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Top 5 reads of 2013?

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Dec 17, 2013, 4:22pm Top

I asked the staff to come list their top five books of 2013, and the results are over on the blog.

What were your top five reads for 2013? Add them to the list!

Dec 17, 2013, 8:53pm Top

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard. Reveals a whole new concept of what America is and how it became that way.

Edited: Dec 18, 2013, 7:56am Top

Not in any order,

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather - This book was recommended to me many years ago. A belated Thank You. Tony.

1356: A Novel by Bernard Cornwell - Always look for his latest.

The Sand Pebbles (Classics of Naval Literature) by Richard McKenna - A re-read of one of my all time favorites

Cain at Gettysburg by Ralph Peters - As many others said if you liked "Killer Angels" you will like this one.

The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game by Edward Achorn

Dec 18, 2013, 12:38am Top

Favorites of 2013:
Blackout & All Clear by Connie Willis A reread of one of my all-time favorites--more historical fiction than science fiction and wonderfully epic
Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery I like this one better than Anne of Green Gables
The Shield of Achilles by W. H. Auden Auden is my second-favorite poet, after T. S. Eliot
To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey The mystery isn't the best part of this book, the storytelling is
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge Very British and quite delightful

From the bottom of the list:
The Princess Bride by William Goldman For once, the movie is better than the book. Near-infinitely better.
Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich I wanted to like this, but Julian just comes across as a bit... unbalanced. Plus, major theological differences between Julian and myself didn't really help my appreciation of her work.

Dec 18, 2013, 8:01am Top

When I read "Top X Books of Year X", I take that to mean books published in that year. I guess I'm wrong about that?

Dec 18, 2013, 8:44am Top

If you go to the List there are directions that say any book you read in 2013 no matter the publishing date.

Dec 18, 2013, 10:39am Top

>6 Cecrow: It depends on how it's written. In this case, I could take it either way. But the "your" generally implies "your reading of X Year" as opposed to "best works of Year X."

Dec 18, 2013, 11:36am Top

I interpret "best" as "enjoyed the most". As I'm very good at picking books I enjoy, and I read over 200 books in a year, the list could be much longer than five. So, the following (in chronological order of reading) is not an absolute selection:

1. The birds have also gone by Yashar Kemal (1923-)

In 1960s rapidly changing Istanbul, some street children resist poverty by capturing birds, who customers then pay to release (thus buying themselves grace). Uncanny elegiac feeling of the precariousness of all existence, that of the birds and the boys and their world, caught at the moment of vanishing.

2. Ivory, apes and peacocks by James Huneker (1857-1921)

Stunning erudition and style of a bygone age displayed in essays about artists, musicians, writers, history, philosophy, the stage...

3. Belinde: Märchen by Sophie Tieck (1775-1833)

A revelation. Brother Ludwig is of course the famous one, but for my money, Sophie emerges as the more interesting, inventive storyteller. A woman who wasn't allowed the schooling her brothers received as a matter of course, and who broke away from a bad marriage penniless, taking her three children with her, Sophie Tieck had an untypical view of female heroines and their destinies.

4. Volite se ljudožderi &tc. by Toma Bebić (1935-1990)

Love each other, cannibals and other collections of poems and aphorisms from my native city's greatest enfant terrible, poet, musician, surrealist, Oulipian, unclassifiable-other, tender-hearted ton of explosives, weathercock, the seeing eye, the lost blue note between the sea and the sky.

5. The essential Lenny Bruce by Lenny Bruce (1925-1966)

Life is made bearable by the fact that people like Bruce can and perhaps do exist, now and then, here and there.

Dec 18, 2013, 2:54pm Top

_Zoe_ started a list for 2013's Dishonorable Mentions, in case anyone's interested in adding to that one, as well!


Dec 18, 2013, 9:10pm Top

I was just compiling my Top 5 list earlier today. At the moment, I've come up with:

5. Runner by Patrick Lee
4. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
3. American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
2. This River Awakens by Steven Erikson
1. Lord of Darkness by Robert Silverberg.

Dec 19, 2013, 6:42am Top

Mine are:
London belongs to me by Norman Collins
Call for the Dead by John LeCarre
Hope and Glory by Stuart Maconie
Glittering Images by Susan Howatch
Wilkie Collins by Peter Ackroyd

Hasn't really been a good year, these are probably the only ones I'd shout about, although I'm reading a couple of others at the moment that might make the grade - Ancient Worlds by Richard Miles is one.

Dec 19, 2013, 7:51am Top

>13 fuzzy_patters:, a couple there on my TBR pile, thanks for the motivation to get reading them!

Did some personal discovery of the classics this year that resulted in my being impressed.

A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway
Dracula - Bram Stoker
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
Walden - Henry David Thoreau
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot; read it on a whim after all the LT chatter and glad I did

Dec 19, 2013, 8:31am Top


Blackout & All Clear by Connie Willis A reread of one of my all-time favorites--more historical fiction than science fiction

Oh far too many problems with research to be classed as an historical. As someone from England the factual errors she made in these books were complete howlers. I was constantly thrown out of the story by them. These were near the bottom of my list in 2010/11.

Dec 19, 2013, 10:02am Top

1. One Man's Justice by Akira Yoshimura
2. The Tenant by Roland Topor
3. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
4. The Twilight Years by Sawako Ariyoshi
5. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

Interesting. I see that this year's list of my top reads reflects two genres I very much favor - Japanese literature and the bizarre! :)

In addition, none of these books yet overlaps anyone else's favorite reads for year 2013.

