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2015 Youth Media Awards!

Posted by calibrary on February 3, 2015

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Awards season continues with the American Library Association Youth Media Awards!

Each year, ALA honors books, videos, and other outstanding materials for children and teens. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media.

The 2015 Youth Media Awards were announced Monday at the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition in Chicago.

Here are some highlights, including titles in the CA Library collection (marked with an * asterisk):


 

Alex Awards

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.

2015 Winners

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr — “A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall—and long—­narrative a swift movement through time and events.” — Booklist starred review

* Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia — A high school music festival goes awry when a young prodigy disappears from a hotel room that was the site of a famous crime, in a whip-smart novel sparkling with the dark and giddy pop culture pleasures of The Shining, Agatha Christie, and Glee. “Racculia’s droll wit and keen understanding of human nature propel a story that’s rich in distinctive characters and wholly engaging.” — Kirkus starred review

Bingo’s Run by James A. Levine — For fans of Dave Eggers, Teju Cole, and James McBride, comes this extraordinary novel of morality and the redemptive powers of art that offers a glimpse into an African underworld rarely described in fiction. “Levine…excels at telling his adventurous, comic, and realistically gritty story with humor but not with pathos, successfully addressing the harsh and sometimes tragic story of a child at risk.” — Library Journal

Confessions by Kanae Minato, translated by Stephen Snyder — Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you’ll never see coming, Confessions probes the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in danger. “A Japanese Gone Girl … Confessions will drop your jaw right to the floor. The most delightfully evil book you’ll read this year. A gut-wrenching thrill-ride with clean, high-impact language.” — Los Angeles Times

* Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng — Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, their middle daughter. When her body is found in a local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. “Tantalizingly thrilling, Ng’s emotionally complex debut novel captures the tension between cultures and generations with the deft touch of a seasoned writer. Ng will be one to watch.” — Booklist starred review

* Lock In by John Scalzi — When a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe, most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes “Lock In”: victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. “Witty [dialogue keeps] the novel from becoming too philosophical while exploring what it means to live a virtual existence.” — The Washington Post

* The Martian by Andy Weir — After a dust storm on Mars nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, astronaut Mark Watney finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal that he’s alive. “A tightly constructed and completely believable story of a man’s ingenuity and strength in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Riveting.” — Booklist

The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice by Zak Ebrahim — The intimate, behind-the-scenes life of an American boy raised by his terrorist father—the man who planned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. “Ebrahim’s life is an eloquent plea to terrorists — indeed, to anyone who commits violence out of bigotry and hatred — to stop and consider the impact on children.” — Washington Post

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta — When fourteen-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. “A lean, propulsive action-adventure thriller with a raging forest fire as its backdrop and with much more finesse than that description might suggest.” — New York Times

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle — Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts The Trace, an imaginary world for strangers to play in. Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. “[Darnielle’s] prose lives like Sean’s imagination: a breathing, growing thing.” — NPR


 

Coretta Scott King Book Award

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award

Book Cover: Brown Girl Dreaming2015 Winner

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, is the King Author Book winner. Woodson shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South. “[Woodson’s] memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of her pre-adolescent life into art.” — Booklist starred review

Three King Author Honor Books were selected:

* The Crossover by Kwame Alexander — Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Hadley Hooper — A powerful and thought-provoking Civil Rights-era memoir from one of America’s most celebrated poets.

* How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon — When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white, and in the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award

Book cover: Firebird

2015 Winner

Firebird, illustrated by Christopher Myers and written by Misty Copeland, is the King Illustrator Book winner. In her debut picture book, American Ballet Theater soloist Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl–an every girl–whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached.

Two King Illustrator Honor Book were selected:

Christian Robinson for Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell — A portrait of the performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker.

Frank Morrison for Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown — A biography of African American musician Melba Doretta Liston, a virtuoso musician who played the trombone and composed and arranged music for many of the great jazz musicians of the twentieth century.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award

Book cover: When I Was the Greatest

2015 Winner

* When I Was The Greatest by Jason Reynolds is the Steptoe winner. In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen. “Urban fiction with heart, a meditation on the meaning of family, the power of friendship, and the value of loyalty.” — Booklist


 

John Newbery Medal

John Newbery Medal

The Newbery Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Book cover: The Crossover

2015 Winner

* The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is the 2015 Newbery Medal winner. Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health. “Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk.” — School Library Journal

Two Newbery Honor Books also were named:

El Deafo, written and illustrated by Cece Bell — In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson — Woodson shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South.


