Monday, November 25, 2013

Amazon Asks David Baldacci, Author of "King and Maxwell"



With the release of his latest novel King and Maxwell, we caught up to David Baldacci to give him the Amazon Asks treatment.

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Describe your book in 10 words or less?  

My sleuths help a son whose dead father isn’t dead.

What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

W is for Wasted; Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power; The Reluctant Tuscan; The Hamlet. I multi-read!

Favorite books of all time? 

Sophie’s Choice, The Cider House Rules, To Kill A Mockingbird, A Tale of Two Cities

Book that made you want to become a writer? 

Eudora Welty’s and Raymond Carver’s short stories.

Most memorable author moment? 

Being mistaken for John Grisham. What an ego stroke that was.

What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?  

Seeing the future. At least then I can see my mistakes coming.

What are you obsessed with now? Baldacci-David-credit-Alexander-James-for-KING-AND-MAXWELL

Fantasy stories.

What are you stressed about now? 

Holidays coming.

What are you psyched about now?

Holidays coming.

What's your most prized/treasured possession?

My kids. I know, awwww.

Pen Envy - Book you wish you'd written?

A Tale of Two Cities

What's next for you?

An eBook-only short story titled “Bullseye” in February. The YA fantasy, The Finisher, in March and a new Will Robie thriller, titled The Target, in April. I’m also working on a new thriller for the fall of 2014. Other than that, I’ve got nothing going on.

What's the last dream you remember?

I’m on a stage holding a statuette and thanking some sort of Academy for their vote. Not really sure what that was about.

Favorite line?

A legal one. The slippery slope is indeed slippery. In that one phrase is about as much wisdom as you can pack into six words.

Favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?  

Procrastination: Boating, walking while daydreaming, kayaking. Temptation: Going out to eat. Vice: A bottle of Amarone wine followed by another and so on and so on….

What do you collect? 

First edition novels and custom pens.

Best piece of fan mail you ever got?

Many that begin with, “Thank you, Mr. Baldacci, your books have gotten me to be a reader again.”

 

See all of David Baldacci's books.



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Memories of the Years of Chaos: An Essay by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Author of "The Sound of Things Falling"



Sound_of_things_falling

For my generation, I’ve noticed, the 1980s don’t have a lot of respect for chronology: our decade began in 1984, when Pablo Escobar assassinated the Minister of Justice, Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, and ended in December 1993, with the symmetrical death of Pablo Escobar. Certain images of that decade have become part of our mythology. One of them shows Lara’s car with its windows destroyed, its back seat smeared with blood and the cover, caught by the cameras almost by chance, of the book the minister was reading at the moment of the crime like a symbol in a bad novel: Dictionary of Colombian History. In another one, Pablo Escobar’s dead body lies on a rooftop surrounded by his triumphant pursuers, his features obliterated by the blood, his pale belly exposed in the morning air. Between those two events are other images. I’ve seen them and I keep seeing them and I saw them every day of 2010, while I was writing The Sound of Things Falling: I saw a presidential candidate greeting voters and then climbing onto a stage and then falling under a hail of bullets; I saw the remains of a passenger plane scattered among trees after exploding in mid-air. In my fallible memory, these images take up several years of that terrible decade; only later, when I started writing the novel, did I realize that they’d all happened in just six short months, and that gave me an idea of the morbid intensity we lived with back then.

There is a police recording of Escobar’s voice that is almost a manifesto. “We have to create chaos so they call us to make peace,” he says. “If we devote ourselves to going after the politicians, to burning their houses down and having a real fucking civil war, then they’ll have to call us to the table for peace talks and our problems will be solved.” The landscape of our memories is made from that chaos. I have compared it to other landscapes, to other memories, and I’ve found several common elements. The ability, for instance, to recognize the sound of a bomb and distinguish it from any other explosion; the crosses of masking tape on windows (and the resignation with which they tried to avoid, in the case of a nearby bomb, the shattering of the glass); the ease with which we spent the night in a stranger’s house if we were caught out by a curfew; the unmistakable atmosphere of the city the day after an attack, that sort of rare slowing down that took over normal routines, the silence that resembled no other silence: the whole city turned into a room where a sick man lay dying.

The Sound of Things Falling was, at least partially, about that silence.

Even if the title seems to suggest otherwise. --Juan Gabriel Vásquez


Boty_rg_cover_thumb This piece comes from our free Best Books of 2013: Reader's Guide, which you can download now for your Kindle. It features interviews, essays, excerpts, and other fun extras about the year’s top 20 titles: Donna Tartt talks about her eating habits while writing The Goldfinch; David Finkel discusses the emotional impact following the 2-16 infantry battalion in Thank You for Your Service; and much more.

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Authors @ Amazon: Allie Brosh, "Hyperbole and a Half"



HyperboleMonths before it was even published, Allie Brosh's debut collection of comics and essays, based on and named for her wildly popular blog, became an Amazon bestseller. Since its publication earlier this month, Hyperbole and a Half has hovered among Amazon's top-selling books, was named one of our Best Books of the Month, and has attracted widespread praise. 

I asked Brosh if she had a theory--or maybe a superpopwer--to explain the surprising success of her autobiographical MS Paint figures. "Probably how much I think about my own thinking," she said. "I spend a lot of time analyzing my own thoughts." 

In particular, her blog posts about depression have resonated with fans, as has her brutal honesty, her quirky humor, her crazy dogs, and her frequent f-bombs. Andrew Sullivan has called her blog "inspired" and Cory Doctorow calls Brosh "an Internet-era treasure, an unexpected wonder of the 21st century." 



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Friday, November 22, 2013

The Best of the Year in Romance



It was a great year for Romance of all stripes, so full of gems -- from newer authors and old favorites -- that it was difficult even to narrow this list down to 20 titles. Across Romance's ever-widening variety of subgenres, however, our top picks share an emphasis on characters. And not just any characters, but unique characters that haven’t traditionally been represented in the romance world.

From the two male warriors at the heart of J.R. Ward’s tender Lover at Last to the charming, socially awkward professor at the heart of The Rosie Project, the top 20 romances of 2013 are filled with characters who come vividly to life and push the genre to be ever more inclusive. Here's a look at three of the books that made our Best of the Year list.

