Lists, Miscellanea, Reviews

The First Half’s Best: A Top Ten List

As it’s about midway through the year, it’s apparently time to make a top ten list of the top ten books I’ve read so far, but not necessarily released, in 2013 (as hosted by The Broke and The Bookish). Getting creative now, aren’t I? Teasing. I do love a list. And this is serving as a good reminder of great books; I’d completely forgotten how much I loved The Half Brother…which I read only. last. month.


So, as usual, in no particular order, I’ve really enjoyed the following ten books:

10. The Trouble with Harry by Jack Trevor Story. This was made into the movie that is arguably Hitchcock’s masterpiece. (And I am willing to hear arguments.)

9. In Love by Alfred Hayes. Because Alfred Hayes wrote in the same way I think, which could be perhaps correctly construed as convoluted and melancholy.

8. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell. It only took me ten tries to type that correctly. You should read it because there’s a bear, a squid, a fingerling, and a foundling. You might not want to ask what a fingerling is.

7. Love Is a Canoe by Ben Schrank. Because love is, in fact, like a canoe. Or some such nonsense. It’s actually a funny, sweet look at publishing and marriage failure*.

6. Donnybrook by Frank Bill. A bare-knuckled, drug infused, crime laden boxing ring in Indiana. Not for everyone, but certainly for me.

5. Deliverance by James Dickey. If you hear banjos, paddle faster. (You can learn other fabulous bits if wisdom in my review).

4. The Teleportation Accident by Ned Bauman. I’m probably a 13 year old boy on the inside. So is Ned Bauman, he just uses bigger words. If you want literary fiction about never getting laid, this one’s for you.

3. The Half Brother by Lars Saabye Christensen. What John Irving does for wrestling, dysfunctional families, and circuses, Christensen does for boxing, dysfunctional families, and circuses.

2. Double Feature by Owen King. The novel (and perhaps the author) has a love of B-movies, the proper disdain for the Yankees, and an entire list of things that induce unnecessary fatigue. It’s also quite funny.

1. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about this one, just read it already. It anyone wants it (it’s been well loved), I’ll give you my advanced review copy (assuming you promise not to sell it and agree to sing its praises) – just tell me in the comments or email me!

The ten best books I’ve read in the first six months of 2013. The question is how many of these will be on my end of the year list…? What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

*It sounds like an oxymoron to me too, but I swear it’s true.


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  • Lianne @

    lol, I still have Bauman’s book sitting on my shelf waiting to be read…I guess I’m just waiting for things to die down a little bit before I sit down and read it xD

    In Love and The half brother both sound very interesting…am going to check them out now on GoodReads 😉

    My TTT

    • Rory

      In Love is being re-released and is currently available on Netgalley, it’s a modern classic (if you ask me). The Half Brother is excellent and one I consider a must own.

      The Teleportation Accident…I swear the author took all his ideas and just threw them in the book. It’s an odd one, but still good, though it seems to be a love it or hate it.

  • annabelsmith

    I haven’t read any of these but almost all of them appeal to me, (except the scary ones). Especially In Love and Double Feature.

    • Rory

      None of them are particularly scary, NOS4A2 would be the closest. The idea behind it is more disturbing that anything. If you’re a fan of that genre (I hesitate to call if horror because it lacks gore, but…), it’s fabulous to read. There are so many references to other authors works, music, and general pop culture (but not in a way that I think it will date the book).

      • annabelsmith

        When I say scary i actually mean disturbing. There are just some places I don’t want to go in my reading. The world already seems so filled with darkness.

        • Rory

          True. I thinks it’s why I gravitate towards darker fantasy type horror than dark, realistic fiction – it can’t actually happen. I have a hard time with books like The Fault in Our Stars and Me Before You, the ideas behind those, to me, are disturbing and just so sad!

      • annabelsmith

        Yes, dark realistic is worse, but i generally avoid both kinds. Having said that, The Road is a book I always cite as a favourite and it doesn’t get much darker than that. I’m also a huge fan of What I Loved, even though I was so disturbed by it I lost a whole night’s sleep – I still re-read it!

        • Rory

          I like The Road and, of course, I love Blood Meridian and consider it his masterpiece – very disturbing though (just so, so good).

          You just made me buy What I Loved!

    • annabelsmith

      What I Loved is amazing – let me know what you think

      • booksaremyfavouriteandbest

        Agree – What I Loved was brilliant.

  • ChrissiReads

    Wow. I haven’t read any of these but they sound really intriguing.

    • Rory

      I can recommend them all… 😉

  • booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    Double Feature is in my reading stack. I think I should add Love is a Canoe – suspect I’d quite like it.

    • Rory

      Some of Love Is worked for me, others parts didn’t. Overall, I quite liked it and related to Emily – do we like what we like because we enjoy it or because we’re expected to like it. I suspect the latter influences me more than I’d like to admit, but I don’t know…

      • booksaremyfavouriteandbest

        If the latter is true then everyone who works in marketing/PR is obviously doing a very, very good job 😉

        • Rory

          It’s something I wonder about. I tend to love small, independent movies (it helps that there is this tiny little indie theater about 5 blocks from my work), but do I like them because I believe I should or because I sincerely think small coming of age summer movies are excellent (The Kings of Summer). Or would I like Star Trek just as much (haven’t seen it yet)…?

