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Favorite Fiction of 2014

Although the end of 2014 is still a couple of weeks away, I like to get my end of the year book lists written and posted before the holidays — by the time I get back from Christmas travel, I’m so busy thinking about the new year that it’s hard to get myself to go back.

First up, I’m sharing my favorite fiction reads of 2014. It’s important to note a few things about this list. First, it doesn’t include just books published in 2014, it’s pulled from all the books I read this year. However, now that I look closely, it seems that most of them actually were new releases this year… whatever!

Second, I don’t think these books are necessarily the best books of the year, they’re just the books that I loved most. And third, they’re listed in no particular order — I loved each of them nearly equally as much. With all those caveats off the table, on to the list!

favorite fiction 1

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – This inventive take on the post-apocalyptic novel grabbed me at the first page and didn’t let go. Reading straight through it during the fall Readathon is one of my top reading experiences of the year. (Review)

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – I just finished this book a few days ago and can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a haunting look at how difficult it can be to communicate with the people we love, as well as a thoughtful look at the challenges facing a middle class, mixed-race family in the late 1970s. It was so good.

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood – This is the first short story collection I’ve read in a long while that seemed to hit me perfectly. Atwood is a masterful storyteller and really infuses every piece in this collection with a sense of past and future. (Review)

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman – The Magicians trilogy is probably not for everyone, but it was a perfect trilogy for me. I loved the way this book concluded these stories and I’m excited to see what Grossman works on next.

favorite fiction 2

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman – This quiet novel, about a thirty-something bookstore owner named Tooly digging into her past, didn’t get as much love and I thought it might. The book alternates between three threads, sharing Tooly’s history and exploring how she got to where she is. I read this one over my birthday weekend in July and loved it.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo – This is another final book in a trilogy, this one a young adult fantasy set in a world much like Imperial Russia. It has a whip-smart, sarcastic, challenging main character and a bunch of vivid supporting cast members. It’s such a fun series. (Review)

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – I loved the way this book felt like three stories in one, held together by a distinct and well-drawn main character. (Review)

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona StaplesSaga is one of the strangest most wonderful comic book series I’m struggling to describe the plot, so I’ll send you to Wikipedia and just say that this is so good and you should start reading it now.

Whew! It really was a wonderful year in fiction reading. I’ll be back at the beginning of next week with my list of top nonfiction for the year, sneaking that list in just before the holidays begin.

What was the best novel you read this year?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • BermudaOnion(Kathy) December 17, 2014, 7:32 am

    I haven’t read any of these books but really want to get a copy of Station Eleven.

  • Sheila (Book Journey) December 17, 2014, 8:57 am

    Great line up – I have to do my best of 2014 as well yet. Station Eleven will be my first book of the year for the First book meme because of all the raves I have seen on it. Can not wait!!!

    You have some others I would like to check out as well 🙂

    • Kim December 21, 2014, 8:59 am

      That’s a great choice for a first book of the year — it’s wonderful.

  • Belle Wong December 17, 2014, 9:13 am

    Nice list. I haven’t read any of these books yet, but I have three of them on my to-read list: Station Eleven, The Paying Guests and Saga. I got sneaky and bought Station Eleven for my son for Christmas (I’m pretty sure he’ll like it) so I won’t have to wait until my turn on the holds list at the library!

    • Kim December 21, 2014, 9:00 am

      I did a similar thing for Christmas — I got the boyfriend a book I think he will like, but that I know I will like if he doesn’t 🙂

  • Aarti December 17, 2014, 11:00 am

    So many of these books I have on my list to read! I have Station Eleven, Everything I Never Told You, and The Magician’s Land on my wish list at the library. So obviously, now I should add the others 🙂 I have been on the fence about The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, but maybe I should give it a go. And I have the first book in that YA series on my shelf, so should get on it!

    • Kim December 21, 2014, 9:01 am

      I read that one over my Fourth of July vacation and really enjoyed it. I love books with inventive plot structures, so that’s part of where the fun came for me.

  • Beth December 17, 2014, 1:47 pm

    Everything I Never Told You sounds really good–will have to add that one to my TBR list.

  • Trisha December 17, 2014, 4:29 pm

    Great list! You’ve definitely added to my wishlist.

