Tote Bag Awards – Catarina’s 2013 Book Awards

I love a good list recapping the year gone by. Almost as much as I love a good sports montage. In this case, and inspired by a recent article about literary prizes in the International New York Times, I thought it would be fitting to create my own awards. I’m calling them Tote Bag Awards.

According to GoodReads, which is really the only way I keep track of the books I read, I’ve read 43 books this year. Mind you, this means these books are in the “read” shelf but I did not finish most in their entirety (because they stunk and I’m not afraid to quit a book). And that shelf includes the non-fiction books I used as reference material throughout the course of the year. This also means most books are older titles, not published in 2013. That’s why these are my awards and not yours. But… I’ve completely finished 25 of the 43 and here are the winners:

Nonfiction category: The Great House by Nicole Krauss. This book inspired a story I wrote earlier this year about a necklace and the lives it touches. And it’s pretty much the reason I got serious about my writing this year. It’s a story about a desk and the lives it passes through. I won’t give much more away. Krauss is a writer in Brooklyn. I’ve never skipped out on friends or meetings just to read a book. For this one, I’d lose sleep over. So go to New York City, live there for a year, borrow the book from the library or buy it secondhand on the streets of Brooklyn. Like I did. You’ll see why it’s an award-winner. 

Fiction category: The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan. You’ve probably heard of the author from Omnivore’s Dilemma. This is his earlier work but it no doubt had a big influence on solidifying his trusted opinion in the food education sphere. The book takes you on a wordy journey through the history of four plants: apples, tulips, marijuana, and the potato. Needless to say, I consumed a lot of each while I read the book. For research. You can see his writing style grow in this book. An intoxicating award winner in my book. 

Honorable mention: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Memoirs are something special altogether. This one is no different. Jeannette grew up with a nomadic childhood in the US. Her parents spent their time convincing the children their lives were completely normal. Just when you think your life is in a weird spot, you pick up a book like this. I read slow as molasses and I finished this one on the plane ride to New Zealand (and picked it up at the Portland Powell’s airport store). She isn’t looking for pity either, just someone to listen to her story. And it’s a beautiful one. 

Don’t bother reading category: Rework by Jason Fried. Jason, if you’re reading this (I wish!), I’m sorry. But all that talk about not following the conventional business model and know-how can be wrapped up in one tight and pretty infographic. Take your own advice and keep it simple stupid. 

There ya have it folks! Be sure to share your favorites with me too! How was your year-in-reading?

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