 

Margaret A. Edwards Medal

Margaret A. Edwards Award

The Margaret A. Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.

Sharon Draper

2015 Winner

The 2015 winner is Sharon M. Draper, author of more than 20 books, including Tears of a Tiger (1994), Forged by Fire (1997), Darkness Before Dawn (2001), The Battle of Jericho (2004), Copper Sun (2006), November Blues (2007), Fire From The Rock (2007) and Panic (2013) — all available at CA Library.

“For decades, Sharon M. Draper has imbued her characters with deeply human complexity and born witness to the universality of their experiences, sparking powerful conversations and building empathy among teen readers,” said Edwards Committee Chair Sophie Brookover.


 

Michael L. Printz AwardPrintz Medal

The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.

Book cover: I'll Give You the Sun

2015 Winner

* I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is the 2015 Printz Award winner. A story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal told from different points in time, and in separate voices, by artists Jude and her twin brother Noah. “In an electric style evoking the highly visual imaginations of the young narrators, Nelson captures the fraught, antagonistic, yet deeply loving relationship Jude and Noah share.” — Booklist starred review

Four Printz Honor Books also were named:

* And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard — Sent to an Amherst, Massachusetts, boarding school after her ex-boyfriend shoots himself, seventeen-year-old Emily expresses herself through poetry as she relives their relationship, copes with her guilt, and begins to heal.

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley — An evocative ode to the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Generation and a heartfelt exploration of tragedy, first love, and the transformative power of music.

* Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith — In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend, Robby, have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.

* This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki — Rose’s latest summer at a beach lake house is overshadowed by her parents’ constant arguments, her younger friend’s secret sorrows, and the dangerous activities of older teens.


 

Pura Belpre Award

Pura Belpré Awards

The Pura Belpré Award is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

Pura Belpré Illustrator Awards

Book covr: Viva Frida

2015 Winner

Viva Frida, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, is the Belpré Illustrator Award winner. Distinguished author/illustrator Yuyi Morales illuminates Frida Kahlo’s life and work in this elegant and fascinating book.

Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books were named:

Little Roja Riding Hood, illustrated by Susan Guevara, written by Susan Middleton Elya — This sassy retelling of Little Red Riding Hood has accessible Spanish rhymes and fresh illustrations, with hip cultural details throughout.

Green Is a Chile Pepper, illustrated by John Parra, written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong — In this lively picture book, children discover a world of colors all around them: red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh — Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California.

Pura Belpré Author Award

Book cover: I Lived on Butterfly Hill

2015 Winner

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín, illustrated by Lee White, is the 2015 Pura Belpré (Author) Award winner. An eleven-year-old’s world is upended by political turmoil in this searing novel from an award-winning poet, based on true events in Chile.

One Belpré Author Honor Book was named:

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, written by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raúl Colón — An inspiring tribute to Hispanic Americans who have made a positive impact on the world


 

Caldecott Medal

Randolph Caldecott Medal

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded annually , to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Book cover: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

2015 Winner

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, illustrated and written by Dan Santat, is the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner. Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one’s place in the world.

Six Caldecott Honor Books also were named:

Nana in the City, illustrated and written by Lauren Castillo — In this magical picture book, a young boy spends an overnight visit with his nana and is frightened to find that the city where she lives is filled with noise and crowds and scary things.

The Noisy Paint Box: The  Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, illustrated by Mary GrandPré, written by Barb Rosenstock — In this exuberant celebration of creativity, Rosenstock and GrandPré tell the fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the very first painters of abstract art.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett — With perfect pacing, the multi-award-winning team of Barnett and Klassen dig down for a deadpan tale full of visual humor.

Viva Frida, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, is the Belpré Illustrator Award winner. Distinguished author/illustrator Yuyi Morales illuminates Frida Kahlo’s life and work in this elegant and fascinating book.

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant — For shy young Peter Mark Roget, books were the best companions — and it wasn’t long before Peter began writing his own book. But he didn’t write stories; he wrote lists.

* This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki — Rose’s latest summer at a beach lake house is overshadowed by her parents’ constant arguments, her younger friend’s secret sorrows, and the dangerous activities of older teens.


 

Schneider Family Book AwardSchneider Family Book Award

The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

Schneider Family Book Award

2015 Winners

A Boy and a Jaguar, written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Catia Chien wins the award for children ages 0 to 10. Follow the life of the man Time Magazine calls “the Indiana Jones of wildlife conservation” as he searches for his voice and fulfills a promise to speak for animals, and people, who cannot speak for themselves.