  • Ann December 18, 2014, 7:47 am

    I loved Everything I Never Told You also . . . and I read it a couple of months ago and am still thinking about it. Our book club discussed it and ran out of time before we ran out of discussion material. I am going to be brave and try Station Eleven, because I’ve heard so many great things about it, even though I usually only like realistic fiction.

    • Kim December 21, 2014, 9:03 am

      That would be such a great book club book. There’s so much great stuff about families and how we communicate and how we project our stuff on to other people.

      And despite the post-apocalyptic setting, I think Station Eleven is very realistic book. It’s very much about people and life, and less about the intricacies of a world-ending disaster. I hope you’ll give it a try!

  • C.J. December 18, 2014, 9:12 am

    Station Eleven was one of my favourite books this year as well. It was so beautifully written and explored some themes that I couldn’t stop thinking about after finishing the book.

    • Kim December 21, 2014, 9:03 am

      I know that one will be a reread at some point in the future… I haven’t stopped thinking about it either.

  • susan December 18, 2014, 7:19 pm

    This is a nice rundown Kim. You read a lot of good novels it seems. I want to read the Ng book mostly. I liked Peter Heller’s book The Painter but am still looking for the best novel this year. Nonfiction seemed to soar more for me this year. Cheers.

    • Kim December 21, 2014, 9:04 am

      I feel like a had a mix. I had some nonfiction that knocked my sock off, and some fiction that left me breathless too. I’m glad of that balance.

  • Susan December 18, 2014, 9:44 pm

    I haven’t read any of the books yet, though Station Eleven is on my radar for next year (when it is in softcover), and I’ve heard of Things I Never Told You, Stone Mattress and The Magician’s Land. I think I will read the Lev Grossman books now that the trilogy are all published 🙂 Happy to hear the third made your best of the year list. You read some interesting books this year, Kim.

    • Kim December 21, 2014, 9:04 am

      Putting book three on the list was really just a way of putting all three of them here — I reread books one and two before jumping into book three. It was so fun to be able to do that.

  • Leah @ Books Speak Volumes December 19, 2014, 1:09 pm

    So many good books! I loved Station Eleven and Stone Mattress and really liked The Paying Guests. Everything I Never Told You and The Rise and Fall of Great Powers are on my TBR list!

  • Linda Boa @ crimeworm December 22, 2014, 7:39 pm

    Station Eleven is everywhere right now, as is Everything I Never Told You. I’ve got that and am looking forward to it. The Paying Guests, I think I’ll save for over Christmas…have had it since the day it came out but am saving it for special. I know, weird….

    • Kim December 28, 2014, 8:49 pm

      Nope, not weird! I love to save certain books for special occasions — it makes reading feel like a celebration.

  • Sarah's Book Shelves December 24, 2014, 7:24 am

    Station Eleven was on my Best of 14 list too! It seems to be universally appealing and totally living up to the hype. And I liked Everything I Never Told You as well – it made my Best Debuts of 2014 list.

  • Sherry December 26, 2014, 10:14 pm

    I added your list to my collection of end of the year book lists at my blog Semicolon. Thanks for the recommendations.

    • Kim December 28, 2014, 8:50 pm

      Thanks for including my list!

  • Laurie C December 31, 2014, 9:35 am

    My #1 favorite was The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis. I just posted my list today, and found the same thing as you: Most of mine turned out to be published in 2014. A surprise, because I thought I was more behind in my reading! Still have Station Eleven to be read. I was really impressed with the author’s previous book, The Lola Quartet.

    • Kim January 3, 2015, 6:26 pm

      I really want to delve into Mandel’s backlist this year. I was so impressed with Station Eleven.

  • Lu January 4, 2015, 8:37 am

    Wasn’t Everything I Never Told You amazing? It made my year-end list too. I have Station Eleven checked out from the library, so it’s going to be one of my first reads of 2015 and I’m so excited.

    • Kim January 5, 2015, 8:53 pm

      Tell me when you finish Station Eleven so we can gush about it, and Everything I Never Told You. SO GOOD.

  • Susan January 4, 2015, 8:06 pm

    So many of yours are on my wish-list already: Station Eleven, Everything I Never Told You, and I’m thinking about reading the Magician series by Grossman. So glad you loved everything so much that you read this year! Happy reading in 2015, Kim.

  • Melissa January 5, 2015, 10:45 pm

    I bought Saga for my brother for Christmas and was very sad he took back it to Kansas with him because I wanted to read it. 😉 Ah, well…he’ll move back in a couple of months.