In the year 2013, I managed to knock back over 60 books, and not all were Dr. Seuss and Goosebumps.
Here's a small list of some of my favorites of the year:
10. Tradecraft by Larry McCrary, Caleb Crider, Wade Stephens, and Rodney Calfee
An excellent primer on living missionally regardless of where you are in life.
9. A Small Corner of Hell by Anna Politkovskaya Unrelenting, fearless, heartbreaking.
This is something that we absolutely should be aware of. But the book pointed out something very interesting - that it's very difficult to know exactly how bad things are precisely because things are so awful. It's just too dangerous. Which makes what Politkovskaya did all the more courageous and impactful.
6. Desiring the Kingdom by James K. A. Smith Incredible book from one of my favorite philosophers - the first of three books revisioning the way we educate and worship.
7. What Are People For? by Wendell Berry Education without being preachy, and passionate without only emotion. Tremendous essays that don't try to talk down to the reader.
6. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien This is one, among most of this list probably, that I couldn't believe I hadn't read yet. Profoundly vivid examination of soldiers at war and every aspect of emotions that combat touches.
5. Magic Hours by Tom Bissell
Brillant essays on creators and the creation process (that might actually the tagline).
4. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Part mad-cap adventure, part history and science of running. Brilliantly fleshed out -- I'm not sure anyone could NOT start running after reading this.
3. Vintage Lopez by Barry Lopez
Barry Lopez is an author, essayist, philosopher, biologist, historian, etc. -- and it shows in all that he writes.
2. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner Wonderful and poetic novel traversing the lifetime of a friendship between two couples. With a threadbare plot and very little narrative conflict, the brilliance of this work comes out in the characters and the quiet lives they lead.
1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
There's not much more to say about this work that hasn't already been said. The world that Wallace creates is unlike anything I've read, and seemingly unlike anything that's ever been written. It's difficult to believe a single person could flesh out a narrative as large, specific, and encompassing as this one.
It's that time of the year again where I chime in on some of my favorite art of the year. Starting out, here's some of my favorite TV shows of 2013.
(For the record, I hate those little blurbs after each ranking, but I felt weird not doing it.)
10. The Walking Dead
Still inching closer and closer in zombie-like fashion to the show it needs to be, The Walking Dead is gradually getting to the point where the character drama is as good as the action. It's got a ways to go, but it's getting there.
I might get the most flak for this one, and it's hard to explain. I just really appreciate the honesty of this show.
Gradually getting better as season 4 played out, Community is still among my favorite television comedies.
7. Parks and Recreation
Not quite the brilliance of previous seasons -- but it's still got the charm and the laughs. I'm just worried it might have peaked a season or two ago.
6. The Americans
One of the best new shows of the year. Fascinating look at life and espionage during the Cold War. 5. Mad Men This season of Mad Men might be one of my favorites. With Don finally starting to own up to his faults, hopefully he'll become less fragmented as well.
4. Arrested Development
It took a few episodes, but when it got back into the groove, it could do no wrong. Although the new season had some of the worst episodes in Arrested Development history it also had some of the best.
Gruesome, but gorgeous. I never thought I'd say this, but Mads Mikkelsen gives Anthony Hopkins a run for his money. Much creepier, less tongue-in-cheek. And the broader philosophical look at life and death is astounding.
Southland ended as it began: not with a whimper, but a bang. Right to the heart. The only way it could have ended.