Our Picks for the Best Books of 2014

By Henderson, Jane | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 7, 2014 | Go to article overview

Our Picks for the Best Books of 2014


Henderson, Jane, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Two of our favorite sons were the subjects of major biographies this year. William S. Burroughsand Tennessee Williams, both endlessly fascinating personalities and writers, were fleshedout in a couple of our favorite books of 2014.

Beyond the banks of the Mississippi were many other fine books, too. Tales of CIA agents, Japanese loners, nuclear and viral disasters, andeven lasting love kept Post-Dispatch reviewers busy. For our annual list of our favorite booksof the year, we also chose nonfiction, from personal memories of dying parents to the history of the bloody fields of World War I.

Here, our reviewers give their annual list of25 favorite fiction and 25 favorite nonfiction books of the year.

Use our interactive guide to help you choose a book.

FICTION

"The Accident" by Chris Pavone (Crown) * A literary agent has the manuscript of a book that tells ugly secrets about a media mogul and the Central Intelligence Agency. In one day, across two continents, the agent must shake off the mogul's hit men and the CIA's agents in a tense, tightly told adventure.

"American Romantic" by Ward Just (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) * An American diplomat has deep relationships with two women one a German medical technician in Vietnam in the '60s and the other a Vermont woman who becomes his wife and leaves him a widower. That's when the German woman reappears in this book, written in Just's tradition as a novel of character, not of action.

"Ancillary Sword" by Ann Leckie (Orbit) * The second volume of Leckie's "Ancillary" trio of space operas continues the story of Breq, an artificial intelligence who once controlled thousands of "ancillaries," reanimated corpse soldiers. Leckie has a distinctive voice as an author and has created a distinctive universe; "Sword" proves that she's not a one-hit wonder.

"Andrew's Brain" by E.L. Doctorow (Random House) * In a dark farce that is as intellectually challenging as it is funny and emotionally jolting, Doctorow presents us with a "cognitive scientist" named Andrew who seems to carry bad luck with him wherever he goes. When he accidentally kills someone he loves, he goes half mad trying to figure out if he somehow willed the death. The key line to the book is the existential dilemma Andrew presents himself: "How can I think about my brain when it's my brain doing the thinking?"

"Bark" by Lorrie Moore (Knopf) * As with all of Moore's writing, humor balances out the rough edges in this collection of short stories. Just as "Self-Help" defined a generation of young readers in 1985, so should "Bark" be the guide book to middle age.

"The Blazing World" by Siri Hustvedt (Simon & Schuster) * The novelist paints a stinging portrait of the New York art world, one in which the cult of personality and the whims of popularity too often trump talent.

"Boy, Snow, Bird" by Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead) * This brilliant but disturbing update of the Snow White story is far closer to its antecedents in the collected folk tales of the Brothers Grimm than to more cheery retellings; it goes its own way, exploring questions of race, gender and class. Oyeyemi, born in Nigeria and raised in London, achieves an authentically American voice.

"Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands" by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday) * Sixteen-year-old Emily Shepard loses her home, her parents and her entire teenage support system when a nuclear accident strikes her corner of Vermont. She struggles with decisions no adult should have to make, much less a troubled young girl, and readers root for her success in a world where she's struggling to find some reason to keep going.

"Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" by Haruki Murakami; translated by Philip Gabriel (Knopf) * Tsukuru's closest friends suddenly cut him off with no explanation. Murakami's story (more compact than "1Q84") is a piercing tale of friendship and loneliness.

"The Director" by David Ignatius (Norton) * The new director of the CIA has barely taken office when he gets word that his agency's computers have been hacked. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Our Picks for the Best Books of 2014
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.