Dec 17

 A look back at 2013, our reading goals and our favorite books of the year.

Reminder: The Books on the Nightstand 2013 Holiday Gift Guides are available for download here. We really do think there’s a gift for everyone on your list so please spread the word and share the link!

Our Year in Reading

In addition to Project Short Story, Ann committed to reading 52 books this year. With only 2 to go, she’s confident she’ll meet her goal. She also started a printed reading journal, noting everything she read, whether she finished or not.

My only goal was to try to read 78 books this year (13 more than last year), but one thing that has changed is that I’ve started reading many comics digitally, an experience I’m enjoying, but will still collect physical graphic novels of some of my favorites. Many comic publishers have their own apps. Comixology is an app and website that will allow to purchase digital comics from

Until August, Ann succeeded in reading a short story every day. It was an illuminating experience that taught her much about short stories. She explored more through the book Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. She even took several writing classes at Grub Street in Boston.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (15:29)

tiny beautiful Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, narrated by the author,  is Ann’s pick for this week’s Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand. allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to

Our Favorite Books of 2013 (17:55)

Michael’s Two Cheat books, read this year, but published long ago
The Stand by Stephen King (originally discussed here)
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Ann’s Favorite Short Story of the Year
“Anything Helps” by Jess Walter (from the collection We Live in Water)

Ann’s Top 5

marker claire goldf woman trees

A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik (originally discussed here)
Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat (originally discussed here)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (originally discussed here)
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud (originally discussed here)
The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagahara (originally discussed here)

bonus, “happy” book: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (originally discussed here)

Michael’s Top 5

BS lex nightfilm Tenth of December by George Saunders vital

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (originally discussed here)
Lexicon by Max Barry (originally discussed here)
Night Film by Marisha Pessl (originally discussed here)
Tenth of December by George Saunders (originally discussed here)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (originally discussed here)

  • Jess Walter’s story ANYTHING HELPS is also in the 2012 Best American Short Stories Anthology.

  • dogearedcopy

    We are thrilled that you listened to and loved The Stand (by Stephen King; narrated by Grover Gardner)! It’s a favorite of ours too! 😉

  • Toni Clark

    Thanks for featuring the audio version of Tiny Beautiful Things!

  • Chris K.

    Another cool podcast. I put Lexicon on my best list too. I had two reading goals for 2013. One was to read more classics. I’ve done that by starting a classics book club at work (I work for the public library). I read 11 classics this year. My second goal was to read 72 books (6/month). I did not include graphic novels. I’m at 71 and should finish by Dec. 31.

  • JoAnne Stein

    Great lists and a very interesting year-end summary. Ann, I’m very curious to know more about the conclusions and observations about why novel readers don’t enjoy short stories. I fall into that category and am inspired by your year of short stories to read some in 2014. I’m not sure why I haven’t enjoyed them in the past but if you have any insights into this, I hope to hear more about it on a future episode!

  • CarolG

    Michael- you always call yourself a slow reader and yet you read 78 books in 2013. Congrats…but…how slow can you be and still read that many books? Even if you factor in all of the comics and graphic novels, sounds like a lot of pages to me. “How fast do you read?”– could be an interesting show topic. For my part, I do about a page a minute

    Thanks for a year of great podcasts

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