Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Best books read this year

So far I've had a pretty good reading session as I've found a lot of amazing books to crack open. Below is a list of the books I liked (not published in 2013, merely read in 2013) along with links to buy them or further check them out.

These books I found to be deep books worth all the time put into them. The kind that open up new worlds for this reader/writer:

The Leopard: A Novel This Sicilian Masterpiece is nothing short of legendary. I cracked it open and was immediately immersed in this rich world, as Lampedusa showed a prince dealing with a change in epochs. His descriptions are as rich as the palaces he describes, and he shows how rules are changed as the world changes and prepares for a new time.
 The Master and Margarita Russian. Written during one of Stalin's purges. Bulgakov has the devil visit Moscow with dark, yet sometimes funny results. At the same time he speaks of that moment known in the west from ~2000 years ago (surprisingly these descriptions were more vivid than the ones on Moscow). Still it is a ludicrous book for what can only be called a ludicrous time.
 The Dream of the Celt: A Novel Historical fiction is Llosa's forte, IMHO. Here he deals with Casement, an Irishman with the most interesting background. Born at a time of British Empire, he serves the crown well in exposing the crimes committed in the Congo and the Amazon. When he returns he moves towards Irish Nationalism and is hanged for these sins against the crown. What a fall from grace—or so papers of his times said. Once Llosa is through, though, you will see more than just that.
 Ficciones (English Translation) Borges has the imagination of the world. Pure and simple. I read this, traveling from one story to the next, believing it all, and marveling at how Borges is able to have such an imagination to tell such stories. As a reader I loved the mind warp that takes place to realize these stories (all fantasy and mysteries and... rolled into one). As a writer I loved the way it inspires me to take my fiction elsewhere.
 The Iraqi Christ Shorts from one of the best writers of today. These are bold and brutal stories for a bold and brutal era. Read them, some might make you wince, but here Blasim has managed to contain all the heartache the Iraqis have been through in the near past.
 I'jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody Another Iraqi book. This one is the Iraqi 1984. It even includes that novel inside its pages. This short novella manages to capture the time of Iraq during the war with Iran and the Saddam dictatorship. He shows the horrors, but also the humor.
 Homage to Catalonia Orwell's at his best here, bringing light (and dare I say truth) to subjects people would rather see as black and white. Think the Spanish Civil war was Communists against Fascists in the form of Franco? Think again.
 That Smell and Notes from Prison A short compelling book, if sometimes dry. It touches on a feeling that this great man felt after being released from prison. I'd like to read more from him.
 Breath: A Novel Great coming of age. It's mainly about surfing, and growing up in a small town. It would be worth it alone for the surfing descriptions (which had me holding my breath). But it goes on and describes the thrills that young men can aspire to and sometimes fail, while still allowing whatever created that to destroy other parts of their life.
The Good Earth (Oprah's Book Club) Old school classic about China, pre revolution. Written in a very biblical manner, as if fitting for such an immense book. 
The War of the End of the World Might be one of the best books of the year, for me. Llosa once again shows his talent in taking such a massive subject and (with a myriad of characters) showing the world what happened. Based on a Christian uprising (well, not until they were bothered by the Army of a young nation trying to stake it's claim to history). When right meets might...

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