Best Books of 2014: Sheer Randomness

I’ve done both my best of for fiction and nonfiction for 2014, so why another list? Well, I feel like there are still some “best of” books that I’d like to mention, but didn’t quite make the cut for the overall lists. These are books that I read in 2014 that I absolutely adored, and I made up the random categories they go in . . . hence the name Best Books of 2014: Sheer Randomness.

Swapna's Best of 2014: Sheer Randomness

Best celebrity memoir on audio:

No Land’s Man – Aasif Mandvi 

Aasif Mandvi’s memoir is hilarious, of course, but it’s also an insightful cultural memoir about growing up in the UK and America with brown skin. My review of this memoir is coming soon, and I’ll link it up when it goes live.

Best book of 2015 (so far):

A Bad Character – Deepti Kapoor (releases in February, keep an eye out for the review!)

Best mystery about a religious group:

Tie: The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison and Invisible City by Julia Dahl

The Bishop’s Wife doesn’t release until the end of December, so my review will go up in January. It’s about a Mormon housewife, the wife of a local bishop, and it’s both gripping for its plot and for its fascinating insight into modern-day Mormon culture.

Best book that I wish I’d given a higher rating to because of how it’s stuck with me:

I Am China – Xiaolu Guo

Best book that actually lived up to all the hype:

The Southern Reach Trilogy – Jeff VanderMeer

Best fiction book of 2013 that I read in 2014:

The Grammarian – Annapurna Potluri

Best nonfiction book of 2013 that I read in 2014:

The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay – Hooman Majd

Best YA novel:

Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer

Best book about books:

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin

Best novel about ballet:

Tie: Astonish Me – Maggie Shipstead

Best historical novel:

Tie: While Beauty Slept – Elizabeth Blackwell and The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Best romance novel:

A Bollywood Affair – Sonali Dev

Best crazy ride of weirdness that still has me reeling:

Broken Monsters – Lauren Beukes

Best Books of 2014: Nonfiction

Yesterday I posted my Best of 2014 list for fiction, and so today is my Best Books of 2014: Nonfiction. Each of these books has stayed with me for one reason or another, whether it be because of current events, cultural issues, my town of DC and its difficult past, the passion I’ve had for Greek mythology since childhood, my absolute and unapologetic love of all things NASA, or something else entirely. I loved and adored every book on this list; I found that they read for me as quickly as any tightly written work of nonfiction. They are not perfect; some have issues here and there, but they are unmatched for the way they have resonated with me.

Swapna's Best of 2014: Nonfiction

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Atul Gawande

The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan – Jenny Nordberg

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution – Jonathan Eig

I didn’t do a long form review for Jonathan Eig’s novel because I covered it at a third-party publication that has yet to publish my piece. Eig’s history of the birth control pill is completely fascinating; this book is an intersection of history, science, social issues, and more. Eig balances the history with insightful commentary, and does an excellent job showing how the birth control revolution changed women’s lives at that time, giving women a taste of true freedom, while also highlighting how women are being forced to fight the same battles now that we supposedly won decades ago.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise – Chris Taylor

Bad Feminist: Essays – Roxane Gay

S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in DC – Ruben Castaneda

Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space – Lynn Scherr

Without You There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite – Suki Kim

An Iranian Metamorphosis – Mana Neyestani

Neyestani’s is the one book that I haven’t yet reviewed, simply because the publication date kept getting pushed back (it finally released on December 2). This graphic memoir about cartoonist Neyestani’s time in an Iranian prison is full of dark humor and it highlights the scarily whimsical nature of Iranian “justice.” My review will be coming soon, and I’ll link it up once it’s posted.

[Edit: link has been posted]

Why Homer Matters – Adam Nicolson

Best Books of 2014: Fiction

It’s that time of year again. The best of lists are coming out (or really, for the most part, have already been released) and I, of course, feel I have to get in on the action. It took me a long time to put this list together, longer than I feel like it should have! There were many things I wanted to balance; namely that I wanted to include my absolute favorites of the year but also not emphasize too heavily the books that have made every other best of list.

These are the books I honestly feel were the best that were published in 2014. There are a lot I feel like I’m leaving off this list; picking these books is never easy and I always feel like I’m being unfair to the books left off this list. They’re a pretty good mix of genres and authors. I considered writing a paragraph for each pick, but really, I feel like each of these reviews covers anything I’d want to to say.

Tomorrow, I’ll post my nonfiction list, but here are my picks for the Best Books of 2014 for fiction.

Swapna's Best of 2014 - Fiction

The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal – G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel – Sara Farizan

The Magician’s Land – Lev Grossman

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami

The Secret Place – Tana French

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

Be Safe I Love You – Cara Hoffman

Pioneer Girl – Bich Minh Nguyen

The Martian – Andy Weir

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