Archive for the ‘Best Books 2014’ Category

Tweet Your Favorites of the Year

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Librarians are tweeting their favorites titles of the year in a countdown that ends on Wednesday. It’s not too late to join in.  The rules are simple:

Count down your top 10 fave books of 2014, one per day. TITLE in caps, tag #libfaves14.

If you haven’t started yet, you can “cheat” and tweet your #10 through #3 picks today and pick up with #2 tomorrow.

We’ve Storified the 799 tweets that have arrived through this morning (scroll through them, not only for title recommendations, but to see how creatively librarians use 140 characters or fewer)

See the latest tweets here.

The roundups of the previous year’s tweets result in some fascinating lists, quite different from the critics’ picks for those years:

Year Three, 2013

Year Two, 2012

Year One, 2011

Number One Books of 2014

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Now that most of the adult best books lists have appeared (still to come in January, the various ALA lists and Booklist‘s picks), we can put them all together for a “Best of the Bests (So Far).”

If you’re itching to get your favorite books recognized, tweet them using the hashtag #libfaves14.

Based on the various top ten lists — NYT Book Review, Entertainment Weekly  (list not online; titles on this downloadable spreadsheet, Ent. Wkly Top Ten Best Books), Time magazine, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and the Amazon editors (who rank their entire list of 100 titles — imagine those discussions) — plus other best books picks, we’ve come up with a ranked list (please don’t question us on our method; it combines art and science) of the top 55 titles of the year, 2014-Best-Books-Ranked, allowing us to announce the #1 book of the year.

First, a review of those publications who had the guts to declare #1 titles.

Number One Picks, By Publication:

Entertaiment Weekly  — #1 Book of the Year

Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven, (RH/Knopf; BOT), OverDrive Sample

Time Magazine — #1 Fiction

Tana French, The Secret Place (Penguin/Viking; BOT)), OverDrive Sample

Time Magazine — #1 Nonfiction

Helen Thorpe,  Soldier Girls, (S&S/Scribner; Dreamscape Audio), OverDrive Sample

Time Magazine,  #1 YA Book

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart, (RH/Delacorte; Listening Library), OverDrive Sample

Amazon Editors, #1 Book of the Year

Celeste Ng,  Everything I Never Told You, (Penguin Press; Blackstone Audio), OverDrive Sample

LibraryReads #1 Favorite of Favorites

Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, (Workman/Algonquin Books; Highbridge Audio), OverDrive Sample

As a result of weighing all the lists, we are able to declare the …

Overall Number One Book of the Year:

Phil  Klay, Redeployment, (Penguin Press; Penguin Audio), OverDrive Sample


NYT Book Review,
Notable Childrens & Teen Books

Friday, December 5th, 2014

The New York Times Book Review just completed their best books selections by releasing their Notable Childrens Books.

We’ve added their 25 picks to our downloadable spreadsheet, for your use in ordering and creating displays, 2014-Best-Books-Childrens-and-YA-V.6, bringing the total number of titles on the list to 280.

Two books continue to be the leaders in the number of picks, Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award winning memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin) and E. Lockhart’s Y.A. novel, We Were Liars. (RH/Delacorte).

Middle Grade Leaders

9781419710209_c5d95   9780312643003_8b649

The two leading middle grade books are about kids learning to deal with disabilities, Cece Bell’s graphic memoir, El Deafo (Abrams) and Ann M. Martin’s novel about a girl with Asperger’s, Rain Reign (Feiwel & Friends)

Leading Picture Book

9781442497443_a0c84Two-time Caldecott Honor winner Marla Frazee’s The Farmer and the Clown leads in the number of best books picks for the category.

The NYT BR describes this wordless book as ” visually poetic.”


NYT BR Unique Picks

The majority of the 280 titles on our collated list were picked by just one source. The NYT BR adds their own 3 unique picks (annotations from the Times):

Arcady’s Goal9780805098440_21da9. Written and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, (Macmillan/Holt; ages 9 to 12.)

“In this memorable illustrated novel, the Russian-born, Newbery Honor-winning Yelchin tells the story of an orphan in Stalinist Russia whose skill at soccer offers an opportunity to transform his life.”


9780805099676_a0aceThe Storm Whale . Written and illustrated by Benji Davies, (Macmillan/Holt; ages 3 to 8.)

“This charmingly illustrated picture book tells a simple but powerful story about a lonely boy, his hard-working single dad and a stranded baby whale that helps parent and child grow closer.”

The Jacke9781592701681_3f2a5t,  Kirsten Hall. Dasha Tolstikova, (Enchanted Lion, $17.95; ages 4 to 8.)

“A character named Book is distraught when his jacket is ruined by his owner’s dog, but she makes him a new one in this ingenious and poignant tale.”

Readers Advisory:

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

9780804140232_8e1f2Among the titles on NPR’s just-released best books list is a title chosen by librarian Nancy Pearl, the debut novel, 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas. (RH/Crown; RH Audio).

Nancy also talks about it on her weekly Seattle NPR segment. You can hear the joy in Nancy’s voice as she describes this novel filled with “People  who are so real that you want their stories to go on and on and on — how often does that happen?” Seen through the eyes of a precocious 9-year-old wannabe torch singer, it is a “loving tribute to jazz and even more, to urban Philadelphia.”

OverDrive Sample 

The audio is an AudioFile Earphones Award winner. As the reviewer says, “Angela Goethals’s rich and resonant voice is perfectly suited to this stirring story about three characters and one important day in their lives.”

Best Books, Childrens and Teens

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

National Public Radio today published their staff selections of the best books of 2014, with a spiffy interface that allows readers to filter it in many ways (such as  “Book Club Ideas” and “Rather Long” — there is no “Rather Short,” category, however. UPDATE:  There IS a “Rather Short” category! Thanks to Margery at BCPL for pointing it out).

We’ve updated our downloadable spreadsheet, 2014-Best-Books-Childrens-and-YA-V.5 with their picks. The list now includes 280 titles selected by the Amazon Editors, Kirkus, PW, SLJ, and NPR.

9780399252518_ab369   9780385741262_c913f

Leading in total number of picks is Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award winning memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin) as well as E. Lockhart’s Y.A. novel, We Were Liars. (RH/Delacorte).

There’s little consensus, however. The majority of the titles, nearly 250, were picked by just one or two sources.

Still to come is the NYT Book Review’s Notable Childrens Books, Horn Book‘s “Fanfare” titles, as well as the ALA awards, to be announced at Midwinter.

We are at work updating our adult fiction and nonfiction spreadsheets and plan to have them ready by the end of the week.

New York Times Book Review’s
Picks of 2014

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

All The Light We Cannot SeeThe New York Times Book Review has released its picks of the 100 Notable Books of the year,  making Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See (S&S/Scribner) the top fiction title in terms of number of picks to date (see he NYT BR‘s original review). The only holdouts are the Booker committee and Publishers Weekly.

Everything I NeverBut more interesting can be the outliers. The NYT BR is the only one so far to also recognize the book the Amazon’s editors picked as the #1 title of the year, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You (Penguin Press — see the original NYT BR review)

Fifteen of the fiction picks have not show up on any other lists to date. Click here to see those titles, along with links to their original reviews: NYT BR Best Books, Fiction, Unique Picks.

Both Kirkus and the Washington Post have also released their lists, so we have updated our spreadsheet:


By the end of the week, we will update the nonfiction spreadsheet as well.

Amazon Editors Pick 2014 Best Books

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

The latest Best Books list is the Amazon Editors picks of 100 favorites of 2014, in ranked order, as well as their picks in Kids and Teens and Cookbooks.

CBS This Morning featured the top ten on Saturday.

9781594205712_e681cThe number one title is a debut that has not appeared on any other best books lists yet, but will be familiar to librarians who are members of First Flights: The Penguin Debut Authors program (if you’re not, you can join here), Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng,  is described as, ” ‘kind of a ‘sleeper’ in that it got less attention initially than other novels, but Ng’s debut is a sad and moving story that we all fell in love with from the first line. Deeply felt and searingly emotional, Everything I Never Told You is the kind of novel that people say doesn’t get published any more. We’re so happy it did.”

Below is the video the author created for First Flights members (read our chat with the author here).

Several “non-sleeper” titles are also on the list, including Stephen King’s just-published novel, Revival, (S&S/Scribner; S&S audio; Thorndike), which comes in at #6.

It seems Amazon’s ongoing battle over terms with Hachette has not affected the editors. Four titles from Hachette imprints are on the top 100 list, beginning with Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta at #29 (Hachette/ Little, Brown).

For those betting on the National Book Award winners, which will be announced next week, three of the fiction finalists are in the top ten, with Anthony Doerr’s  All the Light We Cannot See(S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio; Thorndike), at #2, Phil Klay’s Redeployment, (Penguin Press; Penguin Audio; Thorndike) at #5 and Emily St. John Mandel’s  Station Eleven (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; Thorndike), at #10.

On the other hand, the winner of this year’s Man Booker Award, The Narrow Road To The Deep North, by Richard Flanagan (RH/Knopf) just squeaks in at #93.

