Monday, December 30, 2013

The Best of 2013

Top ten books of the year
As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the best books that have appeared here at this blog over the past twelve months. These are books that I have read (or reread) and reviewed in the past calendar year. Of course, since this is Old Books by Dead Guys, many of these works were published decades or even centuries ago, but some of them were new to me and may be new to you. Click on the titles below to read the full reviews.

Discourses by Epictetus (AD 108)
Philosophy, Stoicism, Ancient Rome
The most important surviving text from the ancient Stoic school of thought instructs readers how to live happier and more meaningful lives by altering one’s attitudes, desires, and perceptions to conform to the natural order of the universe.

Wyandotté, or, The Hutted Knoll by James Fenimore Cooper (1843)
Fiction (Novel), Classic Literature
A British army officer retires to the remote wilderness of western New York, only to find the serenity of his retreat and the security of his family threatened by the onset of the American Revolution.

Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville (1853)
Fiction (Novella), Classic Literature
The hilarious yet profound story of a luckless lawyer who hires a new clerk to work at his firm. This new employee, named Bartleby, turns out to be a pitifully passive and aggravatingly inactive man who shuns all work by uttering the statement “I would prefer not to.” 

Paris by Emile Zola (1898)
Fiction (Novel), Classic Literature
The final volume in Zola’s Three Cities trilogy. A Catholic priest in danger of losing his faith questions whether his deepest held religious ideals are still relevant in a city where the poor down-trodden masses, victimized by greed and corruption, are pushed to the breaking point and screaming for justice. 

The Riddle of the Universe by Ernst Haeckel (1901)
Science, Philosophy, Atheism
An evolutionary biologist summarizes the state of scientific knowledge at the close of the 19th century, and applies that knowledge to such philosophical puzzles as the origin of the universe, the existence of God, the nature of human consciousness, and the question of free will.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (1931)
Fiction (Novel), Classic Literature, Modern Literature
The epic saga of a poor Chinese farmer and his family as they struggle to survive and prosper amid China’s turbulent transformation from antiquity to modernity.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (2005)
History, Archaeology
A fascinating survey of the current state of archaeological research on pre-Columbian cultures that reveals that Native American civilizations were far more populous and advanced than previously thought.

Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier (2008)
Art, Comics, Biography
A gorgeously illustrated biography of Jack Kirby, the Da Vinci of superhero comics, who created some of the most inventive and memorable characters in the history of the art form.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine (2009)
Philosophy, Stoicism, Self-Help
An overview of Stoicism and a practical guide to how the wisdom of the ancient Greek and Roman Stoics can be applied to the problems of modern life.

Space: From Earth to the Edge of the Universe by Carole Stott, et al. (2010)
Science, Astronomy, Photography
A beautiful coffee-table book that combines the best photography from NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope with a thorough overview of the celestial bodies in the universe and the physical forces that drive them.

No comments:

Post a Comment