The Best Books Of 2013

Plus the best books of 2013, “The Flamethrowers,” “White Girls,” “The Unwinding” and a whole lot more.

A selection of some of our guests' favorite books of the 2013 publishing year. (Courtesy The Publishers)

A selection of some of our guests’ favorite books of the 2013 publishing year. (Courtesy The Publishers)

It’s been a good year for books.  Cute kitties may dominate the web, but good writers are breaking out all over.  Critics are smiling.  Readers, too.  We’ve got a big John Dos Passos-style American deep dive in George Packer’s “The Unwinding.”  Motorcyles and avant-garde art in Rachel Kushner’s “The Flamethrowers.”  Men down, in Jesmyn Ward’s “The Men We Reaped.”  White girls in Hilton Als’ “White Girls.”  A freed slave and John Brown in James McBride’s “The Good Lord Bird.”  And a whole lot more. This hour On Point: the best books, great reads, of 2013.

— Tom Ashbrook


Lorin Stein, editor of The Paris Review. (@ParisReview)

Edan Lepucki, staff writer at The Millions. Author of the forthcoming, “California.” (@EdanL)

Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books in Oxford, MS. (@SquareBooks)

From Tom’s Reading List

Slate: The Overlooked 2013 — “The Slate Book Review runs just 15 pieces a month. But when 33 books are publishedevery hour, it’s hard to keep up. We asked SBR writers what 2013 titles they felt were criminally underappreciated. Check out the buried treasures they unearthed.”

Huffington Post: Best Books Of 2013 — “This year has introduced us to more engaging reading material than we could have thought to ask for. By fall, our bedside tables and workspaces began to resemble physical manifestations of W.H. Auden’s required reading syllabus, in the most wonderful and nightmarish way possible. Happily, and aided by plenty of coffee, we persevered, and this is what we discovered: innovative short story collections shaking up our notions of form and convention, much-awaited epic novels that absolutely live up to their hype, and illuminating reporting on everything from illegal foods to L. Ron Hubbard. ”

National Journal: The Best Political Books We Read In 2013 — “It’s not very creative to pick the National Book Award winner as your favorite read of the year, but whatever, it’s that good. In his book, Packer manages to tell countless stories about the country’s economic transformations from characters actually living through them.”

The On Point Staff’s Best Books Of 2013

Lorin Stein’s Best Books

“Pitch Dark” by Renata Adler

“All That Is” by James Salter

“Dark Lies The Island” by Kevin Barry

“Traveling Sprinkler” by Nicholson Baker 

“The Woman Upstairs” by Claire Messud 

“The Flamethrowers” by Rachel Kushner 

“The Fun Parts”by Sam Lipsyte

“The Unwinding” by George Packer

“White Girls” by Hilton Als

“White Out: The Secret Life of Heroin” by Michael W. Clune


Edan Lepucki’s Best Books

“The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer  

“American Dream Machine” by Matthew Specktor

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt

“If I’d Known You Were Coming” by Kate Milliken

“Cartwheel” by Jennifer duBois

“A Questionable Shape” by Bennett Simms 

“White Girls” by Hilton Als

“The Faraway Nearby” by Rebecca Solnit

“Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward

“Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life” by Dani Shapiro


Richard Howorth’s Best Books

“Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward 

“The Tilted World” by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

“Collision Low Crossers” by Nicholas Dawidoff

“Flora” by Gail Godwin

“Respect Yourself” by Robert Gordon

“Want Not” by Jonathan Miles

“A Reader’s Book of Days” by Tom Nissley

“Sycamore Row” by John Grisham

“The Education of a Lifetime” by Robert Khayat 

“All That Is” by James Salter


Listener Favorites

“An Astronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth” by Chris Hadfield

“Detroit: An American Autopsy” by Charlie LeDuff

“The Metropolitan Revolution” By Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley

“Fear Itself” by Ira Katznelson 

“The Telling Room” by Michael Paterniti 

“Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The Dinner” By Herman Koch

“The Brothers” by Stephen Kinzer

“The Manor” by Mac Griswold

“The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman

“One Summer: America 1927” By Bill Bryson 

“The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us”  by Noson S. Yanofsky

“Until I Say Good-bye” by Susan Spencer-Wendel

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