2013 is winding down, and it's time to celebrate the year in books! With so many notable titles published this year, picking our top 50 was a real challenge. The full list will debut for the first time in our December issue, but for now, check out #26-50.
26. The Guns at Last Light by Rick Atkinson
27. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
28. Schroder by Amity Gaige
29. The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
30. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
31. The Book of Ages by Jill Lepore
32. Flora by Gail Godwin
33. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
34. Brief Encounters with the Enemy by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
35. At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón
36. Drinking with Men by Rosie Schaap
37. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
38. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
39. Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
40. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
41. Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
42. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
43. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
44. Ecstatic Nation by Brenda Wineapple
45. Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
46. The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler
47. Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones
48. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
49. Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda
50. Gulp by Mary Roach
Starting this week, our editors will be posting about some of their favorites from the list, so there’s plenty more “Best of” coverage to look forward to. Any guesses about who's #1? What was your favorite book of 2013?
In one corner: Stephen King, longtime channeler of America's id, takes on one of the pivotal events in our history: the Kennedy assassination. But this is no stolid reportage. There's time-travel from the back of a seedy hamburger joint, a love story between a "lanky librarian" from the 1960s and a fed-up high-school teacher from the present and, oh yeah, Jake's mission to try to stop a certain event coming up in November 0f 1963. I've been reading Stephen King ever since lugging It home from my local library branch at the age of 10 and always look forward to his new releases.
In the other corner: Robert K. Massie, Pulitzer prize-winning biographer of Russia's royal family, confronting one of its most fascinating figures: Catherine the Great. The story of how this German child bride grew a Russian soul and brought the Enlightenment to her adopted country (as well as plenty of scandal) during her 30-year reign. Massie is a brilliant, meticulous writer with an astounding knowledge of European history, and his biography of Peter the Great ranks among one of my favorite books of all time (his memoir, Journey, co-written with his then-wife Suzanne about their son Bobby's battle with hemophilia is another terrific read).
Both books are behemoths (more than 700 pages), so there's zero chance I'll be able to finish them BOTH over the weekend. So which should I dive into first? Place your vote in the comments, or let me know what you'll be reading this weekend.
Cultural commentator Sarah Vowell has tackled topics ranging from Puritans (The Wordy Shipmates) to the murder scenes of American presidents (Assassination Vacation).
Her latest book, Unfamiliar Fishes, takes readers on a romp through Hawaiian history. The book's on sale next week and you can catch a review in the April issue of BookPage—but why not take a few minutes now for this video preview?
Having never been to Hawaii, I will admit that I was unfamiliar with the "plate lunch" tradition. I suspect that we can look forward to more educational/amusing anecdotes such as this one in Unfamiliar Fishes.
What's your favorite book by Sarah Vowell? Read a review in BookPage of Assassination Vacation, and also let us know: Have you seen any good book trailers lately?
When we posted about Ron Chernow's biography of George Washington back in April, we wondered if there is really more to say about our first president, especially after Joseph J. Ellis' 2004 biography, His Excellency: George Washington.
Washington: A Life comes out today, and BookPage reviewer Roger Bishop puts our doubts to rest, writing that the biography is "magnificently written, richly detailed and always compelling."
If you're a history buff, how's this for a recommendation?—"We now know more about [Washington] than his family, friends and other contemporaries did."
For a taste of the book, watch Chernow (winner of the National Book Award in 1990) give some biographical details on Washington:
Will you check out Washington: A Life? What book trailers have you watched recently?
Devil's Dream by Madison Smartt Bell
November 2009, Pantheon
Bell's novel about the Civil War experiences of General Nathan Bedford Forrest brings one of history's most gifted—and controversial—wartime leaders to life. Look for a Q&A with Madison Smartt Bell on BookPage.com later this month.
At dusk they gathered around a campfire Ginral Jerry had built in the lee of a snowbank, which did something, though not exactly enough, to cut the bitter rising wind. Forrest sat on a tripod camp stool, his long arms wrapped around his knees, reflected firelight flickering from the deep hollow of his eyes. Though he was in his shirtsleeves he didn't seem to feel the cold. Is he even human? Henri thought.