Books to Know – TOP 10 LIST – January 2013


books&coffee1. The Particle at the End of the Universe

by Sean Carroll, 2012 (See review)

2. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

by Ayana Mathis, 2012

Oprah’s latest book club pick follows the lives of Hattie Shepherd and her descendants. Hattie comes north during the Great Migration of African-Americans in the early twentieth century. With greater opportunities, her progeny include a musician, a soldier, a housewife, and a preacher. But none of them can escape their mother’s disappointment, acutely rendered in Mathis’ soft prose.

3. A Memory of Light

by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, January 8, 2013 
The much-anticipated final Wheel of Time book arrives January 8. Novelist Brandon Sanderson was tapped to finish the series after the passing of original author, Robert Jordan. Fans will appreciate the many details from previous books that come to fruition and the satisfying conclusion of the story of Rand, the Dragon Reborn, and his diverse cast of friends.

4. On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks

by Simon Garfield, 2012

The author of Just My Type: A Book about Fonts returns with a book about the history of maps and their significance in human development. With the advent of Google Maps and global positioning systems (GPS), our worldview has literally shifted. Garfield adroitly compares these newfound systems to our ancient ancestors’ more imaginary creations like the thirteenth-century mappae mundi. The book will inspire a search for such images, of which it provides surprisingly few.

5. Everything Was Goodbye

by Gurjinder Basran, 2012

Winner of the 2011 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in her native British Columbia, Gurjinder Basran’s first novel is now available in the United States. The immigrant experience is a familiar theme in realistic fiction, but Basran’s spans a more unusual gap between a traditional Punjabi family and Canadian peers. Meena does not want an arranged marriage like her sisters, but the consequences of her decision will leave her unmoored in a culture that is never quite her own.

6. My Beloved World

by Sonia Sotomayor, January 15, 2013

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor made history as the first Hispanic and third female to fill her position. Now she recounts the challenging childhood and determined path that brought her to become a federal judge in 1992, leading later to her position on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and her current role. This unusually personal memoir is an inspiration to anyone growing up in adverse circumstances. (Justice Sotomayor will be giving a book talk in DC on January 18. For more information, visit Politics & Prose.)

7. Umbrella

by Will Self, January 8, 2013 

Shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, Will Self’s Umbrella finally makes it to the United States on January 8. The story veers between Dr. Zachary Busner trying to help the mental patient Audrey Dearth in the present, and Audrey’s memories of her youth in Edwardian London. The experimental style deliberately evokes Joyce, but Audrey’s illness provides an intriguing, less Joycean plot.

8. Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files

by Jim Butcher, 2012

Jim Butcher’s fast-paced urban fantasy series continues to follow the antics of Chicago’s favorite wizard, Harry Dresden. Now back from the dead, Dresden is beholden to Faerie’s Queen Mab, who intends to wield him like a wand. With help from friends and enemies new and old, he must struggle to break his ties with Mab or accomplish her impossible task.

9. The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures

by Edward Ball, January 22, 2013

National Book Award winner Edward Ball turns his attention to the invention of the motion picture. Behind the scenes, he finds two men: the inventor, Eadweard Muybridge, and the tycoon who supported him, Leland Stanford. Muybridge also happens to be a murderer. Ball’s account both of the invention and the trial are full of salacious detail, though not in chronological order.

10. The Miniature Wife and Other Stories

by Manuel Gonzalez, January 10, 2013

In “The Miniature Wife,” a man accidentally shrinks his spouse and suffers her revenge. Such fantastic intrusions into reality characterize the eight stories in this debut work from Manuel Gonzalez. The surreal situations allow characters to rethink their lives, sometimes in bizarre but more often in ordinary ways. This is a wonderful, relatable introduction for readers who don’t usually read short stories and a treat for those who do.


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