Dec 19, 2013, 10:23am Top

My top five:

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

And my dishonorable mentions:
Better to Wish by Ann M. Martin
Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Journey to Rainbow Island by Christie Hsiao

Note: that last dishonorable mention doesn't show up in the search box when one is adding to a list. Is there any way to force that? (It doesn't touchstone yet, either, so I html'd the link above. I'm guessing it is too new, or has too few members?)

Dec 19, 2013, 11:18am Top

Replay by Ken Grimwood
It was written in 1980's, and was a good time period (1963 to 1988) for a time-travel book: no internet for the lead characters to help them when they "replay."

Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse by Lee Goldberg
I loved this show, AND this book. In my mind Tony Shaloub was doing and saying all those funny things. I almost remember the story line, and think it may have been an episode. However, I don't recall a scene at the very end. It was the funniest thing I have read in a long, long, time.

True Grit by Charles Portis,
The end turned into a slap stick comedy for me, as the lead character got stuck "like a cork in a bottle" (page 204), and had to deal with a corpse, bats, snakes, and eventually a body falling towards her. However, I'm not sure if the author intended it to be slap stick or thrilling. The snakes did scare the crap out of me.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
This was an interesting story about how to become a Geisha until romantic triangles started to be the main focus. That was not as enjoyable to me, but still one of my favorites of the year.

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
Because the post requests five books, I will include this one. It more fits into my "honorable mentions." I'm a big football fan, and that helped me enjoy this book. Surprisingly, and very favorable to this book, my wife liked it even though she hates football. She said football was just a small part. I think she was wrong - the whole thing was about football.

Dec 19, 2013, 1:02pm Top

I had 5 books that I rated 5 stars this year.

The last Sherlock Holmes story by Michael Dibden for the most outrageous plot twist that I never saw coming

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which enchanted me and drew me into the web it wove

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishigure which seduced me with its mournful sense of loss

The Death of king Arthur translated by Simon Armitage for the use of language - I could read stuff like this all day.

i, Claudius, by Robert Graves - interestingly the only re-read on the list. I love the brazen nature of it, the excess, the unflinching story telling. First read it as a teenager and it taught me quite a lot >;-)

Dec 19, 2013, 1:56pm Top

I could easily have made it a top ten list but I finally settled on

1. Code Name Verity
2. The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914
3. The Guns of August
4. The Tiger in the Attic: Memories of the Kindertransport and Growing Up English
5. Reservation Blues

The only duds were impulse downloads for free or very little for my Kindle app.

Edited: Dec 19, 2013, 5:39pm Top

Dec 19, 2013, 11:28pm Top

October 1964 by David Halberstam . . . a book about the '64 World Series that's also about the Yankees and the Cardinals, a sea-change moment in baseball, and American society on the brink of a new era.

Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews . . . a novel that, with a straight face and meticulous period detail, makes the seemingly insane premise of a 22-year-old JFK acting as FDR's eyes and ears in Europe on the edge of WWII feel believable (and thrilling).

Pacific Crucible by Ian W. Toll . . . a first-rate narrative history of the opening months of the Pacific War (from Pearl Harbor in December 1941 to Midway in June 1942) that uses up-to-date scholarship to shed new light on an oft-told story.

The Empty Copper Sea by John D. MacDonald . . . a late entry in MacDonald's famous series of novels about "salvage consultant" Travis McGee, elevated far above the pretty-darn-good norm for the series by its portrait of two wary, damaged people falling in love.

Small Wonder by Jonathan Zimmerman . . . a small gem of American cultural history, exploring the history of the "Little Red Schoolhouse" -- as an institution and a protean symbol that's pretty much guaranteed to not (just) mean what you think it means.

Honorable Mention:

Bad Chili by Joe R. Lansdale . . . murder, dirty business deals, and deranged rodents in East Texas: ultra-violent, paint-peelingly sexy, exuberantly profane, and funny as hell.

Dangerously Funny by David Bianculli . . . how the Smothers Brothers made American television safe for topical humor and sharp-edged political satire.

Dec 20, 2013, 12:01am Top

Of these eight the first four are the best five of the year, and the second four are honorable mention or tied for fifth place or something.

The Mystery of Existence edited with commentary by John Leslie and Robert Lawrence Kuhn
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
Boomer by Linda Grant Niemann
Dersu the Trapper by V.K. Arseniev
Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland
Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies
Drift by Rachel Maddow
The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt

I would add that I read some Schiller, Shakespeare, and Marlowe that at times seemed to belong up among the first four.

And as I go to click on Post Message I want not to omit The Box which I enjoyed and which informed me.

This can't be done.


Dec 20, 2013, 1:53am Top

I mostly read fiction (mysteries) and I find it interesting that four of these titles are non-fiction.

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead. I wrote a review of this book.

The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg Variations by Zhu Xiao-Mei. An amazing story of Zhu Xiao-Mei's life. She saw her first piano at the age of three, when she was ten she enrolled at the Beijing Conservatory. At age seventeen the Cultural Revolution rolled across China and the next ten years of her life were spent doing hard labour in four prison camps. Music sustained her, to the point she had her mother take apart her piano in Beijing, put it on a coal train and send it to her. Millions of Chinese died, millions had their lives permanetly shattered, but Zhu Xiao-Mei focused her life more and more on her music and survived, albiet not unscared. She studied music in the United States and then settled in Paris.

