As the end-of-year book lists flood blogs and newspapers, I’ve looked back over this year’s (long) reading list and handpicked a few favorites. Not all of these were published in 2014, but I read them all for the first time (except Best Reread) in 2014.
Best Road Trip with a Cranky Narrator: Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck. I loved every page of Steinbeck’s wry, witty observations as he and Charley (a dignified elderly poodle) crisscrossed the country together in 1960. (It was also my top pick in our Great New Books roundup.)
Most Evocative Wartime Fiction: a tie between After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson (out Jan. 6) and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Very different novels, both stunning in their exploration of the effects of war on ordinary people.
Best Insights on Food and Marriage: Delancey by Molly Wizenberg. Her story of building a pizza restaurant with her husband was fascinating, and her musings on how hard it can be to support your spouse rang so true.
Most Beautifully Written Classic: The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. I love Cather’s prose and her skill is on full display in this early novel (though My Ántonia is still my favorite Cather novel).
Wittiest Adaptation of a Classic: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick. (I also loved the YouTube video series.)
Best Love Story With Playlists: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. Made me want to hop in a car with a handsome boy and drive for miles with the windows down.
Yummiest Cozy Mystery Series: the Hayley Snow novels by Lucy Burdette. A food writer gets mixed up in various mysteries on Key West.
Loveliest Meditation on Ireland and Life: The House on an Irish Hillside by Felicity Hayes-McCoy.
Favorite Elderly Spy: Definitely Mrs. Pollifax.
Best Reread: Bel Canto, whose elegant prose and engrossing story swept me up all over again. Though I also loved revisiting To Kill a Mockingbird and some Jane Austen.
What were your favorite books this year? I can always use more recommendations – though the TBR stacks are teetering, as ever.