Favorite Books of the Year

Monday, December 23, 2013 - 01:00 AM

It’s time of year when people and publications round up the best books of the year, so the Lopate Show staff is sharing some the best books we read this year (whether they were published this year or not). Leave a comment to let us know what yours were.

Blakeney Schick, associate producer

     Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. This is the ultimate conversation starter. You may not agree with all of it, but it dominated discussion for months when it first came out -- and that is an achievement in its own right.

     Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter. It came out in 2012, but I picked it up this summer. I picked it up and didn't put it down until I had finished it. A completely absorbing novel.


Janet Bryant, contributor

     Private Life, by Jane Smiley (It didn't come out in 2013, that's just when I read it).


Barbara Cahn, contributing producer

     Five Star Billionaire, by Tash Aw 

     Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 


 Fannie Cohen, contributor

     Dark Lies the Island, by Kevin Barry. This book of short stories reintroduced me to the English language. His prose is captivating—slangy, dirty, and flexible. Set in current-day Ireland, the stories deal with man's fumbling attempts to keep cool in otherwise civil society. A must-read for anyone who believes in zip codes. 


Julia Corcoran, associate producer

     The American Way of Poverty, by Sasha Abramsky. This book highlights an issue that is too often overlooked. It explains social policies, economics, and the human side of poverty.

     Wolf Hall and its follow-up Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel. Neither were published this year (but the paperback of Bring Up the Bodies was), but they are some of the densest and most compelling historical novels I’ve read in a long time. She creates such full, real, complex characters, based on real people in Henry VIII's court. And Leonard's conversation with her for the Leonard Lopate Show Book Club was great.

     Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, by David Rakoff. This book was published shortly after Rakoff died, and there’s an audiobook of it that he recorded in the final weeks of his life. It seems like a strange and difficult thing to write a novel in rhyme, but the way it came together at the end was beautiful and surprising.

   Tenth of December, by George Saunders. He’s such an inventive writer. These short stories are like nothing else I've ever read.


Fran Jacobs, contributing producer

     Egyptomania, by Bob Brier. It's about our crazy live affair with all things Egyptian and the strange objects and  tributes that have been generated by it. Of particular interest us the story of Cleopatra's Needle which was transported from Egypt to Central Park. There is currently an exhibit about this obelisk at The Met.


Jessica Miller, contributor

     Stay Up With Me, by Tom Barbash


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Comments [3]

Steve Sears from Bloomfield, New Jersey

Hi Julia --

I read seven books by the late William Johnstin, SJ this past year, and his "The Inner Eye of Love" was my most enjoyable read.

Happy New Year!


Dec. 30 2013 07:24 PM
Cecilia David

Trying to find the name of the book that discussed Chinese revolution that was discussed this week. Thank you in advance for any help. Cecilia David

Dec. 28 2013 03:45 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

I highly recommend "Ebony and Ivy: Race,Slavery, and the Troubled History of American Universities" by Craig Steven Wilder. A great read, an important and neglected topic depicting the intimate relationship between slave holders and the administration and teaching at our most prestigious centers of learning.

Dec. 24 2013 08:50 AM

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The Lodown is a blog about everything brought to you by the staff of the Leonard Lopate Show (Leonard will even drop by from time to time)! We cover food, art, politics, history, science and much more -- literally everything from Picasso to pork pies. Tips and suggestions are welcome so please send us your thoughts, curiosities and intellectual detritus!

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