Rain Reign, written by Ann M. Martin, is the winner ib the middle-school category (ages 11-13). Struggling with Asperger’s syndrome, Rose shares a bond with her beloved dog, but when the dog goes missing during a storm, Rose is forced to confront the limits of her comfort levels, even if it means leaving her routines in order to search for her pet.

The teen (ages 13-18) award winner is * Girls Like Us, written by Gail Giles. With gentle humor and unflinching realism, Giles tells the gritty, ultimately hopeful story of two special ed teenagers entering the adult world. “A powerful novel that teens will enjoy wholeheartedly.” — School Library Journal


 

Sibert Award MedalRobert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year.

Book cover: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

2015 Winner

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, written by Jen Bryant, is the Sibert Award winner. For shy young Peter Mark Roget, books were the best companions — and it wasn’t long before Peter began writing his own book. But he didn’t write stories; he wrote lists.

Five Sibert Honor Books were named:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, is the King Author Book winner. Woodson shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South. “[Woodson’s] memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of her pre-adolescent life into art.” — Booklist starred review

* The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming — The tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs—at once an intimate portrait of Russia’s last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. “An exhilarating narrative history of a doomed and clueless family and empire.” — Jim Murphy, author of An American Plague and The Great Fire.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson — A portrait of the performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker. “Well researched and spirited, this features innumerable points of discussion for young readers.” — Booklist

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands, written and illustrated by Katherine Roy — Up close with the ocean’s most fearsome and famous predator and the scientists who study them — just thirty miles from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh — Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California.


 

Stonewall Book Award Medal

Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award

Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to English-language works of exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.

Book cover: This Day in June2015 Winners

This Day in June, written by Gayle E. Pitman, Ph.D. and illustrated by Kristyna Litten is the winner of the 2015 Stonewall Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award. In a wildly whimsical, validating, and exuberant reflection of the LGBT community, Pitman and Litten welcome readers to experience a pride celebration and share in a day when we are all united. “A great addition to a school or personal library to add diversity in a responsible manner without contributing to stereotypes about LGBT people.” — School Library Journal

Three Honor Books were selected:

* Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin, photographed by Susan Kuklin — A groundbreaking work of LGBT literature takes an honest look at the life, love, and struggles of transgender teens. “Kuklin’s important new book brings welcome clarity to a subject that has often been obscure and gives faces — literally and metaphorically — to a segment of the teen population that has too long been invisible.” — Booklist starred review

* I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson — A story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal told from different points in time, and in separate voices, by artists Jude and her twin brother Noah. “In an electric style evoking the highly visual imaginations of the young narrators, Nelson captures the fraught, antagonistic, yet deeply loving relationship Jude and Noah share.” — Booklist starred review

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, written by Christine Baldacchio, pictures by Isabelle Malenfant — A young boy faces adversity from classmates when he wears a tangerine colored dress to school. “Rather than presenting an overt message about gender identity, the book provides a subtle and refreshing glimpse at a boy who simply likes to dress up.” — School Library Journal


 

William C. Morris Award Medal

William C. Morris Award

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

Book cover: Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

2015 Winner

* Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero is the 2015 Morris Award winner. Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez chronicles her senior year in high school as she copes with her friend Cindy’s pregnancy, her friend Sebastian’s coming out, her father’s meth habit, her own cravings for food and cute boys, and especially, the poetry that helps forge her identity. “A refreshing take on slut- and fat-shaming, Quintero’s work ranks with Meg Medina’s Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass and Junot Diaz’s Drown as a coming-of-age novel with Latino protagonists.” — School Library Journal

Four other books were finalists for the award:

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley — When sixteen-year-old Maggie Lynch must relocate to a tiny seaside town in Ireland, she relies on care packages from her rocker uncle Kevin, but when she experiences first love and a death, Maggie heads off to explore the seedy side of Dublin, and then Rome.

* The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston — In an alternate world where industrialization has caused many species of carbon-eating dragons to thrive, Owen, a slayer being trained by his famous father and aunt, and Siobahn, his bard, face a dragon infestation near their small town in Canada.

* The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos — Written as a college admission essay, eighteen-year-old Harry Jones recounts a childhood defined by the hideous scars he hid behind, and how forming a band brought self-confidence, friendship, and his first kiss.

* The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton — Ava Lavender tells the story of her young life starting with her birth in 1944 in Seattle, Washington, when she was born with wings.


 

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a Nov. 1 – Oct. 31 publishing year.