#GoodMorningEarth: Chris Hadfield by Kate Lunau and MacLean's Magazine
This "brings together for the first time exclusive stories and photos from Maclean’s reporter Kate Lunau, who’s been on the story since getting exclusive access to watch Hadfield train to become the commander of the International Space Station. The book also features “The Twitter Diary: A giant tweet for mankind,” a selection of Hadfield’s tweets that gives readers a front-row seat on what his life is like inside the ISS, as well as dozens of his best landscape photos of Earth, curated from Facebook and Twitter. The astronaut shares his wry sense of humour during highlights from sessions on Reddit’s "Ask Me Anything" and Twitter, where he answered questions on everything from fear to recycled urine to whether he could hear Don Cherry from space. Join Hadfield in the Space Station and discover what his 700,000 Twitter followers already know: it’s quite a ride." Most interesting and informative! Canadians should be proud of him and his accomplishments.

Z is for Zamboni by Matt Napier..
A wonderful ABC book for my three year old great nephew Liam and his father, Brendan, a hockey and rugby player. Bright colours, words that will start conversations about playing hockey as well as the history of the game. A good book!

Last Night at the Ritz by Elizabeth Savage.
Four friends from college, now in their fifties, spend the night at the Ritz Carleton in Boston. In the course of the night, conversations in a hotel room, drinks at a bar, dinner, the narrator relates the histories of each person and their friendships with the others. It is a history of life from college in the mid-forties through the mid-seventies. Very enjoyable.

Dec 20, 2013, 2:37am Top

The LT member list for 2013 isn't functioning, yo, so...
Top 5, no order:

Creed of Violence by Boston Teran taught, evocative, laconic prose takes us from El Paso south at the outbreak of the revolution - dark and conflicted,
two men ferry arms into a volatile Mexico...

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy brutal, relentless, beautiful, obsessive, masterful nihilist western...

Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins fresh ~steampunk detective novel set in totalitarian Soviet-like land. State security apparatus intrigue and hints
of alien intelligences imprisoned in the hinterlands...weird and wonderful, this Welshman can write!

Empty Space by M John Harrison Science fiction predicting the present, as Harrison is fond of pointing out - this whorl of a sideways parable lingers well
after you put it down - fast and loose and rich and... an enigmatic tapestry mined with diamonds...

Tenth of December by George Saunders Saunders' stories are a compelling vernacular pastiche of odd, hilarious, poignant, startling, and unsettling.
He deserves all the praise he's landed with his latest.

Bottom feeders:
Magicians by Lev Grossman Sucked. A thoroughly unworthy addition to mage in training lit - makes me almost angry thinking on how he got away
with this garbage.

London Falling by Paul Cornell Sluggish attempt at a supernatural police procedural; not worth the effort. Surprised that Richard K. Morgan liked it.

Read on.

Dec 20, 2013, 8:11am Top

These are the books that have stuck with me the most this year, given me something to think about.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking - I am definitely an introvert and it is nice to read something like this that makes you feel like it is ok that you don't want to deal with tons of people and enjoy your alone time and such.

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time - I love living in a big city and being able to walk and use public transportation. This talks about the things that make this an enjoyable experience, some pretty simple like having lots of trees along the street.

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer - a memoir about a lady who has a full farm in the middle of the city in an empty lot. I doubt I'd ever have that much, but I'm very tempted to stick a couple of plants in the ground in the empty lot next to my apartment next spring and see what happens.

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever - While reading to my kids at work is a pretty natural thing to do since I love books so much, one thing that stuck with me most from this book is that kids need to have hear 1000 books read to them before they learn to read. I try and read at least 3 a day to my kids at work. That doesn't quite hit 1000 in a year, but they are only two so I figure they should be able to get those last couple hundred in. :)

Les Misérables - I love this musical. I had already seen it twice and with the movie coming out last Christmas and I saw it twice more this summer, it was my goal to make it through the book this year. I'll admit to skimming through a few bits, but I read most of it and I'm glad I did. I didn't realize how much the musical jumps from part to part with so little connection until I read the book with a lot more of how the characters are all connected and a more filled in time line. So I still love the musical for the music, but I'm really glad I read the book as well.

Dec 20, 2013, 8:43am Top

I'm not reading as many books as most people, so this is the top 5 of the 7 books I can recall reading enough of to qualify

Homer's The Odyssey - Just epic. Finally read it completely.
The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander - Found at the library, read enough of it to order it 2nd hand from amazon, it'll arrive the coming weeks. I'll be reading The Iliad for that of course as well.

This was all sparked by a Coursera course on Mythology.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (from the Alice in Wonderland Norton Critical Edition (2nd ed.)

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds - Found at the holiday village bookcase. My first sorta steampunk scifi. Fun.

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - bought at his book signing. Enjoyable, but I liked American Gods better.

Dec 20, 2013, 10:36am Top

Hmmmmm...well in no particular order I'd say the following were my most memorable for 2013.

