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Best Books of 2013 (for the Well-Rounded Technologist)

It was the late Steve Jobs who famously said that technology alone was not enough, that the liberal arts, too, were essential for innovation. Or maybe he just felt sorry for all his broke friends walking around with English Lit degrees.

Or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to talk about my favorite books of the year, here on our tech blog.

At minimum, this may be helpful if you’re looking for gift ideas. You can’t go wrong with a great book, and I promise you that the ten books listed here are absolutely that, at least according to me.

So, in no particular order, here’s my list of the year’s best books:

The Son, by Philipp Meyer (novel)

The term genius is thrown around too often, but Meyer might just be a legitimate one. The research that went into this book is insane, but what Meyer did with it is what’s truly amazing.
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Middle Men, by Jim Gavin (short stories)

middle-menThis review snippet says it best: “Sad and overtly hysterical, the stories dodge self-pity and indie quirk for pensive American tales of turn-of-the-20th century manchildren gesturing vaguely toward a future of eroded opportunity”

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Vampires in the Lemon Groves, by Karen Russell (short stories)

vampires-lemon-groveRussell is insanely young and even more insanely talented. I pretty much hate her. And don’t let the book title fool you – yeah, there is a story about a vampire in this collection, but this aint no cheesy teen vampire story.

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Hotel Juarez: Stories, Rooms and Loops, by Daniel Chacon (short stories)

hotel-juarezDaniel Chacon pulls off something magical here with this collection of stories. From a Chicano artist living in Paris to a young boy who invents his own math, each interesting piece adds up to a satisfying read.

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I Want to Show You More, By Jamie Quatro (short stories)

jamie-quatroAs you can tell so far, I have a lot of short story collections on this list. But for good reason. We’re living in a golden age of short story writing. Jamie Quatro has certainly written one of the best collections of the year.

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Tenth of December, by George Saunders (short stories)

tenth-of-decemberThe final story collection on this list (I promise), and by far the best reviewed of the year.

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Doctor Sleep, by Stephan King (Novel)

Doctor_SleepA well-executed sequel to The Shinning, King successfully leaves any trace of Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation behind.

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Shadow of Eden, by Louis Kirby (Novel)

shadow-eden-louis-kirby-paperback-cover-artDisclaimer: author Louis Kirby is a Newtek customer.

Make sure you free up your day before starting this one. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat right from the start. Louis Kirby has Dan Brown’s knack for plot momentum but is very much Crichtonesque when it comes to weaving plausible science with an incredible story.

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Midnight in Mexico, by Alfredo Corchado (Journalism)

midnight-in-mexicoNot your ordinary front-line reportage. Corchado discovers that the Mexican drug cartels may have put a target on his head. But instead of fleeing for his life, he investigates it. One of the best books to date on the violence plaguing Mexico.

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The Unknown University, by Roberto Bolano (Poetry)

the-unknown-universitySince his death a decade ago, Bolano’s work has taken the literary world by storm. One of his most recent translated works, The Unknown University, is a near-complete collection of his poetry.

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William Rose is Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Newtek Technology Services. You can reach him at