Last week I read Nina’s excellent review of her favorite books of 2014. It made me want to write my own. I realize I’ve mentioned several of these books before, but here they are in one place. I highly recommend her picks (some of which are mine, too!) and am eager to hear what you’ve been reading.
We are just past the midpoint of 2014, and here are my favorite books of the year so far:
All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr. I’m reviewing this for Great New Books in a couple of weeks so I will save most of my commentary, but suffice it to say that Doerr’s book has a firm place in my favorite novels of all time. Probably top three. All the Light is that spectacular. I can’t stop thinking of the book’s glorious imagery and can’t recommend it highly enough.
10% Happier – Dan Harris. This is a rare book that both Matt and I adored. Dan’s story is honest, open, convincing, inspiring, funny. I already meditated somewhat regularly, and now I do it with more conviction and commitment. This is a marvelous book.
Euphoria – Lily King. I could barely put down King’s compelling story of anthropologists in the jungle of New Guinea. She draws three characters I couldn’t stop thinking about and touches on themes of identity, feminism, love, subjectivity, and power. I loved this book.
Americanah– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book came highly recommended by some of the readers I most highly esteem (I’m looking at you, Lacy) and it did not disappoint. Americanah is a rich, sprawling saga about otherness and true love, about all the ways that we can be from a place and yet not feel at home, about what America really means.
Love Life – Rob Lowe. I picked up Lowe’s latest memoir after reading his guttingly powerful essay on Salon about taking his son to college. The book is similarly moving, and running through it is an intensely familiar sense of the bittersweetness of parenting and life itself. Beautiful.
Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell. I’d heard so much about this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Rowell’s protagonists are fully-felt, deeply-human misfits who are as surprised to find connection in each other as we are. Nina loved this one too, and her review is wonderful.
In the Body of the World – Eve Ensler. Ensler’s illness narrative is difficult to read but a compelling page-turner at the same time. She draws stark parallels between her own female body and the world at large, in so doing crafts a powerful love letter to this dramatic, painful, human, joyful life.
Paradise in Plain Sight – Karen Maezen Miller. I loved Hand Wash Cold, so was eager to read Maezen’s new book. She didn’t disappoint: the memoir is full of the plainspoken but deeply resonant writing I now associate with Maezen. While I’m not a gardener myself, I found myself gladly following her through her own yard, and ultimately coming to see, with her gentle but firm guidance, that paradise truly is right here at my own feet.
Homesick and Happy– Michael Thompson. I’m a longtime and devoted Thompson fan, and this book hit on a theme that has been central to my sense of myself as a parent from the very beginning. Helping our children let go, and move away from us, is our most essential parenting task. Camp is one way that we can help them do this. Perhaps he was preaching to the choir, since I’m a firm believer in sleepaway camp, but Thompson’s book reminded me of what this endeavor is all about it. It made me cry more than once.
Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner. I just re-read this for the fourth time, for my new book club. It’s the only book that I have ever read four times. And it just keeps getting better. This time I was struck by the masterful way that Stegner shifts in and out of the first person as he tells the story.
What are you reading now and what have you loved lately? I would love your recommendations as I have some plane flights and downtime ahead!
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