Once Upon a Tower Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James

Eloisa James’ consistently charming Fairy Tales series hits new heights with Once Upon a Tower. Ostensibly a take on the Rapunzel story, Tower incorporates a dash of Shakespeare (in classic James fashion) by adding in an element of Romeo and Juliet. The love story between forthright cellist Edie and logical to a fault Gowan is a delight-- hilarious, touching, and gorgeously non-traditional. Learn More
Heart of Obsidian Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

Even after 12 books, Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series continues to produce surprising, daring romances. Heart of Obsidian, the first of the series to feature a romance between two Psy characters, is compelling and fast-paced, featuring a dark hero who gradually reveals himself to a strong but tormented heroine. Building off of an impeccably constructed world, Singh has written a romance that feels fresh, with characters who are complex and finely-drawn. Learn More
Three Little Words Three Little Words by Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series focuses on an all-American small town, full of quirky characters, close friendships, and busy bodies. This setting makes for a sweet and cozy romance that you can sink into instantly, surrounded by loving families and loyal friends. Three Little Words is the third in a new cycle of Fool’s Gold books focusing around a group of former military special forces members, a few with previous connections to the town, who move in to start a bodyguard academy and corporate retreat called CDS. All three of the books in this new chapter of Fool’s Gold romances are excellent—compelling, character-driven narratives with the perfect balance of sweetness and reality—but Three Little Words might just be the best of the bunch. Learn More
See all 20 books on the Romance Best of the Year list


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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2013 National Book Award Winners Announced



Good-Lord-Bird-CoverThe Amazon Books editors are thrilled to be in New York for the National Book Awards. The after-party calls, so we'll tell you about our favorite moments tomorrow.

Tonight, we salute the magnificent work of this year's winners.

Winner--Literarian Award: Dr. Maya Angelou

Winner--Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters: E. L. Doctorow

Fiction Winner: James McBride for The Good Lord Bird

Nonfiction Winner: George Packer for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

Young People's Literature Winner: Cynthia Kadohata for The Thing About Luck

Poetry Winner: Mary Szybist for Incarnadine

See this year's full longlist and finalists.



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Colum McCann Interviews Authors of Richard Pryor Bio, "Furious Cool"



As kids growing up in Michigan, Joe and David Henry became obsessed with Richard Pryor's raunchy and hillarious LPs. A few years after Pryor died, in 2005, the brothers decided to collaborate on an exploration of Pryor's life and his lasting influence. The result, Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him, was selected as one of Amazon's Best Books of the Month. (Our reviewer, Jason Kirk, called it "an artistic performance of the written word that does lovely justice to a brilliant, tortured man.")Furious Cool attracted some early support from National Book Award–winner Colum McCann (TransAtlantic and Let the Great World Spin), who called it "a book worth savoring.” Here, McCann speaks with the Henrys about their fascination with Pryor.

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David-joe-henryColum McCann: How did two white kids from the rust belt fall under the sway of an angry black comedian like Richard Pryor?

Joe Henry and David Henry: When we were twelve and fourteen years old, there was no one cooler, more exciting or inspiring, than Richard Pryor--he and Bob Dylan. We wouldn’t have been able to tell you why at the time, but intuitively, we sensed they were doing very similar work, bringing us news from a world that was operating and thriving somewhere down below the surface. Those were exciting times. Artists let you know you are not alone, that there are others out there who know the world is chaotic, poetic, dangerous, and heartbreaking and don’t flinch from embracing it full on. Dylan made our heads spin, Richard hit us over the head. We’d never encountered anyone like him. But we recognized him instantly as a kindred spirit. Not to say that we understood where Richard was coming from but that he, inexplicably, understood who we were.

McCann: In Furious Cool, you place Richard Pryor in the pantheon with Mark Twain, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali--a couple of times you walk right up to the edge of comparing him to Homer and Shakespeare’s Falstaff. Libraries have whole shelves devoted to those guys. Why do suppose so few books have been written about Richard Pryor? 

The Henrys: It’s too soon. The enormity of what he accomplished as an artist is still clouded over by his later celebrity and his long slog through all of those mediocre Hollywood movies. Remember, he was pushing forty when he became the box-office sensation of the eighties. It was during the previous twenty years of his career that he did his most brilliant work. Most everything he did in the seventies was monumental. And unequaled. In time the baser matter will erode revealing the block of granite underneath.

Colum-McCann-Credit-Dustin-AkslandMcCann: The book is beautifully written. There’s such a fantastic rhythm and style. Did your family’s musical background help you?

The Henrys: Our family didn’t have much of a musical background. We suspect our writing style--and Joe’s music--were greatly influenced more by the storytellers we sprang from. Our paternal grandfather, especially, would tell the same parcel of stories over and over again in a rhythmic style we took delight in imitating. He employed many of the same tricks and devices that troubadours and balladeers have used for ages--inserting decorative figures of speech or stretching out syllables on the fly in order to maintain his rhythm. Several of Richard’s standup characters do the same thing; Big Bertha and Mudbone especially. And as result, we remember them like we remember songs . . . can imitate them with the tonal and rhythmic observances that carry the narrative within them.

McCann: What was it like, working in tandem?

The Henrys: In some ways it was second nature, since for decades--most of our lives--we have shared a love for an array of writers, filmmakers, musicians, and comedians. Our sensibilities were shaped in tandem, and as such, we seldom doubted that what one of us had written would authentically resonate with the other. But in more practical terms, it was much fun and a great relief to approach our subject like tag-team wrestlers: when one got tired of hammering away at a particular chapter, he’d pass it off to the other, who, hopefully, was waiting ringside, refreshed and ready.

McCann: Richard Pryor left his mark on every comedian that followed him. In what ways has his influence extended beyond the realm of comedy? And, aside from writing this book, in what ways has he influenced you and your work?

FuriousThe Henrys: Well, in broad terms, Richard’s influence has held sway beyond the world of comedians in much the same way that Mark Twain’s has beyond literature: the work of each issues a challenge to every American artist in every medium to be brazen and singular, to speak the individual truths that nonetheless reveal our inescapable unity. Both of us--and well before this book was a thought--have been inspired by Richard’s bravery, and his insistence that we each need to own our history and retell it in our own voice.

McCann: It’s almost universally accepted as an empirical fact--just as Ulysses is the greatest novel ever written--that Richard Pryor is the greatest stand-up comic ever. Yet you suggest that he treated stand-up comedy as a stepping-stone toward a career as a movie star, the thing he wanted most of all. So, why, given his undeniable genius as a performer, were his movies such a letdown?

The Henrys: Quite simply, Richard’s film work was not truly his own. He was desperate for affirmation, and desirous of money and the autonomy it offered, and to that end he signed on to movie after movie where the writing and direction were not equal to his gifts. He squandered much of his prime, and he is responsible for that.

McCann: Throughout the book, you speak of him on a first-name basis. Do you think Richard would be okay with that?

The Henrys: We decided he would be. His best work invites an incredible intimacy.

McCann: Delving into the life of someone you admire is a risky business. How has your opinion--your conception--of Richard Pryor as a person changed over the course of writing this book?

The Henrys: We didn’t go looking for skeletons or scandals. There was no need. All artists and performers to some degree know their life is going to be scrutinized in public, and Richard went onstage with his closet door wide open.

It’s true that a great many people who were part of Richard’s life at some time or another felt hurt or disappointed or brutalized or betrayed by him; yet everyone we spoke to loved him. Perhaps they loved him against their better judgment or now find him easier to love from a distance, beyond arm’s length, but we have not yet met anyone who didn’t get more from him than he took.

McCann: Emerson once suggested that the history of a time can be resolved in the biographies of a few stout and earnest people. Is this the case with Richard? Does he capture the zeitgeist of his time? And if so, are you conscious of the notion that you are engaging with history?

The Henrys: We find it wildly interesting that Richard was extending the range of his craft in much the same way--and in the same moment--that Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Ali, Malcolm X, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol were all expanding on the assumptions and rewriting the terms of their respective stations. So, yes . . . Richard seems to perfectly reflect the wickedness of his times, and as well, the immense liberation on offer.

McCann: And if there’s one Richard Pryor line you’d like to have with you when you go “into the yonder”--a line that you’d be able to use again and again--what would it be?  

The Henrys: Shortly after Richard’s stepmother passed, he was on the Tonight Show demonstrating to Johnny Carson how his father, shivering in the bitter cold during her funeral, had gestured to the minister by raking the flat palm of his hand through the air like the blade of a bulldozer and saying, “The dirt! Get to the part with the dirt! I mean, I love you, baby, but, damn, it’s cold out here!” That absolutely destroyed us. So, if we were to pick just one line, that would be it: “The dirt!” But you need the hand gesture to go with it.

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About the authors: Joe Henry is aGrammy Award–winning music producer, composer, and performer, and David Henry is a screenwriter. Furious Cool is their first book.



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2013 Best Books of the Year: Humor & Entertainment



I always get a little giddy around the time that I finalize the Humor & Entertainment Best of the Month list. I have so much variety to consider: from the laugh out loudness of a well-written comedy book to the no-holds-barred biography of an entertainment icon, the epicness of a pop culture photo tome to quirky niche and novelty items. My three faves this year, collectively, touch on a little bit of all of that.

Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Insight in the guise of absurdity, fearlessness wrapped in self-deprecating shame. Deceptively easy to read, to LOL to, to point at a friend, family member, or oneself and say "That's so you!!!" In other words, Hyperbole and a Half -- the colorful (literally and metaphorically) book by Allie Brosh -- is a lot like the popular webcomic from which much of the material comes, but with the bonus of being tangible. Because, well, Web site links just make crappy gifts. Learn more
The Wes Anderson Collection

The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz

Reading this coffee table-style book feels a little like bearing witness to an enthrallingly awkward conversation: one in which one of the participants has studied at the school of 1960s Bob Dylan non-answer-answer techniques. The thing is, you can learn a lot about an interviewee precisely because they're unforthcoming about themselves beyond their role as artist. Broken down and organized chronologically by each movie in quirky film director Wes Anderson's oeuvre, the conversation segments are each paired with essays by the author (a longtime film critic) and behind-the-scenes and related images. It all begins with an intense intro from Michael Chabon. The result is a combination of mega-filmography, gorgeous art book, movie companion guide, and oddball biography of sorts. It's one of the most unique books I saw this year and one I root for friends to spot and take off of my shelf. Learn More
Star Wars: Frames

Star Wars: Frames by George Lucas

Bum bum bum bumbabum bumbabum... "The Imperial March" plays in my head as I place each of my hands carefully on either side of the box. Resistently the top half slides up; I imagine the whoosh of a Death Star bay door opening. Then something very real hits me: New Book Smell. Yes, this is full-on fangirl geekout, but this collection of images singlehandedly curated by George Lucas from the entire Star Wars saga is nothing short of magnificent. If you have to ask what the point is of poring over stills from movies known for their epic scores, special effects, and storylines, then wrap this one up with a bow and give it to the fan in your life. You'll understand when you see their reaction. Learn More
See all 20 books on the Humor & Entertainment Best of the Year list


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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Newbery Medal Winners Applegate and Gantos: Read or Rot!



Ivan180 NorveltNowhere180At the beginning of the year, Katherine Applegate won the 2013 Newbery Medal for her beautiful book about courage and kindness, The One and Only IvanHer predecessor was the incomparable Jack Gantos, who won the Medal in 2012 for Dead End in Norvelt, the funny and heartwarming story of one strange summer in the life of a boy named...Jack Gantos. 

In the Q&A below, Applegate checked in with Gantos to find out about memorable school visits, where he keeps his Newbery Medal, and his newest book--the sequel to his Newbery winner and a September best book of the month pick--From Norvelt to Nowhere.

Katherine Applegate: Your alter-ego Jackie Gantos is back! Of all his hysterical new antics in From Norvelt to Nowhere, which scene did you have the most fun writing?

Jack Gantos: That’s a tough question. There are so many good scenes. There is the harpoon scene, and the pistol escapade, and the over imbibing, the creepy bathroom stall scene ... I’ll settle on the scene where Miss Volker is using the sandwich bread to wipe the unending tears from her guilty crying while the soggy bread balls roll down her face like they were little white garden snails. That scene sinks into chaos for Jack.