1. The Signal and the Noise
2. The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars
3. Just my Type
4. Prairie Whistles
5. The President and the Assassin

Edited: Dec 20, 2013, 11:05am Top

I looked at the list of books I read this year and my top five turned out to be my top 17, and there were honorable mentions, too. So paring it down, I'm leaving out some that I really enjoyed and perhaps at a different time, my list would be different. Anyway, in no particular order:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Edited: Dec 20, 2013, 3:30pm Top

God this was hard. There were so many great books for me this year. I've been lucky enough to have people around me point me to some really worthwhile reads. I narrowed it down to 20 of my favourite titles this year, and then went for books that, on top of my pure enjoyment, really spoke to me, connected with something in me, and left me changed slightly. Books that opened up thoughts I didn't know I had or introduced me to completely new thoughts. Books that left a mark on me.

Top 5......

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Books that didn't quite make it on........

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
A Tiger in Eden by Chris Flynn
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Books that were fun....

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman
Brilliance by Anthony McCarten
Bring Up The Bodies by Hillary Mantel

Dec 20, 2013, 3:40pm Top

Yay lists!

1. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.
2. The Golden Days by Cao Xueqin
3. Egalia's Daughters by Gerd Brantenberg
4. Constance Ring by Amalie Skram
5. Sudden Fiction Latino by Robert Shapard

Dec 20, 2013, 10:46pm Top

I think it's very interesting that the "top reads" list has lots and lots of overlap, but the "dishonorable mentions" list has almost no overlap.

Dec 21, 2013, 5:42am Top

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Dec 21, 2013, 7:12am Top

Winnah, winnah, lobtstah dinnah -
The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
It’s clever without being snide or officious. It’s got a moral center without being preachy. It’s funny. It’s inventive. Oh and written with economy and flair?

The Dinner - Herman Koch
A book of unlikable people doing unspeakable things interspersed with overblown descriptions of fancy food and family backbiting. Black comedy extraordinaire, but a chilling one because it isn’t too hard to imagine parents like the ones at this dinner.

Available Dark - Elizabeth Hand
I don’t know what it is about Cass Neary and her wreck of a life that keeps me interested, but I am and I think this second installment is even better than the first. The danger in this one feels more personal and directed at Cass rather than just ensnaring her when she got too close. Only seems to make her stronger though.

My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier
du Maurier was a deliberate writer and definitely has the reigns of her craft well in hand. Atmospheric with interesting characters and nicely judged tension. Ambiguity abounds! Gothic excellence.

The Summer Before the Dark - Doris Lessing
Her writing is powerful and direct in a way I didn’t expect. She doesn’t pull any punches in terms of moral compass or actions and it was refreshing.. I will read more of her work.

Dishonorable mentions -
Cat’s Eye - Margaret Atwood
Nothing about it appealed to me, not the characters or the meandering plot or even the overall message which seemed to be don’t let others channel your life unless you’re too inert to do it yourself.

Dead Time - Stephen White
Bad plot with an out of nowhere villain. Cheesy emotionalism. Choppy writing with no rhythm, grace or balance.

The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
Yeah, there is a ghost, but so what? It isn’t scary. And yeah, we got a spineless protagonist, natch, but he wasn’t in dire enough circs to make me worry about him and the whole mishmash of how people spoke like Dickens but lived in the 1940s was really irritating.

Skippy Dies - Paul Murray
Oh why oh why did I choose this book featuring the unrelenting nastiness of today’s teenager? Grotesque and makes me weep for the future.

A Good Man is Hard to Find & Other Stories - Flannery O’Connor
The bigoted south in all its infamous glory...I saw nothing charming in any of the stories I got through and even though the language was powerful and descriptive, the subjects and attitudes were repugnant.

Dec 21, 2013, 11:02am Top

The five books I read in 2013 and haven't stopped thinking about since:

1. The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey
2. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
5. At Dawn - Jobie Hughes

Dec 21, 2013, 12:15pm Top

So, how are some people adding more than 5 books to the list? And are these extra books actually being counted in the ranking?

Dec 21, 2013, 12:31pm Top

I find it really difficult to compare fiction and non-fiction, so I made two lists.

Top 5 Non-Fiction
1. Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters by Kate Brown
2. The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light by Paul Bogard
3. The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery by Catherine Bailey
4. The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend by Bob Drury & Tom Clavin
5. The Ghosts Of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, And Other Ecological Anachronisms by Connie Barlow

Honorable Mentions
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler
Lost World of the Golden King: In Search of Ancient Afghanistan by Frank L. Holt

Top 5 Fiction
1. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
3. The Lark in the Morn by Elfrida Vipont
4. The First Century after Beatrice by Amin Maalouf
5. Still She Wished for Company by Margaret Irwin

Honorable Mentions
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
High Rising by Angela Thirkell

Bottom 5
1. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
2. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny--Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath
3. Chief Joseph Of The Nez Perce by Robert Penn Warren
4. The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys
5. Thomas Aquinas in 90 Minutes by Paul Strathern

Dishonorable Mention
Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney

Dec 21, 2013, 4:03pm Top

I feel so lame classing new releases with established classics, but here it is:

The Prophet by Gibran Khalil Gibran
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg
The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I really respect the Man Booker Prize judges the more winners I read. They sure do pick 'em! Or rather, they have an embarrassment of riches to choose among...

Dec 21, 2013, 4:22pm Top

_Zoe_ , they only count if users put them on the list. And you can only put 5 works on the official list

Dec 21, 2013, 4:49pm Top

>41 JerryMmm: Well, some people have managed to add more somehow.

Dec 21, 2013, 5:03pm Top

I'll be damned, you can add more. I didn't even try.

Dec 22, 2013, 7:17am Top

42> So they can. Why would you add 19 books to a list of your top 5? I know it can be difficult narrowing it to just 5, but still. Trying to add more than 5 never even occurred to me!

Dec 22, 2013, 7:32am Top

I tried, and I can't add more than 5.

Edited: Dec 22, 2013, 11:45am Top

In no particular order:

The Razor's Edge - W. Somerset Maugham
A Peoples History of the United States - Howard Zinn
An Absolute Desire to Move - Phil Semler
Woes of the True Policeman - Roberto Bolano
Tenth of December - George Saunders

But how I might add these to the Top Five list... beats me? I somehow got one of 'em included though.

Dec 22, 2013, 4:50pm Top

I'm going to sit on this until New Year, as there's a reasonably high chance of me getting books for Christmas that I'll read and love :)

But, highly unexpectedly, I think my favourite read of the year to date in terms of enjoyment and thinking might actually be World War Z. I expected to hate it, and instead found the execution and some of the storytelling fascinating. I have no doubt that it Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Everything You Need (a boutique short story collection from Michael Marshall Smith) will make my top 5. Not so sure what will fill the other 2 spots - several contenders, although they are all older novels I have recently discovered rather than recent releases (unless Christmas gifts trump them all!)

Edited: Dec 23, 2013, 6:23pm Top

Top 5 Fiction
1. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens *
2. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet - David Mitchell *
3. Light - Margaret Elphinstone *
4. The Crimson Petal and the White - Michel Faber
5. King Solomon's Carpet - Barbara Vine

rereads of Wuthering Heights and A Month in the Country not counted but would otherwise be in there.

Top 5 Non-fiction
1. Letters to Alice on first Reading Jane Austen - Fay Weldon *
2. The Real Jane Austen - Paula Byrne *
3. Findings - Kathleen Jamie
4. Charles Dickens, A Life - Claire Tomalin
5. Seasons in the Sun - Dominic Sandbrook

Those asterisked made into my top 5 overall listed. Only just noticed that two Jane Austen books top the N-F and two Dickens related books in there. Might say something about the sort of reading I enjoy, but I've read plenty about and around these two that I wouldn't rate anywhere near so highly - they're just good books in their own right!

Dishonourable mentions
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
Alone in Berlin - Hans Fallada
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
Yellow Birds - Kevin Powers
Starter for Ten - David Nichols

Dec 24, 2013, 4:31am Top

Edited: Dec 24, 2013, 2:32pm Top

Here ya go. In the Fiction Top 5 are titles that were standouts above the 70-odd other books I read in 2013. Duds this year also about 5. But I won't mention them.

1.The Blue Book by A L Kennedy
2.The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
3.The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
4.TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
5.Claudius the God by Robert Graves

TOP 6-11
6.Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall
7.The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau
8.The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
9.Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
10.Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
11.How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu

Edited: Dec 24, 2013, 8:15pm Top

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks: perfectly captures Wodehouse in style and plot. Truly delightful.

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel: no surprise here - the brilliant Cromwell bio-fiction continues.

The Great Silence: Britain From The Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age by Juliet Nicolson: yes, one of THOSE Nicolsons. A touching exploration of the deep changes in British society wrought by the war in chapters named for emotions such as "Denial".

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow: I was skeptical about a Washington bio (wasn't he kind of a bore?) but was pleasantly surprised to find this bio to be quite the page-turner. And Washington was kind of a playa ... really.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: not a quick nor an easy read but brilliant pretty much every page.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters: overly long and increasingly more preposterous

The Spoils of Poynton by Henry James: why, oh, why do I keep trying? James is a thumping bore.

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King: better than the last entry in this series, which is damning with faint praise. Hugely complicated plot wore on my nerves - and the "romance novel" style with Every. Damn. Action/Thought/Detail described in painful excess is unfortunately still Ms. King's default. And she started off so well ...

Edited: Dec 29, 2013, 11:18am Top

Not a lot of fantastic books this year, but here goes:

Top 5:
1. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (5 stars)
2. Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck (4.5 stars)
3. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (4.5 stars)
4. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (4.5 stars)
5. 11/22/63 by Stephen King (4.5 stars)

Honorable Mentions:
1. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (4 stars) -- normally she would be at the top but somehow this was not the best for me. Perhaps she was a bit bound by the actual story since it is nonfiction.
2. The Magician of Lhasa by David Michie (forgot to star but still an interesting book)
3. 21st Century Yoga by Carol Horton (4 stars)

Dishonorable Mentions:
Less Than Angels by Barabara Pym (2.5 stars)

P.S. I am reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King right now, so I might have another "top" or honorable mention by the end of the year.

Edited to put 11/22/63 in my top 5. It is haunting me. Sorry Carol Horton!

Dec 24, 2013, 10:17pm Top

Top five reads of 2013:
1. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
2. The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal
3. A Thousand Times More Fair by Kenji Yoshino
4. The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
5. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Dishonorable mention:
1. The Third Son by Julie Wu
2. All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones
3. The Explanation for Everything by Lauren

Edited: Dec 25, 2013, 5:10pm Top

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Now for my 2 cents, in no particular order.

1.The Black Count by Tom Reiss - you can't make this stuff up, this extraordinary man lived his live as an epic adventure story.

2. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard - this exciting story is researched and written well. The subject matter is engaging enough that it would be a great way to get High School kids interested in American history. Candice Millard packs alot in, in a good way, and you'll learn a lot that you didn't even know you didn't know.

3. The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood - is this chilling tale of totalitarian dystopia, fantasy or a vision of the future?

4. Stiff by Mary Roach - this quirky book rips down the veil between the living and the dearly departed that have donated their bodies to medical studies. I never really thought about most of the things that we do with the dead before reading this book but I'm more sure than ever that cremation is the way to go.

5. The Clockwork Universe: Issac Newton, The Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick - this timeline history of the greatest minds of the Royal Society brings history to to life in a very real way, you never feel like these great men are better than you, you understand that they are mere mortals struggling to understand the world...... just like the rest of us.

I would also like to recommend, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. If you want to hear it as never before go to Audible.com and check out the author narrating his own book, it at times is so gut wrenching that I found I had to take a break from listening. Another noteworthy listen would be Tim Curry and full cast reading Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dec 25, 2013, 8:12pm Top

I just finished a fantastic book, my new #1 for the year. How can I add it when I've already got 5 books on the list? It won't let me add any more.

Dec 26, 2013, 5:03am Top

>58 lindapanzo: Um, because it's a top 5 list only. You can remove one of the others and add the new one instead...

Dec 26, 2013, 4:36pm Top

And you can order them as you want, too.

Dec 26, 2013, 5:39pm Top

#59 But how do I remove one? It won't let me do that.

Dec 26, 2013, 5:42pm Top

Find the title on the list (sort by title or author to find it easier) and next to it has the option to remove.

Dec 26, 2013, 5:44pm Top

Linda, what was the book? I'm curious.

Edited: Dec 26, 2013, 6:04pm Top

#62 No options to remove. Not on my home pc, my work laptop, or my iphone versions of LT.

#63 I would be adding Louise Penny's How the Light Gets In as my #1 book of the year.

Oh wait, never mind. I see how to do it now. I need to go to the group's list to remove it, not to my list. Easy once I know how, I guess.

Thanks for your help!!

Dec 26, 2013, 7:43pm Top

Just entered my top five, which were:

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny - the two that came before this one were also wonderful and would be in a top 10 or 12.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner - my first Stegner. I will be reading more.

Benny Carter: A Life in American Music by Morroe Berger - fabulous scholarship, fascinating look at one of my favorite musicians, race, and the music scene throughout the twentieth century.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - really grabbed me for some reason. A very fun read with some depth.

Thursday Next: First among Sequels by Jasper Fforde - Fforde does to himself what he had done previously to Bronte.

Honorable mention: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - very thought-provoking.

Dec 26, 2013, 11:21pm Top

I am trying to figure out how the list works. Is the score the number of people who have added the book to the list? If so, is it possible to know how many people added the book and is it possible to search the list for books you are wondering about?


Dec 27, 2013, 4:21am Top

>66 krazy4katz: I don't believe there is a search function, but you can simply sort by title or author to locate specifics. And next to each title it shows who has added it to their list.

Dec 27, 2013, 7:15am Top

It's an all female list for me this year:

The Man Who Loved Children - Christina Stead
Everyone should take note of Jonathan Franzen, who recognises this as a true classic. I'm now on the lookout for Stead's other books.

This Book Will Save Your Life/May We Be Forgiven - A M Homes
A fantastic writer, I loved both of these. May We Be Forgiven was a much-deserved winner of the Orange Prize (which sometimes gets it badly wrong) but This Book Will Save Your Life was even better.

The Light Years - Elizabeth Jane Howard
I've just read this and it's everything you want from a book - great characters, realistic and convincing background, pages that seem to turn themselves. I don't know why Howard isn't more acclaimed, but I'm thankful that I've finally discovered her.

The Weather in the Streets - Rosamond Lehmann

Invitation to the Waltz was good, but this sequel is far better, a brilliant portrayal of a young woman in love with a married man.

Just missing my top five would be:

The Swimming Pool Library/The Spell - Alan Hollinghurst
Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters
Sweet Tooth/The Child in Time - Ian McEwan
Canada - Richard Ford
Gaudy Night - Dorothy L Sayers

Dishonourable mentions:

The Cutting Season - Attica Locke (ploddingly written and a poorly developed mystery0
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn (not bad, but it's been ridiculously overpraised)
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins (again, not bad, but the films are far better)

Dec 27, 2013, 7:25am Top

shaunie, I'm curious. You hate Gone Girl & Mockingjay more because other people say they liked them so much?

Dec 27, 2013, 1:28pm Top

Salinger by Shane Salerno and David Shields
Ambition by Joseph Epstein
Essays in Biography by Joseph Epstein
Walker Percy Remembered ed. by David Horace Harwell
Sting and I by James Berryman

Edited: Dec 27, 2013, 5:34pm Top

I had a hard time choosing, but these are my top five in no order:

1. By the Lake by John McGahern; That They May Face the Rising Sun in the UK

2. In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent

3. Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout

4. Sashenka by Simon Montefiore

5. The Bounty by Caroline Alexander

Honorable Mention:

Dragon Seed by Pearl S. Buck

Edited: Dec 27, 2013, 9:38pm Top

>67 .Monkey.: Thanks, polymathic.

I see now that you have to deliberately create your own list over there or you won't show up as the person who added it.

Dec 28, 2013, 6:23am Top

I don't hate them, they're overrated! I rarely read a book I hate, though Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry came close.

