Best Backlist of 2014

Best Backlist of 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ok, so the title doesn't make a WHOLE lot of sense, but I really wanted to compile the best backlist books that I read this year. So clearly the nominees are atypical, because I do what I want and play by my own rules. I just couldn't NOT mention some of the best books I read this year that became new favorites of mine.

Check out my Best Books Published in 2014 here, and the top ten weirdest are coming tomorrow!

  1. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. Amazing and so bizarre. This book follows a family of circus performers that made a point of doing drugs while pregnant to create babies with stranger and stranger developmental problems. There are conjoined twins, an albino hunchback dwarf, a boy who is referred to as "Aquaboy" due to his flipper-like limbs, and a young boy whose talent isn't revealed for quite some time. The plot was twisted, and the writing was beautiful and moving. I cried multiple times because of the very human tragedies this family faces. A new all time favorite of mine. Did I say the writing's beautiful yet? Wow.
  2. Suicide by Edouard Leve. A powerful, small experience of a book. Leve explores the what suicide means in a stream of consciousness style that captures a lot of insightful things about time, memory, and people. Dark and packs a big emotional punch. If talk about suicide is triggering, I wouldn't check this book out. If you feel like you're in a good place to ruminate on something this heavy, I would suggest it. It's beautiful and it's short, so you're not stuck there for too long.
  3. Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck. I've praised this collection of short stories before. If you want weird fiction that's not quite sci-fi, not quite fantasy, but kind of eerie and very Scandinavian, you have to read these. Very weird and very well written.
  4. Just Kids by Patti Smith. I'm obsessed with Patti Smith. I have been since the age of 12. If you love her, you'll love this book detailing her early life in New York finding her way as a poet, and her often tragic love story with Robert Mapplethorpe. An amazing honest capture of a relationship and a time that no longer exists.
  5. When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams. Get out the tissues. Right before Williams' mother died, she told her to take her many journals and only read them once she had passed. A while after her mother died, she finally looked through them. They were all empty. When Women Were Birds is part memoir, part exploration on voice -- having one and choosing whether or not to use it. She explores being a woman, being a mother, being a daughter, and what her mother could have been trying to say. Poetic and beautiful.
  6. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This was just a really good time to read. I know I'm late to jump on the Gone Girl boat, but I'm glad I did. I don't even have to summarize this book, you know what it is. The twist got me. The end of every chapter got me. I couldn't stop reading, despite any flaws with the book itself. It was dark and fun.
  7. Equus by Peter Shaffer. Dark and less fun. This is the infamous play that Daniel Radcliffe played in in his birthday suit. I hadn't seen it, but the plot interested me. Mostly because a guy is in love with horses to the point of having kind of sexual feelings toward them. This play was much more moving than I expected it to be and the developments were fascinating.
  8. The Honey Month by Amal El-Mohtar. A strange little volume of short stories/poems/vignettes. Every day for a month, Amal El-Mohtar was sent a different kind of honey. She would taste it and then she would write something inspired by it. I'm incredibly impressed by how much she was able to come up with considering how simple her inspiration seemed. The stories were strange almost in the way Jagannath's were. Eerie.
  9. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. If you want some bizarre Japanese horror short stories, step right up. Here they are. There are some sinister murders, a character whose heart hangs out of her body and is in search of a bag for it, torture museums, a woman with a mysterious bundle, I don't even know where to begin. Each of the stories connect to each other, which I love.
  10. Graphic the Valley by Peter Brown Hoffmeister.  This book caught me by surprise. The writing style is super spare and a little hard to get used to at first, but it becomes so emotional and raw. It's about a young homeless man who lives in Yosemite National Park, and has all his life. Obviously this comes with some problems. I got so into it in parts that I would gasp audibly in public. A beautiful look at the troubling commercialization of nature.

Oh my, I had a lot to say about these. What are the best backlist books you finally got around to this year?


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