It feels almost silly to put together a compilation of my favorite books of 2014. The Internet is full of these kinds of lists already, lists created by book experts: NPR editors, New York Times critics, library groups; my own list seems paltry in comparison. But it would also seem silly not to make a list. (What is the saying? Something about never letting the fear of playing keep you from the game?) I am the proprietress of a bookstore, after all.
After much thought, then, here are my top books of 2014, in no particular order and with no specific criteria in mind, though I did keep my list to books published in 2014, and I didn’t even look at another “best of 2014” list before making my own. (I didn’t want my tastes tainted with bias!) I’ve included my top 10 adult books and my 10 favorite children’s books of the year.
Top Ten Adult Books of 2014
- Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I love any book that paints a funny, realistic portrayal of marriage (so many books and movies choose to end there).
- Far Outside the Ordinary by Prissy Elrod. Memoirs are my personal weakness, but this one made the list because it’s well-written and locally-published, plus it’s pretty on a shelf.
- One More Thing by B.J. Novak. Novak is hilarious and smart; these short stories – some just a sentence or two in length – were a highlight of 2014.
- Delancey by Molly Wizenberg. This delightful memoir about a couple who opens up a restaurant hit so close to home this year.
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Book clubs, if you haven’t discovered Moriarty, now’s the time; her brand of satire is one of my new favorite things.
- The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. Keegan showed so much promise as a young writer; her essays would make a lovely gift for a 20-something.
- The From-Aways by CJ Hauser. Another local lady makes the list; Hauser’s debut novel was the perfect smart, summertime escape.
- Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey. This memoir makes the list because it spoke to where I am in my faith journey right now; it’s an interesting look at why one evangelical chose to go liturgical.
- The Secret Place by Tana French. French’s mystery/suspense novels will make my top ten lists, always and forever; her latest about a girls’ boarding school didn’t disappoint.
- The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant. This new novel by the author of The Red Tent is a beautiful blend of history and fiction; the narrator – 85-year-old Addie Baum – won my heart.
Top Ten Children’s Books of 2014
- The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern. Eleven-year-old Maggie reminded me so much of myself that I snagged a copy for my own shelves.
- Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt. This was a hit in our preschool story times, perfect for new and aspiring kindergartners.
- Kid Presidents by David Stabler and Doogie Horner. I sneaked behind the counter and read this one with equal parts fascination and laughter.
- Orange Triangle Fox by Sarah Jones. Clever board books babies and parents can enjoy are tricky to find.
- The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. This one is a new children’s classic; prepare to laugh out loud right alongside your child.
- The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg. You can’t ever have too many plucky preteen narrators, as far as I’m concerned.
- The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan. Buy this one for the breathtaking illustrations alone (though the historical element is brilliant, too).
- Terrapin by Wendell Berry. Nature-loving kids and adults will love this one, and the poetry is beautiful.
- Animalium by Jenny Broom and Katie Scott. Prepare to drool over this gorgeous – and huge! – book filled with facts about the animal kingdom.
- The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant. Biographical picture books might be my other new favorite thing of 2014, and this one’s at the top of the list.