Top 10 books I read in 2013

2013 was a rather successful year in terms of reading as I occasionally had quite a lot of free time in my hands, especially in the second half of the year. So thanks to that, I got to read some of the oldies I so far hadn’t, and some of the new ones that were published in 2013 for the first time.

Many say that people don’t read any more and that is really sad. So here are the ten best books I read this year and I hope that some of you, who accidentally come to this page and haven’t read something really good in a long time, will feel intrigued enough to pick up a book.

10. Lee Childs—Killing Floor

This is the novel that introduced Jack Reacher, a former military police investigator who decided to quit his job and disappear, drifting through the vast countryside of the United States. In Killing Floor, Jack Reacher (who, by the way, looks nothing like Tom Cruise according to Lee Childs’ description), is trying to solve a counterfeit money case in a little fictional town in Georgia after himself being accused of murder. This is not the book the film Jack Reacher was based on; however, story-wise it could’ve been quite an enjoyable action flick.

9. John Steinbeck—Of Mice and Men

A well-written short story that seems to be very famous in America and appears to have a special place in the American curriculum—at least that’s the impression I’ve got from some movies. So, prior to moving to the U.S., I decided to read it. It’s a story about one slightly mentally challenged man who likes to touch women against their will. As you can imagine, stuff like this never ends well.

8. Arturo Pérez-Reverte—The Club Dumas

This is the book that inspired the film “The Ninth Gate,” starring Johnny Depp and Frank Langella. I say “inspired” because in truth, the film only bears some resemblance to the novel, which was a lot longer, more diverse and the outcome was different. It’s a great book for thriller lovers and I wouldn’t want to spoil it too much for you—so I’ll just say it’s about a book detective that takes on a job that is perhaps too much for him to handle. And that also pretty much concludes the movie’s resemblance to the book.

7. John Le Carré—A Delicate Truth

Le Carré’s newest novel is a really, really enjoyable read as all his works, only that… It just gets so incredibly left-wing and anti-government that at times it starts hurting the story itself. I know, Le Carré has always been a leftie, and he has always emphasised his views in most his books but this time… it was perhaps a tad too much. The book is about a civil servant who voluntarily lets himself to be dragged into an intelligence operation. In the aftermath of the operation, he finds out that the government has been lying to him and the operation went tits up—for which he starts to feel guilty. As I said, it’s a good read and Le Carré is a literary genius, just try to take it with a pinch of salt.

6. Dan Brown—Inferno

This is one of the books I was really looking forward to. The next adventure of the Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon, takes him to Florence where his mission is to stop a doctor gone crazy, trying to set off a biological weapon. Although, as in all Dan Brown’s novels, nothing is like it seems and Langdon has to chew through a load of clues and symbols to get to the bottom of it. A really good book and I can’t wait until Tom Hanks stops playing Walt Disney and gets back to what he’s supposed to do.

5. Donald Rumsfeld—Rumsfeld’s Rules

I had no idea Rummy was funny. But this was really quite an entertaining read, compiled of several “rules” the former defense secretary had picked up and lived by during his long career. A slightly autobiographical book, it can be regarded as a leadership manual on how to run things, both low and high key, private and public sector. A highly recommended read for all future (and present) leaders and managers.

4. Truman Capote—In Cold Blood

I can’t really find an excuse to why I had waited so long to read this. I mean, it’s one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, so amazingly and brilliantly written that when reading this, on every page I felt that if I ever manage to become a writer, I would want to write that well—and realizing on almost every page that I can never really do that, which is a sad realization. A nonfiction novel about a gruesome murder in a small town in Kansas, it shows us the picture of two sides—first, how people cope with and handle when a terrible crime happens in the backyard of a small community; and second, what goes through the heads of the lowlifes who decide to murder an entire family just because they didn’t find what they were looking for and didn’t want to leave witnesses behind. In Cold Blood is an all-American novel, and Truman Capote, an all-American author, did an insanely good job on that. And more, his own side story to writing the novel, which has been widely publicized, is no less important to the brilliance of this book.

3. Anne Applebaum—Iron Curtain

This book I wrote about right after reading it, so there’s no point in repeating it all.

2. Thomas Keneally—Schindler’s Ark

Yet another nonfiction novel that I got my hands onto in 2013. I’m sure everybody knows what this book is about, even though the film based on it was called “Schindler’s List”. The novel is a work of art and everybody interested in the history of the Holocaust and the European Jewry prior and during that horrible time should read it. Even if you’ve seen the movie, because, like always, the book is way better.

1. Leon Uris—Exodus

This is another book that was made into a major film, and definitely the best book I read last year. After seeing the movie probably a hundred times, I’m really glad I picked up the book because… it is just a masterpiece. Not only is it more thorough, slightly different and contains four times as much information as the book, it also explains so many things about the history of the Jews in the 19th and 20th century. Not only is this book about the creation of the State of Israel, it also explains the diverse history and the life stories of people whose persistence and determination helped create it. Going through the hardships the main characters had to endure, it’s a story of incredible people’s hard work that, at the end and through different ways (which each and every one of them thought was right) led to their common dream.

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