A Year of Fiction

urlAccording to Goodreads, most of my book choices usually fall under the Non-Fiction category. I tried to change that up this year, challenging myself to read more fiction. In fact, I read more fiction this past year than anything else. I learned a ton and recaptured a love of story in new and profound ways.  Here is a list of my favorite fiction books I read in 2013:

The Stand by Stephen King

My mom convinced me to read this one and it is excellent. I might even label this one as one of the best books I’ve ever read. Seriously. It’s one giant, dark dream full of incredible characters and unbelievable acts of heroism and evil. When Stephen King first published the book his editor made him cut about 300 pages. Unknowingly, I picked up the unabridged copy. It was long, but worth the journey. Plus, there is a fantastic TV mini series on Netflix starring Molly Ringwald.

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I read four books by F. Scott Fitzgerald this year, including rereading Gatsby. I love all of his stories, but The Beautiful and the Damned is my favorite by far. Like his other novels, the story centers around a love fractured couple who go from madly in love to insanely enraged and back and forth. I fell in love with the female lead Gloria. It’s just my opinion, but I think she is one of the most compelling characters he ever wrote about. (Interesting fact: many people believe that the character Gloria was based on his wife Zelda.) I found myself torn between laughter and sadness as I read this one. Good stuff.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I read the book then saw the movie. Both were excellent. This was my first experience with an epistolary novel–where the story is told through letters. The story is extremely sad (spoiler alert), but also a beautiful portrayal of the journey of adolescence. And the pop culture references throughout are fantastic.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

I blogged about this book a few moths ago. I enjoyed it for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was the way Jack Kerouac writes. His style is beautiful and poetic. He paints pictures with his words. I found myself daydreaming while I read this one, taken on an incredible journey across the world. He also has one of the most neurotic characters I’ve ever read about– Dean Moriarty. Great story.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I read this one in the summer. This was probably the most unique book I read the entire year. It was written from the perspective of the angel of death, set in WWII Nazi Germany. The story is about a  young German girl, Liesel, who comes face to face with the horrors of the war and the Nazi movement. It’s a beautiful, poignant story about family, love for fellow human beings, and the intrigue of reading. I highly recommend it.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

John Green has tapped into the Young Adult book market in an unprecedented way. I read a few of his books this year, including his most popular/soon-to-be-a-movie The Fault in Our Stars. However, my favorite book of his is Looking For Alaska. Like his other stories, it centers around a nerdy protagonist who pursues a girl who is out of his league. His writing is incredibly witty and deeply introspective. I’m not sure what it was about this story specifically that spoke to me, but I felt very attached to the main characters.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This is one of the books people either love or hate. I side with those who love this book. Not only was the book captivating, I also thought it was deeply theological. Maybe it’s just the way Salinger writes, but I could read about young Holden Caulfield meandering around New York over and over again. I blogged about this one earlier this year too. Great story. Our high school English teachers knew what they were doing with this one.

So there you have it. My top fiction books of the year. Here are a few honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut:
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Sun Also Rises By Ernest Hemingway
The Fault in our Stars By John green

What were your favorite books from 2013?

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  1. I don’t get much time to read these days with a small child in the house running around to play with, but when I can squeeze in some time I end up limping through books at a fraction of the pace I used to. However, I did manage to get a fiction in this last year! I read “Life of Pi,” because a friend of mine recommended it who really didn’t care for fiction. He said this was the first fiction book he had ever read where he realized he could enjoy it. I thought it was fascinating! It gave a really great insider perspective on human nature and animal nature, some awesome insights on survival and instinct, and was just an overall interesting read. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I hope to soon.

    You’ve got me thinking about “The Book Thief!” Sounds intriguing!

    • stephen

      I’ve heard really good things about ‘Life of Pi.’ And now that you’ve mentioned it, I will definitely check it out! I know you will like ‘The Book Thief.’ One my high school students had to read it for a class. She had the book with her this past summer on one of our trips. I read the first page and was hooked!

  2. craig

    Stephen! Love the blog! I just finished a quick and captivating read by John Grisham, “Calico Joe.” A story of redemption and tackling fears that grip us-from broken relationships to bitterness. It’s funny that you mention that most of your reads fall under non-fiction. I feel that way too. I have sometimes felt guilty in wanting to read more fiction, but I think interpretation, imagination, and creativity are bred from truly great fictional novels. Keep up the good stuff!

    • stephen

      Thanks Craig! ‘Calico Joe,’ huh? Sounds intriguing! I love redemptive stories. I will have to check that one out. Totally agree with you on the importance of imagination and creativity tied to fiction. I think reading fiction has even helped me in ministry. Good stories not only provide awesome illustrations for sermons, but learning to think in terms of narrative has helped when ministering to people.

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