My top list:
I decided that doing a top 10 would only emphasize the half-assed effort I've put in. So, instead of a top 10, I'll do a top 20% which is closer in spirit (top 50% of books read in 2013 feels too unselective for my aesthetic sensibilities). So, top four books read this year:
4) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
For whatever reason, this was not a novel-heavy year for me. A problem I hope to remedy in 2014 (but, we'll see). Among the 2013 novels, this one sticks out as the best. A fun, quick read. I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially to any teenager suffering the indignity of high school.
3) A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law by Antonin Scalia
I don't necessarily see eye to eye with Justice Scalia. However, I appreciate that he put his judicial philosophy out there, subjected it to challenge, and then responded to the challenges. This allows lowly lawyers like me a chance to engage in the debate by following the leading scholars and lawyers offering their best points. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to a non-lawyer (notable exceptions being people interested in law, the constitution, or textual interpretation).
2) Don't Shoot: One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America by David Kennedy
More than any other book I read this year, this one was thought-provoking. I think Kennedy had the most to offer me and my interests in criminal justice. Which is not to say this book is inaccessible; quite the contrary, I think the book is a great read for everyone.
1) The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay by Jess Bravin
Alas, Babylon! If only I had the time to have given this book the review it deserved. But, I did not, and so here we are. This book tops my list because, in addition to its depth, it was a fun read. I flew through it in a couple of days because it just read easily. I got the best of both worlds: fun read and constitutional law.
And, that wraps 2013 for me. In 2014, I'm planning on hitting some books about the Supreme Court pretty hard and hopefully more novels. I've got The Moon is a Harsh Mistress lined up for later this month. Also, I'm hoping for more reviews and fewer composite reviews. I had a bunch of good ideas for reviews that I didn't get to go into because of time. Here's lookin' at you, 2014.