It’s that time of year again! As promised, I am leading the pack with Teleread’s Best Reads of 2013. It was slim picking, in some aspects—I’ll come in at just under 50 books, which isn’t too small a pond to pick from, but several of them were series books and anthologies so that gave me less to choose from.
These weren’t necessary the best books published this year; they were the ones I enjoyed, from wherever I may have found them. Hope this gives you some titles to add to your list next year!
1) The [easyazon-link asin=”B0071XO8RA” locale=”us”]Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga)[/easyazon-link] by Hugh Howey. Indie darling Hugh Howey was this year’s hot Kindle success story—when his Kindle novellas took off, he signed a deal which saw his ebooks hit paper—and only paper—via the mainstream publishers. Hoewy continues to self-publish his ebook versions, DRM-free, and the Wool series was a great dystopian read. (Reviewed earlier this year.)
2) [easyazon-link asin=”1586420275″ locale=”us”]Yiddish: A Nation of Words[/easyazon-link] by Miriam Weinstein. This library book was a fascinating and very readable history of the Yiddish language. I read it hoping that there was a lost literature I could discover and enjoy. It turned out that Yiddish, a primarily oral language, never had the time to develop much of a literary tradition before the Holocaust destroyed it, along with most of its speakers. Still, the vibrancy, wittiness and culture of a lost people was a joy to explore in this fascinating history.
3) [easyazon-link asin=”0195383311″ locale=”us”]Desperate Passage[/easyazon-link] by Ethan Rarick. This was a Kindle Deal of the Day I stockpiled before I began my DRM-free pledge; I have spent this month trying to read through some of these purchased books to clean the slate before the new year, and I am glad I picked up this one. It is a fascinating, beautifully written account of the famous journey of the ‘Donner Party’ and was written in a very accessible adventure-story style. Rarick uses both primary sources of the time (including the accounts of C.F. McGlashan and Eliza Donner, both available for free at Project Gutenberg) and also the research from archeological excavations at the Donner campsites to skillfully reconstruct their ill-fated cross-country journey.
4) [easyazon-link asin=”0982167121″ locale=”us”]Machine of Death[/easyazon-link] anthology. I picked up this multi-author anthology during the Hunble Bundle sale and enjoyed it immensely. The concept is simple: a machine becomes available which can predict how (but not when) you’ll die. The stories explore different interpretations of this basic premise. Some were duds, as is usual for any anthology of this nature. But the ones which were good were excellent. (Also reviewed earlier this year.)
5) [easyazon-link asin=”1594746370″ locale=”us”]William Shakespeare’s Star Wars[/easyazon-link] by Ian Doescher. Proof that not all books are suited for the e-treatment—I got this, in ebook, from the library because I am a Shakespeare fan and was curious, and found that, as with most poetry, the formatting simply doesn’t transfer as well to ebook. So I went out and got the paper, and enjoyed this immensely. I am normally not a literary mashup fan, but this struck exactly the right note for me as not so much a shameless ripoff, but a genuinely transformative work of parody—on both the Star Wars and the Shakespeare front. Well done!