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The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013 Paperback – October 8, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Best American
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 2008 edition (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544105508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544105508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Welcome to the twelfth edition of this popular series, the last to be edited by founding editor Eggers. It’s surprising, in a way, that the series has lasted this long, considering that each installment is a sort of mishmash of fiction and nonfiction pieces, without a truly unifying theme, selected by high-school students. But that’s the genius of the series. It eschews big names, big issues, and award winners in favor of stuff that’s simply entertaining. That’s not to say you won’t find a few recognizable names on the contents page; this installment includes Lynda Barry, Jennifer Egan, and Nick Hornby. The selections include think pieces, personal reflections, some poetry, some fiction, and some just plain unclassifiable writing drawn from such diverse sources as the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the website tumblr. Something for everyone, indeed. --David Pitt

Review

"A motley collection to match every mood a relentless reader might have." — Kirkus

"That’s the genius of the series. It eschews big names, big issues, and award winners in favor of stuff that’s simply entertaining...Something for everyone, indeed. " — Booklist

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Thomas A. Holmes VINE VOICE on October 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With sources ranging from the staid NEW YORKER to a collection of tweets from @seinfeldtoday, THE BEST AMERICAN NON-REQUIRED READING invites numerous spare-time finds of often entertaining, sometimes disturbing, unexpected material. Genres range from non-fiction prose, short story, and (some, but not much) poetry to genre-bending material such as illustrated stories, comics, and experiments in form that defy traditional categories. Do not be fooled by the cover, hoewever. The contents of this volume range from the comic to the harrowing. Highly recommended are Nick Hornsby's "Everyone's Reading Bastard," Alexander Maksik's "Snake River Gorge," the collection of "Best American Anti-War Poetry Inspired by Kurt Vonnegut," Pamela Colloff's "Hannah and Andrew," and Kiese Laymon's "How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance," but this volume as a whole is worth one's attention.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dan Mader on February 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read the the Best American Non-required reading series since the first one. I have them all. I taught for years and used the books with my students, too. I don't know why, but, in my mind, they have gotten steadily worse. The first couple years were amazing. Then, something changed. They're still good, don't get me wrong - 3 stars good instead of 'oh god I wish I could give more than 5 stars!'

So, yes, there are great pieces in here. But for whatever reason, many don't appeal to me (in the more recent ones). I don't know whether it is because they have changed the focus (which they have, I think, which could make this all personal preference), but if you haven't read the first one, start there.

I am a big fan of 826 Valencia. I want to say I loved this. I can't. There was about an equal break of wheat and chaff in this one, unfortunately. I feel.

That said, the piece by Kiese Laymon was one of the most impressive pieces of writing I've seen in a while. And I read quite a bit. Read it, even if you don't buy the book.

And finally, if you have the money, buy the book. Sure, it could have been better, but the money supports a wonderful cause and it's a pretty amazing project.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ellen W. VINE VOICE on October 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I didn't know what to expect with BANR 2013. It was my first time reading one of these anthologies, and when I learned that high schoolers had done most of the selecting, I was skeptical about the quality. Not that high schoolers can't pick good stuff, but I expected a lot of idealism and cute irony (I am not far removed from my teens myself, but I seem to have skipped a stage, going straight from child to the strange child/adult hybrid I am now). The first section seemed to confirm my bias. Not that there was nothing good in the first section! Quite the contrary. The anti-war poetry was strong, and I laughed at a collection of Yelp reviews written in the persona of Cormac McCarthy (author of The Road and No Country for Old Men)). There was something comically profound about this last section. So far, good stuff, none-the-worse for being youth-oriented. Lynda Barry's excerpt from her graphic novel "Freddie Stories" was strong. The best of section I, in my opinion, was "Best American Tattoo Stories," which contained beautiful art and short but deeply personal narratives. The only piece in section I I really didn't like, the only such piece in the whole book, really, was "Best American Apocryphal Discussion Between Our Nation's Founding Fathers." The point of the piece, that the framers of the Constitution couldn't have predicted the incredible advances in gun technology, is a valid argument for gun control. When this is turned into a one-sided argument to mock opponents of the author's view, however, it comes across as snarky and self-assured, and it's not very well-written to boot.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Strawn on December 31, 2013
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Some of these stories are truly hard to read, because they are depressing. Some are hard to read because they just aren't that interesting. Some of these aren't even stories(a twitter feed).

Nevertheless, this collection has a lot of material that you would be hard pressed to find collected elsewhere. The only continuing theme is one of unusualness; stories that explore the unexpected or are from an unexpected source.

Reading Egger's introduction, I was interested in the selection process. He says that his group of high school student gathered weekly to read and talk about stories, and from those discussions, this collection arose. What I wondered at was how these stories were found in the first place. They are from all over, from newspapers, from world-renowned magazines(National Geographic), from regional magazines(Texas Monthly) to short fiction collections that I had never heard of before. I would like for Eggers or whomever was curating the reading list to post their sources catalog.

The collection reads a bit like the kinds of things that you would read if you had a really diverse but well-read group of friends who liked to share reading recommendations. When I write that down, it sounds like high praise. And it is.

This book might not change your life, but there is nothing else like it.
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More About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including "Zeitoun," a nonfiction account a Syrian-American immigrant and his extraordinary experience during Hurricane Katrina and "What Is the What," a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine ("The Believer"), and "Wholphin," a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Boston. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

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The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013
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