Our Book Critic's 5 Favorite Books of the Year

by Adam Kirsch | December 15, 2013

photo credit: Shutterstock

Americanah  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


 

Expansive, richly detailed, and moving, this novel about a pair of star-crossed Nigerian lovers who emigrate to America and Britain offers sharp observations about society and manners on three continents.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.  by Adelle Waldman

 

Waldman's powerfully intelligent debut draws you in with its up-to-the-moment sociology of literary Brooklyn. But its real power comes from its insights into male narcissism, as embodied in Nate, one of the most appallingly memorable literary characters of the year.

 

The Letters of Leonard Bernstein  edited by Nigel Simeone

 

Bernstein's letters don't go very deep into his psychology or artistic process, but they are a hugely entertaining chronicle of a enviable life, and a trove of musical and show-business gossip.

 

My Struggle: Volume One by Karl Ove Knausgaard

 

This Norwegian literary sensation lives up to its reputation. A kind of downmarket, provincial Proust, Knausgaard tells his life story with a kind of religious, life-or-death commitment rare in contemporary fiction.

 

Zibaldone  by Giacomo Leopardi

 

Leopardi's massive notebooks, translated into English for the first time, record the inner life of one of the 19th century's most audacious and afflicted spirits.

 

Image via shutterstock.

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