MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2013, PART DEUX
I wasn’t finished yet!
I missed so many 2013 books in my previous favorite books post that I’ve decided I need to make up for it right now. So I have a lot of favorites. So what? Shall we?
FAVORITE ESSAYS, Part I
White Girls by Hilton Als
The kind of essay collection that is so masterful, so brilliantly written, it made me feel like giving up. Why bother trying to be a writer when this already exists in the world? I have never read essays that so seamlessly intertwined the sociological and the artistic and the personal. Like poetry.
FAVORITE ESSAYS, Part II
This Is Running For Your Life by Michelle Orange
Earlier in the year a friend who was teaching an essay-writing course asked me for a book recommendation. Three criteria: 1) Smart, insightful blend of cultural and personal essays. 2) Written by a woman. 3) Not written by Joan Didion. This Is Running For Your Life is all three , plus it contains a piece called “The Uses of Nostalgia and Some Thoughts in Ethan Hawke’s Face.” C’mon.
BEST HIGHBROW-LOWBROW COMBO
The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne
Let’s not even name names here. The enjoyment of this novel does not at all depend on which particular pubescent pop star the title character is based. Just enjoy the 11 year-old music industry dynamo that is Jonny Valentine and his observations about life, eerily savvy yet kid-like at the same time. A novel for subscribers to both The New Yorker and US Weekly.
BEST REALIST SUBURBAN NOVEL IN AGES
Fellow Mortals by Dennis Mahoney
Let me gush a little about Dennis Mahoney because his writing isn’t all that gushy. It’s quiet and understated yet utterly intense all the same. His debut novel deals with the repercussions when a fire wreaks havoc in suburbia, and the emotional truths and insights he uncovers are well earned.
BEST DRINKING COMPANION
Drinking With Men by Rosie Schaap
You know that cliche about the wise bartender? Rosie Schaap is wiser than anyone else you were picturing. Her memoir is a celebration of bars and bar culture, and the ways she—a woman—happily inserted herself into it. Get a pint of Guinness and dive in. Just make sure to tell the people sitting next to you at the bar to read it, too.
MOST LIKELY TO INSPIRE A NEW GENRE OF LITERATURE
Duplex by Kathryn Davis
You heard it here first, people: Magical Sexyism. That is what I’ve decided to name the subgenre of fiction which Kathryn Davis writes. Duplex is a coming-of-age novel like no other—it creates a world in which the suburban and boring intersect with straight up sci-fi elements, but every element brims with underlying sexual tension. Like a fabulously fucked up fairy tale.
BEST JUICY PARTS
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
This historical novel set at a Southern girls’ school during the Great Depression has that Judy Blume ambiance where you just can’t wait to get to the good parts. And then it turns out it’s ALL good parts—hormones ablazing. The best part is that Yonahlossee doesn’t even try to reform its flawed teenaged heroine—she’s perfect just the way she is.
BEST READ FOR TV FANS
Difficult Men by Brett Martin
The book that makes me wanna watch a TV show about showrunners. Difficult Men details the revolutionary in recent television history when watching a serial drama (The Wire, Breaking Bad, etc.) became as satisfying as reading a hefty, all-engrossing literary masterpiece. And yes, here’s hoping that sometime in the near future a book about television will require the title Difficult Women (and maybe let’s put Shonda or Amy Sherman-Palladino in there, kay?).
HOTTEST AND GROSSEST
I Want to Show You More by Jami Quatro
A collection that’s as weird and off-kilter and beautiful as its cover. Quatro’s stories contain the perfect blend of the fantastical and mundane, especially when a woman must dispose of the corpse of an ex-lover in her marital bed. Awkward! The literal and the figurative have never felt so entwined.
MOST TWEE AS FUCK (IN A DELIGHTFUL WAY)
Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges
How twee is this twee-as-fuck graphic memoir? Just look at the bigass chicken on the cover. It’s a coming of age (and coming out) story told with just the right dose of emo (lots). That the heroine is a bespectacled karaoke enthusiast who loves sad songs also might have endeared this book to me…