EE's Best Books of 2013

FICTION:

UnknownTHE CIRCLE BY DAVE EGGERS: Like Orwell’s 1984 except way more plausible. The Circle tells the story of a woman scores a job at a prestigious social media conglomerate. But her dream job becomes a living nightmare. Which is just another way of saying: terrifying, couldn’t-put-it-down, page-turner. I may never log onto Facebook again. EE RATING: 4 stars.

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THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS BY ML STEDMAN: The tragic beauty of this story by debut novelist, M.L. Stedman, will capture your heart and keep you turning the pages. I was utterly captivated by this book. It is a story of regret and longing, of isolation and intimacy. An elegant lighthouse standing high atop a windswept, rocky island serves as the haunting backdrop to this poignant and remarkable novel. EE RATING: 4 stars.

NON-FICTION

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SISTER CITIZEN BY MELISSA V. HARRIS-PERRY: "Though we seldom think of it this way, racism is the act of shaming others based on their identity. Blackness in America is marked by shame...Shame makes us view our very selves as malignant. But societies also define entire groups as malignant. Historically, the United States has done that with African Americans. This collective racial shaming has a disproportionate impact on black women, and black women's attempts to escape or manage shame are part of what motivates their politics." (p. 109) More than any other book this year, Sister Citizen opened my eyes. I saw the systemic shaming of black women in America and came to understand the unfair burden these women carry. As a white woman, it was uncomfortable for me to read this because it showed me my own blindness and privilege. It brought me to tears and convicted my spirit. The African American women of the Combahee River Collective are quoted as follows: "If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression." Read this book. It is IMPORTANT. EE Rating: 4 stars.

RECOVERY:

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ADDICTION TO LOVE BY SUSAN PEABODY: Being raised in a cult left me particularly susceptible to harmful relationships. This book has helped me understand the symptoms of unhealthy relationships: love at first sight, excessive fantasizing, irrational jealousy, clinging, neediness and the solutions for overcoming problematic behaviors in friendships and relationships. I had the chance to meet Susan Peabody in person this past year and she is brilliant, eccentric and has laser-sharp insight into human relationships. This book is a MUST for anyone who has struggled to untangle themselves from addictive relationships. EE Rating: 4 stars.

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THE LANGUAGE OF LETTING GO BY MELODY BEATTIE: This precious book has positive, affirming and hopeful meditations for each day of the year. Part of the recovery process has meant learning to be gentle with myself and Melody Beattie's gentle words of encouragement are a balm to my soul. Each morning I begin my day with journaling, Scripture reading and a daily reading from this book. I can't recommend it highly enough. "You are lovable. Yes, you. Just because people haven't been there for you, just because certain people haven't been able to show love for you in ways that worked, just because relationships have failed or gone sour does not mean that you're unlovable. You've had lessons to learn. Sometimes those lessons have hurt. Let go of the pain. Open your heart to love. You are lovable. You are loved." (reading from 2/29).

 

MEMOIR

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WHEN WE WERE ON FIRE BY ADDIE ZIERMAN: Growing up evangelical, Addie Zierman was deeply "on fire" for God. Her memoir explores the zeal, disillusionment and disintegration of her faith and then its unexpected resurrection. But of all the stories she tells in this book, the one I related to the most was her struggle to get over a broken heart. Girls growing up in evangelical Christianity face a double burden of expectations entangled in purity culture and "saving the first kiss" and "guarding our hearts." Addie's memoir is an important documentation of what this experience is like. EE Rating: 4 stars.

 

POETRY:

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PLATH (EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY POCKET POETS): When I was writing my book, I was literally chilled to my bones. It was a strange, somatic response to reliving my childhood. But Sylvia Plath's poems, wine and a hot bath were my healing balm at the end of a hard day's writing (and yes, I am restored by depressing poetry). One of my favorite lines from Syliva's “Spinster”: How she longed for winter then!–Scrupulously austere in its order / Of white and black / Ice and rock, each sentiment within border / And heart’s frosty discipline / Exact as a snowflake” Oh, that last bit…heart’s frosty discipline / exact as a snowflake…that line has stuck in my head for weeks. How often we dismiss the messiness of love and idolize something more orderly, timely, precise, austere. But then we miss out on love, don’t we? EE Rating: 4 stars.

Now, it's your turn! What were YOUR favorite books this year? I need some recommendations for reading in 2014!