Favorite reads of 2013 in the Crossroads

Kathleen Duncan

Jan. 1, 2014 at midnight
Updated Dec. 31, 2013 at 7:01 p.m.

Books are an escape. Whenever we need to take a break from our daily worries, we get to visit enchanted lands, do great deeds, fight monsters, live underwater, explore the past or envision the future. Books give us many lifetimes of adventures, and all we have to do is read.

Looking back on 2013, this year was an exceptional year for great books.

Some of the top books of 2013 on national lists were: • "The Lowland" by Jhumpa Lahiri

•  "And the Mountains Echoed" by Khaled Hosseini

•  "Speaking from Among the Bones" by Alan Bradley

•  "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt

•  "Vampires in the Lemon Grove" by Karen Russell

•  "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

•  "Cold Days" by Jim Butcher

Of course, the best books released this year aren't always our personal favorites. Every day, readers discover books that become treasures in their collection - whether they were published five years ago or last week.

Crossroads residents weighed in and told me about their favorite books of 2013. • Heidi Anthony, of Victoria, said that "The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity" by Wm. Paul Young was her favorite because "it dealt with uncomfortable and emotional material in an effort to approach faith from a standpoint that even the faithless could comprehend. It helped me to understand some of my own battles with faith and belief."

• Mary Reyna Morales, of Victoria, said she loved "I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb because "it's a true story, and it's about one brave girl's action to continue to live her life the best she can - even though she almost died for doing what she believed in. It shows even one small voice can make a world of difference."

•  Kat Munoz, of Victoria, enjoyed "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. "'The Hunger Games' kept me on my toes. I didn't think that I would like a book like this, but until this day, I imagine what it would be like to be Katniss Everdeen. I liked the storyline of a young girl who made a huge difference to society - plus the love story."

• Daniel Cano, of Victoria, preferred "Krampus, the Yule Lord" by Brom. "I normally read books of the zombie genre - Stephen Knight and Joe McKinney are my favorites - but I heard a lot of references to Krampus and his Belsnickels, so I decided to see what the buzz was all about. I was not disappointed. The book is a very dark, sometimes funny and full of WTF moments. It's a twisted Santa Claus tale that is definitely not for kids."

•  Chad M. Ganaway, of Victoria, said that "Relentless" by John Bevere was his pick because "It's an awesome Christian perspective on overcoming life and its challenges - quite possibly, the best book I've ever read."

• Kirby Hlavaty, of Shiner, said "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt was his chosen read of 2013 so far. "It's a coming-of-age story that wrestles with the loss of a 'moral' or normative center. Great characters and compelling plot."

So many of you were kind enough to share your best reads of the year with me. It is heartening to know that such a diverse book reading community exists in the Crossroads. I look forward to reviewing and discussing books with you in 2014.



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