A year is long, or long enough that when the end of December comes around, when the days are so short they start becoming longer, when there’s no work to be done besides eating sweets and vague thoughts about self-improvement, it always comes as somewhat of a surprise.
My favorite part of this time of year is watching the dusk settle into the night and staring at the bare branches against the changing sky. That’s probably the best part of winter anywhere. The best part of winter in Denver is the way the snow doesn’t melt if it’s covered in shadows.
I don’t have any grand proclamations about 2013, or any predictions about 2014. In 2013, I read and in 2014, I plan to do the same. After the jump, the books I read last year.
*Book club book
A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers
Half in Love, Maile Meloy **
Maile Meloy is one of my favorite short story writers, and for some sort of vague literary exercise, I typed up “Garrison Junction,” maybe her best story, here.
Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, Joan Ryan
The Twitter-length takeaway: Don’t let your little girls have dreams that involve eating disorders!
Swamplandia!, Karen Russell*
People Who Eat Darkness, Richard Lloyd Parry
This is one of the best true crime books I’ve ever read. Anyone who is interested in Japan and being interested should read this book.
The Centennial History of the Jews of Colorado, Allen duPont Breck
A gag gift, though the gag is that I read it. Do you know the inventor of Samsonite luggage was a Denver Jew, and he named the company after his biblical hero Samson? For more dinner party conversation facts, check out #COJews
Light Years, James Salter
50 Shades of Grey, E.L. James*
The best discussion at book club all year.
The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer
Generation X, Douglas Coupland
The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud
When Everything Changed, Gail Collins
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins*
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris
I didn’t love this collection of essays, but proof of Sedaris’s talent as a memoirist can be found in “Now We Are Five,” a brave account of his sister’s suicide.
Pigeon Feathers, John Updike
Freedom, Jonathan Franzen **
Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
Where Did You Go Bernadette?, Maria Semple
The Lowlands, Jhumpa Lahiri
Where Men With Glory, Jon Krakauer *
Many Lives, Many Masters, Brian Weiss*
Independence Day, Richard Ford
Previously: But speaking of America
A Dangerous Place: California’s Unsettling Fate, Marc Reisner
The Kid, Dan Savage*
Dear Life, Alice Munro
Roth Unbound, Claudia Roth Pierpoint
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Jeanette Winterson
I read three auto/biographies of literary figures in a row, and Jay-Z’s was the one that I enjoyed the most. Though I’ve been known to dance around to Izzo by myself, I’m not a huge fan of his music. It’s more that I find his story, his branding, and his cross-platform portfolio interesting. Jay-Z is living one version of the American Dream, and his telling of it is inspiring.