Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Books of the Year: 2014

 

Reading ListHere are my picks for the best books of 2014, fiction and non-fiction. These aren’t the best books published this year, but rather the best I’ve read in the last 12 months. The winner in both categories are barely distinguished from the pack, and the runners up are all worthy of reading. Runners up appear in alphabetical order by their author’s surname.

Fiction:

Winner:

Runners up:

Nonfiction:

Winner:

Runners up:

What are your picks for 2014 books of the year?

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  1. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Just two for me:

    Fiction:

    Skin Game by Jim Butcher. If you’ve followed the Dresden Files like I have, this book was a welcome return to the series which has remained somewhat bleak after Changes. Not a deep book, but a fun book.

    Non-Fiction:

    The Tao of Chip Kelly by Mark Saltveit

    • #1
    • December 31, 2014, at 6:59 AM PST
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  2. Dan Campbell Member

    Your first sentence for Miss Leavitt’s Stars snagged me. Have you read When Computers Were Human by David Alan Grier? Not that David Alan Grier, the other one. I worked with David briefly at George Washington Univ. about 10 years ago. He’s a fascinating person and very much into the history of computing. I highly recommend the book.

    • #2
    • December 31, 2014, at 7:15 AM PST
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  3. Severely Ltd. Inactive

    Fiction: On the strength of recommendations around here I read the first seven (one to go) of the Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith.

    Smith is a master of characterization and a beautiful stylist. If you like mysteries with strong characters and an interesting setting, these books are hard to beat.

    [As an aside to RushBabe, I have to disagree that Wolves Eat Dogs is the most hair-raising of the lot, putting Polar Star and Havana Bay ahead of it in that regard. I’m not here to start a vulgar brawl, though, thanks for the recommendation.]

    Non-fiction: I just read a short book on Kindle that was recommended on Instapundit and I’d already decided to ask John Walker if he’d read it (it’s just out) and perhaps comment, so this is perfect. It’s ‘Mind And Process: Why free will and physics both work’, and as the subtitle implies, it attempts to rationally reconcile free-will and the physical world, something that I didn’t expect to see compellingly done this side of the grave. I need to read it at least a couple of more times to comment on it, but I’d be interested to hear other peoples take on it.

    It’s $2.99 on Kindle, free if you subscribe to their unlimited streaming and the author says in comments on Instapundit that starting the 12th of this month it will be $.99 for a short period. It’s an exciting read if you’ve ever given the subject any thought.

    • #3
    • December 31, 2014, at 7:30 AM PST
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  4. Profile Photo Member

    Re: #3, thank you, Severely! I’ll be reading – and giving this!

    • #4
    • December 31, 2014, at 8:44 AM PST
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  5. Crabby Appleton Inactive

    Non -F: “The Parthenon Enigma”, By Joan Breton Connelly. Far and away the most enlightening and engaging book I read last year. A comprehensive look at the primary symbol of culture and art in the western world, it clearly and fascinatingly takes a “re-look” at the Parthenon and specifically the sculptured frieze and places it squarely in the historical context of Athenian culture and explains how the building was a constant reminder to citizens of what it meant to BE Athenian. What I found particularly moving and thought provoking was the section on the history of the Elgin Marbles and it changed my thinking so that now I’m firmly convinced that they should be returned to the Parthenon.

    Runner up : Boris Johnson’s “The Churchill Factor”

    • #5
    • December 31, 2014, at 9:14 AM PST
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  6. Matt Blankenship Inactive

    New non-fiction:

    How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life by Russ Roberts. A readable gloss on Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments.

    To Make and Keep Peace by Angelo Codevilla. The last word in foreign policy by one of our greatest and most serious thinkers on the subject.

    A Literary Education by Joseph Epstein. More essays by my favorite writer in my favorite literary form.

    Gwynne’s Grammar by N.M Gwynne

    What If? Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions by Randall Munroe. Just what it sounds like.

    Not-as-new non-fiction:

    Three Philosophies of Life by Peter Kreeft. Ecclesiastes, Job, Song of Solomon.

    Shotguns and Shooting by Michael Mcintosh. There is nothing better than a fine double gun… fine writing by a college Shakespeare professor on the art and history of double guns– and some tips on shooting.

    In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick. The disaster of the whaleship Essex— Melville’s inspiration.

