Your Fave Reads of 2014

My Fave Reads of 2014

As I've mentioned, I tend to do a lot of reading in the beginning of the new year. That's when I take stock of all the recommendations I've been collecting and I get busy burying my nose in a book (or in an e-reader; I'm not picky). This might be the time you're looking for recommendations, too. So let me tell you about the handful of books I read this year that really knocked my socks off. These are the ones I loved reading, and I'm pretty confident you'll find something to love too on this list.

At Night We Walk in Circles, Daniel Alarcon

A traveling acting troupe arrives in a small town in a South American nation. An old woman there who has lost her son insists that one of them is her child. Why not, the actors think. Let the woman feel happy about her missing son for a day. Let's pretend he really is her son. What's the worst that could happen?

The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud

In Boston, a woman who has regrets about how she has spent her life encounters the woman she wishes she were; a beautiful, talented artist. Will she love this woman and befriend her, or hate her? Is she being exploited or befriended herself? There are too many twists and turns, too many betrayals and surprises in this book to count.

On Such a Full Sea, Chang-Rae Lee

In a strange, futuristic, dystopian America, societies have been separated by class. Workers produce the food that higher class communities consume. And sometimes, out of boredom or loneliness, the upper class collect lower-class children as pets, or captives, or slaves, or worse. This book is endlessly surprising, touching, unexpectedly romantic, and always beautifully written.

Deliverance, James Dickey

Okay, this one wasn't written in 2014. But I finally got to it in 2014, and it was a real page turner. In this classic novel, a bunch of city guys go canoeing down a river through rural Appalachia -- and they get far more than they bargained for. Explosive violence and heart-pounding suspense guaranteed.

Silence, Shisaku Endo

This one is a classic of Japanese literature. It depicts Christian missionaries arriving secretly in Japan during a time when Christianity is punished by death. The missionaries, when captured, must choose between horrible torture and execution, or apostasy, the renouncing of their faith, one of the worst sins imaginable to devout Christians. What is the right choice? What is the price that must be paid for faith?

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

This riveting, heart-wrenching book is on a lot of best-of lists this year, and deservedly so. It's an innovative World War II drama both sweeping and intimate in its scope, alternating between the lives of a blind French girl and a German boy. Their lives will converge and intersect in fascinating and agonizing ways.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami

I'm a huge fan of Murakami. Every few years another strange, surreal, mind-bending work comes out from this Japanese author. His latest was no disappointment. In this case, five closely knit friends unexpectedly exclude one of the members, telling him they never want to see him again for no discernible reason. Years later, it's the quest of his life to find out why.

Now you have no excuse not to pick up a book this season, readers -- so go out there and get reading!