Just in case. . .
You’ll find a lot of recommended reading on last month’s “Best Books of 2014” round-ups, but if you’re looking for more theme-related material, here are a few lists:
From the New York Times:
We took the opportunity to ask a few writers to recommend novels with religious themes, preferably lesser known. (If you don’t already know you should read Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead,” well, you should.)
Reviews of four books, also from the New York Times.
These titles are brought to you by Business Insider.
I read 43 books this year, for a grand total of 12,695 pages. The longest was Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which weighs in at 771 pages.
Here, listed alphabetically by author, are the 10 best:
Atkinson, Kate. Life After Life
Fergus, Jim. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
French, Tana. Faithful Place
Galbraith, Robert. The Cuckoo’s Calling
Galbraith, Robert. The Silkworm
Jackson, Shirley. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Joyce, James. Dubliners
O’Nan, Stewart. The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy
Tartt, Donna. The Goldfinch
Yates, Richard. Revolutionary Road
After compiling this list, I realize that only one, The Circus Fire, is nonfiction. Although I always read more fiction than nonfiction, I don’t think recall any recent year in which nonfiction was so sparsely represented.
*Pseudonym of J.K. Rowling
How about you? What were the 10 best books you read in 2014?
If you despair over working your way through all these lists, just take a look at Hayley Munguia’s distillation:
I set about compiling lists of the best books, movies and TV shows of 2014 in prominent national publications.1 My colleague Andrew Flowers helped me run the numbers to see how much critics agreed. Here are the top 20 most frequently cited titles in each category2:
Here you’ll find all the information you need in digestible form.
The incredible Maria Popova (how does she find so much time to read?) of Brain Pickings offers her selections:
How to be alone, wake up from illusion, master the art of asking, fathom your place in the universe, and more.
The opening paragraph contains links to her lists in other categories as well.
In this special year-end edition of Bookends, all 15 columnists share their favorite reading experience of 2014.
Here’s something a bit different:
responses to the annual Bloomberg News survey, which asked CEOs, investors, current and former policy makers, economists and academics to name their favorite reads in 2014.
_ The A.V. Club_ invited our regular books writers to pick their favorite titles released in 2014. Since very few of our contributors read the same list of books each year, a ballot system doesn’t work as well. Here is a list of our 2014 book recommendations, from reviewed favorites to unsung gems.
From the Kansas City Star.
NON-FICTION is at its finest when it shows how diverse it can be. Stuart Kelly picks out some of this year’s books that stayed truest to that principle.
Because there aren’t enough lists devoted exclusively to nonfiction.
From Adam Woog of The Seattle Times, because I’m a big mystery fan.
Includes lists of both fiction and nonfiction.
From The Guardian.
From GrrlScientist, via The Guardian.
From The Atlantic:
In the holiday spirit, now is a moment to mention an array of 2014 books across the non-fiction and fiction spectrum I wish we hadn’t missed—and to ask their authors to pay it forward, and single out a few books themselves. What recent work has caught their expert eye? What book, however old, helped them write the one they’ve been busy promoting?
From Mother Jones:
In what’s become an annual tradition, we invited Mother Jones staffers to write up their favorite books published this year, the ones they’d recommend to friends and relations, and so here they are.
There are also links here for “Best Food Books of 2014” and “The 10 Best Albums of 2014.”
From the book critic for NPR (National Public Radio)
At year’s end, The New York Times’s three daily book critics explain what goes into making our year-end lists. It’s an explanation liable to make heads spin, but it’s born of necessity. We can’t make trustworthy “10 best” lists because none of us reads everything, even though each of us reads quite a lot. So each critic’s list includes only books that the critic reviewed during 2014.
I know we’ve heard a lot from the New York Times, but their explanation of how they compile their best books lists seems relevant.
And how could we not feature the personal favorites of Michiko Kakutani?
Which books took off and which failed to sell? Publishers choose their books of the year, and the ones that slipped through the net
From Britain’s The Guardian.
From the book critic of the Los Angeles Times.
From GrrlScientist, for The Guardian:
Today’s list of “best of” are my choices of books published in 2014 that focus on the topics of human biology, psychology and medicine. This genre always produces a large and (mostly) excellent collection of books, so it was difficult to limit my choices to just “a dozen or so” titles that I think you will enjoy.
At the end of this list you’ll also find links to her other lists: Best Birds Books, Best Nature Books, Best Popular Science Books (Biological sciences) and Best Popular Science Books (Physical sciences).
From James Wood, for The New Yorker.
Both fiction and nonfiction recommendations from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
These are the voices in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that kept our eyes glued to the page.
