David Auerbach on literature, tech, film, etc.

Books of the Year 2013

It was a pretty good year, especially for fiction. I stand no chance of ever catching up on my backlog of books to read, so these are less “Books of the Year” than “Books of My Year,” ones which happened to be published in 2013 (or late 2012). A boom in non-Waggish writing resulted in me not having time to write up some of these books, which I really do regret. I spent a month rereading old Pynchon novels alongside Bleeding Edge, which was blessedly worthwhile, but did not help my productivity. Reading list longa, vita brevis.

The order is fairly random though I have tried to put my favorites toward the top of each section. Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo was probably foreordained to be at the top, while the final appearance of Lem’s Summa Technologiae in English was a major event for me. (See my review here.) As with War and War when I first read it, I don’t have a lot to say about Seiobo right now. Maybe in ten years.

As with last year, I haven’t read the entirety of some of the nonfiction selections: Judith Herrin’s two volumes of essays will take some time, while the Maimonides book had me flagging on several topics that just aren’t my thing.

If anyone’s curious as to why some book or other made the list, feel free to ask in the comments. Thanks again for reading my work here or elsewhere.

(As always, I do not make any money from these links; they’re just the easiest way to get the thumbnails.)



Seiobo There Below (Ndp; 1280)
Krasznahorkai, László (Author), Mulzet, Ottilie (Translator)
(New Directions)

Towards the One and Only Metaphor
Szentkuthy, Miklos (Author), Wilkinson, Tim (Translator), Hanshe, Rainer J. (Introduction)
(Contra Mundum Press)

Terry, Philip (Author)
(Reality Street)

The Black Spider (New York Review Books Classics)
Gotthelf, Jeremias (Author), Bernofsky, Susan (Translator)
(NYRB Classics)

Anti M
Samuels, Lisa (Author)
(Chax Press)

Phaedra: with New Year's Letter and Other Long Poems
Marina Tsvetaeva (Author)
(Angel Books)

Cartarescu, Mircea (Author), Cotter, Sean (Translator)

The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller: Vol. 2
Emshwiller, Carol (Author)
(NonStop Press)

Dossier K: A Memoir
Kertész, Imre (Author), Wilkinson, Tim (Translator)
(Melville House)

The Enchanted Wanderer: and Other Stories
Leskov, Nikolai (Author), Pevear, Richard (Translator), Volokhonsky, Larissa (Translator)

Mo Said She Was Quirky: A Novel
Kelman, James (Author)
(Other Press)

When the Time Comes
Winkler, Josef (Author), West, Adrian (Translator)
(Contra Mundum Press)

The Forbidden Kingdom (Pushkin Collection)
Slauerhoff, Jacob (Author), Vincent, Paul (Translator)
(Pushkin Press)

McElroy, Joseph (Author)
(Dzanc Books)

Bleeding Edge
Pynchon, Thomas (Author)
(Penguin Press)

Middle C (Vintage International)
Gass, William H. (Author)

All That Is
Salter, James (Author)

His Wife Leaves Him
Dixon, Stephen (Author)
(Fantagraphics Books)

The Childhood of Jesus
Coetzee, J. M. (Author)

The Sinistra Zone
Bodor, Adam (Author), Olchváry, Paul (Translator)
(New Directions)

The Guy Davenport Reader
Davenport, Guy (Author), Reece, Erik (Afterword)

The Adjacent
Priest, Christopher (Author)

The Book of Monelle (WAKEFIELD PRESS)
Schwob, Marcel (Author), Schluter, Kit (Translator)
(Wakefield Press)

Georges Perec and the Oulipo: Winter Journeys (Atlas Anti-classics)
Perec, Georges (Author), Audin, Michèle (Author), Bénabou, Marcel (Author), Bens, Jacques (Author), Braffort, Paul (Author)
(Atlas Press)

Tales of the German Imagination from the Brothers Grimm to Ingeborg Bachmann (Penguin Classics)
Wortsman, Peter (Editor), Wortsman, Peter (Translator), Wortsman, Peter (Introduction)
(Penguin Classics)

A Hero of Our Time (Oxford World's Classics)
Lermontov, Mikhail (Author), Pasternak Slater, Nicolas (Author), Kahn, Andrew (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation for Me to Think (NYRB Poets)
Vvedensky, Alexander (Author), Ostashevsky, Eugene (Editor), Yankelevich, Matvei (Translator), Ostashevsky, Eugene (Translator)
(NYRB Poets)



Summa Technologiae (Electronic Mediations)
Stanislaw Lem (Author), Joanna Zylinska (Translator)
(Univ Of Minnesota Press)

Nagarjuna's Middle Way: Mulamadhyamakakarika (Classics of Indian Buddhism)
Siderits, Mark (Author), Katsura, Shoryu (Author)
(Wisdom Publications)