Book cover: Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek

2015 Winner

* Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen is the 2015 Excellence winner. A breakout teen author explores the true meaning of popularity and how to survive middle school in this hysterically funny, touchingly honest contemporary memoir. “While completely appropriate for middle school readers, Popular is even more entertaining for adults.  Van Wagenen is a uniquely gifted talent with a gem of a first book.” — VOYA

Four other books were finalists for the award:

* Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw — Burcaw describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a “you-only-live-once” perspective on life.

* The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming — The tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs — at once an intimate portrait of Russia’s last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing.

* Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business—and Won! by Emily Arnold McCully — A biography of Tarbell, a journalist who made history by writing a series of articles detailing the shady business practices of John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Trust.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin — The story of fifty black sailors who refused to work in unsafe and unfair conditions after an explosion in Port Chicago killed 320 servicemen, and how the incident influenced civil rights.

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Best Adult Nonfiction of 2014!

Posted by calibrary on January 16, 2015

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Best-Books-of-2014-2We wrap up our look at the best books of 2014 with our list of the Best Adult Nonfiction of the year.

Just like I did for the Best YA Books of 2014, I compiled year-end lists from my usual sources for book reviews (BooklistKirkus ReviewsAdult Books 4 Teens, etc.), then checked other media outlets — newspapers, magazines and social media sites — to see which adult nonfiction books were being listed among the best of 2014.

This year, from the 18 lists I drew from, one title appeared on 11 of them — The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs. Another book was on 10 lists — In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides. One book showed up on 9 best of lists, two titles made it onto 8 lists, eight were on 6 lists, and nine were on 5. Those 22 titles make up the CA Library Best Adult Nonfiction of 2014 Superlist!

Titles marked with an asterisk are in the CA Library collection. Click the (*) to check availability.

The Best of the Best…

  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs (Coming soon!) — A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets—and of one’s own nature—when he returns home. “A haunting work of nonfiction…. Mr. Hobbs writes in a forthright but not florid way about a heartbreaking story.” — The New York Times 
  • In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides (Coming soon!) — Bestselling author Sides returns with a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age. With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, this is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth. “Impeccable writing, a vivid re-creation of the expedition and the Victorian era, and a taut conclusion make this an exciting gem.” — Publishers Weekly starred review
  • The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison — From personal loss to phantom diseases, beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others. “A virtuosic manifesto of human pain. . . . Jamison stitches together the intellectual and the emotional with the finesse of a crackerjack surgeon. . . . The result is a soaring performance on the humanizing effects of empathy.” — NPR
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande — Bestselling author Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending. “American medicine, Being Mortal reminds us, has prepared itself for life but not for death. This is Atul Gawande’s most powerful—and moving—book.” — Malcolm Gladwell
  • Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David by Lawrence Wright — A gripping day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference, when President Jimmy Carter persuaded Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to sign the first peace treaty in the modern Middle East, one which endures to this day. “Wright delivers an authoritative, fascinating, and relatively unbiased exploration of a pivotal period and a complicated subject.” — Publishers Weekly
  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (*) — A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes. “[Kolbert’s] extensive travels in researching this book, and her insightful treatment of both the history and the science all combine to make The Sixth Extinction an invaluable contribution to our understanding of present circumstances, just as the paradigm shift she calls for is sorely needed.” — Al Gore, The New York Times Book Review

