Hemingway once said, “there is no friend as loyal as a book”–and indeed, a great book is a source of comfort, inspiration, joy, and reflection, just like a great friend. As the year draws to a close, I looked at some of 2013’s most notable books to nourish your mind and soul. Pick one up for yourself, and a few for your friends and family.
Americanah by Ngozi Adichie (Knopf) – One of The New York Times’s 10 Best Books of 2013, a sweeping tale of love, race, belonging, and identity. Ifemelu and Obinze fell in love as teenagers in Lagos, but their lives parted when Ifemelu left to study in America. Years later, the lovers reunite in Nigeria, and find their passions renewed, for each other and for their home country.
Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed) – Not all of these beautifully simple recipes are vegan, but most are easily translatable for the vegan cook. Madison focuses on no-nonsense preparations that celebrate the flavor of the vegetables. A great reference book for vegan and non-vegan cooks alike.
Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson (Doubleday) – The story of how the modern Middle East emerged in the sidelines of World War I–and the legendary figure who rode at the head of the Arab army against his own country’s colonial agenda.
Book of Ages by Jill Lepore (Knopf) – The National Book Award finalist for nonfiction, this is the little known tale of Jane Franklin, sister of Benjamin, mother of ten, and a formidable and fascinating figure in her own right.
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor (Knopf) – Candid and affecting memoir about how she overcame all odds to become the third woman Justice of the Supreme Court (and the first ever Hispanic Justice).
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Viking) – In British Columbia, a writer struggling through her memoir discovers a Hello Kitty box washed up ashore. Inside, she finds the diary of Nao, who was considering suicide as the only way to end her suffering. A reflection on spirituality, forces of being, and the power of stories to bind and heal lives.
Wild Ones: A sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story about Looking at People Looking at Animals in America by Jon Mooallem (Penguin) – A fascinating cultural history of the relationship between animals and humans in America that looks at wildlife conservation and what exactly drives people to take action for endangered species.
More Book List: Reading for Pleasure
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling