Celebrating 20 Years of Sonderbooks: Favorites from 2013

As of this month, I’ve been writing Sonderbooks for 20 years!

To celebrate, I’ve been writing posts highlighting some favorites from each year of reading.

This has taken longer than I anticipated. I thought I’d be able to focus on just a few outstanding books from each year — but there are just too many good ones. It’s also making me a little crazy that I can’t get away with spending the next couple years rereading! These are some outstanding books! If you missed them, let me encourage you to take another look.

Today I’m going to look at outstanding books from 2013. I thought I’d whip off a post, and then I looked at what wonderful books I read that year, and this may take a little extra time.

For Grown-ups

The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker

As it happens, I was recently thinking about this book because a sequel finally came out, The Hidden Palace. The books feel like rich historical novels, but they are about magical creatures living among humans and making lives for themselves in New York City of the past.

Living and Loving After Betrayal: How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity, and Chronic Resentment, by Steven Stosny

I wish this book had been written when I was in the thick of it, but I still found this book so helpful for healing and restoring my heart.

Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal, by Vikki Stark

And I wish I’d known about this one sooner, but again, even reading it years after my husband left helped me make sense of that time.

For Teens

Across a Star-Swept Sea, by Diana Peterfreund

Another amazing science-fiction retelling by Diana Peterfreund, this time a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy, an old favorite of mine, with genders swapped.

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell

A love story between two teens with very different backgrounds, paralleling Romeo & Juliet, but not ending as tragically.

Dark Triumph, by Robin LaFevers

The second amazing novel set in medieval Brittany about assassin nuns, daughters of the god of death.

Every Day, by David Levithan

This is the story of a kid named “A.” Every day, A wakes up in the body of a different kid. They will be somewhere near the last body they inhabited and they will be roughly the same age. A borrows other people’s lives for a day at a time. So what happens when A falls in love?

For Children

The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud

This is the first of the amazing and wonderful Lockwood & Co. series. The series is set in alternate-reality London, where for years ghosts have become a problem. These ghosts kill you if they touch you — but only children can see them. Lucy Carlyle joins the only agency run by children themselves, headed by Anthony Lockwood. After accidentally burning down a building, they take on an especially dangerous case to try to keep their agency from ruin.

Jinx, by Sage Blackwood

The magical story of a kid living in the Urwald who’s good at listening — even to trees. He can see the shape and color of other people’s thoughts, and doesn’t realize that’s not something everyone can do.

That’s a Possibility! A Book About What Might Happen, by Bruce Goldstone

This photo-illustrated book explaining probability to children makes my heart happy. Everything is colorfully and clearly explained.

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös, by Deborah Heiligman, pictures by LeUyen Pham

A picture book about an eccentric mathematician! What could be better?

Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late, by Laura Overdeck, illustrated by Jim Paillot

This was the year I discovered bedtimemath.org — a wonderful organization that promotes doing math problems with your kids at bedtime. I was delighted someone is promoting this, because I have many happy memories doing this with my own kid at bedtime — he discovered he could prolong bedtime indefinitely with the words, “Just one more math problem, Mommy, please.” Later, they also began promoting Crazy 8s Math Club — they send supplies and program plans to libraries and schools for after-school math clubs. The organization is all about showing kids how much fun is found in math.

Sophie’s Squash, by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

This picture book caught my heart. Sophie adopts a new best friend, a squash. Unfortunately, her friend isn’t going to stay fresh forever.

Tiny Little Fly, by Michael Rosen, pictures by Kevin Waldron

This has become a story time staple for me. You’ve got a tiny little fly buzzing around big African animals, but they don’t manage to stop him. My, oh my! Tiny little fly!

And there are more! Take a look at all my 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs and read about anything that catches your eye — they’re all heartily recommended.

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