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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