Spotlight: Announcing RFPL Staff’s 2014 Best Books of the Year!

For the second year in a row, we are pleased to present you with a list of our handpicked, best-of-the-year books from our fabulous staff. Curious to see last year’s picks? Click here.

Some favorites that appeared several times included The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

For each book, there is a brief description taken from the publisher or library catalog. The link will take you to our records, in many cases we own these books in print, audiobook, e-book and e-audiobook. Read one of our favorites, and then tell us how it was!

Comment with your favorite books of the year in the comments section– we’d love to hear from you!

Sophia

  • Marriage and Civilization by William Tucker
    • Monogamous marriage built civilization; will its collapse destroy it? Documents the historical and anthropological story behind how monogamous, lifelong partnerships are the driving force behind the creation and rise of civilization.
  • The Oath: The Obama White House and The Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin
    • From the moment Chief Justice Roberts botched Barack Obama’s oath of office, the relationship between the Court and the White House has been a fraught one.  Jeffrey Toobin brilliantly portrays key personalities and cases and shows how the President was fatally slow to realize the importance of the judicial branch to his agenda.

Sue

  • The Goldfinch  by Donna Tartt
    • A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend’s family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith 
    • A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel’s suicide. This is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Blaise

  • Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
    • For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death more than once in the rusting hulks of sunken ships.
  • One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak
    • Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, the many pieces in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, sharp eye, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader

Margaret

  • The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
    • Engaging the services of a miniaturist to furnish a cabinet-sized replica of her new home, 18-year-old Nella Oortman, the wife of an illustrious merchant trader, soon discovers that the artist’s tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways.
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    • A stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Dana

  • The Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French. First in series: In the Woods
    • Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl near a Dublin suburb. The case resonates with similarities to a murder committed twenty years before that involved two children and the young Ryan.
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
    • Taking a job as an assistant to extreme sports enthusiast Will, who is wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident, Louisa struggles with her employer’s acerbic moods and learns of his shocking plans before demonstrating to him that life is still worth living.

Genna

  • We Were Liars by E.L. Lockhart
    • Spending the summers on her family’s private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer.
  • Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Phillips
    • A down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids’ puppet shows finds herself trapped on a remote island off the coast of Maine with a sexy horror novelist who knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands.

Lisa

  • The Visitors by Sally Beauman
    • Built around Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, this evocative novel. . . blends fact and fiction to recreate a lost world that’s still fiercely enthralling and relevant today
  • Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes by Betsy Woodman
    • Meet Jana Bibi, a Scottish woman helping to save the small town in India she has grown to call home and the oddball characters she considers family.

Richard

  • Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming
    • British secret agent James Bond assumes the identity of a captured courier and solicits the help of gorgeous Tiffany Case, the diamond smugglers’ American go-between.
  • Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag
    •  Against Interpretation was Susan Sontag’s first collection of essays and is a modern classic. Originally published in 1966, it has never gone out of print and has influenced generations of readers all over the world. It includes the famous essays “Notes on Camp” and “Against Interpretation,” as well as her impassioned discussions of Sartre, Camus, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, Levi-Strauss, science-fiction movies, psychoanalysis, and contemporary religious thought.

Victoria

  • Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
    • Alice Metcalf was a devoted mother, loving wife, and accomplished scientist who studied grief among elephants. Yet it’s been a decade since she disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind her small daughter, husband, and the animals to which she devoted her life.
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
    • Follows three mothers, each at a crossroads, and their potential involvement in a riot at a school trivia night that leaves one parent dead in what appears to be a tragic accident, but which evidence shows might have been premeditated.

Karen

  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself
  • Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
    • Living in an igloo of ice and trash bags half a year after a cataclysmic nuclear disaster, Emily, convinced that she will be hated as the daughter of the drunken father who caused the meltdown, assumes a fictional identity while protecting a homeless boy.

Mary Ann

  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
    • When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world–even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.
  • Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman
    • On November 14, 1889, two young female journalists raced against one another, determined to outdo Jules Verne’s fictional hero and circle the globe in less than 80 days. The dramatic race that ensued would span 28,000 miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors’ lives forever.

Amy

  • The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
    • When four twelve-year-olds, including Logan, who has grown up never leaving his parents’ Life Is Sweet candy factory, compete in the Confectionary Association’s annual contest, they unexpectedly become friends and uncover secrets about themselves during the process.
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
    • Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try

Magdalena

  • Grandmaster by David Klass
    • A father-son chess tournament reveals the dark side of the game
  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
    • The Pickles are new to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, a town which legend says was once magic–but Felicity is convinced the magic is still there, and with the help of her new friend Jonah the Beedle she hopes to bring the magic back.