Being, Humanity, and Understanding
Lloyd, G. E. R. (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

Savage Energies: Lessons of Myth and Ritual in Ancient Greece
Burkert, Walter (Author), Bing, Peter (Translator)
(University of Chicago Press)

Properties as Processes
Seibt, Johanna (Author)
(Ridgeview Publishing Digital)

The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance
Ganeri, Jonardon (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

Oral Tradition and the Internet: Pathways of the Mind
Foley, John Miles (Author)
(University of Illinois Press)

Foundations of Modern International Thought
Armitage, David (Author)
(Cambridge University Press)

The Circle of Socrates: Readings in the First-Generation Socratics
Boys-Stones, George (Translator), Rowe, Christopher (Translator)
(Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.)

Baroque Science
Gal, Ofer (Author), Chen-Morris, Raz (Author)
(University of Chicago Press)

Language, Truth, and Literature: A Defence of Literary Humanism
Gaskin, Richard (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield
Scahill, Jeremy (Author)
(Nation Books)

The Matter and Form of Maimonides' Guide
Stern, Josef (Author)
(Harvard University Press)

Was Hitler a Darwinian?: Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory
Richards, Robert J. (Author)
(University of Chicago Press)

Consciousness and the Social Brain
Graziano, Michael S. A. (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

Trade and Romance
Murrin, Michael (Author)
(University of Chicago Press)

Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium
Herrin, Judith (Author)
(Princeton University Press)

Margins and Metropolis: Authority across the Byzantine Empire
Herrin, Judith (Author)
(Princeton University Press)

Complexity and the Arrow of Time
Lineweaver, Charles H. (Author)
(Cambridge University Press)

The Engine of Complexity: Evolution as Computation
Mayfield, John (Author)
(Columbia University Press)

How Did Poetry Survive?: The Making of Modern American Verse
Newcomb, John Timberman (Author)
(University of Illinois Press)

Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea
Blyth, Mark (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

The Essential Hirschman
Hirschman, Albert O. (Author), Adelman, Jeremy (Editor), Adelman, Jeremy (Introduction), Rothschild, Emma (Afterword), Sen, Amartya (Afterword)
(Princeton University Press)

Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman
Adelman, Jeremy (Author)
(Princeton University Press)

Quantum Computing Since Democritus
Aaronson, Scott (Author)
(Cambridge University Press)



Incidents in the Night: Volume 1
B., David (Author), Evenson, Brian (Translator)
(Uncivilized Books)

Black Paths
B., David (Author)

The Amazing, Enlightening And Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley
Deitch, Kim (Author), Deitch, Kim (Artist)
(Fantagraphics Books)

Giandelli, Gabriella (Author), Giandelli, Gabriella (Artist)
(Fantagraphics Books)

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: The Old Castle's Secret
Barks, Carl (Author), Groth, Gary (Editor)

Barnaby Volume One
Johnson, Crockett (Author), Reynolds, Eric (Series Editor), Nel, Philip (Series Editor), Ware, Chris (Introduction), Clowes, Daniel (Cover Art)


  1. I see several titles on Albert Hirschman. I tend to pay attention more to what political or sociological books you selected! I’m definitely checking out those Hirschman titles.

    I wonder if a supposed book of his, “Senile Lines by Dr. Awkward,” has ever been widely published.

  2. I’m very curious to hear your thoughts on Philip Kitcher’s book on Death in Venice. What did you like about it? Did it avoid the usual pitfalls of analytic philosophers writing on literature?

    • It’s not a work of aesthetic analytic philosophy, to be sure. There’s no modal analysis of fictional statements or anything like that. It’s closer to the philosophical-literary criticism of J.P. Stern, Erich Heller, and Clayton Koelb, looking at Mann through the influences of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. It’s very well-researched, concise, and says some new things. I plan to post on it in the near future.

  3. Hey David,

    I’ve been a fan of your blog for a few years now. I’m always learning about new writers from your posts, this one being no exception. I had only heard of a few of the writers your list here, and I hope I can acquaint myself with some of them in the near future.

    I didn’t read much new stuff this year (I feel like I’m always catching up on older writers, for better or worse), although I did enjoy two books of poetry: pH Neutral History by Lidija Dimkovska and Tranfer Fat by Aase Berg. Not sure if you’re a fan of postmodern/contemporary poetry, but these books both have a an odd, spastic magic to them and are well worth checking out.

    Anyway, thanks for all of your posts. I really enjoy them!

  4. Jonah Paritzky

    7 April 2014 at 14:49


    How does the Dirty Wars book compare to the documentary? I’ve already seen the documentary. Is it worth reading the book?


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