October 25, 2013

October 25, 2013

FY 2013 Book of the Year: The Contenders

I read a lot of books. A lot. Combine long commutes with a love of books and you realize you consistently get through two or three tomes a week. It adds up. It also means there are simply too many for me to write in detail about, deserving as they may be. I try to mention the best of the best, but as I recently compiled a shortlist to buy for friend-of-blog P’s upcoming birthday, I realize that there was more to be said.

These are some of the best books I read in the 12 months since friend-of-blog P’s last birthday, the dates of which roughly coincide with the federal government’s fiscal year. Without further ado, the also-rans for my Book of the Year:


America, You Sexy Bitch
In which Meghan McCain (daughter of John) and comedian Michael Ian Black take a roadtrip across this crazy country of ours. They stop in states both red and blue, and meet folks of her conservative ilk and his liberal one. Funny and unexpectedly touching.

Self-Inflicted Wounds
It’s possible to have a crazy upbringing and still turn out leggy and hilarious. Aisha Tyler did it, and she doesn’t shy from the punches. Chapters have titles like “The Time I Accidentally Set Myself on Fire.” Loved it.

Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture
Short (and I mean short) essays on the philosophy of different quotes from books, film, TV. “Wax on, wax off” isn’t just a catchy saying. It’s a way of life.


The Engagements
Which traces the lifetime of one diamond ring through a number of owners. “Diamonds are forever” was coined to sell more diamonds around the Mad Men era. But in a technical sense, it’s true; diamonds are tough little mofos, and pretty hard to destroy. This book is like a neat nesting-doll set of stories. Barely missed the shortlist.

Seating Arrangements
A novel of manners similar to The Engagements, but set over the weekend of a wedding. Unlike HIMYM’s current season, though, it’s enjoyable.

Before I Go to Sleep
Think Memento, but not told backwards. Each day, the main character wakes up with no memory of what happened since she had a major traumatic car accident (spoiler: or was it?). At some point, she started journaling her days, and this journal becomes her lifeline as she pieces together wtf really happened to her. This year’s Gone Girl. Chilling in a completely-absorbing way.

In which certain people can use magic/superpowers/whatever-you-wanna-call-it to control and even injure other people. It’s a sort of messed-up sci-fi love story, and I loved it.

If you liked Robopocalypse, you’ll like this. Same author, more robots. Specifically, humans with robotic enhancements. Imagine, if you will, that a small chip implanted in the brain, could cure a number of neurological diseases: Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and the like. Amazing, right? Nobel award-winning stuff, right? Now imagine that that same chip, implanted in a “normal” brain, creates superintelligence. Which some (specifically, those who can’t afford it) would call an unfair advantage.

Actually, hang on. I need to write a fuller review of this one. Stay tuned.

These aren't the three very best books I read; I'll tell you about those later. And there are many others that I read and didn't care for, or at least didn't care for as much as I liked all of these. Start here, and stay tuned for my top three.

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