Everyone else makes lists, so why not put up at least a little one. These are my top five favorite reads of 2014 in order regardless of whether they are fiction or non-fiction. This does not mean these books came out in 2014, just that I read them in 2014. So without further ado…
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
This was the first novel I read in 2014 and it’s the only one I think about on a regular basis. It is a staggering work of art and storytelling that deserves all the praise and more. From my original review:
“I simply could go on and on about this book. It simply is a great work of art. And in talking about it here I've really only barely scratched the surface – there is so much story and saga packed into the masterpiece it would take a book twice it's length to introduce all the wonderful angles that Stegner probes, reconstructs, and demythologizes about the American West, marriage, and mortality. This book simply leaves me in awe.”
Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
I’ve heard about this book for years and now I’m kicking myself that I’ve never read it earlier. So wonderful, engaging, moving, sad, thoughtful, and strangely joyous. Here’s my review.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Another one I’ve heard about for years, but only reluctantly decided to read after reading David Foster Wallace’s appraisal. And wow, just wow. This is flat out the funniest thing I’ve read all year, but with a deep insight into human nature wrapped in an ironic twisted wit. I can see how so many different kinds of people can come away from this book loving it, whether you are a believer, agnostic, atheist, or nothing in particular. It transcends its original intent I suspect, but this book is greater than any of it parts claimed by any particular group and so much the better for it.
The Ghostwriter by Philip Roth
A Jewish fantasy of sorts set in the middle of winter where a young writer’s imagination gets the better of him. Or does it? A meditation on the holocaust, fiction, family, and since it is Roth, or course love and sex. For such a slim volume, this is packed with more emotion and story than many books that are three times its length.
The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham.
Even if you have never read Joyce and don’t even plan to read him, I can promise you that this book still delivers a story that will grab you. More than just about Ulysses, it is a history of censorship and the price people paid in its wake. With a lot of hoopla lately over North Korea and a mediocre comedy, this is a book worth paying attention too reminding us why censorship is antithetical to a democracy worth defending. My review.
These almost made my top five, but I had to draw the line somewhere, but all worth reading as well. A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth, Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux, Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin, Roads in the Wilderness by Jedediah Rogers, Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest by B.H. Fairchild, and The Great Gatsby by F. Scot Fitzgerald. Find me on Goodreads for my complete list for 2014.