KA: In the new book, Jack and Miss Volker visit some odd historical sites on their wild road trip, including a real ghost town. Is Rugby, Tennessee, still abandoned?

JG: Rugby is a great old town started by Thomas Hughes, who had written Tom Brown's School Days. He traveled from England and began the town which was built on socialist/utopic principles. The town was a perfect fit for Miss Volker’s childhood back story, and it had been abandoned for many years. But it has had a bit of a revival. The fabulous library has always been intact, though it was boarded up for many decades. The town’s origins parallel the origins of Norvelt.

KA: Is there a memorable, silly, or just plain embarrassing question you recall being asked at a school visit? 

JG:  After a Rotten Ralph presentation a baby faced first grader stood up and with a very sincere voice asked me what had happened to the real cat that inspired Rotten Ralph. The boy seemed very troubled. I replied as sincerely as possible, “Well, he lived a wonderful life for many, many years until finally ... he expired.”

He shifted from foot to foot and thought about that last word. Finally he asked, “What does expired mean?”

I paused. Time was passing. The other kids were getting restless so I got to the point. “It means he died,” I said.

He thought about that, then asked, “Well, did you stuff him?”

“I should have,” I replied while thinking, dang, I really should have. But it was too late for that. 

KA: When you autograph books, you often write “Read or Rot!” Why?

JG: Oh, it’s just a fun little motto that basically boils down to Read books or your brain will Rot. I usually draw a skull and write READ OR ROT! in blood red ink across the forehead. Kids like it.

KA:  Writing pre-Newbery.  Writing post-Newbery.  Any difference?

JG: There are differences but they are all very shadowy. There are no statements to be made about the differences. There are only questions. I honestly don’t spend a lot of time pondering this as I’ll probably invent a problem where none exists.

KA: Where do you keep your Medal? 

JG: In the freezer. When I have guests over for dinner and make individual butter pats for each plate I use the medal to imprint the butter. This way the conversation starts off about me.



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The Best of the Year in Literature



Lucky me: I get to introduce you to our literature and fiction best of the 2013 list. While it’s true that I, like most fiction readers, can always find something to recommend, this year's crop of novels and stories (yes, stories! It was a banner year for the short form, too!) is truly an embarrassment of riches. And not just for those who embrace their inner grad student or are looking for escape: we've found books both serious (but never homeworky) and fun (but never silly). From a Dickensian tale of a boy and his lost mother (The Goldfinch) to a hilarious bound-to-be-a-movie romp about a clueless genius in search of a wife (The Rosie Project), we’ve got something for everyone.

The Interestings The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Some may know Wolitzer as the author of the deliciously mean The Wife and many other on-the-pulse novels, but in this bestselling tale of a group of kids who meet at a summer camp in the 1970s, the novelist has really hit her stride. As incisive a look at a generation as any book, fiction or no. Learn More
Tenth of December Tenth of December by George Saunders

George Saunders has long been a literary darling, but with the publication of his Tenth of December, he has become a bona fide superstar. This collection is deceptive: seemingly more straightforward than we've come to expect from his work, the stories are nonetheless multilayered and surprising. Our reviewer called him an “American original,” -- with all the conflicts and humor and rambunctiousness that phrase implies. Learn More
The Husband's Secret The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

"Chick lit" gets a bad name in some circles, but that's only because the naysayers have never read Liane Moriarty; she’s a a conversational chronicler of suburban women, but one with a lot to say. We'd say she's a modern Australian Jane Austen, but she’s way funnier, fresher and freer of contemporaneous cliché. No wonder she's bubbled up from down under. Learn More
See all 20 books on the Literature & Fiction Best of the Year list


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Monday, November 18, 2013

Amazon Asks: J. Robert Moskin



Moskin

Into an era that is embarrassingly opaque when it comes to the role of Americans and American intelligence abroad comes J. Robert Moskin's American Statecraft. A fascinating look at the unsung men and women of the US Foreign Service -- and the inevitable conflicts between political appointees and experienced professionals -- Moskin's tome is comprehensive and engaging, as befits a lifelong journalist and historian both erudite and witty. Below, Moskin answers our Amazon Asks questions.


What is the elevator pitch of the book?

American Statecraft is the first-ever account of the history of the U.S. Foreign Service from March 3, 1776, when Benjamin Franklin sent the first covert envoy to Paris for the thirteen colonies until John F. Kerry became Secretary of State on February 1, 2013.

American Statecraft

What is on your nightstand, bedside table, Kindle?

The latest editions of the New York Review and the New Yorker. I save reading books for when I am wide awake.

Top 3 to 5 favorite books of all time?

Green Mansions by William Henry Hudson
Collected poems of Seamus Heaney
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

Important book you never read?

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I have tried repeatedly.

Book that changed your life?

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. He changed all our lives.

Favorite book or books as a child?

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. This lovely story taught me to care for all living creatures.

What is your most memorable author moment?

Take your choice:

Look photographer Jim Hansen and I were the only outsiders to accompany Secretary of State Dean Rusk on a tour of NATO capitols and bases.

I met a U.S. patrol crawling out of the enemy-infested jungle at the end of the dangerous Ho Chi Minh Trail.

As a reporter, I visited Hanoi during the Vietnam War, experienced the war from the enemy's side, and interviewed some of the North Vietnamese leaders.

While the photographer with me captured Pablo Casals in Puerto Rico, I listened privately to the world's most beautiful cello recital.

What talent or superpower would you like to have, not flight or invisibility?

As a writer of non-fiction, I am able to reproduce dialogue; but I would like to be able to create realistic dialogue as a novelist can.

What are you obsessed with now?

I am horrified to realize we live in a most terrible age. Sixty million people were killed during World War II in which I was a participant, and family members were killed in the incredible Holocaust.

What are you stressed about now?

I must accept the fact that I am a nonagenarian and nearing the end. It has been a great trip. I hope we do not come back to Earth because it can never be as good next time.

What are you psyched about now?

Despite the brutal violence of our time, women and minorities have made amazing advances, especially in the Third World.

