So it’s now officially 2014 – happy New Year!!! We hope you enjoy our week of the year-in-review. There were some really great books this year, and some that weren’t so great (hello Mad About the Boy). Because my free time is so limited I get really angry about bad books – I feel like I’ve wasted my time and I want that time back!!! Anyways, on to my favorites of the year…
Jen Lancaster, one of my favorite authors – and one of the funniest writers, published two books this year – Here I Go Again and The Tao of Martha. She made her forray into fiction a couple of years ago and surprised everyone with just how funny and creative she is. I loved both of these books, and can’t wait until her next book comes out – Twisted Sisters, which is slated for release in February. Here I Go Again was another fiction work, and gives its heroine a chance to go back and re-do some of her most memorable high school moments. Lissy Ryder had been one of the most popular girls and school and generally made the lives of those below her hell. Only as an adult does she realize how horrible she had actually been. Lancaster’s year of living like Martha is chronicled in another hilarious memoir, The Tao of Martha. I always enjoy her humor, and her willingness to try new things (if only for comedy). This one may be her funniest yet!
Dad Is Fat was one of the funniest books of the year. I love Jim Gaffigan and was so excited when I found out he would be writing a book. He is my favorite stand up comedians and laughed the entire time I read this book. I had no idea he was married and had five children – another surprising thing about him revealed in this book, he actually lives in a 2-bedroom NYC apartment. At times he’s expressing the happiness and joy he has for his children – at other times he’s questioning his own sanity in raising all of them in the city, and in such close quarters. I may have to read this one again!
As a fan of Dave Barry’s writing, I was looking forward to the summer release of Insane City. He did not dissappoint! I shared this just a few weeks ago, and I’m still raving about it! This tale of a lavish wedding set to take place in the Florida Keys involved a burmese python, a billionaire tycoon, a drunken groom, and Haitian refugees. The schmuck Seth Weinstein eventually makes it to the right island – yet things continue to fall apart. Hilarious! Barry, along with his compadre Karl Hiassen have a way of reminding us just how crazy Florida can be!
My two favorite works of non-fiction could not have been more different – being on my best books of the year may be one of the only things they have in common! Master of the Mountain is part Thomas Jefferson biography, part analysis of his political career and master plan for the Monticello plantation. It was written by Henry Wiencek, a historian who has written extensively about the federal era. He chronicles the rise of Jefferson’s political career, the relationship with his wife Martha, and the planning that went into building Monticello. If that doesn’t sound interesting, Wiencek also contrasts Jefferson’s political and professional efforts to promote equality with the business of slavery and the growing profitability of his plantation. Jefferson may have been promoting equality politically, but had no plans to free the slaves that he owned.
Detroit: An American Autopsy was a pleasant surprise. I say it was a surprise because this is not something I would have normally picked up. Charlie LeDuff is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, and is actually from Detroit, which gives him a unique perspective. He chronicles the downfall of this once-great American city. It was once a place where the American dream was achieveable – which drew many who were searching for the chance of success and happiness. He points out that it was actually back in the 50s when jobs began to disappear, and this is where he pinpoints the beginning of the city’s decline. Very, very interesting following the city’s declaration of bankruptcy earlier in the year.
What were some of your favorite books? Any that would make it on your worst of 2013 list??