiona Givens
5. Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930–Thomas G. Alexander

Worst Reads of 2013
1. Redemption Road–Toni Sorenson Brown
2. The Ferry Woman–Gerald Grimmett
3. American Massacre–Sally Denton
4. Elders–Ryan McIlvain
5. Falling Toward Heaven–John S. Bennion

To be fair to both Bennion and McIlvain, I gained more appreciation for their books after writing about them in my dissertation. Still, it’s been a great year of reading–without a lot of clear duds–and I’ve got to have a list of five. They take their spots by default. Neither are anywhere close to being as bad as my top three worst.


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