Looking back on the books I’ve read this year reminds me what an insanely good year this was for reading. 2014 brought new Murakamis and a new David Mitchell, and it introduced me to some fantastic authors I had never read before. Let’s take a look at my top ten novels released this year! Please note this is a list of my favorite books published this year, not a definitive list of the BEST books of the year. Finally, they are arranged by the order in which I read them, not ranked on a scale.
1. Frog Music by Emma Donogue. Set in 1870s boomtown San Francisco, this vibrant novel follows French burlesque dancer Blanche as she tries to solve the murder of her friend Jenny, a mysterious women who dresses as a man and catches frogs for a living.
2. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon. When the Editor-in-Chief of the North American Dictionary of the English Language vanishes from his office shortly before the launch of the dictionary’s last-ever print edition, his daughter goes down the rabbit hole to find him. Meanwhile, the world is in peril because of reliance on handheld Memes and a mysterious word flu.
3. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. Written in a unique format, this book is a series of beautiful, poetic vignettes about marriage and motherhood, in which the mundane and the sublime stand side by side.
4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The paths of a blind French girl and a German engineering prodigy cross in a war-torn seaside town during WWII. Told in alternating perspectives, this novel is stunning and atmospheric.
5. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. A Haitian-American woman is abducted by criminals hoping to receive a hefty payment for her safe return. But when her wealthy father refuses to pay the ransom, she is subjected to brutal acts of cruelty for 13 days. A devastating novel of privilege, corruption, love, and family.
6. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. When Nella moves into the Amsterdam house of her new husband, he gives her an incredible gift: a cabinet house that is an exact replica of their home. But when she hires someone to create tiny furnishings for the cabinet house, she gets more than she bargained for: dark secrets and an eerie sense of being watched.
7. The Fever by Megan Abbott. A teenage girl collapses and has a seizure during class, setting off a wave of mysterious illnesses among her female classmates. At the center of the confusion and hysteria is the girl’s best friend Deenie and Deenie’s father, a teacher at the high school, and brother, a hockey star and chick magnet. A unique take on the pressures young girls face.
8. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki belonged to a group of five best friends. But when they cut off all contact with him during college, he nearly loses the will to live. Decades later, he finally seeks closure by trying to solve the mystery of how he lost his friends.
9. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. In 1985, 15-year-old Holly Sykes runs away from home, and that evening, her little brother goes missing. The unsolved mystery of his disappearance echoes through the decades — and has some serious ramifications in the good vs. evil battle between two warring factions of immortal souls that inhabit human bodies.
10. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. 20 years after a super flu wipes out 99% of the Earth’s population, 28-year-old Kirsten is traveling with a group of nomadic survivors who perform Shakespeare at the settlements they pass through. As the story unfolds, Kirsten’s story connects to those of an aging movie star and his first wife, a paparazzo-turned EMT, and a man who sets up a Museum of Civilization in an abandoned airport.
What were your favorite novels of 2014?