Consuelo’s Top 5 Reads of 2013

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Consuelo is an assistant manager and will read anything you put in front of her. Seriously – nutrition facts on the cereal box, maps, receipts, road signs. And books, of course.

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House of Earth by Woody Guthrie

A lyrical and heartfelt story, Guthrie’s only complete novel was published this year. I couldn’t have been more blown away. Tike and Ella May Hamlin struggle to make a home in the Texas Panhandle during the depression. Guthrie uses this back drop to tell the story of two people in love, and dare I say, it’s as sexy as the dust bowl can be. More than that, he captures this place (which happens to be my home place) with such hardship and exposes its beauty. It reminded me of where I came from.

Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford

As four novels in one, I broke up this book and read it in pieces with other things in between, and boy, was I rewarded for my patience. Christopher Tietjens, an officer from a wealthy family during World War I, struggles between his cold, manipulative wife Sylvia and the young, warm suffragette Valentine. It is the way Ford uses words that make his work truly amazing. His writing demands attention, forces the reader to read between the lines, to interpret the things that aren’t said. It’s a stylistic masterpiece.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

These two fantastic young adult books are each worthy of reading in their own right. Love in general, and first love in particular, is not new to fiction, but both Rowell and Green write about it in ways that completely suck you into the page. They allow their characters to pause and breathe, to come to life. And then you’ll cry at the power of it all, and everything will be okay.

& Sons by David Gilbert

I won’t lie. I picked up this book because of that very catchy ampersand at the beginning of the title. What I found inside was an incredible family saga like I’ve never read before. It’s the story of aging patriarch and reclusive author A.N. Dyer and his three sons, told by an old family acquaintance – an outsider who desperately wants to be an insider in this clan. Gilbert balances internal struggle and the drama of familial relationships in each character and the result is a novel that is rich in character and truth.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

As a lover of both literature and New Orleans, I had procrastinated reading this for so many years because there was too much hype, too many expectations. Despite that, as I read the first few pages, I quickly realized I had had no idea what I was in store for – thought provoking, outrage inducing, head scratching, laugh out loud hilarity. As a character, Ignatius J. Reilly’s voice will stay with me forever. His ridiculousness mirrors the world as he stumbles through it. Painful, funny, endearing – this book’s audience is everybody.

4 thoughts on “Consuelo’s Top 5 Reads of 2013

  1. A Confederacy of Dunces and The Fault in our Stars are both on my to read list and I’m hoping to read them in 2014 for one of my reading challenges. Seeing these 2 books on your top 5 lists motivates me more to read them. Thanks!

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