What We Read in 2013, Books Edition

Each week, members of the WFPL News team spotlight interesting stories we’ve read and enjoyed, for your weekend reading pleasure.

This week, we’re doing something different. Here are the books we enjoyed in 2013:

Gabe Bullard: This year, the best book I read was the one I most anticipated. David Rakoff’s Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish.. It’s Rakoff’s last book. He died last year. If you’re feeling strong of heart, go back and listen to This American Life’s memorial. The show is as sweet, funny and ultimately heartbreaking as the book, and I usually don’t like reading fiction from writers whose nonfiction I love.

My only frustration is that discussions of the book upon its release left out the phrase “a novel by” in the title. When Ira reads it on air, he introduces the book—which is told in rhyme—as Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, a novel by…David Rakoff.

Either way, it’s a great book that won’t take much time to read, and if you read it while you’re home for the holidays, it’ll make you extra glad to be around family.

But if you’re not looking for heartwarming, and if (like me, sometimes) you measure the value of a book by its ability to make you a borderline-insufferable pool of facts on a single topic, then read Rose George’s Ninety Percent of Everything. It’s a great look at the shipping industry, which is way more interesting and important than you probably think it is. If you don’t want to read the book, you can listen to George on Fresh Air and pretend you read it.

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Devin Katayama:  Ron and Denver are unlikely friends. Ron volunteers at a homeless shelter in Texas where he meets Denver, who is stubborn, guarded and quite frankly mean. Theirs is a story created through some explainable scenes that draw from spirituality. And whether you believe in religion or not, its easy to respect what God meant the development of their friendship. Same Kind Of Different As Me was written by both Ron Hall and Denver Moore who alternate writing chapters and describe their relationship from their individual perspectives. 

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Erin Keane: In Lexington author Gwenda Bond’s second young adult novel, The Woken Gods  takes a frightening fantasy premise (what if all of Earth’s ancient gods showed up one day to wreak havoc on the modern world?) and creates from it a dilemma that only a rebellious teenage girl can solve. Kyra Locke is the stubbornly independent daughter of a distracted librarian and an absentee mother – or maybe neither of her parents are who they appear to be? And now Kyra is the only person in pantheon-riddled Washington, D.C., who can stop an impending apocalypse, or at least save her father’s life. Bond’s D.C. is a world of powerful tricksters, ancient relics, and spooky rituals that feels both mysterious and familiar at once, and like her first novel “Blackwood,” (listen to an excerpt on Unbound) this whip-smart heroine-led adventure is equal parts creepy and fun.

Tessa Mellas’ debut short fiction collection Lungs Full of Noise is a riot of femininity told slant in twelve stories about women and girls navigating broken and inhospitable worlds. In “Bibi from Jupiter” (listen to an abbreviated version on Unbound), a college freshman shares her dorm with a roomie more exotic than she bargained for, an empty-nester who can’t sleep has filled her house with hand-raised caterpillars in “The White Wings of Moths,” and “Mariposa Girls” details the brutal lengths competitive figure skaters will go to perfect their bodies for the sport. Mellas’ brand of magical realism is grotesque and unflinching and strangely beautiful.

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Joseph Lord: Like many Americans, my end of year tradition has been to spend plenty of time watching football. And, like many Americans, this piece of in-depth reporting (and accompanying documentary) from Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru has given me pause. League of Denial (which I’m still reading) considers the apparently worse-than-we-ever-thought health hazards of head injuries from playing football, and it details efforts over the years by pro football leaders to downplay those hazards. As we enter the climax of the college and pro football seasons, it’s important to know and understand this issue. You’ll never watch football the same way again.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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