What is your most prized/treasured possession?

They are not "things" but "relationships" -- with my wife, children, grandchildren and Springer Spaniel.

Who is your author crush?

Emily Dickinson

What's next for you?

I plan to update my history of the U.S. Marine Corps to cover the on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is the last dream you remember?

They are mostly connected with World War II, not realistically but as projections of my experiences and what could have been. I cannot forget the voyage in the troop ship alone on the Pacific twenty one days out of San Francisco and climbing down the rope netting on the side of the ship at Hollandia, New Guinea. I was sure I had a one-way ticket.

What is your favorite line?

A friend said recently: Be yourself, everyone else is taken.

What is your favorite vice?

Sex and cigars.

What do you collect?

I have been through most of them from stamps and signed baseballs and even some signed books, but at present I am distributing more than collecting.

Best piece of fan mail you ever got?

A note from President Harry Truman thanking me for sending him an article in 1956 about medical care for all Americans. More than a half century later, the issue is still making headlines.

What is the best piece of advice you ever got?

Don't quote people; give your own opinion.

The worst?

Quote an authority; don't just give your own opinion.

Pen envy, book you wish you had written?

The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot

What is your favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?

Watching major league baseball games, especially the Yankees, on television, because as a child I can clearly remember seeing Ruth and Gehrig play in person. I have not had the problem this year since Derek Jeter broke his ankle.



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Friday, November 15, 2013

Amy Stewart's Cocktailian Tribute to Elizabeth Gilbert's "The Signature of All Things"



Sig-coverAmy Stewart's anecdotal guide to intoxicating plants, The Drunken Botanist, includes almost every family but moss, the lush creeper that's the object of Alma Whittaker's botanical affections in Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things.

But moss's mixological unsuitability didn't deter Stewart from concocting a signature cocktail in tribute to Gilbert's novel--an ideal drink for book clubs who've joined Alma in a state of intoxicated wonder at the natural world. Below, Stewart talks about her inspiration for a drink she readily admits is weird.

The Drunken Botanist and The Signature of All Things were both selected by Amazon's editors as two of the top 100 Best Books of 2013.

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Signature of All Things cocktailAmy Stewart: I ran into Elizabeth Gilbert at a party last spring where we swapped stories about botany for the better part of an hour. The woman was glowing—glowing!—with excitement over moss, weird botanical history, and obscure plant science, all of which figured into her newest work, The Signature of All Things.

I knew at that moment that Elizabeth would appreciate a deep green, mossy libation in a completely un-ironic way, and since I had just published The Drunken Botanist, I felt compelled to create the perfect botanical cocktail in celebration of her novel.

The rest of you are free to appreciate it in an ironic way. I'll admit that it's a weird-looking drink, but then again, moss is a weird-looking plant. This cocktail has been thoroughly taste-tested by a group of discerning drinkers and pronounced delightful. I only hope it is worthy of Alma Whittaker. Oh, and don't worry—no actual moss was harmed in the making of the drink.

The Signature of All Things Cocktail

1.5 oz. Odwalla Superfood, Naked Green Machine, or another fruity green juice

1 oz. Botanist Gin

.5 oz. St-Germain elderflower liqueur

1 dash orange bitters

Lemon wedge

2 oz. sparkling wine

Fern for garnish

Combine the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Squeeze the lemon wedge into the shaker, add ice, and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a fern or another unusual leaf.

(Note: Braken ferns can be toxic if eaten in large quantity. This garnish is not intended to be eaten.)



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"The Book Thief": Amazon Asks Markus Zusak



BookThief200 MarkusZusak350The Book Thief is still one of my favorite books even though it's been years since I read it (and frankly, it's time for a re-read).  Last week the movie adaptation opened in a limited release and starting today it will be in theaters around the country.

We were able to get our hands on an exclusive trailer for the film that you can see below, and I also had the chance to ask author Markus Zusak a few questions about the movie and what he's reading these days:

Seira Wilson: It took a long time for The Book Thief to make it to the big screen--when you found out it was really happening were you excited? Nervous?

Markus Zusak: I’m often too wrapped up in the book I’m working on to be too excited or nervous about a lot of things. People sometimes think I’m being casual when often I feel like I’m actually showing at least a half-decent level of excitement or dread or anything in between…In this case, I think I’m more excited for the producers and the director. For me, it’s sort of nice, in that I’ve lived with this book for a decade now, in both the writing of it and everything that’s happened since. Maybe I’m a bit relieved that it’s someone else’s turn now, and I get to call out from the sidelines a little, to wish them luck and no regrets.

SW: Do you have a particular genre you like to read?   What 3 books could you not live without and why?

MZ: I tend to take Fiction as a category, even if it has a multitude of categories within it. I’ve always just loved the idea that you’re turning pages, believing something that isn’t real--but you believe it when you’re in it.

Three books I couldn’t live without are:

1. The Half-Brother by Lars Saabye Christensen - for its ambition and memorable characters.

2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – because there’s a gem on every page.

3. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton – because it made me want to be a writer.

SW: What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

MZ: I like to reread books, especially when I’m writing. I brought my old beat-up copy of The Old Man and the Sea on this trip through America, knowing I’ll pick up other books along the way. Waiting for me (and roasting in my car back home in Sydney) is the audio version of David Sedaris’s Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

SW: What was the best piece of advice you ever got?  From whom?

MZ: It’s from my dad, when I was very young, and I complained that I was placed sixth after a race I thought I’d won at Little Athletics one Saturday. He said, ‘I thought you won, too, but you made one big mistake – you didn’t win by enough. You have to win by so much that no-one can take it off you.’ It resonates now not in terms of winning or losing anything, but in the sense that I want to write so much like myself that no-one else could have possible written it. (I hope I’m making sense.)

SW: If you had to choose an alternate dream career (I’m making an assumption here, of course) what would it be?

MZ: I’d love to work in a secondhand bookstore, without any shadow of a doubt. Maybe I will one day…

SW: I’ve heard you are working on a new book--can you share anything about it?

MZ: It’s taking a very long time!  As for the story, it’s about a bridge builder named Clay, and I’m interested in what it takes to make one perfect thing.

