Best Book I Didn't Review: A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki. I put off reading this for reasons unknown to me, and I am kicking myself (HARD) for doing so. It's an amazing story of youth and forgiveness and life and death and happiness and philosophy and quantum physics and everything else you want to read about, so read it.
Best Historical Fiction: Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson. I read a lot of historical fiction (of the 100 odd books I read in 2013, 24 were historical fiction), and I knew this would be one of my top reads of 2013 by the time I was 50 pages in. It only got better from there. This story of a woman who relives her life over and over and over again touches on so much of British history, World War II, the importance of will and desire in living (and dying) and so many other things, without ever feeling redundant. Read my full review of Life After Life.
Best Audio: Joyland, by Stephen King. It took me a bit to get into the narrator on this one--he was somewhat flat and had a tendency to mumble--but by the end, his voice completely embodied the voice of Dev, a young man working in a potentially haunted amusement park over summer vacation. I'm only just diving into the world of Stephen King, and this was another hit for me. Read my full review of Joyland.
Best Horror: NOS4A2, by Joe Hill. I've never been a big horror reader, so the fact that I read more than one contender for this category is pretty shocking. Night Film and The Shining Girls were both excellent, but NOS4A2 had the added elements of wit and imagination that really win me over in a book. And it's downright terrifying at times. Read my full review of NOS4A2.
Best Feminism: The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud. Holy highlighter, batman. I noted and annotated so many pages of this book (which was a library copy, which meant lots of post-it notes) because so much of it resonated in ways I can't begin to explain. If you read books to find characters you love, don't read this. If you read it to find a story that speaks to the anger and rage that so many people--particularly women--feel at being pushed into a life they never expected, too scared to fight for their dreams, well, read this.
Best Indie Press Read: The Revolution of Every Day, by Cari Luna. I picked this up at BEA at the urging of Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books, and I'm so very glad I did. This is a quiet story at first, about a group of squatters living in an old tenement building in the East Village, but it builds to a startling climax that forced me, as a previous resident of the neighborhood (and part of the very gentrification against which these squatters fought) to reconsider the basic right of housing that so many of us take for granted.
Best Nonfiction: Gulp, by Mary Roach. Because it would be impossible for Roach to publish something without my reading it, impossible (I hope) for her to write something I don't love, and impossible not to include a new Roach book on a best-of list somehow.
Best Biography/Memoir: The World's Strongest Librarian, by Josh Hanagarne. Libraries + books + faith + dealing with Tourette's + strongman weightlifting = recipe for one helluvan intriguing read. It doesn't hurt that Hanagarne's a damn good storyteller, or that his memoir will grow your TBR list in droves, either. Read my full review of The World's Strongest Librarian.
Best Sports: Running Like a Girl, by Alexandra Heminsley. Ok, this might be cheating because I think this is the only "sports" book I read all year, but I loved it, and want to keep telling everyone to read it, so I'm going to do just that: Read this. It's funny and witty and inspirational and encouraging for wannabe, newbie or seasoned runners alike. Read my full review of Running Like a Girl.
That's the best of 2013 from my year in reading. I know I missed some really wonderful-looking books, many of which I have stockpiled in my house and on my e-reader, and I'm hoping to get to those sooner than later--what should I be sure not to miss?