We have updated our downloadable Best Books spreadsheets with the Amazon selections:

Adult Fiction, V.3, Downloadable Spreadsheet

Adult Nonfiction, V.3, Downloadable Spreadsheet

Childrens and Young Adult, V. 4, Downloadable Spreadsheet

A Judge’s Experience

Thursday, November 6th, 2014


The New York Times Book Review issue with the “Best Illustrated Books” list arrives in print this Sunday (see my takes on each specific title).

As those of us who have been watching this list for years know, it typically contains a surprising mix of books with popular appeal and those with arty sophistication. Although it is tempting to second guess and speculate on why one particular title made the list and another was left off, these conversations rarely reflect the actual considerations that went into the selections.

I had the honor to serve as a judge one year. At the time, children’s book editor Eden Ross Lipson encouraged us to write and share our process and deliberations. This is an outlier attitude. Most book selection juries, from the American Library Association’s Newbery to The National Book Awards, are asked to keep the discussions confidential, to allow for more free of expression of opinions. I recall that the only requirement imposed on the NYT Best Illustrated judges was to keep their appointments a secret until the announcement was made public. I was bursting but honored the request, even taking a vacation day from work for the deliberations so I didn’t have to disclose my participation to my library director.


Lisa’s Takes

Thursday, November 6th, 2014


The NYT Book Review‘s selection of the ten best illustrated books of the year is offered as simple list, with no annotations. Librarians may want a bit more background on the titles. Below are my takes.

9781442494923_22c98  THE PILOT AND THE LITTLE PRINCE  The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry  9781568462462_ab869

Draw!, written and illustrated by Raul Colon (S&S/Paula Wiseman)

A word-less masterpiece, a sweeping tribute to the power of imagination, this is a technical tour-de-force.

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antione de Saint-Exupery, written and illustrated by Peter Sis (Macmillan/FSG/Frances Foster)

Anyone who has had an eye on this year’s output recognizes that The Pilot and The Little Prince is another Peter Sis classic. The exquisitely detailed illustrations beg readers to pore over them again and again, revealing new insights with each reading.

Harlem Hellfighters, written by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gary Kelley (Chronicle/Creative Editions)

Pairs J. Patrick Lewis’s fact based poems and Gary Kelly’s dark, haunting illustrations combine in a very personal profile of this World War I brigade that fought in France.

9780802735973  9780375844232_21ccd

Time for Bed, Fred, written and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail (Walker Books/Bloomsbury)

With spirited watercolor, Ismail coveys emotion and motion with a loose line, indicating the form of the resting or restless or bouncy body of the shaggy dog. A winner for bedtime, story time, or any time.

Where’s Mommy?, written by Beverly Donofrio, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (RH/Schwartz & Wade)

This sweet but not saccharine story of a girl and a mouse parallel lives above the stairs and below is depicted with skill as readers enjoy all the tiny details of a “day in the life” The quiet humor of the text is matched in form and color. The very example of a child-centered picture book.

9780375867316_c1525  THE BABY TREE

Here Is the Baby, written by Polly Kanevsky, illustrated by Taeeyun Yoo (RH/Schwartz & Wade)

It is easy to overlook the obvious and familiar. I am grateful that the Judges brought attention to Here is The Baby, a quiet perfect book reflecting day in the life of a toddler. Kanevsky’s rhythmic, repetitive text makes it good to read aloud. Taeeun Yoo, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award for new illustrator, skillfully expresses emotion and light, climate and comfort with specificity of line and color. This is a sleeper that shouldn’t be missed.

The Baby Tree, written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen)

I was delighted. Simply delighted to see this on the list. Anytime I had been in a judging situation, humor was the toughest to sell to my colleagues. Blackall has nailed the subject (misunderstanding grown-up explanations of “where babies come from”) with empathy, kindness AND fun.

9781909263109_50c3a  9781927083239_a2965

Shackleton’s Journey, written and illustrated by William Grill (Flying Eye Books)

Published by a small press in the U.K., this was not reviewed by the professional journals and therefore is not owned by many libraries.  Shackleton’s various arduous expeditions into the Antarctic have been covered in many books and a TV series starring Kenneth Branagh. An example of the arty but accessible (click on the title link to see some of the interior pages), the sketches evoke the feeling of a naturalist’s diary with an almost documentary feeling as we peek into the mundane (six months provisions) isolating hardship (crossing the ice fields) and relief (rescue and survival). Supplies at wholesalers are limited, but this award is sure to result in a reprint.

Haiti my country, written by Haitian schoolchildren, illustrated by Roge (Fifth House Publishers)

As we enter the culture and the land of Haiti through portraits of teenagers, we find ourselves entering their lives and struggles. This picture book can pair well with Youme’s award-winning Selavi: That IS Life, A Haitian Story of Hope, (Cinco Puntos Press, 2004), a book that is essential to all well-rounded collections. (Good news — the publisher tells me that a reprint of this one is coming and it should be at wholesalers in December).


The Promise, written by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin (Candlewick Press)

An urban “Johnny Appleseed” about a young girl whose life as a thief is transformed when she is tricked into planting acorns and witnesses how the resulting trees improve people’s lives. I have to admit that this one did not work for me. As Kirkus puts it, this is “yet another heavily earnest parable,” adding dryly that the idea is “Valid as metaphor though much less so as a feasible plan of action.” Booklist, however, gave it a star.

Publishers Weekly, Best Books

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Following Library Journal‘s picks of the best books of the year, Publishers Weekly released their choices (with few overlaps), on Friday.

9780804139021_6602fOne of the few titles picked by both LJ and PW, as well as LibraryReads, is a book that began life in 2012 as a self-published e-originalThe Martian by Andy Weir. It was then picked up for publication this year by RH/Crown (OverDrive Sample). Director Ridley Scott is currently at work on adapting it as a film, starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Pena, Kate Mara and Sean Bean. It is set for release in November, 2015.

This year, both LJ and PW picked several fiction e-originals, most of them romances.

We have updated our spreadsheets for your use in ordering and creating displays, including all 2014 LibraryReads picksLibrary Journal Top Ten, More of the Best and Category picks, the  National Book Awards longlists and finalists, Publishers Weekly‘s Top Ten and bests by category, and, in childrens, the NYT Book Review ‘s Best Illustrated Books as well as the Man Booker lists for fiction.

Best Illus. Books 2014

Thursday, October 30th, 2014



The New York Times Book Review‘s annual selection of the ten best illustrated books, chosen this year by judges Jennifer M. Brown, director of the Center for Children’s Literature at the Bank Street College of Education, and author/illustrators Brian Floca and Jerry Pinkney, has just been released online, in the form of a slideshow, with interior illustrations (our slideshow of the covers, above). The printed list will appear in the 11/9 issue.

Our downloadable spreadsheet rounds up the childrens and YA best books picks to date, 2014-Best-Books-Childrens-and-YA-V.2

LJ Gets the Jump on
Best Books Season

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Holiday catalogs are arriving earlier than ever, so why not the best books lists?

Library Journal is the first out of the gate, several weeks earlier than usual, beating out Amazon (although they have a slight edge, having released their mid year previews, “Best Books of the Year, So Far“) and Publishers Weekly.

NOTE: Check links at the right for our downloadable spreadsheets with LJ’s picks, as well as the 2014 LibraryReads picks and titles longlisted for the Man Booker and National Book Awards.

Below are the Top Ten (there’s also a “More of the Best” list, plus several lists of the best in various categories, including e-original romance).

Some recent awards winners did not make the cut. The Man Booker winner, announced earlier this month, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan is not on either of LJ‘s top lists, nor are any of the National Book Awards shortlist titles. But it’s the diversity of the lists that make them interesting (don’t forget to vote for your favorites from the LibraryReads shortlist),

Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014 — Top Ten

9780802122513_a1d01 9781250062581_31d2b 9781594204302 9781594486005_04fae 9780805092998

9780770437060_dc086  9781400065677_172ff 9780307700315_1e80d 9780062365583_79422-3 The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

An Untamed State, Roxane Gay, (Grove Press/Black Cat, Brilliance Audio), 5/6/14, OverDrive Sample

No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, Glenn Greenwald, (Macmillan, Metropolitan; Brilliance Audio), 5/13/14, OverDrive Sample

Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, Mark Harris, (Penguin Press; Recorded Books), 2/17/14, OverDrive Sample

A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James, (Peguin/Riverhead; Highbridge), 10/2/14, OverDrive Sample

The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert, (Macmillan/Holt; S&S Audio), 2/11/14

Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans, Gary Krist, (RH/Crown; Dreamscape; Thorndike), 10/28/14,  OverDrive Sample

The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell, (Random House; Recorded Books; Thorndike), 9/2/14, OverDrive Sample — on Man Booker longlist; and IndieNext pick

Us, David Nicholls, (Harper: HarperAudio; HarperLuxe), 10/28/14 — on Man Booker longlist; LibraryReads #1 pick for November

Some Luck, Jane Smiley, (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; Thorndike), 10/7/14, OverDrive Sample — was on the National Book Awards longlist; a LibraryReads pick for Oct. and an IndieNext pick

Audio sample:

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin, (Workman/Algonquin; Highbridge; Thorndike), 4/1/14, OverDrive Sample — LibraryReads #1 pick for April and an IndieNext pick