Friday, January 3, 2014

Top Ten Books of 2013

I'm a big end-of-the-year list kind of guy. I read as many as I can, and I've enjoyed doing my own book and movie lists. I haven't been blogging much lately, but I feel like the top ten lists are a tradition I need to continue.

I read 46 books in 2013, down from 58 in 2012. No real reason for such a drop, just the way it went I guess. The books on my list weren't necessarily published in 2013, just books I read this year.

10) behind the beautiful forevers, Katherine Boo:
Journalism at its best. Boo examines the effects of global capitalism on the lives of Indian slumdwellers. This book captures the purity and determination of the human spirit.

9) The Book of Jonas, Stephen Dau: The only debut novel on the list. Jonas is a young Muslim boy whose fate is tied to an American soldier. Their story provides an unflinching look at the cost of war on both a personal level and a societal level.

8) Transatlantic, Colum McCann: The beautiful journey of a family that brings to life the fragile, random, unrealized connections that bond human beings over time, space, and history.

7) May We Be Forgiven, A.M. Homes: The main character, Harold Silver, may not be an admirable man when we first meet him, but he's not giving up on the possibility of becoming one.

6) The Round House, Louise Erdrich: Set on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, this is a coming-of-age story reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird.

5) Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg: Men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in this country, and Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, offers advice to empower women to reach their full potential. This book wasn't without controversy, but as the father of two daughters, I found it incredibly important.

4) Son of a Gun: A Memoir, Justin St. Germain: The first book on the list that I read digitally, on my phone. St. Germain's mother was killed by her husband, and this powerful memoir details his struggle to find peace and keep her in his life.

3) Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple: Great story of a woman fading out of her own life and the love that brings her back.

2) The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, Jonathan Evison: This is the second book I read on the phone. Actually got it as a free download from Starbucks. Ben Benjamin is a lost soul who finds a way to keep going with help from some very unlikely sources.

1) The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer: This is Great American Novel stuff.  Wolitzer chronicles the lives of six unique and, dare I say, interesting, characters. This is the kind of book that uses the lives of individuals to comment on broader society. It's not easy to pull that kind of thing off, but Wolitzer does it brilliantly.

Let me know what you think of my choices. I'd love to hear what other people enjoyed reading this year in the comments, might give me some ideas for 2014. Your top book, top 3, 5, 10, whatever works for you.