2013 has been an absolute feast for readers. Month after month another superstar would hit the shelves, another first time author would turn our heads, another beautiful kids book would steal our hearts. Selecting our Books of the Year was never going to be easy.
These selections are not in order, and while some amazing books that have missed out, we can’t resist a list, so here we are. Hopefully you see some of your favourites too.
The astonishing and epic Man Booker Prize-winning novel established 28 year-old New Zealander Catton as one of the most exciting talents of the last 50 years.
The hot tip to win the 2014 Miles Franklin, an incredibly personal novel from one of Australia’s modern greats.
Worth the wait, Donna Tartt’s Dickensian epic is a heartbreaking portrait of love and loss.
Another from the ‘how old is she?’ pile. An amazing achievement from a talent we’ll be hearing about for years to come.
Proved to Eat, Pray, Love haters once and for all that she truly is a wonderful writer with this extraordinary book, sure to make the name Alma fashionable again.
Perhaps Picoult’s finest work to date, a gut-wrenching tale of forgiveness and redemption that the world fell in love with.
Bryce Courtenay famously anointed McIntosh his successor as the preeminent blockbuster author in the Australian market, and with The French Promise she is rising to the challenge nicely.
Rachael Johns’ incredible journey to household name continues at a remarkable pace, Outback Dreams another huge success with Romance fans and the general public.
Sunset Ridge is another beautifully constructed Australian classic from Alexander, now firmly established as one of the nation’s favourite authors.
Nothing warmed our hearts like Simsion’s sideways look at love through the eyes of the sometimes inscrutable Professor Don Tillman. An extraordinary debut.
CRIME & THRILLER
A risky move from Reilly that will now be seen as one of his greatest triumphs. Combines fact and legend with supremely confident storytelling.
Arguably the finest crime writer working in Australia today, Robotham gets better and better and Watching You had readers guessing until the very end.
Reichs’ reputation as a storyteller is nearly hampered by her popularity. She isn’t just another crime phenomenon, Bones of the Lost is a wonderfully written thriller of the highest order.
Somehow, incredibly, the sequel to The Shining wasn’t a let down. Doctor Sleep goes to the deep dark places in the human condition where even evil spirits dare not tread, and another King classic is made.
Max Barry remains one of Australia’s most dazzlingly original novelists with his growing body of intelligent high concept works. Lexicon was another example of Barry taking risks and absolutely nailing it.
The inspirational story of a woman overcoming the obstacles that many take for granted in today’s world. An amazing book from a truly amazing person.
Honestly, she is 16 years old. Yousafzai is more than just the victim of a worldwide incident, she is a young woman who was always destined to stand up to oppression, and in I am Malala it’s clear her journey has only just begun.
If you’ll excuse the inevitable ‘down to earth’ pun, Hadfield may be responsible for kick starting the dream of space travel for the next generation. If so, this is the book they’ll have in their pockets.
Australia wept at the story of Turia Pitt, at the thought of the challenges that lay before her. Everything to Live For is the story of a young woman who could so easily be bitter at the past, but instead remains optimistic about an uncertain future.
The long awaited memoir from one of music’s most brilliant and eccentric figures didn’t disappoint. Rich and dense, Morrissey stands as both conductor and orchestra to the highs and lows of British music and life.
Safran’s debut book is an incredible effort. Funny, tragic, disturbing and written with the warm tone of a homesick pen pal, Murder in Mississippi is true crime at its best.
Trinca’s vivid portrait of a literary figure shrouded in mystery is a telling reminder of that which haunts the great storytellers can also be that which makes them great.
To read On the Trail of Genghis Khan is to love On the Trail of Genghis Khan. Tim Cope immerses himself in the life of the nomad and the result is a thrilling tale of adventure and discovery.
A riveting journey into the heart of a monumental decline. Williams’ recent Walkley award-winning effort is long-form journalism at its most compelling.
Putting the story into history, Hunt’s Girt was one of the word-of-mouth successes of 2013 with his wonderful look at an Australian history we never knew existed.
One of Australia’s most popular writers, FitzSimons’ passion to unravel the real story behind the ultimate anti-hero radiates in this gripping character study.
Paul Ham’s most impressive work to date, 1914 attempts to answer the most vexing of questions that emerged from the Great War. Why?
One of the most defining moments in the establishment of Australia is given new eyes by historian Clare Wright, who brilliantly exposes myths while also establishing new voices in the struggle.
A meticulously researched work from the executive director of the Lowy Institute in Sydney. Talked about endlessly by history buffs both here and abroad.
Both a cookbook and a coffee table book, Dunn’s gorgeous recipes are captured beautifully in this tribute to his famous Agrarian Kitchen Experience in Tasmania.
Perhaps the most mouth-watering cookbook of 2013, Valli Little’s latest offering is an easy to use accompaniment to Australia’s famous cooking magazine Delicious.
Beautiful photography and a laid-back feel combine in this wonderful book from the former Masterchef winner.
Dansereau is one of Australia’s most creative chefs, and Seasonal Kitchen is a magnificent showcase of his gifts and passion for seasonal produce.
A gigantic book that covers every Italian dish you could imagine. An amazing effort that will sit as the definitive Italian Cooking Bible for years to come.
With Friday Brown, Wakefield has established herself as one of Australia’s finest young adult writers. A poignant story of courage in the face of the ghosts of the past.
A book that has captivated readers around the world, Eleanor & Park is the whimsical story guaranteed to be a classic for generations to come.
An unmistakeably Australian novel about everything that makes us and breaks us, Wood writes with an irresistibly arresting confidence.
Jonsberg is at the peak of his powers in this funny, uplifting novel that struck a chord in the hearts of teens across the country.
Matched the hype surrounding it and established the Divergent series as one of the most popular and acclaimed young adult sagas of the last 25 years.
An emotional look at the lives of those at war told through the gentle eyes of fourteen-year-old Evan.
The extraordinary imagination of Neil Gaiman is once again on show in this wonderful eccentric tale of a wonderfully eccentric adventure.
A beautiful companion to Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee, Weirdo is the sort of kids book there should be much more of, showing that being different isn’t all that bad.
The Wimpy Kid juggernaut keeps rolling with Hard Luck, another reminder that quality storytelling will always win out, be it for kids or adults.
The dream team of Griffiths and Denton continued to produce remarkable work in 2013 with the latest in their already classic Treehouse series.
Had us giggling in the office for hours, this whimsical tale of the secret gripes of crayons was a standout in 2013.
Shaun Tan is slowly becoming his own category as he breaks new ground with every picture book, Rules of Summer is another intoxicating work that will stay with you long after you’ve put it down.
Substance and style overlooked for sensationalism upon the books release, Dot. is a charming cautionary tale that parents everywhere will need to have in their back pockets for the right, increasingly regular, occasion.
Entirely wordless and entirely riveting, Journey is an amazing achievement that proves a picture can paint a thousand words.
Possibly the cutest book of 2013, Gaiman’s story of the little panda with a powerful sneeze was the favourite book of thousands of children this year.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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