Writers and critics on the best books of 2013

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw (Fourth Estate) is a brilliant, sprawling, layered and unsentimental portrayal of contemporary China. It made me think and laugh. I also love Dave Eggers’ The Circle (Hamish Hamilton), which is a sharp-eyed and funny satire about the obsession with “sharing” our lives through technology. It’s convincing and a little creepy. William Boyd By strange coincidence two of the most intriguing art books I read this year had the word “Breakfast” in their titles. They were Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig (Jonathan Cape) and Breakfast at Sotheby’s by Philip Hook (Particular). Greig’s fascinating, intimate biography of Lucian Freud was a revelation. Every question I had about Freud – from the aesthetic to the intrusively gossipy – was answered with great candour and judiciousness. Hook’s view of the art world is that of the professional auctioneer. In an A-Z format, it is an entire art education contained in under 350 pages. Wry, dry and completely beguiling. Bill Bryson The Compatibility Gene by Daniel M Davis (Allen Lane) is an elegantly written, unexpectedly gripping account of how scientists painstakingly unravelled the way in which a small group of genes (known as MHC genes) crucially influence, and unexpectedly… Read full this story

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