Claudia

  • The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
    • Catalyzed by a nephew’s thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confront painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys, a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.
  • The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
    • A novel set on a remote Australian island, where a childless couple live quietly running a lighthouse, until a boat carrying a baby washes ashore

Share your favorite books of 2014 in the comments below, or stop by the library and talk to us about your favorites!

 

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Pat’s March Recommendation

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

david and goliath“Malcolm Gladwell has done it again … written another book difficult to put down!This time it’s about underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants! He challenges us to think about obstacles and disadvantages, about another way to think about what it means to be discriminated against, or how to cope with a disability, or lose a parent. Good stuff.” – Pat

3 Similar Titles

Pat’s February Recommendations

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor AND Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

my beloved world“I am presently reading Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World and enjoying it to no end.  It is good to read about this woman who came from poverty and discrimination to become a Justice in our Supreme Court.  She tells of her alcoholic father, her devoted but overburdened mother and of the refuge she took in the home or her grandmother….I also just read Mortality…Christopher Hitchens’ last little tome.  Since mortality is on my mind these days, I wanted to see where he was going with this, as he was a confirmed atheist…and since I have read his other books and am his fan!”

Read about or request My Beloved World and Mortality from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads for My Beloved World (Nonfiction)

Lazy B by Sandra Day O’Connor

Young Thurgood by Larry S. Gibson

The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin

3 Similar Reads for Mortality  (Nonfiction)

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Enjoy Every Sandwich by Lee Lipsenthal

Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

Pat’s November Recommendation

Unaccountable by Dr. Marty Makary

“I watched an interview with Dr. Marty Makary and was then very interested to read his book Unaccountable.  It’s a book about what hospitals won’t tell you and how transparency can revolutionize health care.  Here are some things that are discussed: Medical mistakes are the fifth leading causes of death in the United States.  The number of patients killed by preventable medical errors every year is equivalent to four jumbo jets crashing each week! Wow! I didn’t like reading that statistic!”

Read about Unaccountable or request it from the library catalog today!

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) County: Life, Death, and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital by David Ansell

2) The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

3) Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) So Much For That by Lionel Shriver

2) Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

3) Contagion by Robin Cook

Hadley’s (and Pat’s!) August Recommendation

Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti

We had two people recommend this short novel for the month of August.  Here is Hadley’s recommendation:

“I enjoyed this short novel by Italian author Niccolo Ammaniti. The main character Lorenzo is a teenage outsider who has trouble connecting with his peers, and getting a handle on his emotions. Lorenzo lies to his parents about taking a ski trip with friends, and instead intends to spend the week by himself vegging out in a hidden room of his family’s large house. Everything is going according to plan until his troubled half sister Olivia pays a visit. At times funny and sad, Me and You tells the story of a brief, deep connection of two half siblings during an important moment in both of their young lives.”

And here is Pat’s recommendation:

“Niccolo Ammaniti is the author of a little story entitled ME AND YOU, translated from the Italian.  It’s a beautiful little book, a perfect tale, painful and moving.  I read it in one sitting since it’s only 147 pages.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) The Dearly Departed by Elinor Lipman (Access to library catalog here!)

2) Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk (Access to library catalog here!)

3) Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Access to library catalog here!)

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) Confessions of a Young Novelist by Umberto Eco (Access to library catalog here!)

2) The Sisters Antipodes by Jane Alison (Access to library catalog here!)

3) Where’s My Wand? by Eric Poole (Access to library catalog here!)

Pat’s April Recommendation

Reading For My Life by John Leonard

“Reading for my life by John Leonard is what I’m loving now.  You might remember John Leonard if you listened to NPR and watch Sunday Morning on CBS, where he often had some commentary.  This book is a collection of Leonard’s most significant writings, many never published before . . . :”cultural touchstones of a generation, each piece a testament to his wit, intelligence and love for the arts.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

Pat’s January Recommendation

Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens by Christopher Hitchens

“Hitchens can join the list of great conversationalists.  No one can match his “cerebral pyrotechnics.” If you’ve ever seen/heard him interviewed, you know what I mean.  Strong, tough and unafraid to speak his mind on many subjects.    He died recently … too young.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog