4 Most Interesting Books Of 2013 So Far

A mid-review of my new year’s resolutions has revealed I’m running woefully behind schedule. But I think we can all agree there aren't enough hours in the day!

This act of introspection has revealed I’m generally abysmal at keeping resolutions, and specifically bad at reading books on a regular basis. Here’s what I’ve been missing, the four most interesting books of 2013:

 

 

 

1. Red Handed, by Matt Kindt

I pondered a great deal how to ease back into this whole reading thing. I decided there was really only one way to go about it: a picture book, or “graphic novel” if you want to get fancy. So the first book on our list is the graphic novel mystery Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt. The story follows the travails of the intrepid Detective Gould as he tries to unravel a series of bizarre and possibly related crimes, including an art thief dedicated to destroying art and woman who steals chairs. The story has a very noir feel to it, so I recommend reading it in the voice of a 1930s radio announcer or of Katharine Hepburn (or Lisa Kudrow pretending to be Katharine Hepburn). Either way, it's sure to prove interesting.

2. Algerian Chronicles, by Albert Camus

If I had a penny for every time some one said to me, “You know, I just can’t, can’t, can’t get enough Camus,” I would probably still have to keep my day job, but for the lucky few, your prayers have been answered. Algerian Chronicles has appeared for the first time this year in an English translation. The text is a collection of articles and essays written by Camus over a 20-year period, during which he was working as a journalist in Algeria. Camus’ conflicted position as Frenchman born in Algeria, who could neither condone the French’s treatment of the Algerian people nor advocate for their complete independence from France, makes this one of the more interesting reads of 2013. His stalwart rejection of terrorism and violence allows the long-delayed translation to resonate with a modern audience.

3. Country Girl, by Edna O’Brien

One time, after following Edna O’Brien home from a dinner party, Paul McCartney spontaneously composed a song about her and sang it to her on the spot. She writes about it in this memoir. ‘Nuff said. At least it should be enough, but if it isn’t, I can only tell you that excerpts from this book read like copy from a “Most Interesting Man in the World” Dos Equis ad. In fact, I think that’s how this book should be marketed. There should be posters that say things like, “I don’t always leave parties early, but when I do, Paul McCartney accompanies me home,” or, “I don’t always eat oysters, but when I do I get sick, and Marguerite Duras, Peter Brook, and Samuel Beckett come my hotel room to check on me.”

Seriously, Edna, fire your agent and hire me. In addition to wonderful little anecdotes like that, there's also some trivial stuff on the plight of being an artist and coping with the loneliness of the human condition, you know, filler.

4. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson

In Life after Life Kate Atkinson narrates the many different lives of her protagonist, Ursula Todd. The story begins in 1910 with the still-birth of the baby Ursula, only to be followed by a parallel scene in which Ursula survives. Confused yet? The narrative continues in this vein following the many parallel lives and deaths of Ursula, as she moves through time and space in twentieth century Europe.  Each time she dies, she appears again, seemingly unscathed, as herself in a different version of her life. If I die, and that’s a big "if," I would like to come back as the version of me who keeps her new year’s resolutions. Scratch that, I’d rather just come back as Edna O’Brien. 

Have I missed out on any other good reads? Sound off in the comments of catch me on Twitter, @reilly_cait.

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Caitlin Reilly

Cait is an independent contractor with NPR. She recently graduated with a degree in history and literature from Harvard. In her free time she enjoys taking rec league soccer too seriously, watching embarrassing television, and correcting other people's grammar on facebook.

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