Friday, January 10, 2014

Favorite Books of 2013

2013 was a very fine year in books as I look over my blog. I began this post thinking that I'd limit myself to five books, but I realized that I would fail as soon as I typed in the title. So some random thoughts by category: 

Political thinking: The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom by James Buchanan. Runner-up: Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World He Made by Phillip Bobbitt. Special mention: The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer.

Classic revisited: The Prince by Machiavelli, tranlated by Tim Parks. Runner-up: Lila by Robert Pirsig. Special mention: The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Classic discovered: A Passage to India  by E.M. Forster. Runner-up: I and Thou by Martin Buber (translated by Ronald Geiger Smith). Special mention: A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf.

History: A Thread of Years by John Lukacs. Runner-up: Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire by Alex Von Tunzelmann. Special mention: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

Travel: The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. Runner-up: In Motion: The Experience of Travel by Tony Hiss. Special mention: A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Detection & Mystery: Swag by Elmore Leonard. Runner-up: Wolves Eat Dogs: An Arkady Rendo Mystery by Martin Cruz Smith. Special mention: The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing: From the Files of Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator by Tarquin Hall

SF/Fantasy: 11.22.63 by Stephen King. Runner-up: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

Nonfiction: Antifragility by Nassim N. Taleb. Runner-up: Why Priests? A Failed Tradition by Garry Wills. Special mention: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. 

Living Better: Bonds That Make Us Free:  Healing Our Relationships, Healing Ourselves by C. Terry Warner. Runner-up: Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations: Ancient Philosophy for Modern Life by Jules Evans. Special mention: Saving God: Religion After Idolatry by Mark Johnston (yes, again). 

And finally . . . . drum roll, please, 

The book of the year: A Time for Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Gorgeous and delightful.

Some left off the list that were mighty good books, but we have to keep some limit on it. Happy reading to all in 2014.