TIME Books

Here Are the 15 Best Books of 2014 (So Far)

A diverse set of standout titles from the top half of 2014 have made this a memorable year for books

Readers are off to a fast start in 2014 with some truly excellent titles from every aisle of the bookstore: history, young adult fiction, literary fiction, graphic novels, espionage, gastronomy — you name it. The famous names usually wait until fall to publish, but already this year has seen great comic memoirs from Gary Shteyngart and New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, and a racy piece of Wall Street reporting from the incomparable, indefatigable Michael Lewis.

There’s also some great work from less well-known writers, especially some marvelous literary fiction: Stacy D’Erasmo’s Wonderland, about an aging rock star, and Phil Klay’s Redeployment, a searing look at soldiers returning from Iraq. BJ Novak’s smart, funny story collection One More Thing was an extremely welcome surprise; equally welcome is a long-overdue reissue: Miracleman, a masterpiece-level comic book from pre-Watchmen Alan Moore not seen since the 1980’s. Enjoy!

  • Michael Lewis, Flash Boys

    Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.

    Wall Street is the biggest game in town, and when a small gang of oddball traders figured out that the game was rigged, they got together and forced it to reform. Lewis tells the story like a technothriller—but it’s all true.

  • E. Lockhart, We Were Liars

    Random House

    Four fast friends—three cousins plus one outsider—spend summers together on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts with their extended family, most of whom are thoroughly pickled in money and alcohol. One night Cadence, our heroine and narrator, has an accident that changes everything—but she can’t remember what happened, and nobody will tell her.

  • Kai Bird, The Good Spy

    Crown Publishing

    A lucid, thorough, fascinating biography of Robert Ames, an important CIA operative who died in the Beirut embassy bombing, by a Pulitzer-winning historian.

  • BJ Novak, One More Thing

    Knopf Doubleday

    Novak, best known for playing Ryan on the office, turns out a strange, hilarious and very very smart collection of wry and twisted comic stories in the tradition of Woody Allen’s Without Feathers.

  • Phil Klay, Redeployment

    Penguin

    These short stories about Marines in Iraq are brutally frank about the traumas and moral compromises of a new era of war. Klay saw them firsthand: he spent a year in Iraq with the Marines.

  • Sally Green, Half Bad

    Viking

    The white and black witches are secretly at war, and 16 year old Nathan, whose parents were on opposite sides, is caught in the middle. This is an enthralling fantasy in the Harry Potter tradition, powered by Nathan’s unique narrative voice.

  • Alan Moore, Miracle Man Vol 1

    Marvel

    Alan Moore’s work on Miracle Man produced some of the smartest, strangest and all-time greatest superhero comics ever written (and drawn)—every bit as good as Watchmen—but they’ve been out of circulation since the 1980s for legal reasons. Now Marvel is finally reprinting them, and they haven’t aged a day.

  • Lawrence Goldstone, Birdmen

    Random House

    A meticulously researched account of the tangled, contentious early years of flight, when the Wright Brothers and Glenn Curtiss were locked in a bitter dispute that would shape the future of the entire aviation industry.

  • Olivia Laing, The Trip To Echo Spring

    Picador

    Laing’s question is, what is the mysterious connection between writing and drinking? To answer it she weaves together the lives of great alcoholic writers like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cheever, and Tennessee Williams, looking at why they needed to drink, what drinking gave them, and what it took away.

  • Michael Gibney, Sous Chef

    Random House

    One day and one calamitous night in the life of a sous chef in a high-end, high-pressure Manhattan restaurant. Gibney’s writing is in Anthony Bourdain’s league: he puts across both the intense stress and the intense joy of cooking in a professional kitchen.

  • Timothy Geithner, Stress Test

    Crown Publishing

    An unsparing insider’s account of the financial crisis from the former Secretary of the Treasure, unpacking the hard decisions and terrible trade-offs that devastated the economy but staved off a deep, lasting depression.

  • Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

    Bloomsbury

    A new graphic memoir by the beloved New Yorker cartoonist that details her loving but exasperated relationship with her aging parents. As always Chast’s humor is poignant and acerbic, but at the same time strangely comforting.

  • Stacy D’Erasmo, Wonderland

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    The heroine of WONDERLAND is an indie rock star, a cult icon, who’s attempting a comeback at 44 after seven years out of the public eye. D’Erasmo conjures up the seedy, sexy spectacle of life on the road with amazing vividness, and fills in the inner life of a woman who has one last chance to get her voice heard.

  • Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure

    Random House

    Born in Leningrad, Shteyngart came to America as a child and grew up to become the author of sharp, poignant comic novels. But the story was much more painful and much funnier than that sounds, and his memoir walks us through the highs and especially the lows.

  • Nina Stibbe, Love, Nina

    Little, Brown and Company

    In 1982 Stibbe was hired as a nanny for the two small children of the editor of the London Review of Books. Her letters home, collected here, are a (Helen) Fielding-esque comedy of errors, and an amazingly funny look at literary London in the 1980s.

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