I realize this is probably only interesting to a handful of people and has little to do with art, save the fact that I listened to a good number of these while drawing. But for fellow readers, here you are. And please note I'm using the word "read" interchangeably with "listen to" since most of these books were audio versions, except for the comics, obviously, and a few I read on my Kindle. (If you are the sort of person who thinks that audiobooks don't count as reading, well, I have nothing to say to you.) Looking at this I am wondering if it might be good for my psyche to read a book that came out before 1996, but I guess I'm a sucker for modern fiction. Plus anything at all by Lionel Shriver.
Best books I read that came out in 2013 Big Brother, by Lionel Shriver My Dirty Dumb Eyes, by Lisa Hanawalt Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, by David Rakoff (though the illustrations accompanying the print version seemed to counter the tone of the poetry) The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, by Adelle Waldman
Two Lionel Shriver short stories I read this year were excellent: Kilifi Creek, in the November 25 New Yorker (probably one of the most memorable things I've read all year), and Prepositions, about the subtle difference between what it means to die on 9/11 rather than in 9/11.
Best books I read that did not come out in 2013 Half Empty, by David Rakoff Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems, by David Rakoff Fraud, by David Rakoff Tenth of December, by George Saunders An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, by Elizabeth McCracken 21 Dog Years, by Mike Daisey Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walters I Don't Care About Your Band, by Julie Klaunsner A Perfectly Good Family by Lionel Shriver (I am two books away from being a Lionel Shriver completist, people!)
I finished Infinite Jest on Saturday (started in June), and am currently listening to the footnotes. This is a lot more interesting than it sounds.
Books I did not finish I abandoned The Wisdom of Psychopaths, Silver Linings Playbook, Lost Memory of Skin, The Good Nurse, This is How, Benediction, Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!, and The Creationists. I feel vaguely guilty about not finishing the last two, but not enough to revisit them.
Comics Comic-wise I read Paying for It by Chester Brown (an autobiographical comic that somehow managed to make a year of sleeping with prostitutes boring and self-congratulatory), Heads or Tales by Lili Carre, and The Infinite Wait by Julia Wertz. I'm pretty sure Paying for It would be much more interesting if the plot stayed the same but the book was written and illustrated by Lisa Hanawalt.
Book I was surprised to like as much as I did Lean In got a lot of flack for offering contradictory work-life balance advice (and yes, the phrase 'work-life-balance' definitely go off into a corner and die). But it also contained some of the most eye-opening statistics about women in the workplace, and how they often shoot themselves in the foot by underestimating or downplaying their abilities. I felt a very reassured and less alone after reading this, and genuinely wish it had been around for me to pick up five years ago.
Book I was surprised not to like I wasn't a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, despite it getting rave reviews (though to be fair, the only fantasy books I've ever gotten into in my life have been the Harry Potter series). But I will say that Gaiman is an excellent audiobook narrator.
Books I read that I enjoyed, but didn't feel like shouting from the rooftops re: how much I liked them or anything Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, Gone Girl, The Cuckoo's Calling and Me Before You