Blog | Literature | Non-Fiction

The Best Books of 2013

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Best Fiction

Jaume Cabré: Confessions
Mikhail Shishkin: The Light and the Dark
Karl Ove Knausgaard: My Struggle. Second Book

Confessions by Jaume Cabré is one of the few novels that I know in which the experimental style is functional, although this doesn't become clear until chapter 33 if I remember correctly. It's one of the best novels of the 21st century. The same goes for The Light and the Dark by Mikhail Shishkin. It is a tribute to the imagination.

Best Book I Wish I Had Read Years Ago

Malcolm Lowry: Under the Volcano
Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian

Both Under the Volcano and Blood Meridian are amazing reads.

Best Non-Fiction

Charles C. Mann: 1493. Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
Emile Simpson: War From the Ground Up

Occasionally I pick up a book that lies outside my field of interest. War From the Ground Up is such a book. I learned a lot from reading it. Todays wars are different from medieval and 20th century wars and require a different analytical toolkit. Emile Simpson served in Afghanistan and can speak with authority about the theory and practice of war.

Best Economics

Joe Studwell: How Asia Works

How Asia Works is an excellent book. It should be on the recommended if not the required reading list of every course in macroeconomics.

Most Disturbing

Laurence Smith: The New North. The World in 2050

Best Book About Claude Lévi-Strauss

Patrick Wilcken: Claude Lévi-Strauss. The Poet in the Laboratory

After finishing The Poet In the Laboratory one question haunted me for weeks: what happened to the monkey that held on to Lévi-Strauss' boots for weeks as he travelled through the Amazon rainforest?

Most Disappointing

David Mitchell: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Alice Munro: Runaway
Hans Fallada: Jeder stirbt für sich allein

I enjoyed reading Too Much Happiness so I picked up another short story collection by Alice Munro. Perhaps I should have let more time pass in between reading, because read in succession the stories appear to follow the same template and feature the same kind of characters. I find it hard to criticize Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Alone in Berlin), because of the true story upon which it is based. I read somewhere that Fallada finished the novel in little more than four weeks and that shows in the writing.