Holiday Book Lists

I never see a movie on opening night. I rarely see a movie within six months after it is released. I still need to watch the last seasons of Dexter, Breaking Bad, Justified, Californication, and Homeland. These are my favorite shows, and I’m a year behind. I’m fine with that. But please, don’t post any spoiler alerts.

I’m much quicker to respond to a book suggestion than a movie suggestion. There’s something about a book on a shelf that is aesthetically pleasing. When I finish a book, I might give it to a friend with a nice note inside the cover. Generally, when I begin my search for a new book, I take to the internet and the never-ending book lists out there:


I’m pretty sure I look this adorable too while reading. (Credit: San Marcos Library)

At Slate, Jonathan Farmer made a top 10 list of 2013 books of poetry. Mary Szybist won the National Book Award for her book Incarnadine, so she has the chops to appear on such a list. After seeing the lineup, I ordered Szybist’s book. I also ordered Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers by Frank X. Walker. Walker’s book contains dramatic monologues. For me, good drama and good poetry are kissing cousins.

Slate also posted a list of staff favorites. Two books caught my eye. I’m a birder, so I added The Birds of America to my holiday list. The other book is Bough Down by Karen Green. Karen was married to David Foster Wallace, the extraordinary writer who committed suicide in 2008. This long list of staff favorites contains thirty-one books by editors from all the Slate columns, so you should find a book or four that interest you.

One more list at Slate contains “19 Books You Shouldn’t Have Overlooked in 2013.” I like The Poet Resigns: Poetry in a Difficult World by Robert Archambeau. Also, I’m always intrigued by a writer’s first novel. Holly Goddard Jones’ book The Next Time You See Me: A Novel is now on my list.  The Marvel Comics illustrated book Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon looks like a fun read. Matt Fraction is the story writer, and David Aja and Javier Pulido are the illustrators.

The National Book Award 

One of the cool things about the National Book Award  (NBA) is it lists the winner and the losers in each category. The two lists of “losers” include the “Finalists” and the “Long List”, which is a short list. But even the so called “loser” lists are great for any writer to be on. The categories for the NBA are Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. Because I live in Los Angeles, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright hits close to home, and I enjoy anything 19th century, so I added The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor to my ever-growing stack of books to read.

So unless your Jack Nicholson, you better sit this one out. (Credit: Chicago-Sun Times)

The Pulitzer Prize

I’m years behind on this reading list. Naysayers say the Pulitzer is political much like the Academy Awards.

No matter what anyone says, the books have to be pretty good to get on this list. Included in the fourteen categories for Journalism are two categories for Photography and one for Cartoons. You’ll find some great images there. The other major category is Letters, Drama, and Music. This category includes Fiction, Drama, History, Biography or Autobiography, Poetry, General Nonfiction, and Music. Every category on the Pulitzer site includes a winner and a short list of losers. But once again, don’t feel bad for the losers. I added Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall to my list.

The Nobel Prize

And then there is the Nobel Prize. There is only one Nobel winner in Literature each year. Thank goodness! Yet, I’m way way way behind on this reading list. I promised myself that after the Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer won in 2011, I would buy a book of his. Still haven’t done that. The Canadian short story writer Alice Munro won the 2013 Literature prize. Since Munro has so many collections and to stay within the theme of 2013 books, I added Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage to my stack of hopeful reads.

Lists!  Lists!  Lists!

Here are dozens of holiday book gift ideas. Or you can buy a few for yourself (or me). Heisenberg and Dexter can wait another year.

What are your favorite new books for 2013?

Tell Us What You Think.