From Arianna Rebolini, for BuzzFeed
Need new book ideas now that your Asian-American Literature class is over? Check out some of the books published by Asian-American authors in 2014. From food to family, comedy to color, these books will be next on your must-read list.
By FRANCES KAI-HWA WANG.
Compiled by Daniel Dalton for BuzzFeed:
Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that killed it this year. Ranked in no particular order.
And finally, because 2014 is now so passe:
This is not a “best books of the year” list:
As longtime Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley retires this week, he lists some of the books he’s cherished most during his 33-year tenure with Book World. Some of the titles here he reviewed for The Post, and others he read for the first time over those years.
Yardley chooses his favorites of both fiction and nonfiction.
This also is not a best books of the year list:
The holiday season is when many books are given as gifts. We asked member of the Times-Union/Jacksonville.com Email Interactive Group which book, besides the Bible or other essential religious work, has had the most influence on them and why?
From the book reviewers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
From the U. K.’s The Guardian:
Louise Welsh’s dystopian tale of plague in London and Tom Rob Smith’s Swedish family chiller are among the highlights in this year’s roundup
From The Boston Globe. There’s also a link to the newspaper’s complete list of the year’s “top picks for children, teens, and adults, for fans of fiction and nonfiction, lovers of sports and thrillers, devotees of poetry and all things New England.”
John Boland on a dozen literary novels that made this year special
The Guardian strikes again.
From the U. K.’s The Guardian: “ this year’s roundup of life writing.”
Also from the U. K.’s The Guardian
Slate’s columnists, editors, and bloggers pick their favorite books of the year.
Though far from exhaustive (our apologies, Monsieur Piketty), this 20-book list is meant as a small glimpse at the books we read and loved in 2014. It’s an eclectic grouping, ranging from scholarly tomes about tax policy to National Book Award winner Phil Klay’s war vignettes to blog-to-book offerings from The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg and Pitchfork Reviews Reviews’ David Shapiro.
From another U. K. publication, The Independent. This article includes a link to the publication’s other Best Books of 2014 lists.
The Economist offers its list of the years best books in politics and current affairs; history; economics and business; science and technology; culture, society, and travel; and fiction.
Newsday’s books editor and regular reviewers highlight their 10 favorite books of 2014.
Ayelet Waldman Rages Against the New York Times Notable Books List. Here’s How the Sausage Gets Made.
Not everyone is happy about these “best books of 2014” lists:
The New York Times unveiled its annual roundup of “100 Notable Books” Tuesday, throwing a flattering light on 2014’s top fiction and nonfiction offerings. But one author did not come off in a flattering light: Ayelet Waldman stormed Twitter to complain that her novel Love and Treasure wasn’t on the list, despite a favorable review from the Times back in May. (For what it’s worth, Waldman’s skin seems to have unique, flattering-light-repellant properties. She’s a provocateur who has detailed the trials of perhaps not loving her children enough and of being the only mother in her social circle to enjoy a passionate, consuming sex life.)
Waldman’s opening shot:
”I am really not dealing well with having failed to make the @nytimes notable book list. Love & Treasure is a fucking great novel IISSM.”
According to this article, Waldman has deleted her tweets, but there’s a link to a site that displays them.
Ron Charles of the Washington Post offers his take on the Waldman affair.
The “best books of the year” lists will be coming thick and fast. I’ll try to keep up with them here.
It’s been a year of calls to action. Naomi Klein tackled climate change, Owen Jones got to grips with class politics, and Russell Brand preached revolution. Writers from Hilary Mantel to Lena Dunham recommend the titles that leaped out at them this year.
From the U. K.’s The Guardian.
From Britain’s brilliantly inventive Ali Smith to America’s master storyteller Richard Ford, from Michael Lewis’s cautionary tale of Wall Street renegades to Henry Marsh’s candid account of neurosurgery, writers, our critics and others pick their favourite reads of 2014. Plus, what they hope to find under the Christmas tree.
A companion piece to the one above.
The Amazon-owned site says that 3,317,504 votes were cast in this compilation of readers’ favorite books in 20 categories.
Editors at Huffington Post discuss their choices.
The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.
2014 Best Books of the Year: The Top 100 in Print Format
Yes, the Best Books of 2014 lists are beginning already.
The link here features Everything I Never Told You: A Novel by Celeste Ng as top book of the year.
If you click around this page a bit, you’ll find Amazon’s other lists (e.g., best cookbooks, best mysteries & thrillers).
Several of these books number among the usual suspects of lists of this kind, but many remain anything but widely known. Almost all are fiction and most are novels; some were written for children, but just about every genre is represented. All are literary in voice and spirit; every last one will let you understand a time and place in a more profound way than you maybe thought possible.
What’s your state’s representative book on this list? And do you agree with the selection? Let us know in the comments.