It’s the twilight of another year on the third rock from the sun, and in the closing days, the Internet will be bloated to BuzzFeedian proportions with “Best of 2014” lists on every subject imaginable. Because I’m with it and hip, I’m going to get in on the action, and while I’d love to enthrall you with such lists as “The Top Ten Pies I Ate This Year” or “The 17 Most Impressive Victories of My Fantasy Football Teams,” I suppose the most appropriate list for this space would be a book-related one.
I now present my “Top 10 Books of 2014” list, with the huge caveat that almost none of these books were published in 2014; they’re simply my favorite books I read during 2014. If you’d like to check out lists containing solely 2014 books, peep this, this, and this. My books are listed willy-nilly (unranked) style:
1. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King – If you’d ever wondered what became of little Danny Torrance from The Shining, 36 years later, Stephen King finally decided we’d been held in suspense long enough. There’s a new, more powerful child with “the shine,” and a roving pack of baddies who want to cause big, murder-y trouble for our heroes. It’s more strong storytelling from King, as usual.
2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick – A classic science fiction novel that will make you thoughtfully consider empathy and entertain the possibility that you’re perhaps too android-like. I unforgivably still have not seen Blade Runner, the movie adaptation of this book.
3. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – Of Gillian Flynn’s non-Gone Girl novels (of which there are currently only two), Dark Places is my favorite, mainly because it’s so, well, dark. The characters in this book have some big issues, and you get to peek into they’re troubled little heads. Good times, if you’re into that sort of thing.
4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – A real horrorshow raskazz about free will and good and evil. If you know what’s good for your gulliver, go to your local biblio and get your rooks on it.
5. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin – The third entry in the Song of Ice and Fire (aka, Game of Thrones) series is a massive brick of a book, but it’s well worth the time commitment. Widely considered the best book in the series, it delivers almost nonstop page-turning plot developments with very few “man, not this character again” moments.
6. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith – The second of incognito J. K. Rowling’s detective novels starring the surly-but-lovable Cormoran Strike, The Silkworm is the lone book on this list published in 2014. It builds well on the characters introduced in The Cuckoo’s Calling and delivers a grislier, more interesting, and all-around better mystery.
7. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – I’ve seen this book compared to The Catcher in the Rye, and given they’re both about depressed young people, I get the comparison. Esther, the protagonist of The Bell Jar, isn’t as funny or endearing as Holden Caulfield, but I can see her being relatable for more readers. It feels a bit weird saying I “like” a book about depression, but that is accurate, and it’s definitely worth reading.
8. Naked by David Sedaris – The more David Sedaris I read, the more amazed and jealous I am that someone can be so funny while writing about mostly everyday events from his life. He’s also quite comical when describing not-so-everyday things, such as his wacky experiences at a nudist camp, as he does in one of my favorite chapters from Naked. If you’re looking for a good humor read, give this book or any other by Sedaris a try.
9. Pet Sematary by Stephen King – I know, this is the second King book on the list, but I really dig the guy, and at least I didn’t include all four of his books I read this year. I discussed my feelings about Pet Sematary previously in this post. In short, King is a maestro of the disturbing and creepy, and he’s at the height of his powers in this book.
10. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole – I was initially reluctant to read this book, which came highly recommended by a friend, but I’m quite glad I took it on. Books with intentionally unlikable protagonists can be tricky to pull off, but Toole does it well, and his Ignatius J. Reilly is as hilarious as he is infuriating. The fact that the book won the Pulitzer Prize is a nice bonus that makes you feel smart/important while you read it.