Friday, January 3, 2014

Billy's Top Ten of 2013

10. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

9. Joyland by Stephen King
  • In somewhat of a departure from most of his other work, Joyland is a standard crime thriller.  There are no supernatural elements, but it's still a great read (any book I take down in virtually one sitting, finishing at 3 in the morning, has to make my top ten of the year, right?).  I read a few from this genre every year, some of which I like, some of which suck, but what made this one stand out is that the reveal was surprising but not unbelievable (a hard trick to pull off), and the characters were even more memorable and interesting than the drama.
8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • This crime thriller, on the other hand, blew me away.  It was riveting throughout and I never saw the second half of the book coming.  I hesitate to say more in case you read it (which you should).
7. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • As you would probably imagine, Fey is as funny in print as she is on TV.  She's smart and clever, sometimes silly, sometimes biting, but always hilarious.  I also very much appreciated her take on feminism.
6. The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill
  • Mill makes so many great arguments and is so persuasive.  He was very much ahead of his time (some of the stuff in The Subjection of Women is still relevant now), and I can't remember any times when a passage made me cringe and think, "well, this was the 1860s..."  Not exactly a light read, but I definitely recommend it.
5. Dr. Sleep/The Shining by Stephen King
  • In anticipation of Dr. Sleep, the belated sequel to King's classic, I went back and read The Shining again.  It was even better than the first time I read it, if not quite as suspenseful, because I could better put into context the issues that Jack was facing; when I first read the book in high school, it seemed to be about Danny, but now I realize it's just as much about Jack.  Dr. Sleep picks up years later with Danny as an adult, as he fights to get a handle on his drinking problem and mentors a young girl whose shining is even stronger than his own.  Dr. Sleep wasn't quite as deep as The Shining, I thought, but it was still a great read.
4. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • So chilling.  To me, a good dystopian satire shows use a caricature of society, but in the end makes you realize that it isn't as far fetched as you'd like to believe.  The Handmaid's Tale accomplishes this perfectly and really makes you think about the ways in which our patriarchal society treats women and their autonomy.
3. The Lost Bank by Kirsten Grind

  • I love financial histories, and this was a great one.  Grind tells the story of Washington Mutual and the 2008 collapse from the lenders' side.  It's really important that we understand what happened in the lead up to the recession so we can avoid making the same reckless and irresponsible mistakes. Even better, Grind's writing style makes this complex story easy to follow. Definitely recommend.

2. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

  • There are a lot of issues with this classic (i.e. it's basically only for middle and upper class white women and doesn't exactly have a modern view of homosexuality), but it is still essential for understanding the modern feminist movement, both in terms of how far we've come and how far we've yet to go.  (Lean In didn't make the list because although it made a lot of good points, it was even more solely for rich women and ignores the experiences of women of color.  Sure, everything doesn't have to be everything, and Sandberg may not have felt comfortable talking about the experiences of WOC being a white woman herself, but still, it's not the '60s anymore, and that glaring omission lessens the importance of the book, especially when there is (or at least should be) a renewed emphasis on intersectionality in the feminist movement).

1. The Name of the Wind/The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
  • These were just fun.  The first two books in the Kingkiller Chronicles series, they tell the story of Kvothe, a young troubadour who goes to university to learn how to become a wizard after his family is murdered by a cabal of evil beings.  The one sentence synopsis makes it sound a lot like Harry Potter, but these books aren't as magical but have much less of the angst of Harry Potter.  

No comments: