Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best Books of 2014

I have read a lot of books this year--something around 85.  And about 70 were read during retirement Here are some of the best books I read. (In the order I read them.)

The Orchardist.  Amanda Coplin.  An amazing first novel; a unique voice.    An old man and the daughter of a pregnant runaway form a family

Euphoria.  Lily King.  Another totally unexpected book.  Based on the relations among Margaret Mead, her current (second) husband Reo Fortune, and her next husband Gregory Bateson:  all doing anthropology in New Guinea.

Austerlitz.  W.G. Sebold.  Wow.  I had never read Sebold til this summer (Error). This summer I read The Emigrants and Austerlitz.  Now onto the rest.

 Constellation of Vital Phenomena.  Anthony Marra.  Another unexpected novel. Set in Chechnya; beautifully sad.

The Age of Insight.  Eric Kandel. Written by a Nobel-winning neuroscientist and art collector (no one should be this smart), this book traces the "inward turn" in Vienna from the late 19C to the early 20C. The first part begins with a history of medicine in Vienna, then on to Freud and the Vienna early modernist painters, especially Klimt, Schiele, and Kokoschka.  The remainder of the book locates the discoveries of these intellectuals and artists in contemporary knowledge of how the brain works.

Tom Jones.  Henry Fielding.  Not altogether sure it was a "best book," but I couldn't not include it.  (I was educated in the canon.)  Tony and I read Richardson's Clarissa last year (one of the best books ever) and felt we needed to read Tom Jones for what is surely our last time.  

All the Light We Cannot See.  Anthony Doerr.  As good as the reviews.

A Month in the Country.  J. L. Carr.  Paul Griner kept telling me it is one of the best novels written, and he is right.

 Stoner. John McGahern.  An academic novel that transcends the genre.  Existential tragedy and beautifully written.

Effie Briest.  Theodor Fontane.  The best of the early 20C German/Austrian novels I read.  (And I read a lot.)

I also read a lot of Hungarian novels.  But that is for another post.

1 comment :

  1. Debra, I'm going to look forward to following this blog.... and taking notes on How It's Done : ) I'm glad you are staying in touch with some of your colleagues/friends from UofL. See you at GNO soon! Happy New Year too!