Archives for posts with tag: Fiction

Here we are again at the end of December! I’ve been bookmarking 2014 best-of book lists for weeks now. I still love the sources that I mentioned last year, but you’ll also see some new ones amongst the links below.

NPR’s Book Concierge offers 250 titles that you can browse by genre. While great if you’re stumped for your next read, I find that number overwhelming. To make it bite size, I filter for the Staff Picks. That’s a nice list.

This year I loved Ron Charles’s piece “2014: A Good Year for Book Lovers” in the Washington Post. Instead of listing favorite titles (WP did that elsewhere), Charles gives a chronology of literary milestones for the year, from the award of the Newbery Medal to Kate DiCamillo on January 27 to Ursula LeGuin’s receipt of the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters on November 19 (not all of the news was about awards, though!).

I’ve also gathered lists from various genres this year. It seems some of the more controversial titles were nonfiction (Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, for example), but of course the most highly praised titles were fiction (although maybe it just seemed that way to me because I’m more plugged into the literary world). Titles I saw most often were The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (actually published in 2013), The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, and of course, Redeployment by Phil Klay. Various lists are linked below, in no particular order.

Christopher Atamian, in the Huffington Post. Six Books of the Year for 2014

Brad Stulberg, in the Huffington Post. The 10 Best Health Books in 2014

Leigh Buchanan, in Inc. 10 Books That Will Make You Smarter in 2015

Maria Popova, Brain Pickings. The Definitive Reading List of the 14 Best Books of 2014 Overall

Tracy Sherlock, in the Vancouver Sun. Ten Great Novels of 2014

The Editors, Atlantic Monthly. The Best Book I Read This Year

the New York Times. The 10 Best Books of 2014

the New York Times. 100 Notable Books of 2014

the Guardian. Writers Pick the Best Books of 2014: Part One

the Guardian. Writers Pick the Best Books of 2014: Part Two

the Telegraph. The 45 best young adult books of 2014

School Library Journal. Best Books 2014: Young Adult

 

The Ice Palace was, without a doubt, one of my favorite reads of this summer. Written by the celebrated Norwegian writer Tarjei Vesaas, it was first published in English in 1966. In this novel, Vesaas, who is both a poet and a novelist, uses sparse, poetic language to tell the story of two young girls and their powerful friendship.

Unn is an 11-year-old girl who has recently moved to a new school. Shy and reserved, she keeps to herself even though the other girls in her class have repeatedly invited her to play. But one day she finally approaches Siss, the most popular girl in the class, and invites her to her house. They have one visit together and develop an extraordinary connection. The next day, overwhelmed, Unn goes for a walk in the woods instead of going to school. When she doesn’t return home, the townspeople begin an extended search ranging over the harsh winter landscape near the town. It’s no use; Unn is not seen again.

Vesaas explores the complexities of human connection, loss and grief, and the impersonal beauty and power of nature. The real journey of the novel is Siss’s; we first follow her as she heads through the dark of a late autumn afternoon to Unn’s house for their visit. Then we watch as she realizes, incredibly, heartbreakingly, that Unn will not be seen again; that her friend, only just found, is already lost. We watch as she struggles with memory and loyalty–how best can she honor her friend? Wouldn’t it be disloyal to continue without her?

This is a novel that, though simple, rings with truth, stunningly beautiful.