I am a book stacker. When I die I expect my body to be found under a pile of books. I stockpile. There could be some sort of book shortage, or even worse, Book Zombies! I’ll only have access to what is in my home! I’ll need variety. But seriously folks, I never know what I’ll want to read next. I choose what book to read based purely on my mood. When I finish a book like Lawrence Wright’s AMAZING Going Clear, which EVERYONE SHOULD READ, I like to follow it up with something a little lighter, like Stephen King or Joe Hill. I like variety so I read everything. Reading only one type of book is like listening to only one type of music – boring. We read to have new experiences and learn new things. And we can’t do much of either if we read the same kinds of stories over and over. That would be the equivalent of wearing the same outfit every day for the rest of your life. And nobody wants to be that guy.
I started out 2014 on a road trip from Texas to California with a Stephen King book tucked in my bag. Today I type this from a tiny studio in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, while Ray Bradbury’s lovely Dandelion Wine sits next to me patiently awaiting completion. I looked at the books I read this year and couldn’t find a common theme. Some books were about solitude and loneliness, and others about love seeking robots. There were flesh-eating zombies and murderous humans. There was even a mansion in a trash heap. I learned everything I need to know about Scientology and cheese, and reminisced about London with the incomparable Zadie Smith. I read historical fiction set in Texas and the Appalachian Mountains. I read a somewhat funny book about a not so jewish dentist, and an even funnier book about a whiskey drinking’ duck named Fup.
My reading list was all over the map, just like I was.
Since people are always asking me to give them book suggestions, I have put together a doozie for ya. Here is the best of what I read this year. In no particular order. I divided them into helpful categories because I work in a bookstore, and that’s what we do. I left out the few clunkers I read so you don’t have to suffer needlessly. You’ll have to look them up for yourself, or go to your local bookstore and take a look. Just write down the title and author before you go. We thank you in advance.
- N-W, by Zadie Smith
- Serena, by Ron Rash
- The Wilds, by Julia Elliott
- The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly
- Hold the Dark, by William Giraldi
- Fup, by Jim Dodge
- The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta
- Mildred Pierce, by James M. Caine
- You Must Remember This, by Joyce Carol Oates
- My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales, ed Kate Bernheimer
- Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
- The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
- The Children Act by Ian McEwan
- To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (Be warned. This book has an almost intolerable narrator. A good book, but man. Paragraphs go on for PAGES with no interruption.)
- Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
- Going Clear, by Lawrence Wright
- The Telling Room, by Michael Paterniti
- Tibetan Peach Pie, by Tom Robbins
- Bag of Bones, by Stephen King
- Pontypool Changes Everything, by Tony Burgess
- Horns, by Joe Hill
- *The Quick by Lauren Owen
- Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
- Her by Harriet Lane
- Crooked River by Valerie Geary
*This title is in horror only due to subject matter and style. It isn’t horror like Stephen King. It is literary like Dracula, or Haunting of Hill House.
- Heap House (Iremonger, #1) by Edward Carey
- The Apothecary by Maile Meloy