The New York Times’ Favorite Books of 2014

Most Notable Books of 2014

Yesterday’s Book Review in The New York Times had several pages of the 100 Notable Books of 2014. As fiction is my favorite category, I’ll record the books listed under Fiction & Poetry here:

All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr*

American Innovations by Rivka Galchen

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel

The Ballad of A Small Player by Lawrence Osborne*

Bark: Stories by Lorrie Moore

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell*

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber*

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristian Henriquez

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi*

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis

The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (read)

Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill

The Dog by Joseph O’Neill

Euphoria by Lily King

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng*

F. by Daniel Kehlman

Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Gluck

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

I Pity the Poor Immigrant by Zachary Lazar

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson

Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich

Let Me Be Frank With You: A Frank Bascome Book by Richard Ford

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami

Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood

My Struggle Book 3: Boyhood by Karl Ove Knausgaard

The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan* (am loving it so far)

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin*

Panic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters*

The Poetry of Derek Walcott by Glyn Maxwell

Redeployment by Phil Klay

Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston

A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman

Song of The Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen

10:04 by Ben Lerner

Thirty Girls by Susan Minot

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay: Book 3, The Neapolitan Novels Middle Time by Elena Ferrante*

The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (read)

When Mystical Creatures Attack! by Kathleen Founds*

Now, of this entire list I’ve only read two and one half: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, We Are Not Ourselves., and The Narrow Road to the Deep North. But, thanks to you and your wonderful reviews, I have plans to read the ones which have an asterisk after them.

The only problem is now we’re facing 2015, and how is one to read all one wanted in 2014 before then? Do you have any particular favorites of your own?

(Find more favorites at Girlxoxo)

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28 thoughts on “The New York Times’ Favorite Books of 2014”

  1. All the Birds, Singing is very good; the prose is quite lyrical, but muscular too. It’s a very cleverly structured and accomplished novel. The only other I’ve read is the Elena Ferrante, and while I enjoyed book 3 it felt the weakest of the three. I loved My Brilliant Friend, and the second in the series was excellent too.

    What did you think of We Are Not Ourselves? I’m wondering if I missed your review…

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    1. All your wonderful posts about Elena Ferrante have made me want to revisit her trilogy. I did so enjoy The Days of Abandonment by her, and I’m not sure why I couldn’t get into the others…

      Which is what happened to me with We Are Not Ourselves. The writing is very, very beautiful, I’m not surprised it’s on this “Best of” list. But. It did not grab my heart. I tired of the story long before it was finished, hence, no review. Which is a shame as I was sent an autographed copy.

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        1. It is a big commitment, and I do not mean to keep you from it. It is well written, and pertinent to our age. You might like it very much, as sometimes books can be so personal. I liked it, I just didn’t love it.

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    1. So glad to know that you liked The Blazing World. I’ve not even heard of it! You’re the second or third to recommend All the Birds, Singing, so I’ll look for that, too. These lists are wonderful, as are the comments by trusted bloggers such as yourself.

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  2. All the Light We Cannot See is the only book on this list I’ve read, and it was very good. I have Boy, Snow, Bird on hold at the library, and it should become available soon. Otherwise, I am just happy that I have at least heard of most of the books on this list. Once I win the lottery, I will read them all. 🙂

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    1. I began Boy, Snow, Bird (which for some absurd reason I thought was going to be Japanese!?!? so you can imagine my disappointment when I rather quickly discovered it wasn’t. Who knows what goes on in my mind, sometimes…anyway, perhaps I’ll try it again. Wouldn’t you love to win the lottery and have a chance to buy every favorite on the list?

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  3. Agree with Jacqui about Wyld and Ferrante. F by Kehlmann is also good and probably deeper than I gave it credit for in my rather flippant review.

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  4. Bellezza, I haven’t read ANY of these! I think that may be due at least in part to the fact that I am not reading The NY Times Book Review as often as I’d like to. Thanks for taking the time to put this list together–I may well refer to it from time to time. (And you already whetted my interest in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, previously.)

