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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Books of the Year 2013

This was an unusually poor year for reading, with family crisis, and other things getting into the way. I only read 51 books this year, which falls just a bit short of a book a week, and none of them were graphic novels.

On the non-fiction side, the winner is clear: The Story of the Human Body is the best non-fiction book I've read all year. It's a rich story, well told, and nearly every page will teach you something new about the origins of humanity and how it came about. It's well worth the money. The biggest impact on my life, however, is Modernist Cuisine at Home. This book has thoroughly changed what I thought was possible at home as far as home cooking is concern, and it continues to change what we eat and how we eat on an almost daily basis. Honorable mentions go to Nate Silver's The Signal and The Noise, as well as The Sports Gene.

On the fiction side, this has been a less than stellar year. The Hydrogen Sonata, for instance, didn't turn out to be a great Culture novel. Ghost Spin was good was a great novel, however, and lived up to my expectations for it. Every Day has a great voice, and is a lot of fun to read, except that the ending sort of ruined it. Even Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance wasn't as good as I remembered it, though it's still a still at the amazing price of $2.99 on Amazon. Don't get me wrong. All of these books are worth reading, and I would recommend them to anyone, but compared to last year's Hugo Winners? This year's batch of novels just aren't up to snuff.

Nevertheless, if there's one novel that stands out, it's Ghost Spin. Don't read it straight off the bat, though. Read Spin State and Spin Control first. The evolution of the characters and the setup of the context is worth it, and Chris Moriarty is one of the most under-rated writers in the business.

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