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.)
Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach (Leonard Hastings Schoff Lectures)
17 used & new available from $8.32
The Four Chinese Classics: Tao Te Ching, Analects, Chuang Tzu, Mencius
0 used & new available from
Georges Perec and the Oulipo: Winter Journeys (Atlas Anti-classics)
42 used & new available from $19.58
Tales of the German Imagination from the Brothers Grimm to Ingeborg Bachmann (Penguin Classics)
29 used & new available from $6.94
Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation for Me to Think (NYRB Poets)
14 used & new available from $4.47
Nagarjuna's Middle Way: Mulamadhyamakakarika (Classics of Indian Buddhism)
20 used & new available from $15.00
Savage Energies: Lessons of Myth and Ritual in Ancient Greece
24 used & new available from $22.90
The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000
31 used & new available from $28.06
The Nonlinear World: Conceptual Analysis and Phenomenology (Springer Series in Synergetics)
12 used & new available from $142.29
The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance
9 used & new available from $39.95
Oral Tradition and the Internet: Pathways of the Mind
17 used & new available from $9.88
The Circle of Socrates: Readings in the First-Generation Socratics
15 used & new available from $20.98
Language, Truth, and Literature: A Defence of Literary Humanism
18 used & new available from $16.49
The Mind within the Brain: How We Make Decisions and How those Decisions Go Wrong
30 used & new available from $3.93
Was Hitler a Darwinian?: Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory
11 used & new available from $23.00
The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease
32 used & new available from $5.26
Margins and Metropolis: Authority across the Byzantine Empire
1 used & new available from $16.17
How Did Poetry Survive?: The Making of Modern American Verse
7 used & new available from $12.00
Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman
42 used & new available from $6.37
The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us (MIT Press)
31 used & new available from $10.87
The Amazing, Enlightening And Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley
31 used & new available from $4.95
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
246 used & new available from $1.56
Walt Disney's Donald Duck "Christmas On Bear Mountain": The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library Vol. 5 (The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library, 5)
49 used & new available from $18.25
Hand-Drying in America: And Other Stories (Pantheon Graphic Library)
39 used & new available from $4.19
5 December 2013 at 18:17
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.
6 December 2013 at 10:59
Hirschman’s three short books are all fantastic. I’ve written about all of them: The Passions and the Interests, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, and The Rhetoric of Reaction.
It looks like Senile Lines may have been an edition of….one.
6 December 2013 at 02:25
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?
6 December 2013 at 11:05
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.
8 December 2013 at 20:51
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!
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?
7 April 2014 at 14:55
Definitely. It’s like the documentary, except much much more so.