Originally published December 2014
What were your favorite books this year?
I’ve got a month to go, but “Best Books of 2014” lists are on the brain—everyone’s got one, and so do I. Here were my faves this year:
This Dark Road to Mercy (Wiley Cash)
I really loved this tale of a wayward father, a bad guy who’s not as bad as the really bad guys, who’s trying to do right by his daughters. It’s not Easter and Ruby’s fault they got such a crappy set of parents, and Wade’s love for his girls somehow breaks through his badass demeanor. Set against a baseball backdrop, this book makes a good read for mature tweens, men and women.
How Not to Be a Dick (Meghan Doherty)
Best.etiquette.book.ever. I’m not exaggerating. This needs to be in every teen’s stocking this season. From home behavior to office ins and outs, even parties, riding public transportation and surfin’ the Net, Doherty has helpful advice for just about every situation. And it’s written in a blunt, forthright manner that everyone will understand.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (Mohsin Hamid)
This may be a personal favorite, as I know a few of my friends weren’t quite as moved as I was, but I wept big ugly tears at the end of this wonderful novel, written in the form of a self-help guide to making your way up the ladder from the depths of Pakistani poverty to lord over a mirage of a fifedom. Tears, big ugly ones.
The Good Luck of Right Now (Matthew Quick)
I’m a little surprised, given Quick’s success with Silver Linings Playbook, that this novel hasn’t yet caught wicked fire. It’s a very human tale about a very simple man who needs to learn how to live on his own after his mother passes away. He thinks the answer may be through Richard Gere. Who knew?
Shotgun Lovesongs (Nickolas Butler)
I loved this story about a bromance between several high school boys as they age up through young adulthood. One’s a farmer, one’s a numbers guy, yet another, a rock star. who has the girl, who gets the girl and who keeps the girl is all up for grabs in this small Wisconsin town.
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands (Chris Bohjalian)
I’m an unabashed fan of Bohjalian, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone I’d put his 2014 release on my list. But there’s a reason I like him so much—his books are always creative, engaging and engrossing. This particular tome addresses the “What ifs” that surface when a nuclear reactor goes awry and a teen girl is made an orphan on the run.
The Actress (Amy Sohn)
This was a total guilty pleasure—the story of a young actress that marries up—without realizing what she’s marrying into. Is Maddy Freed just a beard? Or is there true love somewhere behind the closed doors of this high-profile relationship? A perfect beach vacation book.
Mr. Mercedes (Stephen King)
King was and remains an important writer to this reader. The Stand is one of all my faves and On Writing is practically a bible—this generation’s Strunk and White—for any writer. I drifted from his work in the last 10 – 15 years, but latched back on with a vengeance with 11/22/63. Mr. Mercedes? A classic thriller, less gore and immensely entertaining. Couldn’t put it down.
How to Build a Girl (Caitlin Moran)
When a young teen girl risks her family’s financial future with the slip of a tongue, and musses things up further with public embarrassment on TV, what does she do? Bag it all to recreate herself as a wannabe rock-and-roll reviewer in the heart of London. All that when what she really wants is to lose her virginity. A wild ride indeed.
Rooms (Lauren Oliver)
A perfect ghost story—two busybody spirits inhabiting a rambling old estate recently vacated by a man who’s passing has brought back the family those souls used to watch over. And each of those family members comes back with dispirited souls of their own that need healing.
The Book of Unknown Americans (Cristina Henriquez)
A very honest, moving story of immigrant families woven together by geography—their small apartment complex in Delaware. Some have moved there to escape, others to find a miracle thought only possible in the States. Each is heartwarming and tragic at the same time. A worthy read for anyone looking for a different perspective than Fox News.
Bad Feminist (Roxane Gay)
I loved this series of essays. The brutal honesty that comes from being both female and a minority in a leadership position on a college campus, the hilarity of tackling the world of competitive Scrabble, and the wise words about making those friendships we require to feed our spirits —those with other women—all make for a inspiring read.
So there you go. My Best Books of 2014. I’ll round out my list of everything I read in 2014 in just a few weeks. But if you are perhaps in the gift-giving mood, these will make fabulous options. I can’t promise money back, but I can promise a “Thanks!”
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