Also: Queer theorist José Esteban Muñoz has died; Norway is digitizing books written in Norwegian; Gary Shteyngart spices up 19th century British literature.
Also: Joyce Carol Oates on Mike Tyson; remembering the Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm; NPR launches a "Book Concierge."
NPR staff and critics selected more than 200 standout titles. Now it's up to you: Choose your own adventure! Use our tags to search through books and find the perfect read for yourself or someone else.
In the past five years, NPR has brought you 80-plus year-end book lists. This year, we've decided to change it up. Introducing NPR's Book Concierge: our guide to more than 200 of 2013's great reads.
Matching long johns. Kick lines in skis. Peeing on Santa's lap. Every family has these cringe-worthy moments, immortalized on film, that embody the particularly joyous brand of awkward that the holidays bring. And thanks to Mike Bender, co-author of Awkward Family Holiday Photos, the rest of us can rubberneck.
South Africa's Mponeng gold mine is a 2.5-mile-deep network of chutes and tunnels that employs about 4,000 miners. Of course, that number doesn't include the miners who wander its tunnels clandestinely, stealing and refining ore. In a new book, journalist Matthew Hart investigates why gold and crime sometimes go hand in hand.
The hitter had a swing so pure and flawless that Mickey Mantle would watch him take batting practice. But he was also a tormented soul who hurt a lot of people, including himself. Ben Bradlee Jr. delivers a deeply personal account of Williams' life in The Kid.
Also: Marina Warner considers sea monsters; Apple gripes about its court-appointed monitor; Ian Rankin on being paid to write.
Isabel Greenberg's new Encyclopedia of Early Earth weaves a human love story into a quasi-Biblical creation tale, full of capricious gods, feckless shamans and more-or-less doomed love. Reviewer Glen Weldon says the graphic novel is full of tasty visual gags, and "lands with an emotional impact you likely won't see coming."
Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep talks to writer Yuval Levin about the origins of the American political right and left. In his new book The Great Debate, Levin traces the birth of the left/right divide to the views of two men: Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine.
David Risher, who helped Amazon become an online retail behemoth, has set his sights on a new frontier: global literacy. Using e-readers and cellphone apps, Risher's nonprofit, Worldreader, brings books to students in literature-starved communities.
In softcover fiction, Ellen Meister resurrects a literary icon, Ryan McIlvain sends elders door to door, and William H. Gass strikes the key to an identity crisis. In nonfiction, Monte Reel tells of the Victorian who chased after gorillas, and Bill Streever explores the thermometer's upper frontiers.
Dog Shaming, Pascale Lemire's photo catalog of poorly behaved pets, appears at No. 11.
At No. 6, Jojo Moyes' Me Before You describes the romance between a disabled man and his caretaker.
Ari Shavit's My Promised Land looks at Israel through the eyes of its citizens. It debuts at No. 8.
In Janet Evanovich's Takedown Twenty, debuting at No. 8, Stephanie Plum chases a powerful mobster.