Dec 28, 2013, 1:01pm Top

Top 5 reads of 2013

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The 10 pm Question by Kate de Goldi
February by Lisa Moore

Edited: Dec 29, 2013, 9:59pm Top

About a fourth of my reading is re-reads. This wasn't a stellar year for new-to-me books, but these are the top five:

Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust & Emma Bull
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
The Lark in the Morn by Elfrida Vipont

Edited: Dec 31, 2013, 10:37am Top

I read in french, so I give you the titles in english, they are also available on this language.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair A Novel by Joel Dicker
28 Business Thinkers Who Changed the World by Rhymer Rigby
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
A Second Wind: The True Story that Inspired the Motion Picture The Intouchables by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo
Plaque and Cholera by Patrick Deville and J. A. Underwood

Edited: Dec 30, 2014, 7:33am Top

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers
Kamtschatka by Marcelo Figueras
Sartre's Sink - A DIY Manual for the Literary Enthusiast by Mark Crick
Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Zoli by Colum McCann
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
The Rider on the White Horse by Theodor Storm

Edited: Dec 31, 2013, 7:18pm Top

My top five:

Eliot, George. Daniel Deronda
Fessler, Ann. The Girls Who Went Away
Jonquet, Thierry. Mygale
Lehane, Dennis. Mystic River
Sigurdardottir, Yrsa. Last Rituals

Thanks to all who have posted -- I have a bunch of additions to my 2014 TBR!

Edited: Jan 3, 2014, 4:42am Top

So glad I found this thread! I love to hear others' favorite reads. Here are mine (both fic and NF):

1. Orphan Master's Son--well-deserved Pulitzer
2. Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth--the author sometimes panders, but it re-lit a fire for me to tackle my tiny corner of the issue of global climate change
3. Song of Achilles
4. Food Matters--I read lots of food (Omnivore's Dilemma, etc) and foodie (Kitchen Confidential, etc), but this still stood out, and tied in well with global climate change concerns
5. North and South--a fun and excellent classic--Pride and Prejudice, Middlemarch, and Ross and Rachel from the TV show Friends all mixed together!

Am I supposed to post this list somewhere else, as well?

ETA: Never mind, I found the link at the top of this thread, thanks.

Jan 4, 2014, 7:10pm Top

My top 5 list, how hard is that!
The Love Charm of Bombs L. Feigel
Life After Life Kate Atkinson
Eyrie Tim Winton
The Light Years Elizabeth Jane Howard
Yellow Birds Kevin Powers.

Edited: Jan 5, 2014, 2:57pm Top

My top 5 for 2013:

1. The Yard by Alex Grecian
2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
3. Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
4. Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
5. Operation Napoleon by Arnaldur Indridason

Edited: Jan 5, 2014, 2:13pm Top

Making a Top 5 list is hard! But like every year here around LT, it had to be done.

1. English Country House Murders. Thomas Godfrey. - I love the British Golden Age mysteries. This book is a collection of English Country House mysteries, where the guests convene for a relaxing weekend but end up getting entangled in blood curdling misadventures. Need I say more?

2. The Room in the Tower and Other Stories. E. F. Benson. - E. F. Benson was better known for his Mapp & Lucia series but his horror stories are so good! The story The Room in the Tower gave me chills!

3. All My Sons. Arthur Miller. - I stayed up til 5 in the morning to finish All My Sons. It was so worth it! Death of a Salesman, All My Sons & A View from the Bridge. Plays which made Arthur Miller one of my favourite playwrights.

4. Crooks Tour. Jane Shaw. - Crooks Tour, I admit, I bought only because of the cover. I am greatly attracted to anything vintage and the Retro Press covers are just so prettily ‘retro’! The story nothing deep, rather silly at times but kind of funny too.

5. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. E. T. A. Hoffmann. - Read this classic for this festive season. The clunky translation was throwing me off at first but I am glad I stuck to it.

Edited: Jan 5, 2014, 3:01pm Top

Not that difficult since I only have 12 books to choose from, but here goes:

Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin
Hi! My Name Is Loco And I Am A Racist by Baye McNeil
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
The Descent by Jeff Long

Jan 5, 2014, 3:09pm Top

This user has been removed as spam.

Jan 5, 2014, 5:10pm Top

Do you work on commission, Mr. Drive-by-advertiser?

Edited: Jan 6, 2014, 2:40pm Top

Hmmm . . . thought I'd posted here, but evidently not. Here are my top five:

The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon
The Good German by Joseph Kanon
Selected Short Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer - Modern Library Edition
One Very Hot Day by David Halberstam
The War in Eastern Europe by John Reed

Jan 25, 2014, 10:34pm Top


Survival, Migration and Regeneration by Julie E. Czerneda
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
Drood by Dan Simmons

I read these in 2013, so I thought I would add even though we are into 2014.

Feb 4, 2014, 12:32am Top

My list isn't too likely to overlap others', but here goes:

1. An American Tragedy -- Dreiser
2. The Memory Game -- French
3. Little Orvie -- Tarkington
4. The Flight from Science and Reason -- Gross
5. Pillars of the Earth -- Follett

Edited: Feb 8, 2014, 10:34am Top

Feb 9, 2014, 7:59am Top

I'm new to "Library Thing" so far this site is amazing and a little confusing so please charge my head and not the heart until I learn to use this site. First let me start by saying that I am so grateful to find a place like this. I feel like I'm in a place (on a site) were everyone is just like me, book-lovers and/or nerds! It is were people have a thirst for reading and it one of their favorite hobbies if not passions, so I'm truly excited on what this website can do for me and my love for reading. Now I have a question, I have seen were people has asked for help on "naming that author and/or title of a book" and that's is my only request for the moment. Somebody please help!!! Ok here is a description of the book: Umm this book is about a black female radio host who has the top radio show on air, I believe she owns her own book store as well. Well this character may have all the best advice for her callers yet and still she can't apply none of her answers to herself. On top of that, her husband and her were both business owners, he had owned a barbershop which was very successful but had to leave do to deployment of him being in the service. While her husband is away she can't help but to wonder why he was not responding to any of her letters and what had gone wrong, until one day she finally receives a letter from him and he is requesting a divorce. (Shocking) So she doesn't know how to react except but to breakdown. So fast forward into the story she ends up dating a guy whom was married but his wife had pasted away from cancer, they start a relationship and things go from their. Umm this new found boyfriend is there for her when her mother or grandmother (I do believe) pasts away. Now they are together and everything seems to be going smooth until this new found boyfriend starts to show is true colors on how clingy he was. Then all of a sudden she receives a letter from her husband letting her know that he would be coming home from a tour and would like to sit down and really talk about the reason for the divorce papers and etc. Because remind you she is still married to this man. So she tells the new boyfriend about husband coming home and that she needs to meet with him and talk, this immediately freaks the (new boyfriend) out and he becomes crazy. So as the couple meet to talk about the marriage and why it was over simply breaks down like this, the husband didn't receive any letters from his wife due to the mail being shipped to the wrong camp and also delays on all mail being issued to the soldiers. He had actually sent the request for divorce forms only after not hearing from her in 6 months. So as he prepares to come home he ends up getting all her letters at once. Finally he is home and the couple talk about why he felt like she wanted to leave him. They go back and worth with that and secondly each of them was blaming each other for the death of their child, not truly communicating with one another and so forth. To wrap up the story the too stayed together, worked on their marriage and all while doing that the (fill-in boyfriend) became jealous and stalks her and things get crazy. Oh and I cannot forget about the main characters best friend who had it all the job, money, lifestyle and perfect husband but had infidelity issues simply because she was spoiled and greedy yet felt like she didn't receive enough attention and etc, and I believe her husband divorced her. I know this is a long description but can anybody tell me the name of this book and/or author. PLEASE!!!!!!!

Feb 9, 2014, 8:06am Top

#90 -- Welcome! There is a group called Name That Book where you can post your question in its own topic and people will be more likely to see it and answer it. Be sure to read the instructions on that page before posting!

Feb 9, 2014, 8:14am Top

as you can tell I am still learning, been a member all of 45mins (literally). so thank you for the welcome and help. its truly appreciated foggidawn

Edited: Feb 9, 2014, 8:33am Top

Here are mine:

Chocolates for Breakfast: A Novel - Pamela Moore
The Almond Tree - Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend: A Novel - Matthew Dicks
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison - Piper Kerman
Z: A Novel of Zelda - Theresa Anne Fowler

Another favorite that was not officially published in 2013 was Under the Wide and Starry Skies by Nancy Horan (ARC).

Feb 9, 2014, 8:51am Top

going to go and research these titles and authors now...thank you LoisB

Feb 9, 2014, 9:39am Top

Have looked at this thread a few times and thought I can't remember which books I actually made it through last year - but then remembered that I had in fact kept a list! So I've now been back through my list and these are my five...

1. Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin an amazing autobiography. I know only a little about ballet, a little about China, but that didn't matter, this was one book that I really didn't want to put down - it got a similar reaction from the first person that I've passed it on to.
2. Day After Night by Anita Diamant - this was a heart breaking story, I had to break out the tissues on several occasions (post WW2, four Jewish girls arrive in Atlit in Israel from different parts of Europe).
3. Slightly torn here as I read Ranger's Apprentice books 4 through 9 by John Flanagan and couldn't really pick an absolute favorite from those, so I'm just going to leave it like that and say while it's not absolutely perfect, it's a YA series that I'm really enjoying and keep going back to whenever I get the chance (unfortunately I only have 3 left to read now).
4. Mission Mongolia by David Treanor - I enjoyed this although at times I was stunned they made out of England, let alone all the way to Mongolia!
5. The Tower (Sancti Trilogy #3) by Simon Toyne - although I didn't enjoy this as much as the first and second in the series, I still wanted to make it to the end.

Feb 9, 2014, 5:02pm Top

Top reads were:
1) Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann - definitely up there with War & Peace
2) The Appointment by Herta Muller
3) A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro - incredibly haunting work
4) Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther by Elizabeth von Arnim
5) The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow

Worst reads:
1) The Snow child by Eowyn Ivey - rather weak chick-lit
2) The Devil in the Flesh by Raymond Radiguet
3) The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek - yeugh!!!

Feb 9, 2014, 7:08pm Top

>96 starbox: I like the addition of "Worst Reads" to your list. Possibly does the reading community a public service by warning people off (though one person's worst read can be another person's favourite). For the record, my least favourite was Solar by Ian McEwan.

Mar 17, 2014, 1:22am Top

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WAR AND PEACE by Iva Plavšić not by TOLSTOJ
I have written a book about war in Croatia. I had a difficult time here during the 90' and I hope that people abroad will reed soon this book becasue it is a big posibillity that we reaise money and publish that book on English. The name of my book is PILL FOR HAPPY PEOPLE

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