And The Rest of the Best…

  • Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay (Coming soon!) — “This trenchant collection assembles previously published essays and new work by cultural critic and novelist Gay (An Untamed State). Even though she loves pink, feels nostalgic about the Sweet Valley High series, and lets degrading rap lyrics blast from her car stereo, Gay is passionately committed to feminist issues, such as equal opportunity and pay and reproductive freedom…Whatever her topic, Gay’s provocative essays stand out for their bravery, wit, and emotional honesty.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir by Roz Chast — National Book Award finalist Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents in a graphic memoir that is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. “Ms. Chast reminds us how deftly the graphic novel can capture ordinary crises in ordinary American lives, how a mixture of cartoons and photographs and text can create a family portrait with all the intimacy and emotional power of a conventional prose memoir.” — Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
  • Just Mercy: A Story Of Justice And Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (Coming soon!) — An unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice. “Stevenson writes with impassioned purpose about the early work of the Equal Justice Initiative that he founded to defend the poor and the wrongly condemned and convicted.” — Barnes & Noble
  • Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart — The all too true story of an immigrant family betting its future on America, as told by a lifelong misfit who finally finds a place for himself in the world through books and words. “Dazzling . . . a rich, nuanced memoir . . . It’s an immigrant story, a coming-of-age story, a becoming-a-writer story, and a becoming-a-mensch story, and in all these ways it is, unambivalently, a success.” — Meg Wolitzer, NPR
  • Soldier Girls: The Battles Of Three Women At Home And Abroad by Helen Thorpe (Coming soon!) — A groundbreaking account of three women deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and how their military service affected their friendship, their personal lives, and their families. “In the tradition of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Richard Rhodes, and other masters of literary journalism, Soldier Girls is utterly absorbing, gorgeously written, and unforgettable.” — Boston Globe
  • The Invisible Bridge: The Fall Of Nixon And The Rise Of Reagan by Rick Perlstein — From the bestselling author of Nixonland, a dazzling portrait of America on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the tumultuous political and economic times of the 1970s. “Perlstein seems to leave no newspaper article, television broadcast or magazine piece unexamined. He is particularly deft linking pop culture to broader societal trends.” — Jonathan Martin, The New York Times
  • The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anand Giridharadas — The story of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force officer who dreams of immigrating to America and working in technology. But days after 9/11, an avowed “American terrorist” named Mark Stroman, seeking revenge, walks into the Dallas minimart where Bhuiyan has found temporary work and shoots him, maiming and nearly killing him. “From murder to execution, forgiveness, personal responsibility, governmental intervention and more, there are enough dichotomies here to fuel heated book-club discussions for years.” — Booklist
  • Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates — Gates’ strikingly candid, vivid account of serving Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama as Secretary of Defense during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “A refreshingly honest memoir and a moving one.” — The Wall Street Journal
  • Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar (Coming soon!) — When the San José mine collapsed outside of Copiapó, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days. The entire world watched what transpired above-ground during the grueling and protracted rescue, but the saga of the miners’ experiences below the Earth’s surface—and the lives that led them there—has never been heard until now. “A nonfiction account with the elemental heft of myth and fable.”  — Nick Romeo, Christian Science Monitor
  • Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town by Beth Macy (Coming soon!) — Macy (The Roanoke (VA) Times) brings to life John Bassett III’s deeply personal furniture and family story, along with a host of characters from an industry that was as cutthroat as it was colorful. “Macy interviews the Bassett family, laid-off and retired workers, executives in Asia, and many others, providing vivid reporting and lucid explanations of the trade laws and agreements that caused a way of life to disappear.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis — Four years after his #1 bestseller The Big Short, Michael Lewis returns to Wall Street to report on a high-tech predator stalking the equity markets. “Because Mr. Lewis is at the helm finding clear, simple metaphors for even the most impenetrable financial minutiae, this tawdry tale should make sense to anyone. And so should its shock value. Flash Boys is guaranteed to make blood boil.” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times
  • Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham — For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, poignant, and extremely frank collection of personal essays confirms Lena Dunham—the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls—as one of the brightest and most original writers working today. “[Dunham] makes her hard-won lessons accessible to all readers, whether they’re Girls fans or not.” — Library Journal
  • On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss (Coming soon!) — In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. “[Biss] advances from all sides, like a chess player, drawing on science, myth, literature to herd us to the only logical end, to vaccinate.” — Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Book Review
  • The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (Coming soon!) — A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism. “Lepore’s brilliance lies in knowing what to do with the material she has. In her hands, the Wonder Woman story unpacks not only a new cultural history of feminism, but a theory of history as well.” — Carla Kaplan, The New York Times Book Review
  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (*) — From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. “Catchy and approachable…There’s plenty of scientific rigor behind his elaborate explanations but he punctuates them with sly humor and winningly primitive cartoon diagrams…A cut above so many popular science and technology books.” — NPR
  • A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention by Matt Richtel (*) — A landmark exploration of the vast and expanding impact of technology, rivetingly told through the lens of a deadly collision. “A highly accessible and timely work. Readers of popular narrative and scientific nonfiction will certainly find this to be a brisk and important read.” — Library Journal

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Best Adult Fiction of 2014!

Posted by calibrary on January 12, 2015

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Best-Books-of-2014-2We continue our look at the best books of 2014 with our list of the Best Adult Fiction of the year.

Just like I did for the Best YA Books of 2014, I compiled year-end lists from my usual sources for book reviews (Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Adult Books 4 Teens, etc.), then checked other media outlets — newspapers, magazines and social media sites — to see which adult books were being listed among the best of 2014.