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    1. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a very accessible Murakami; there are weird parts, to be sure, but not so strange we’re in another world completely. (Such as the parallel universe in 1Q84.) I don’t read the NYT, either. It’s my lovely mother who saves me the section from her Sunday paper. Mostly, I rely on my book blogging buddies to show me the way…

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  5. I’ve read 4 of those and have a couple of them waiting. Yes, that’s the problem – next year, there will be more wonderful books and there are still so many of 2014’s best to read. I disliked Boy, Snow, Bird. It started off well but grew tiresome and wasn’t at all what I expected. The ending made me a little pissy. I absolutely loved All the Birds, Singing. It’s harsh but brilliantly written – definitely one of the year’s favorites. Some of the stories in Bark were wonderful; some left me dry. And . . . hmm, what was the other book? (pages back through list) Ah, yes, Dept. of Speculation. Hated it; can’t recall why. Andi of Estella’s Revenge loved it and it’s the kind of book that has little tidbits of wisdom; I felt like I *should* go back and highlight. But, upon reflection, I couldn’t bear the thought of wading through it, again, even though it’s a slim book.

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  6. I didn’t like Boy, Snow, Bird either! I thought it was just me, and I didn’t finish it, but both of us can’t be entirely wrong, can we? Glad to know you loved All the Birds, Singing with which so many comments on this post have agreed. Wow, I need to get my hands on that book! Isn’t it funny how one person we respect can like a book, and then when we’re disappointed in it we feel we missed something? But, maybe not. Maybe we just can’t all connect to the same pieces of literature. So good to hear from you here, Nancy. xoxo

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  7. What a terrific list! I own quite a few of those books, but have yet to read them. I did read two of them – Thirty Girls by Susan MInot and The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel. The former was quite hard to read at times because of the subject matter (young girls abducted at school by rebels belonging to the LRA), but definitely a great read. As for the latter, I absolutely loved this one. It was terrific! It my first Mantel and now I’m kicking myself for waiting to read her. I just devoured her stories in one sitting – they were mesmerizing!! Enjoy reading from that list – I know that I will 🙂

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  8. I have enjoyed Susan Minot’s writing before…I believe it was Evening which I read by her about a decade ago. Also, I have not read Hilary Mantel before even though she’s won two Booker prizes. I think your suggestion is a good place to start before I get into all that English history of which she’s so fond. Isn’t this a wonderful list to refer to? And, of course, it’s even better to have personal input from my friends! xo

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  9. I love seeing the differences in all the Best of 2014 lists! I’ve only read 3 of these…Colorless Tsukuru (was not a fan), We Are Not Ourselves (thought it was one of the best debuts of 2014, but probably won’t make my overall Best of 14 list), and Everything I Never Told You (same as We Are Not Ourselves).

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    1. I wonder what it is about We Are Not Ourselves that we admire, yet can’t fully embrace. And if you feel Everything I Never Told You is in the same league, I’m concerned about enjoying that one as well. We’ll have to see, when my hold comes in at the library and I can read it. You know, in June. 🙂

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  10. I’m also at 2.5: Murakami, and All the Light We Cannot See, superb. I DNFed Dept. of Speculation, shame on me. I’m amazed they did not have The Innovators in nonfiction by Isaacson, such an awesome book, but they have another one on digital coding

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    1. I’ve found that there is no explaining what makes the lists and what doesn’t. As you may or may not know, I was shockingly disappointed in the winner of The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize last winter. It made me wonder how much of the prize is based on platforms other than literary.

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        1. Imagine, France doing the same thing! I always considered them a near perfect country. 🙂

          Have you read either The Parrots by Philip Bologna or Lost In Words by Edward St. Aubyn? They are wonderful, hilarious parodies on the complexity (and farce) of literary prizes. I recommend them both quite highly.

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          1. ah France. Unfortunately yes, these prizes have been notoriously biased for decades, sorry to disappoint you, but gain some years it sounds really on target though. I highly recommend Pierre Lemaitre. Lost in Words is already on my TBR, so I will not accuse you of doing too much damage to my TBR, as I will only have to add 1 to it because of you today, because of course I trust your book advice

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    1. I want to revisit Ferrante, too. I read some of My Brilliant Friend, then of course it was due at the library and I didn’t finish it.

      Are you still planning on forming the IFFP Shadow Jury this year?

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