Goodbye, 2013. Thanks for the books.

At the beginning of 2013, I promised myself I would read 30 books. Come December, I didn’t really make it – 4 books short of the gold – but I did manage to read 26 stories, and I thought I would share them with you. It’s not uncommon to see our social media feeds bursting with status updates about how successful someone’s year has been, so how many amazing things they’ve done. I thought about how I remembered 2013, and was surprised to find, it was through these books.

I started the year with East of Eden, which skyrocketed to the very top of my Favorite Books Ever list. It’s a retelling of the Genesis story of Cain and Abel, and beyond that, it’s a story of life. There is so much beauty simply in the way the book is written – Steinbeck really pulls you into this world that is simultaneously profound and gritty, giving you the feeling that you’re learning something phenomenal, but leaving you with more questions than you’ve managed to answer. There is love, betrayal, devotion – on both a micro and macro level. The one thing I took away from the book was the story of the Hebrew word Timshel, which roughly translates into “thou mayest”. It was with that reaffirmation of choice – that we have the power to make decisions in our lives, whether to choose good or bad – that set the course of my entire year – one that would change my life, thanks to the books that guided my way.

After East of Eden left the taste of morality and betrayal in my mouth, Quasimodo taught me true compassion, in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Having watched and loved the animated Disney interpretation as a child, I wanted to sing with Esmeralda, and swing from Notre Dame’s royal heights with the bell-ringer, but I was in for a surprise. The story is heart-breaking, with Esmeralda and her lover a far cry from the jovial couple Disney showed me. Quasimodo is no humble giant, but a monster and a simpleton with a heart. His caretaker is part evil villain, but part human, and in a gut-wrenching moment of shock, I was able to relate to his troubles. There is evil and magic and a consistent tearing away at your heart, until at the end, Quasimodo is dust, but you are still bleeding raw.

With two classics in my 2013 backpack, I turned to more contemporary fiction. Next stop: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window & Disappeared. Yes, that is the entire title. This lickety-split story of adventure had a wholehearted feel that had me chuckling the entire time. I’ve written a full-fledged review on it, and you should give it a click.

And so the year went on, one book leading to the next, with memories tied to each one. When a dear friend visited from abroad, she brought me Looking for Alaska, when I was suffering from insecurity issues, I read Valley of the Dolls and took shelter in Anne’s unwavering self-confidence. When I was complaining about my bout with gastritis, The Fault in Our Stars made me take back every ungrateful word and forget about my fever as I learned about love. On the same note, The Last Original Wife reminded me not to take any of my relationships for granted, and Empty Mansions made me grateful that I was not burdened with extravagant wealth.

So what did I do in 2013? I lived 26 adventures. I learned 26 lessons. I started paying less attention to the internet and more to my family. I stopped wasting money and time. I strengthened my relationship with God and pushed aside insecurities. In 2013, I lived, and I don’t regret a single page of it.

What did you read in the past 12 months?

P.S. There will be a full book of each of the books I read in 2013, one a week, every Monday.

Wishing you thrills and tear-stained pages,
Zainab

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6 thoughts on “Goodbye, 2013. Thanks for the books.

  1. Pingback: Goodbye, 2013. Thanks for the books. | Pakistan Blogger

  2. Pingback: Goodbye, 2013. Thanks for the books. | Pakistani Bloggers

  3. well that’s awesome. Loved your books for this year!
    what did I did in this year? hmm
    just listen now :P
    got stucked in septimus heap book series!
    finished 6 out of 7 books
    dan browns Deception point, diary of social butterfly and tender hooks by moni mohsin :)
    read classics as Hound of Baskervilles and expendable spy along with the hot Ice Station Zebra.
    attended both Lahore and Islamabad’s debut literature festival
    got a signed copy of broken verses from Kamila shamsie.
    and yeah launched my own Valkyrie Leo club, i guess you do know about International Leo clubs.
    and yes completed my debut novel The Phoenix legions and the Dark Occults.
    P.S i just couldn’t control telling you this. its your article that made me write :)
    Happy New Year!
    And yeah i Follow your posts, you are an amazing person

    • Thank you so much for your comment. It’s comments like yours from readers that motivate me to keep writing and keep sharing my stories. You read some really great books this year. The Literature Festivals were a high point in my year, and I will be attending the festival in Lahore again this year. Hope you do too!

      • Hey,
        Yeah ofcourse i will be part of both Lahore and Islamabad Lit fest again Inshallah. I vowed to attend ILF after being published but i don’t think so k i can make it this soon :/
        i do follow you on facebook and twitter, your posts are really nice and help in one way or another.
        what else do you write?

  4. Pingback: Goodbye, 2013. Thanks for the books. | Pakistani News

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