This year, from the 20 lists I drew from, one title appeared on 13 of them — All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Another book was on 12 lists — The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Four books showed up on 11 best of lists, one title made it onto 10 lists, four were on 8 lists, and five were on 7. Those 16 titles make up the CA Library Best Adult Fiction of 2014 Superlist!

Titles marked with an asterisk are in the CA Library collection. Click the (*) to check availability.

The Best of the Best…

  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr — The beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. “If a book’s success can be measured by its ability to move readers and the number of memorable characters it has, Story Prize–winner Doerr’s novel triumphs on both counts.” — Publishers Weekly starred review
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell — Following a terrible fight with her mother over her boyfriend, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her family and her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. “Magical… perfectly illustrates the idea that we’re all the heroes of our own lives as well as single cogs in a much larger and more beautiful mechanism.” — Entertainment Weekly
  • Euphoria by Lily King — Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, King’s breakout novel tells the story of three young, gifted anthropologists of the 1930s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. “King does not shy from showing the uncomfortable relationship among all three anthropologists and those they study. A small gem, disturbing and haunting.” — Kirkus starred review
  • Redeployment by Phil Klay (*)Takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. “In Klay’s hands, Iraq comes across not merely as a theater of war but as a laboratory for the human condition in extremis.” — New York Times Book Review
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson — Revisiting the characters and setting of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead and Home, Robinson returns to the town of Gilead in a story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder. “Writing in lovely, angular prose that has the high loneliness of an old bluegrass tune, Ms. Robinson has created a balladlike story about two lost people who, after years of stoic solitariness, unexpectedly find love.” — The New York Times
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (*) — Following civilization’s collapse, a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roam the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. “This book isn’t exactly a feel-good romp, but for a post-apocalyptic novel, Station Eleven comes remarkably close.” — National Public Radio

And The Rest of the Best…

  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James — James (The Book of Night Women) delves into the dangerous and unstable history of Jamaica over the last three decades. “Epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex.” — The New York Times
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (*) — Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. “Wonderfully moving…Emotionally precise…A beautifully crafted study of dysfunction and grief…[this book] will resonate with anyone who has ever had a family drama.” — Boston Globe
  • The Book Of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez (*) — When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core. “Henríquez’s feat is to make the reader feel at home amid these good, likeable people. Be warned: The price of this closeness is the book’s tragic conclusion.” — The Wall Street Journal
  • The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (*) — In the final book of Grossman’s The Magicians trilogy, Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. “[This] is the strongest book in Grossman’s series. It not only offers a satisfying conclusion to Quentin Coldwater’s quests, earthly and otherwise, but also considers complex questions about identity and selfhood as profound as they are entertaining.” — The New York Times Book Review
  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters — In 1922 London, impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers. With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. “One of the year’s most engrossing and suspenseful novels: …a love affair, a shocking murder, and a flawless ending. Will keep you sleepless for three nights straight and leave you grasping for another book that can sustain that high.” — Entertainment Weekly
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride — In scathing, furious, unforgettable prose, McBride tells the story of a young girl’s devastating adolescence as she and her brother, who suffers from a brain tumor, struggle for a semblance of normalcy in the shadow of sexual abuse, denial, and chaos at home. “This book will confound readers who like their text traditional, but it’s addictive and flowing and works perfectly to capture a heroine whose voice we need to hear.” — Library Journal starred review
  • All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu — A sweeping, continent-spanning story about the love between men and women, between friends, and between citizens and their countries, All Our Names is a transfixing exploration of the relationships that define us. “Weighted with sorrow and gravitas, another superb story by Mengestu, who is among the best novelists now at work in America.” — Kirkus starred review
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami — The story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. “Tsukuru’s situation will resonate with anyone who feels adrift in this age of Google and Facebook.” — San Francisco Chronicle
  • The Martian by Andy Weir (*) — After a dust storm on Mars nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, astronaut Mark Watney finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive. “Deftly avoiding the problem of the Robinson Crusoe tale that bogs down in repetitious behavior, Weir uses Watney’s proactive nature and determination to survive to keep the story escalating to a riveting conclusion.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante — In this third novel in Ferrante’s Neapolitan series, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at sixteen and has a young son; Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel. Both women are pushing against the walls of a prison that would have seen them living a life of misery, ignorance and submission. “Superbly translated, this tour de force shows off Ferrante’s strong storytelling ability and will leave readers eager for the final volume of the series. An excellent choice for book clubs.” — Library Journal starred review

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