Markus Zusak "The Book Thief" Movie Trailer from Amazon Books on Vimeo.



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The Best of the Year in Biographies and Memoirs



The best part about picking the year's best biographies and memoirs is the variation--the list spans almost every genre and category, literally offering something for anyone who reads. 2013's best are no less diverse, including: harrowing survival stories both physical1 and psychological2; a gigantic book befitting a literary giant3; a visit from a long-gone childhood friend4; the strange tale of an eccentric recluse and her Gilded Age riches5; and the life and times of one of America's most obsessive weirdoes, penned by Amazon's own Neal Thompson6. And much more.

  1. A House in the Sky: A Memoir
  2. Coming Clean: A Memoir
  3. Norman Mailer: A Double Life
  4. Jim Henson: The Biography
  5. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
  6. A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley

Here are closer looks at three highlights from the twenty books on our Best of the Year list in Biographies and Memoirs. See all of our selections here.

A House in the Sky

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

To freelance journalist Amand Lindhout, who made her living reporting from the most volatile places on earth, danger had become a hazy abstraction. After she and photojournalist Nigel Brennan (her former lover) are abducted in Somalia by armed extremists, their lives become a nightmare of torture (and worse), and survival means drawing on every reserve. Written with uncommon sensitivity, A House in the Sky is a moving testament to resilience and a kind of spiritual transcendence, even in profound darkness.

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Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him

Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him by David Henry and Joe Henry

Brothers David and Joe Henry have written the definitive tribute to Pryor's momentous cultural legacy. This is no straightforward biography: structured as a long series of roughly chronological vignettes, the resulting impressionistic portrait mirrors the flights of fancy that marked Pryor's most memorable stand-up comedy performances. Furious Cool resists the fan's impetus toward hagiography in favor of an artistic performance of the written word that does lovely justice to a brilliant, tortured man.

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Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer

No one would ever accuse Jenna Miscavige Hill of being an "objective reporter" about Scientology, the religion in which she was raised and from which she escaped in 2005. But unlike other books about the controversial sect, this one offers up personal daily details--sometimes maybe a few more than we want to know--about what it was like to be a seven-, eight-, nine-year-old separated from family (even though her uncle, David Miscavige, is the church's leader, and her parents were, for a time, high up in the organization) and forced to spend days scrubbing bathrooms and pondering "misunderstood words."

Learn More

 

See all 20 books on the Biographies & Memoirs Best of the Year list


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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gifted and Talented: An Essay by Meg Wolitzer, Author of "The Interestings"



Interestings

When I was fifteen, I attended an arty teenage summer camp, where I was cast as Hollow Man #2 in a musical based on the poems of T. S. Eliot. The three of us stumbled out onstage, attached by thick rubber bands, chanting, “Headpiece filled with straw, alas!” It was a thrilling moment for me, one of many in a vivid, indelible summer. That place changed me, making me aware of something I hadn’t thought much about before: talent. Who has it, who doesn’t, and what happens to it over time. Over the years, I followed the story lines of some of the people I met there, as they cast off their oboe-playing or acting selves and tried to find ways to be in the world that felt equally comfortable and compelling.

Whenever I write a novel, I reach a point at which I am reminded, through my characters, that there’s no perfect way to live. If you’re talented when you’re young, you can feel a sense of exuberant grandiosity, but of course this usually diminishes as reality rises up to meet it. The most brilliant actress at that camp was someone we were convinced was going to become a huge success. For a long time—well before the internet—she disappeared from my life, and I didn’t have any idea what had happened to her. But I assumed she hadn’t made it in theater, because I would have heard about it if she had. Then, some time ago, I found out she’d been floating around in various professions for a decade. And then, more recently, I learned she’d gone to medical school in her forties. Another person I knew at camp, a powerful modern dancer, also disappeared from my life, and reappeared many years later when I saw a sign advertising her chiropractic business.

What happened to the original, startling talents of these two girls? Did they simply transform into less showy but also worthwhile talents in the end? Can talent itself simply be transferred, like some glowing liquid, between beakers? When I think of young talent that doesn’t pan out, I tend to feel sad; but the truth, in this case, is that I have no idea how talented any of these people actually were to begin with. I’d never even seen much modern dance at fifteen; could I really say that that young dancer had a Martha Graham future? Or that that actress wasn’t just a combination of earnest, hammy, and beautiful? Perhaps what I saw in these people was, even more than their talent, their passion and possibilities—and sometimes that’s the one-two punch you need in order to have a life that, if not perfect, at least has meaning. —Meg Wolitzer


Boty_rg_cover_thumb This piece comes from our free Best Books of 2013: Reader's Guide, which you can download now for your Kindle. It features interviews, essays, excerpts, and other fun extras about the year’s top 20 titles: Donna Tartt talks about her eating habits while writing The Goldfinch; David Finkel discusses the emotional impact following the 2-16 infantry battalion in Thank You for Your Service; and much more.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

YA Wednesday: The Best YA Books of 2013



How did it get to be almost Thanksgiving already?  Seems like just weeks ago I was writing the Best Books of the Year So Far post and talking about curbing the Halloween candy this year.  Yeah, that happened...

Time has flown by, but there have been a LOT of great books since the middle of the year, some of which made our list of the best teen and YA books of 2013.  One thing I really like about this list is the mix of titles from both halves of the year.  The early 2013 books that made the top 20 are the ones I'm still thinking about months and stacks of books later. Serious keepers. It's been a great year for reading and there were some hard choices to make, but here is the top 10. You can check out the rest of the list here.   What's the best book you've read this year?

  Eleanor200#1 - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell:  Months later this is still our overall favorite of 2013.  Eleanor & Park brings back the magic of finding first love with someone who really "gets" you, but it's no sugary romance--these are teenagers dealing with real issues and finding their way through them, together.  It's a great read for someone in their teens or their forties, and every age in between.

#2 - Allegiant by Veronica Roth:  I unapologetically loved it.  Roth wrote her own book and it's unexpected, moving in all the right ways, and I still just want to talk about it. A book this polarizing means it's bringing out passionate feelings in the reader and I think that's a good thing.

#3 - Winger by Andrew Smith:  This one kind of snuck up the list since it released in May because it took up residence in my brain and stayed there for months.   One of the best funny, honest, and satisfying coming-of-age novels I've read in a while and Ryan Dean West is a character to love.

#4 - The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: Brutal decadence, immortality, desire, and revenge with a horror twist.  Put everything you thought about vampires being over aside and read this one. Bonus: this is not a new series, it's one book that rocks. Done.

 #5 - The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: Action, aliens, romance, and fantastic twists. This is a book you'll want to read in one sitting.  The ending answered questions and also left me wanting more--the sequel comes out in May 2014--can't wait!

#6 - Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson:  The first book in a new series, this is science fiction for people who think they don't like it.  Old school comic book style characters and a beautifully developed world, what's not to love?

#7 - Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein: I loved Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire also takes place during WWII but is by no means a re-hash.  Once again Wein writes historical fiction that takes you back in time to experience a totally different aspect of the war.

#8 - The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer: Ten years after her award winning novel The House of the Scorpion, Farmer masterfully picks up the thread and we dive back into the complex world of Opium's clones, cartels, beauty and brutality.

#9 - Champion by Marie Lu:  Lu wraps up her Legend trilogy with none of the controversy of Allegiant. A story fueled by romance, sacrifice and loyalty, the outcome is not a tidy bow but it doesn't shred the ribbon, either.

#10 - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:  Rowell takes some of the basic ingredients from Eleanor and Park and bakes a new cake, capturing the experience of leaving home, discovering your true voice and clumsy, vulnerable, remarkable, first love.

Steeheart   5thWave160 ColdestGirl160 Winger160 Allegiant160

 

 

 

 

 

Fangirl160 Champion160 LordOpium160 RoseUnderFire160

See all 20 books on the Teen & Young Adult Best of the Year list



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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On Tour With Khaled Hosseini



ATME Our friend Jynne Dilling Martin, the Director of Publicity of Riverhead Books, toured with Khaled Hosseini earlier this year while promoting And the Mountains Echoed. She was kind enough to share a few stories about traveling around the country with one of our favorite authors.

The phone call came on a Saturday night. The nurse was calling from a hospital in Ohio; I’m not even sure how she got my cell number. A young Afghan girl under her care was awaiting serious surgery, and the girl was a huge fan of Khaled Hosseini. If she drove this sick child all the way to Detroit the next day, to Khaled’s lunchtime signing at a BJ’s Club warehouse, would he be willing to say a special hello?

As the Director of Publicity at Riverhead, I had the privilege of accompanying Khaled Hosseini for part of his And the Mountains Echoed book tour and witnessed firsthand what an extraordinary impact he’s made on the lives of tens of thousands of people. He took two months away from his own life and family to travel to 40 cities across America to meet and sign books for well over 30,000 readers. Whether in Connecticut or Seattle or Portland or even New York City, I was struck by the incredible range of people who attended his events: the hipster who got a kite tattooed on her shoulder, inspired by The Kite Runner; an elderly Afghan-American woman wearing a hijab, thanking Khaled for so compassionately articulating her plight in A Thousand Splendid Suns; businessmen, teachers, retirees, teenagers, entire classes of high school students—wearing everything from American Apparel to Phat Farm to head scarves—all waiting many hours in line to thank Khaled and get his signature.

A book tour this large can be grueling: the author must sign books late into the night only to wake at the crack of dawn to rush to the airport and fly to yet another city. But Khaled was bolstered by the incredible warmth and generosity he encountered at each stop. In Seattle, the owner of Kabul Afghan Cuisine insisted on treating our group to a feast at his restaurant, producing endless platters of steaming bolani turnovers, bademjan, and sabzi until the wee hours and toasting all Khaled has done to help further understanding of Afghan culture. In Washington, D.C., the United Nations Refugee Agency threw a benefit concert to highlight all the work he has done as a Goodwill Envoy to raise awareness and funds for displaced women and children. Afghanistan remains the world’s top producer of refugees: on average, 1 out of 4 worldwide is Afghan, and, as Khaled poignantly expressed to crowds at his bookstore readings, “The only difference between me and an Afghan who right now is barely surviving in a refugee camp, struggling for food and shelter, was pure luck.”

And the Mountains Echoed chronicles the lives of individuals worldwide who were banished by war, an issue close to Khaled’s heart. When his family left Afghanistan in 1976, he did not know he would never live in his homeland again. Throughout the tour, readers expressed similar stories of coming to America with their families and experiencing the longing and anxiety, the struggles and fears, that come with such displacement. What sets Khaled apart as a fiction writer is his incredible empathy and ability to articulate so poetically this loneliness of not belonging, and it was with this deep empathy that he asked BJ’s in Detroit to find a private back room where he could sit with the sick Afghan child, hear her story, make her laugh, and spend quiet, private time with her in the middle of an otherwise chaotic book tour. —Jynne Dilling Martin


Boty_rg_cover_thumb This piece comes from our free Best Books of 2013: Reader's Guide, which you can download now for your Kindle. It features interviews, essays, excerpts, and other fun extras about the year’s top 20 titles: Donna Tartt talks about her eating habits while writing The Goldfinch; David Finkel discusses the emotional impact following the 2-16 infantry battalion in Thank You for Your Service; and much more.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Why I Love "The Goldfinch"



Every once in a while, if you’re really lucky, you come across a book that speaks directly to you, and describes your world while simultaneously introducing it to you as if for the first time. I can count on two hands the books that have done that for me. Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone was one. The World According to Garp—which, it seemed to me, absolutely everybody was reading, in paperback, the summer before my senior year in college—was another. Some people feel this way about A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. And, of course, Harry Potter.

The Goldfinch is that kind of novel to me: a huge, rambling but still somehow tightly plotted, Dickensian tale of a boy and his beloved mother, and how her loss so unmoored him that, fourteen years and myriad misadventures later, he’s still grieving. I fell for it partly because as the mother of a son just off to college, it pulled the requisite heart strings. But The Goldfinch is more than a coming-of-age novel, though it is that, in the largest sense. It’s a rumination on art and truth, comparable in scope and importance (and this was the opinion of many reviewers, not just me) to Great Expectations and other famous bildungsromans. (And yes, one reviewer suggested, not kindly, that it was more JK Rowling than Dickens.)

