Anyone picking up a blank Kindle this year is running headlong into the paradox of choice. The device stocks 23 million titles and counting, ranging from War & Peace to algorithmically generated self-help books -- and unlike iPhone apps, people have been making writing these things for hundreds of years. Where to start? How to even make a dent in it all? Our suggestion: start with 2013, which turned into a surprisingly good year for fiction readers. In the last 12 months, we've seen post-apocalyptic tribes, hit-and-run dystopias, and an appropriately paranoid turn through the startup scene. If nothing else, it should get your recommendations off on the right foot.
This year we've picked out some of the very best apps, games, books, and downloads for your new devices. Dig into our top selections for Android apps, Android games, iPhone apps, iPad apps, iOS games, Windows Phone apps, Kindle books, Mac and PC.
Donna Tartt - The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt publishes her long, sprawling novels so rarely that each one is an event, none more so than this fall's The Goldfinch. An unforgettable, epic tale of growing up with tragedy and loss is most often compared to Dickens for a reason.
Choire Sicha - Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City
The first book by one of the proprietors of The Awl is a weirdly poetic, beautifully narrated story of life in New York City in the anxiety-ridden days following the 2008 Wall Street crash.
Christopher Priest - Inverted World
Everything is wrong in Inverted World — space, time, and the construction of the city known as "Earth," which must keep moving forever or perish. The book is strange enough at the beginning, and Priest’s ideas only get more mind-bending as it goes on.
Paolo Bacigalupi - Ship Breaker
Corporations of the future may know how to engineer bizarre human-animal hybrids, but they can’t undo the damage caused by catastrophic climate change. Unlike Bacigalupi’s often tragic adult fiction, the YA novel Ship Breaker is bleak but far from hopeless.
William Gibson - Neuromancer
Neuromancer was so influential that it almost feels cliche now — it laid out most of the rules for present-day cyberpunk. But there’s still nothing quite like its stylishly gritty world or iconic characters, all set in orbit around a mysterious AI.
Michael Chabon - The Yiddish Policeman’s Union
The alternate history of The Yiddish Policeman’s Union — in which Jews were relocated to Alaska instead of Israel in the 1940s — is the starting point for a classic hardboiled story about a washed-up detective trying to unravel the plot behind a seemingly random murder.
G. Willow WIlson - Alif the Unseen
Alif the Unseen, which bears not a few similarities to Snow Crash, fuses politics, technology, and magical realism, following a teenage hacker from an unnamed Middle Eastern country as he’s caught in a game of cat and mouse with his nation’s oppressive regime.
Neil Stephenson - Snow Crash
Neal Stephenson’s raucous cyberpunk landscape is one of the most memorable worlds in science fiction, drawing together corporate nations, skate punks, virtual reality, viral religions, and mythological Sumerian computer programmers. Twenty years later, Snow Crash still feels like biting social commentary.
Philip K Dick - Ubik
After starting as a futuristic novel about psychic corporate warfare, Ubik systematically takes apart its reality piece by piece, until nobody — including readers — really knows what’s going on. It isn’t one of the best-known Philip K. Dick books, but it’s one of the best.
Margaret Atwood - MaddAddam
The final book in Atwood's vast apocalypse epic, MaddAddam finishes the journey with the same dreams and small sorrows it started with. It feels like sci-fi, but there's no new technology at work — just a society in upheaval with a newfound focus on survival.
Thomas Pynchon - Bleeding Edge
Pynchon was a paranoid before the internet, but it certainly hasn't helped. Taking a noir-style turn through the Giuliani-era dot-com world, he sees CIA fronts and systems of control. It all seemed far-fetched until we found out what the NSA was up to.
Tom Bissell and Greg Sestero - The Disaster Artist
How does a horrible film such as The Room get made? The Disaster Artist attempts an answer, but remains unsure about why it matters a decade later. Regardless, the book offers a jaw-dropping glimpse at a Hollywood catastrophe. You don't see that everyday.
Stephen King - Doctor Sleep
Decades after writing The Shining, Stephen King revisited the life of Danny Torrance, now an alcoholic struggling to keep away his psychic visions and fight an ancient evil. Despite sharing a major character, Doctor Sleep is connected to The Shining in theme more than plot.
David Epstein - The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance
It’s a book about sports that offers nary a workout tip. Instead, former Sports Illustrated editor David Epstein offers up an accessible look at the research poised to transform how athletes — whether elites or weekend warriors — attain peak performance.
Mary Roach - Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
As funny as it is fascinating, the latest offering from science writer Mary Roach takes readers on a wild tour of the human digestive system. From the constituents of saliva to the genesis of gas, Roach tackles taboo topics with her characteristic curiosity and wit.
George Saunders - Tenth of December
Short fiction's leading surrealist got simple with this collection, sending dispatches from a world where prisoners are kept busy testing mind-bending drugs and women are forced into servitude as futuristic garden gnomes. Even weirder: he never loses his sense of humor.