          And don’t get me started on the music I like. I consider myself quite far removed from the hipster trend, but then I find myself listening to a band like Great Lake Swimmers (‘Your Rocky Spine’ is good, I should be careful – my folk/bluegrass roots are showing) and I have to reconsider.

          It’s a conundrum. I’m obviously suffering from a combo identity crisis/delayed quarter life crisis… 🙂

  • Lucy

    Great list! I wonder how many of the books on our lists will make it to the year-end list. You’re off to a great start! I’ve heard such good things about NOS4A2.

    • booksaremyfavouriteandbest

      Very good point Lucy! Let’s hope there are lots more ace books to come.

      • Rory

        I consider NOS4A2 a must read for you too, Kate, but I am not holding out much hope 😉

    • Rory

      NOS4A2 is wonderful, genre-bending literature. Even if you’re not a huge horror fan, it is a must read.

  • Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    Paddle faster!! 😉 Love that! I’m sad to say that I haven’t read a single one of the books you’ve listed. Boo to me! A few of them are on my wish list though!

    • Rory

      I think most of the books can be enjoyed by the average reader, the only two I think that are probably unique to my odd sensibilities are Donnybrook (it’s dark, dark, dark) and The Trouble with Harry (it’s depends on a person’s ability to look at murder with levity). Everything else holds a wide appeal.

      If you’ve never paddled through the wilds of the Appalachia like area, it’s a creepy, creepy experience (could, in fact, be due to the fact I watched Deliverance before taking that trip to the Smoky Mountains, I was also attacked by an underground nest of bees while I was there…not a good trip in general).

      If you have to pick up one, go for NOS4A2 or Double Feature.

  • picturemereading

    It was hard picking, I have read way more books than I did last year already and my list of loves is growing epically!

    • Rory

      It was. I left out The Other Typist and A Hundred Summers, but they were both good! I’m still mentally trying to work out My Ideal Bookshelf (the top 20 most meaningful book I’ve read in my life). I made one this year, but I’ve read a few books I would like to add already!

  • Coffee & a BookChick (@CoffeeBookChick)

    NOS4A2 has been on my list. I really should pick it up considering how much I need to read his work and I love his Dad’s books. I’ll take that ARC if it’s still available? I won’t be able to read/review until around August/September, but will try to get it in even sooner 🙂

  • RebeccaScaglione – Love at First Book

    I haven’t read any of those. And the only fingerling I know of is a fingerling potato. But I’m thinking this one might be a creature. . .

    • Rory

      Or a partially formed fetus that is consumed by its father.

      But that is just a possibility. It could be a potato (but it’s not).

      The top two, even though I claim no order, are probably my favorite.

      • RebeccaScaglione – Love at First Book

        Ewwww is that real??? I’m going to look that up!

        Hmmm. . . a young fish? Okay. . . well maybe that young fish is eaten by its father, too. It doesn’t specify in the definition. 😛

        • Rory

          I don’t know if it’s real in the literal sense, but in the book the woman has a miscarriage and the father consumes the fetus. The fetus then swims around in his body and is referred to as a fingerling. It was the least charming aspect in an otherwise dark and lovely novel.

          • RebeccaScaglione – Love at First Book

            Ew that’s seriously so disgusting. Blech. Dinner time?

            Anyway, even though it’s gross, it’s kind of cool gross and I like cool gross.

          • Rory

            It was handled in a way that made it less disturbing, if that makes sense. Something similar happened in a different book I read and it nauseated me. It compared the flavor to a cross between sardines and a margarita. I haven’t quite been able to look at a margarita the same way since (and I’ve never been fond of sardines)…

          • RebeccaScaglione – Love at First Book

            That’s totally it. It’s the WAY they go about explaining the situation. It sounds creepy, but if it’s not dwelled upon, it can work. I don’t want to know what a fetus tastes like or HOW the author knows!

  • Heather

    I just added nine books to my list (NOS4A2 was already on it). Hahaha!

    • Rory

      Excellent. They are all good. NOS4A2 is amazing and if you like really dark fiction, Donnybrook is stunning as well.

      I expect you to report back in 1-2 months and let me know how you liked them. 😉

  • booklover217

    Sad to say but I haven’t heard of any of these books but I definitely will be checking them out. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    My TTT:

    • Rory

      You’re welcome! I hope you’ll get to read one or two of them. I swear they are good. 🙂

  • Bonnie (@missbonnie13)

    NOS4A2! On my list too. Again, a success. I’ve read at least one book on your list. hahaha

  • Turn the Page Reviews

    I have the Bell book on my kindle and I am hoping to read it over the next week! Great list

  • amyo3119

    I haven’t read any of these yet. I have heard a lot of good things about NOS4A2. It is a big book though, it is making it intimidating. They are making Joe Hill’s book Horns into a movie. Have you read that one?

  • Charleen

    I haven’t read any of these. Perhaps unsurprisingly, NOS4A2 is the one that I’d be most likely to pick up.

    Best book so far this year is The Green Mile, hands down. I honestly don’t expect anything in the next six months to surpass it either, but I guess we’ll see.

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