Since half the year is over, we thought this would be a good time to review the best books of the first 6 months of 2013. We compiled a list of the books voted best of each month by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Christian Science Monitor, those that received three out of four possible starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal or Publishers Weekly, and the books listed in BookRiot’s “The Best Books of 2013: Halftime Report,” Flavorwire’s “The 10 Best Works of Nonfiction of 2013 So Far” and “2013’s 10 Best Works of Fiction So Far.”


So what did we discover? The different sources agree on a lot of the titles, and the picture of 2013 so far is beginning to come into focus. Of the 145 books on the list, here are those that were chosen by at least three of the sources mentioned above.


The Top Picks


Three books were chosen by four of the sources:



Philipp Meyer – The Son



East of Eden meets Cormac McCarthy according to one reviewer. Others compare it to the works of Frank Norris, John Dos Passos, and Larry McMurtry. This is a multigenerational saga set in Texas from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil boom of the 20th Century. An epic tale of more than 150 years of money, family, and power, told through the memories of three unforgettable narrators.


Karen Russell – Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories

Russell’s Swamplandia was a finalist for the Pultizer Prize. This collection of eight strange tales reminded one reviewer of Ray Bradbury’s October Country. “Hilarious,” “stupendous,” “innovative,” “flawless,” “magnificent,” “astonishing,” “beautiful,” “with prose so alive it practically backflips off the page,” are just some of the words used to describe this book. Even hard-to-please Michio Kakutani liked it.



George Saunders – Tenth of December: Stories

Saunders has been called “one of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation,” and a master of the short story. Saunders has “a wonderful ability to portray a character’s inner monologue,” and his satiric view of America has been called “dark and demented.” But this winner of a MacArthur “genius grant” has written what the New York Times Magazine called “the best book you’ll read this year.”


The following books were chosen by three of the sources:


Kate Atkinson – Life After Life

“An audacious genre-bender, and a work of literary genius.” “A deft and convincing portrayal of an English family’s evolution across two world wars.” “You can’t put down Life After Life until you finish it, and then I suggest you read it a second time.”


Bill Cheng – Southern Cross the Dog

“An epic literary debut in which the bonds between three childhood friends are upended by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.”


Joseph Ellis – Revolutionary Summer

The summer months of 1776 witnessed the most consequential events in the story of our country’s founding. This book is by one of the premier historians of the American Revolution.


Neil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys. A middle-aged man is on his way to his sisters after a funeral, and is inexplicably drawn to the house where he grew up. He then narrates a strange tale from when he was 7-years-old. A creepy fairy tale.


Elizabeth Kelly – The Last Summer of the Camperdowns

Canadian writer Elizabeth Kelly sets her latest novel in 1972 on Cape Cod among the Irish aristocratic families who have many secrets to keep hidden. “A unique beach read, the kind that might keep you glancing over your shoulder to make sure no one is sneaking up behind your beach chair.”


Herman Koch – The Dinner

The Wall Street Journal called this one “a European Gone Girl.” Two couples in Amsterdam struggle to make the hardest decision of their lives — all over the course of one meal.


Colum McCann – Transatlantic

National Book Award winner McCann has set this sweeping novel in 1919 Newfoundland where two aviators are determined to make the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic, in Dublin in 1845 and 1846 where Frederick Douglass on a lecture tour finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause, and in New York in 1998 where an Irish-American Senator is chosen to shepherd Northern Irelands volatile peace talks. These crossings are connected by a family of remarkable women—an Irish housemaid who crosses paths with Douglass, and her daughter and granddaughter.


Happy reading! You can find all 145 titles under Must Haves in the left column of Marketplace all ready for you to order.


Cindy Orr is a Digital Collection Advisor with OverDrive


2 Responses to “The Best Books of 2013 (So Far)”

  1. Frank Lunden

    Thanks for these suggestions. I’ve seen a few of these popping up frequently so I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled next time I’m browsing. I’ve just finished reading ‘Back From The Abyss – The Autobiography Of A Low-Bottom Alky’ by Kieran Doherty. It has been one of the best reads I have had in many years. It’s really well written and you get a wonderful sense for who the man really was. It’s one of those books that will make you laugh and cry all at once. It gets my top recommendation for 2013 reading.

  2. Jessica Kurrle

    Thanks for this recommendation Frank! We’re thrilled you enjoyed the book. Cindy, if at any point you’d like to receive a copy for review we’ll gladly send you one, just email me (Jess Kurrle) at info [at] capandbellspress [dot] com.