BOOK REVIEW Best Books of 2014 (So Far)

By on October 8, 2014

As the tourists disperse and the colder weather arrives, no time is better than now to start diving into juicy, captivating reads. This calendar year has offered up a Crayola box of varied literary gems that you may have missed, so I have handpicked five of 2014’s best books. So light a fire, nestle into your couch or armchair of choice and crack that spine or (ugh, fine) turn on your Kindle.

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“The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters


This beautiful novel set in 1922 London might be the best book I’ve read all year. All at once sexy, intelligent and gripping, “The Paying Guests” centers on Frances Wray, a lesbian woman confined to the responsibilities of caring for her mother and upholding her family’s Victorian home. With the arrival of new tenants, Frances descends into a forbidden love affair while unraveling a series of tumultuous events and uncovering hidden secrets. Once you speed through the final chapter you will be left breathless, emotionally wrecked and desperate to discuss it with someone. An absolute must-read and perfect for any book club.

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“The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell

Mitchell takes a page from his incredible novel “Cloud Atlas” to deliver this opus of six interlocking novellas that span from a vibrant 1984 to a terrifying 2043. To condense the plot into a few sentences would do the novel a disservice, so instead I will tell you that (like many David Mitchell books) it’s chaotic, difficult, stunning and will make you thrust it into the hands of everyone you’ve ever met. This is not the type of book you shoot down in one sitting; like a smoldering fireplace, it lingers, heating you until its pages run out and the final embers run cold.

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“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

Yes, this is the novel everyone is talking about. Young Marie-Laure is blind but that doesn’t stop her from being the most inquisitive, fascinating fictional character to emerge this year. As she makes her way through France and Germany before and during World War II, we join her on an inspiring journey, meeting along the way a series of bizarre, troublesome (and often lovable) characters that both wound and shape her soul. If you’re tired of the same World War II story told over and over, you would find welcome solace and beauty in these pages. Months after finishing the book, I’m still thinking about it. It’s that good.

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“In the Kingdom of Ice” by Hampton Sides

This true story of an Arctic expedition gone awry is undoubtedly the best nonfiction book of the year. When the USS Jeannette sinks after an encounter with pack ice, its crew must travel across the barren wastelands of Siberia seeking rescue. This book is packed with the type of suspense you would expect out of a psychological thriller, shedding light on a forgotten tragedy that showcases the power of love and the true willingness the human spirit possesses to survive. If you loved “Into Thin Air,” you will absolutely devour this one. I’m anxiously awaiting the inevitable movie.

“I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson


Jude and Noah are identical twins, but, as expected, they couldn’t be any more different. Jumping back and forth through time, the author pushes our heads into the ice cold water of sibling disconnect. Through alternating chapters, we fall in love with Noah, a struggling gay nobody whose life is shattering from within, and his sister Jude, the gorgeous surfer girl whose newfangled love may be laced with poison. As these two mysteriously go from inseparable best friends to mortal enemies, there’s not a single reader who won’t be affected by this heartbreaking and heartwarming story. You won’t read a better Young Adult novel this year. I guarantee it.

Honorable Mentions: “High as the Horses’ Bridles” by Scott Cheshire; “Consumed” by David Cronenberg; “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert; “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” by Haurki Murakami.

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