Here’s what real people I know said about this book:

“I feel like I’ll have a hole in my life when I’m done with this book.”

“I started it thinking it would take so long to read all 750+ pages, and now I’m parceling it out to myself so it won’t end too soon.”

“Over the moon” is the common, old fashioned way some readers are putting it. I’ll just put it this way: I spent one weekend this summer sitting on the porch with an advance copy in my hands, moving my chair a few inches to the right to catch the sun as it rose, travelled across the sky and set, ten glorious Goldfinch pages at a time.

I guess a lot of people are obsessed. The book was in the top 10 on Amazon before it was even published, that’s how great the anticipation and advance word have been. It’s still there after publication, which suggests it doesn’t disappoint.

The Goldfinch is not perfect. It’s long, for sure. (“She writes two sentences for every one she needs to write,” says one woman I know. So did Faulkner, I say. And Tartt’s sentences are funnier, besides) Its last 100 pages flies off a cliff in an operatic stupor. But maybe it had to be that way, the less painful the reader’s separation anxiety to come.

The worst part? Knowing that since a book this moving, this enthralling and enveloping comes along, as I said, only every once in a while, it will be many, many moons until we see its like again.


Boty_rg_cover_thumb This piece comes from our free Best Books of 2013: Reader's Guide, which you can download now for your Kindle. It features interviews, essays, excerpts, and other fun extras about the year’s top 20 titles: Donna Tartt talks about her eating habits while writing The Goldfinch; Khaled Hosseini’s publicist discusses what it’s like to be on a national tour with him; David Finkel discusses the emotional impact following the 2-16 infantry battalion in Thank You for Your Service; and much more.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Enter the Amazon Books Best of the Year Sweepstakes



Enter Now

You may have already seen our 2013 Best of the Year list, but we've got a new list to make, and we want you to be on it.

We're randomly drawing 10 lucky Amazon Books fans to win a brand new Kindle Paperwhite 3G, plus Kindle ebook editions of our top 10 books of the year.

Our Amazon Books Best of the Year Sweepstakes ends 11/18/13, so ENTER NOW for your chance to win.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Must be a legal resident of the 50 U.S. or D.C., 18 or older. See Official Rules.

Good luck!



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Introducing the Amazon Editors' Best Books of the Year



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Each month the Amazon book editors hold a number of meetings, both official and ad hoc, to discuss the best books we've read, culminating in our Best Books of the Month selections. Those lists lead us to this time of year, in which we take a look at our favorites-- including upcoming books through the end of December, and the few that might have slipped through the cracks the first go around. And after a lot more discussion (sometimes heated), and rounds of votes, we arrive at our Best Books of the Year.

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is our pick as the Best Book of 2013. In some ways, that came as no surprise to us (although it did come as a result of a healthy and prolonged discussion). Our intrepid, extremely well-read director, Sara Nelson, jumped on The Goldfinch early on, singing its praises to anyone who would listen. And she started months before the book was even published. The Goldfinch has just debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, but it lands at #1 for us. To echo what some are already saying, it's the kind of novel that only comes around every decade or so: arguably Dickensian in its treatment of Leo, a 14-year-old boy who loses his mother, steals a painting, and sets off on a journey populated by a rich cast of memorable characters.

Our number two pick is Khaled Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed, a book as well-written and deeply moving as his first two novels (The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns), proving perhaps that lightninig can strike thrice.

The number three book on the Best Books of the Year list is David Finkel's phenomenal Thank You for Your Service, a nonfiction account of the hopes and pain that soldiers carry back with them from war. It's not an easy read, because the subject isn't an easy one, but I could argue that it's the most important book on this list. The writing is exquisite, the compassion disarming.

The fourth book on the list was our #1 book when we announced our Best Books of the Year So Far back in June. Chances are you're already familiar with Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, a brilliant, multi-layered novel in which her protagonist moves through multiple lives, each one an iteration on the last, flirting with the balance between choice and fate. It deserves all the accolades it has received.

Finally, one of the ones that got away the first time. Sort of, at least. Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier was a category selection in our Best Books of July, but it didn't make our main Best of the Month list. Chalk up its high place on Best of the Year list to a classic word-of-mouth story. It was only later that this nonfiction saga of Robert “Papa Pilgrim” Hale, his wife Country Rose, and their 15 children living in the depths of Alaska started getting passed around among the Amazon editors. (A few read it back in July, but not all.) This compelling story filled with dark secrets and surprising disclosures, eventually consumed us so much that we felt we had to give it a high ranking on the Best Books of the Year. We believe readers will not be disappointed.

Of course there are lots of other great books in the top 100, and in our dozens of Best Books of the Year categories. We've put so much into this year of reading and discussing, and sometimes arguing, that it's a thrill to finally be able to share the Best Books of 2013 with you. There's something for everyone here, so enjoy!



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2013 Best Books of the Year: Celebrity Picks



Even now that our many, many enthusiastic discussions have ended and our 2013 Best of the Year list is locked at 100, we're still thinking about the year in books. We can't help it; it's what we love -- reading books, writing about reading books, talking about reading books.

"What are you reading?" and "What books are you loving?" are default for us the way that "Hi!" and "How are you?" are for most folks. We know you, our fellow book junkies, are the same: always open to reading recommendations, intent not to miss a great book for lack of knowing about it.

So, we asked authors to name their favorite title published in 2013, and to recommend two other books from their shelves. 

Check out recommendations from:

Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson
David Baldacci
David Baldacci
Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain
Ree Drummond
Ree Drummond
Delia Ephron
Delia Ephron
Ina Garten
Ina Garten
Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert
John Green
John Green
Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini
John Irving
John Irving
Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller
Jeff Kinney
Jeff Kinney
Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe
George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin
Colum McCann
Colum McCann
Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore
Phillip Meyer
Phillip Meyer
Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi
Deb Perelman
Deb Perelman
Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan
Veronica Roth
Veronica Roth
George Saunders
George Saunders
Helene Wecker
Helene Wecker
Meg Wolitzer
Meg Wolitzer
Markus Zusak
Markus Zusak


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