    I read no new fiction in 2014. The best novels I read were:

    Gilead by Marilynn Robinson. This is often praised on Ricochet, and deservedly so.

    My Antonia by Willa Cather. Currently holds holds the title “my favorite novel.”

    The Bonfire of the Vanities by–well you know who wrote that. That was a book that I was embarrassed not to have read–especially as I consider myself a huge Tom Wolfe fan. I finally remedied that problem in 2014. Charlotte Simmons was in 2013. A Man in Full in 2015…

    • #6
    • December 31, 2014, at 11:12 PM PST
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  7. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dr Rahe is right. The Feast of the Goat, by Morgana Vargas Llosa, is a great novel.

    • #7
    • January 1, 2015, at 6:37 AM PST
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  8. Eric Hines Inactive

    Fiction: Because I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories, CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner series, the latest of which is Peacemaker, and David Weber’s Safehold series, the latest of which is Like a Mighty Army.

    Non-fiction: Because I’m also a sucker for these kinds of things, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui’s Unrestricted Warfare and Brough, Lango, and van der Linden’s Rethinking the Just War Tradition.

    A friend of mine recommended Murakami and Hiroto’s 1Q84, but I have as much trouble getting into Japanese writing as I do Russian and German.

    Eric Hines

    • #8
    • January 1, 2015, at 9:43 AM PST
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  9. EThompson Inactive

    Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys would be this year’s non-fiction pick but I’ve loved everything he has written: The Big Short, Moneyball, The Blind Side and Liar’s Poker not to mention his most excellent contributions (Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep) to the world of journalism.

    • #9
    • January 1, 2015, at 4:28 PM PST
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  10. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    EThompson:…not to mention his most excellent contributions (Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep) to the world of journalism.

    God bless Mike Leach.

    • #10
    • January 1, 2015, at 5:42 PM PST
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  11. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    As for my book of the year for 2014:

    Awake in the Night Land by John C. Wright

    • #11
    • January 1, 2015, at 5:43 PM PST
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  12. EThompson Inactive

    Mike LaRoche:

    EThompson:…not to mention his most excellent contributions (Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep) to the world of journalism.

    God bless Mike Leach.

    If anybody is wondering, it is this very article that cemented the friendship between me and the admirer of all young women waving a pom-pom. (x,o MLR!)

    I was so impressed by this story that I actually submitted a letter to the editor and for the first (and most likely the last) time in my life was published in the NYT.

    • #12
    • January 1, 2015, at 5:54 PM PST
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  13. Profile Photo Member

    EThompson: for the first (and most likely the last) time in my life was published in the NYT.

    Woo-Hoo, Liz! The Grey Lady showed some *class*, for once…

    By the way, sad to hear about Edward Hermann yesterday; his FDR and Lou Gehrig were masterful. “The Lawrenceville Stories” were pure fun…

    • #13
    • January 1, 2015, at 6:03 PM PST
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  14. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    EThompson:

    Mike LaRoche:

    EThompson:…not to mention his most excellent contributions (Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep) to the world of journalism.

    God bless Mike Leach.

    If anybody is wondering, it is this very article that cemented the friendship between me and the admirer of all young women waving a pom-pom. (x,o MLR!)

    I was so impressed by this essay that I actually e-mailed a letter to the editor and for the first (and most likely the last) time in my life was published in the NYT.

    God bless cheerleaders and sorority girls, too. ;-)

    • #14
    • January 1, 2015, at 6:29 PM PST
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  15. Man With the Axe Member

    Favorite non-fiction: “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

    Favorite fiction: “Hard Choices,” by Hillary Clinton

    • #15
    • January 1, 2015, at 9:25 PM PST
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  16. MaggiMc Inactive

    Re Kindle Unlimited mentioned by Severely Ltd, I am loving that service. I am gobbling up everything in sight–Saul Bellow and Waker Percy just in the last couple of weeks.

    • #16
    • January 2, 2015, at 5:55 PM PST
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  17. MaggiMc Inactive

    I greatly enjoyed Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hiburn, although I think it was pubished in 2013, not 2014.

    • #17
    • January 2, 2015, at 6:00 PM PST
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  18. Profile Photo Member

    Likewise for Charles Krauthammer’s Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics published in 2013.

    • #18
    • January 2, 2015, at 6:10 PM PST
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