When I started my year in reading I had no idea what books I'd be reading in December, or which authors I'd end up falling in love with. I certainly had no idea that David Foster Wallace would become a driving force in my creative life. So when I started making this list it became pretty apparent which authors stuck with me the most in 2013. I'll be honest, I feel a little bad that all the writers in the top ten of this list are old/dead white guys. The lack of minorities is especially embarrassing, in 2014 I plan on reading much more broadly. The only re-read on this list is Slaughterhouse-Five, and it occupies the top spot because it is perhaps the most important work of art in my life (sorry Pulp Fiction). It's the only work of fiction that I come back to almost every year, and would take something truly incredible to knock it off the top of my power rankings.
You'll notice that Stephen King shows up on this list a lot, and there's good reason for it. Reading King is like comfort food for me. When I would finish a particularly challenging book, I'd always fall back on a King novel to recharge the batteries. I think King captures characters and setting as well as any author I've read, and from what I've read of Joe Hill (King's son) this year, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
The two books that surprised me the most this year were 1984 and Stoner, which both delighted me for different reasons. When I started 1984 I figured it would be a cold, clinical look at censorship and big government, but I can still feel the fire that burns in Orwell's prose. Of all the love stories I came across this year, perhaps none felt as urgent as the bond Winston and Julia form. Stoner could not be more different than 1984, but its patient look at a professors life was moving in its own right.
OK. Enough foreplay. Here's the list of my favorite books of the year. I look forward to seeing what 2014 has in store for me.
1. Slaughterhouse-FIve - Kurt Vonnegut 2. Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace 3. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky 4. 1984 - George Orwell 5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon 6. Welcome to the Monkey House - Kurt Vonnegut 7. Stoner - John Williams 8. Consider The Lobster - David Foster Wallace 9.Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk - Ben Fountain 10. Tenth of December - George Saunders 11. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline - George Saunders 12. Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain 13. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway 14. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again - David Foster Wallace 15. The Orphan Master’s Son - Adam Johnson 16. The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt 17. The Flame Throwers - Rachel Kushner 18. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy - John Le Carre 19. The Shining - Stephen King 20. The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen 21. For Whom The Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway 22. The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler 23. Vampires In The Lemon Grove - Karen Russell 24. 11/22/63 - Stephen King 25. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union - Michael Chabon 26. The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner 27. Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself - David Lipsky 28. The Round House - Louise Erdrich 19. NOS4A2 - Joe Hill 30. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - John Le Carre 31. 1Q84 - Haruki Murakami 32. Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story - D.T. Max 33. The Hound Of The Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 34. Life After Life - Kate Atkinson 35. The Pale King - David Foster Wallace 36. Wool - Hugh Howey 37. Pulphead - John Jeremiah Sullivan 38. The Art Of Fielding - Chad Harbach 39. The Middlesteins - Jami Attenberg 40. Joyland - Stephen King 41. Horns - Joe Hill 42. Doctor Sleep - Stephen King 43. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan 44. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman 45. Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott 46. Portnoy’s Complaint - Philip Roth 47. The Power Of Habit - Charles Duhigg 48. Manhood For Amateurs - Michael Chabon 49. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn 50. The Interestings - Meg Wolitzer