The Best Books Read in 2014

Another year, another barrage of best-of lists for us all to wade through; here’s one more, just in time for Christmas.

You know, if you pay enough attention to these lists, you can zero in on a handful of titles that have coalesced into establishment favorites. Such titles this year might include Richard Flanagan’s Booker-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Matthew Thomas’ We Are Not Ourselves, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. I am sure these are all excellent books, and I look forward to getting to each of them in time. (I tend to reflexively hold off on reading books at their hypiest so as to avoid getting drowned by it.)

So you won’t find any of those consensus favorites here. This year I read somewhere around 70 books — not bad considering I lost nearly six full weeks to a move — and this list of the 12 best reflects I think a librarian’s curiosity, zig-zagging from new to old, fiction to non, one genre to another, whatever seems appealing on a given day.

I have chosen the first 11 books in random order, saving my favorite read of the year for last.

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In the meantime…

After the first couple months of the Time 100 project, where I started and stopped a few times, I now seem to be settling into a good groove, finishing another book off the list every three weeks or so. Since it now looks as if I’ve committed to this project for the long haul, I’ve also spruced up the site a bit.

But when I’m not reading books for this project (or just reading books for fun), I occasionally submit official reviews, all professional-like, to other publications. I figure I may as well use this blog to post about them, too. So you’ll probably be seeing thoughts on other books not in the Time list on this site.

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My Favorite Books Read in 2011

I seem to have hit a snag in my nascent Time 100 project; namely, I started to read the third book, Catch-22, then got side-tracked about a month ago and haven’t returned to it since. But I will finish it before the end of the year and post something on it: my pre-New Year resolution.

To keep this blog semi-relevant until then, I thought I’d offer some thoughts on the 12 books I liked best in 2011 — not, mind you, books necessarily published in 2011. I haven’t ranked most of them beyond including them on this list, so the first 11 are in alphabetical order by author, and the twelfth, which I’ll post separately, is my choice for Favorite Read of 2011.

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