The Best Books of 2014 (So Far)

Stop. Hold on. Is it seriously far enough into 2014 to start talking about the best books of the year (so far)? When did that happen?

I suppose since it is June already, we're just about halfway through the year. So for this week's Top Ten Tuesday post, may I present my favorite books of 2014... so far.

Note: These are books read in 2014. Not all were necessarily published in 2014.


Department of Speculation, by Jenny Offill: This short book absolutely slew me--in a good way. I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks after finishing it. Actually, no, I'm still thinking about it. My full review of Dept. of Speculation.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin: I picked this up because it promised a story the melt the hearts of booklovers everywhere... and melt my heart it did. On finishing, I turned to my husband and managed to mutter, "I need a tissue," before dissolving into downright happy-go-sadly tears.

An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay: I haven't found the words to write about this book yet, which was one of the most challenging and yet most rewarding books I've read in a long time. Read this. But know that it won't be an easy thing to do.

Hotel on the Place Vendome, by Tilar Mazzeo: Here, here! for some non-fiction on the list. Mazzeo's history of the Hotel Ritz presents the lesser-known history of one of the world's most well-known hotels, from famous novelists to Nazi occupation and beyond. This is one of those books that filled me with "Did you know...?" facts while reading and long after, and it's becoming a go-to recommendation for anyone looking for narrative, fun non-fiction with a historical bent. My full review of Hotel on the Place Vendome.

Blackbirds, by Chuck Wendig: Stellar, stunning cover. Stellar, stunning writing. Violent and heartfelt and emotional and thoughtful and why the hell did I not read this one sooner?

Redeployment, by Phil Klay: Like Dept. of Speculation, another book that stayed with me long past the last page--but for entirely different reasons. Klay's collection of short stories focuses on the modern veteran and the ongoing struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq and the long-lasting, often unseen impacts of war on those we ask to fight for us. Powerful, emotional, and downright unforgettable: this should really be required reading for all Americans. My full review of Redeployment.

The Enchanted, by Rene Denfield: This was not on my list of favorites after I finished it, but as time goes on and I continue to ruminate on the magic of Denfield's language, and her ability to craft a story that is so emotionally specific without ever dealing the details of her characters' crimes... really impressive, this one is. My full review of The Enchanted.

Thunderstruck: And Other Stories, by Elizabeth McCracken: Like The Enchanted, another that would not have fallen on my list of favorites immediately after finishing it... but that wormed its way in when I found I could not stop thinking about McCracken's stories. Add to that the fact that McCracken writes one hell of a sentence, and here we go: on my top ten of 2014 (so far) list.

Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala: It's nearly impossible to review a book so centered on someone else's grief. Deraniyagala's story of loss and family and rebuilding her life after the devastation of the tsunami in Sri Lanka is a testament to the lasting power of grief--and our ability to overcome the worst situations, even when we may doubt our abilities to do so. My thoughts on Wave.

The Heaven of Animals, by David James Poissant: It's apparently the year of short stories for me, with this the third collection in my top-ten-so-far list. Poissant's stories are emotional and wonderful and ever-so-slightly unreal, which makes them all-the-more perfect.

This post is part of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


What are some of the best books you've read so far in 2014?

16 comments

  1. I really want to try Redeployment. I read You Know When the Men Are Gone a few years ago, and it was breathtaking. Sounds sort of similar.

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  2. You're reminding me of several I've been meaning to read, particularly Wave and Redeployment. I need to get on those!

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  3. They are both soooo good! Redeployment especially. Loved that book so much.

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  4. I haven't read that one yet, but you're not the first person to recommend it after I mentioned Redeployment--I really need to get on that!

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  5. Kelly TheWellReadRedheadJune 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    I haven't read any of these yet (for shame!) but I keep seeing a bunch of them repeated on other lists...namely Dept of Speculation and AJ Fikry. Guess I need to get my hands on those soon!

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  6. A.J. Fikry has been a popular choice this year. I still haven't been able to get my hands on Dept of Speculation or Wave yet...but both look really great

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  7. Thunderstruck is the next fiction read on my list, I think. I can't wait!

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  8. Emma @ Words And PeaceJune 11, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    I list my top 1 or 2 books every month and a mega thing with my favorite in 13 categories at the end of the year, so I don't take time to something like that in the year, it's not even mid year. I plan to read your first 2

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  9. I think Redeployment will be popping up on a lot of people's lists. It's supposed to be amazing. I heard him speak on the radio and it convinced me to read a book i would otherwise have overlooked. Great list.

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  10. Real mix of book here. I've heard so many good things about Blackbirds. Curious about Redeployment too - although for some reason I thought it was a novel, not a bunch of short stories.

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  11. Definitely a big mix. Redeployment is themed short stories, but they are all different characters/settings. It's a really powerful read.

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  12. Oh, I would have loved to hear Klay talk about writing this book. I hope it maintains momentum. It really is excellent.

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  13. I hope you like it!

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  14. They are both great (though very different!).

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  15. Those seem to be popular picks from the first half of the year. I saw a lot of people (myself included) stating that they thought Dept of Speculation would be on their year-end best-ofs as soon as they read it in January. It's so inventively amazing.

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  16. It's *almost* mid-year (which, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!?). Dept. of Speculation and AJ Fikry are both so good--hope you enjoy!

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