top 10 books I read in 2013

top 10 books

I’m on track to read 29 books this year. Maybe a few more if I can sneak them in before the clock strikes 12. Not a huge amount–I do have a day job, which is coincidentally also reading–but I’ll take it. My top 10 favorite books this year, in no particular order, are:

Saga
Written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples, Saga was the first comic book I’ve read, and, man, was it a great introduction. The characters are sharp and funny, the art is gorgeous and modern, and the story focuses on relationships–that just happen to be during a war in space. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to try out graphic novels but isn’t sure of making the jump. It convinced me to dive into the medium, and I’m so glad it did…  [see saga related posts here]

The Sandman  
…because then I picked up Sandman. Neil Gaiman’s epic is a tremendously fun journey that I’m still reading–two volumes left to go. It’s not too late to pick this up. In fact, now might be a great time to get started because there are reports Joseph Gordon-Levitt wants to make it into a movie.  [see sandman related posts here]

Where’d You Go Bernadette (Kindle here)
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple was a delight. It’s a funny, touching look at a family’s relationship with a struggling woman who disappears for a while–like I’m sure we’d all like to sometimes. It’s a compilation of (fictional) letters and documents that Bernadette’s daughter puts together to try to track her down, but it reads like a charming story from beginning to end.  [see bernadette related posts here]

The Gift of Fear (Kindle here)
I recommend this book to everyone. It is a brilliant read and it helps me understand and feel better about fears that I and most women (and men!) face every day. Each chapter showed me new ways to look at fears, process them, and live safer. It focuses on women’s safety but can be helpful for anyone–it has chapters on the workplace and schools, as well as regular scary places like parking garages. Gavin De Becker also shines a light on men’s actions that can be scary without them realizing it, which can promote more understanding and safer lives for everyone. Seriously, read this book.

Boy’s Life (Kindle here)
Boy’s Life, by Robert McCammon, was possibly the best book I read this year. (But…so is this whole list.) It encapsulates feelings and the imagination of childhood and could connect with even the most hardened adult. I live as a grown up in a big city now, but reading about Cory’s life in a small southern town still resonates.  [see boy’s life related posts here]

The Revolution was Televised (Kindle here)
I have loved getting more into television. I am devouring show after show–most recently Orphan Black–and Alan Sepinwall’s book on some of the best shows from the past decade (or so) was excellent. Even for the shows I haven’t seen, hearing his analysis gave me a fuller picture of the medium and more appreciation for the storytelling that I am able to watch. He is passionate about the subject, and hearing his views on show after show was like talking to my friends about great shows I just saw–and that’s one of my favorite parts of watching TV.

Joyland
Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, and Joyland was not as scary as the thrillers he is usually known for. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less quality. To me, Joyland was a perfect summer read about a young man’s summer love–with an amusement park. It has enough love and mystery to keep things interesting, but it’s not too scary or saccharine.

Never Let Me Go (Kindle here)
This novel, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is technically about a strange boarding school and a twisted reality I’m thankful we don’t live in. But it’s more about basic humanity than almost anything else I’ve read this year. This book touches on what makes us human and the importance of basic decency, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Its first-person narration was easy to read and felt so real and true to the young woman Kathy C. that I was shocked to remember it was written by a man.  [see never let me go related posts here]

Under the Dome (Kindle here)
Stephen King again. And a story about a small town again, like Boy’s Life, but this time in the Northeast. Although King often uses scary monsters in his books, the true horrors are what we face in real life: jealousy, anger, substance abuse, insecurity, power. These terrors can take hold of anyone, and they invade a small town that finds itself trapped under a dome.  [see under the dome related posts here]

Salvage the Bones (Kindle here)
Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward, was not what I was expecting. I heard this was a book about Hurricane Katrina, but the hurricane doesn’t make an appearance until the memorable closing scenes. This story follows a poor family as it prepares for a storm no one could prepare for while Esch, the only girl in the family with three brothers, faces a storm of her own. It’s touching and heartbreaking, and though they live a life very different from my own, Esch’s emotions are all recognizable.

(These books are my own choices, and I’m not paid for them. I am part of the Amazon affiliate program, so if you buy through my links I’ll receive a teeny bit of money for it.)

top 10 crafts of 2013

This year has been a wonderfully crafty year. I’ve tried new things and made some I am really proud of. Out of a lot of crafty posts, here are my top 10 favorites.

screen printed card

Screen printed cards. This was a really fun project. I used my at-home screen printing kit to make some fun, punctuation inspired note cards. I definitely want to do more screen printing in 2014.

mischief managed embroidery

Mischief managed embroidery. I have loved starting embroidery this year. I am so happy to have made them and have them hanging up on my wall. I definitely plan to keep embroidering next year. One of my favorites is one of my first, “mischief managed.”

Lying Cat from Saga embroidery

And of course, Lying Cat embroidery is another favorite. I totally enjoyed reading Saga this year and Lying Cat is a star. Plus, sharing this with the illustrator Fiona Staples over Twitter was super cool.

walter white embroidery breaking bad

Walter White embroidery. Breaking Bad was another story I spent a lot of time with this year. My friends and I would obsessively email after every episode, and I just loved it. This tiny tribute to Walter White is a perfect memorial for me.

cross stitch pillow

Cross-stitch pillow. I have loved having handmade items in my home. It’s so personal and fun, and I like that my house has original things you can’t find anywhere else. This pillow turned out great, if I do say so myself.

ka pow comic book inspired sweatshirt

Comic book sweatshirt. I have gotten into comic books this year, and it’s seeping out of my reading and onto my clothing. This sweatshirt was so fun to make and it’s super cute to wear when I need a superhero boost.

wedding project life pages

Wedding project life. This was the year of project life for me. It’s helped me document wonderful moments like the wedding of my best friend. I love looking at the pages!

wedding present embroidered hand towels

Embroidered hand towels. And my wedding gift was another one of my favorite crafts. Such a nice way to give someone something personal. Especially if that someone likes to be in the kitchen.

ugly sweater ornaments

Ugly sweater ornaments. There’s still time to make these before Christmas! Grab some felt and my template and you’re just about good to go. They are so cute on my tree!

baby blanket knitting

And of course the baby blanket. I’m still working on this one, but I bet it will be one of my favorite projects for a very long time. I can’t wait to wrap up my baby niece in it when it’s done!