I read nine adult novels this year; four were exceptional (all have 2014 publication dates):
This intricate and unforgettable novel of two young people (one French, one German) caught up in the catastrophe of World War II deserve all the praise, awards, and spots on bestseller lists that it has received.
I was happy to see this absorbing read of a 1970s young African revolutionary who finds himself in small-town Ohio on several "Best of 2014" lists.
If you prefer your historical fiction to have more romance, more royals and fewer war scenes, you'll love The Fortune Hunter, especially if you're a fan of Downton Abbey-ish/Upstairs Downstairs historical dramas. This is a literary soap opera and great fun to read.
Due to the 100th year anniversary of the beginning of World War I, 2014 saw a ton of fiction and nonfiction about the Great War. This follows a group of women who journey to France to visit the graves of their sons who never returned from the battlefield; sorrowful, inspirational, and even funny at times.
I read 37 adult nonfiction books this year; 6 were outstanding (all have 2014 publication dates):
Books about Catholic saints are often written for spiritual guidance and inspiration; biographies written from a secular and historical viewpoint are few and far between. This biography of the first American-born saint is a gripping and powerful read for readers of all faiths.
This was the last book I finished in 2014; fitting, since I read it while traveling to and from Louisiana for Christmas. It encompasses many intriguing and tragic aspects of New Orleans history: the extreme prejudice against African-Americans and Italian-Americans at the time (which resulted in lynchings in both communities), the rise of jazz and the seedy underworld of New Orleans. Although history buffs, jazz lovers, and those who will read anything about New Orleans will tear through these pages, this is also a fantastic read for true crime fans.
I appreciate an autobiography that goes beyond the standard "I was born on ____" form. The long-standing cartoon editor of The New Yorker not only treats us to his life story, but also gives insight into the creation of cartoons for the legendary magazine.
This account of a mother of a child with hearing loss is both poignant and informative, with careful attention given to advocates for cochlear implants and American Sign Language,
The rise and fall of home economics, specifically sensible fashion and clothing repair education, is told in this admiring yet critical overview.
The life of the very public and very private astronaut, scientist, and science education advocate is movingly and brilliantly told in this first full-length adult biography.
Next Friday, we'll continue riding the nonfiction train and ponder what a great year 2014 was for children's and young adult nonfiction.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library