Top Picks of 2014

My reading pace became frenzied in the last months of the year as I read 35% of the 132 books in November and December (26 books this month so far!). But it’s not about quantity, it’s about immersing yourself in the work and coming away with deeper knowledge or appreciation of writing. The range of books consumed was wide this year, so I’ve broken the list into categories, limiting to top 3.

Biography

  • Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee
  • Valerie Solanas: The Defiant Life of the Woman Who Wrote SCUM (and Shot Andy Warhol) by Breanne Fahs
  • Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall

Art and Poetry

  • Daybook: The Journal of an Artist by Anne Truitt
  • Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey: Poems, 1991-1995 by Hayden Carruth

Short Stories

  • Beauty Talk & Monsters by Masha Tupisyn
  • Speedboat by Renata Adler
  • The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel

Contemporary Lit

  • A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • My Struggle: Book 2 by Karl Ove Knausgaard (translated by Don Bartlett) – Book 1 was also good, but Book 3 a disappointment.

Classics

  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by Edith Grossman – no really, read it.
  • Jean Rhys: The Complete Novels
  • The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

Philosophy

  • The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861
  • The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer, translated by T. Bailey Saunders
  • A Philosophy of Walking by Gros, translated by John Howe

Society and Culture

  • Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain by Dwight Macdonald
  • The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America by Daniel J. Boorstin
  • The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America’s Disimagination Machine by Henry Giroux

Feminism

  • Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf
  • Woman in Sexist Society: Studies in Power and Powerlessness edited by Vivian Gornick and Barbara Moran
  • SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas

History

  • A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman
  • Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson