Neither of them had published a novel in a good long while. Neil Gaiman was busy in Hollywood and casting spells, Donna Tartt was holed up in her office and listening to classical music. This made 2013, when they respectively published The Ocean at the End of the Lane and The Goldfinch, an exciting year for reading. And judging from their bestseller status, I’m not the only person who felt these were two of the most anticipated titles. If you’re one of those Grinches who avoids something simply because everyone else is talking about it, get over yourself. These books live up to the hype. My wife tries to read books before I do, because I feather them with sticky notes, write in the margins. I have a nerdy, mechanical interest in how sentences and paragraphs and stories are put together. It’s rare anymore that I’m swept away. But that’s what happened to me with both these novels. I reviewed them both (for The New York Times and Esquire), but I felt so transported, so gripped, I had to set down my pen. I ended up reading them twice — the first time for the rush, the second to make analytical sense of the frantic and heart-bruised feelings the stories gave me. Give them a chance and you too will be inhabited, possessed by two of my favorite literary sorcerers. More from A Year in Reading 2013 Don't miss: A Year in Reading 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 The good stuff: The Millions' Notable articles The motherlode: The Millions' Books and Reviews Like what you see? Learn about 5 insanely easy ways to Support The Millions, and follow The Millions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr.