Favorite Reads of 2013

Is it really that time of year already? I’m tragically behind on my reading quota, though I hope to add a few notches to the reading post over the remaining holidays of the year.

Still, there were several reads worth recommending.

From the slim non-fiction pool this year:

If you work in marketing or sales, Adam Alter’s Drunk Tank Pink reminds you of all of the intangibles that go into influencing people and their behaviors, from the paint on the walls to the weather to the name your parents gave you at birth. It makes the marketer in me rub my palms together while the private citizen cringes that human nature is so easy to manipulate.

While the Heath brothers aren’t exactly known for breaking new grounds in their books, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work is a great compilation of research and anecdotal stories about decision making. This book helps you break free from the bubble of your own perspective to ensure you consider a broad enough swath of options to make an educated call in both your work and personal lives.

From the growing fiction pile:

Hyperbole and a Half is a genius blog by Allie Brosh. As of this fall, it is also a genius book. I laughed so hard I cried…in public, while reading this book. Her childlike doodles combined with her storytelling style make it a rollercoaster ride through tales about her stupid dog, the consequences of excess sugar consumption, her battle/s with depression and various elements of her childhood. She balances the painful parts with the kind of humor that makes your sides ache.

The Circle by Dave Eggers follows a new employee down the rabbit hole at the next social networking titan as she is forced to make her life and the lives of her family and friends increasingly transparent to the public at large at the behest of her supervisors, despite the negative consequences.  It raises some important questions about privacy, interpersonal relationships and narcissism fed by loose digital connections.

I blame Marisha Pessl for a week of very late reading as I plowed through her latest, Night Film. It’s the story of one disgraced journalist’s obsession with a dark film maker, whose cult following adds layers of mystery to the suicide death of his only daughter.  The writer is determined to finally expose the truth about Stanislas Cordova, his works and his family.

An absolute delight to read, Robin Sloan’s debut novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, allows us to consider the impact of computing on problems that would have previously taken a lifetime to unravel. A retail clerk becomes embroiled in the comings and goings of members of a secret literary society determined to crack the clues left by its founder. He and his Google-employee girlfriend apply book scanning technology to solve a bibliophilic mystery and try to save the bookstore owner’s job through their efforts.

Finally, the The Love Song of Johnny Valentine by Teddy Wayne explores the life of a Justin Bieber-esque tween pop star surrounded by yes-men and women,  from momager to his head of security. Johnny puts his manipulation skills to the test as his lifestyle grows more experimental and demanding when the insecurities of adolescence set in.

Now I’m going to get back to my ever growing to-read pile.

What were your best reads of the year?