The Best Things We Read in 2014

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We asked a few of our students, alums, and professors to tell us the best books they read this year, even if the book didn’t come out this year. Seems like Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Gabriel by Edward Hirsch, and a book by one of our faculty members proved particularly popular….

Heather Partington:

Fiction: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Beside Myself by Ashley Farmer

Crystal Eaters by Shane Jones

Green Girl by Kate Zambreno

A Life in Men by Gina Frangello

How to Catch a Coyote by Christy Crutchfield

What Happened Here by Bonnie ZoBell

Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg

Nonfiction:  The Object Parade by Dinah Lenney

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

The Unspeakable by Megan Daum

Art Hanlon: 

My favorites from 2014 were “The Flamethrowers” by Rachel Kushner; “Inherent Vice” by Thomas Pynchon; “Gangsterland” by Tod Goldberg and “Chance” by Kem Nunn.

Simona Supekar: 

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap   by Matt Taibbi
Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World (forthcoming in 2015) by Mark Haskell Smith
Citizen by Claudia Rankine
Corona by Bushra Rehman
Pity the Animal by Chelsea Hodson


Megan Eccles Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Valor and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

Slow Regard for Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss


Eileen Roggin Shields My favorite book always seems to be the last one I read. In this case, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast.

Tod Goldberg:

Fiction: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson.
Poetry: Gabriel by Edward Hirsch.
Nonfiction: The Good Spy by Kai Bird.
Weird Genre Book: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Not From 2014: Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink.
Re-Read: The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake.

Maggie Downs:  Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

Once I Was Cool by Megan Stielstra

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak


Kristi Daune-Edwards Rabe: Lauren Beuke’s Broken Monsters.

Penne Berry Richards: Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum

Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg


Jason Metz: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Xach Fromson: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Mr. Wicker by Maria Alexander

Miss Massacre’s Guide to Murder and Vengeance by Michael Paul Gonzalez

Cowface and Other Hilarious Stories about Death by Mere Smith

The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, edited by Laird Barron


Gail Mackenzie-Smith: The Children Act – Ian McEwan, Life After Life – Kate Atkinson, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Cynthia Romanowski:  1) Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

2) Funny Once by Antonya Nelson

3) Bark by Loorie Moore

4) When Kerosene’s Involved by Daniel Romo

5) The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison


Pamela Diane Gilbert-Snyder: Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit.

Mark Haskell Smith Fiction: The White Van by Patrick Hoffman, The Dinner by Herman Koch.

Nonfiction: Dallas 1963 by Minutiglio and Davis, Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell by Chas Smith, Farewell, Fred Voodoo by Amy Wilentz.

Leigh Raper:  The Fever by Megan Abbott, Liar Temptress Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott, and Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.

Sami Jankins: Gabriel by Edward Hirsch, The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum

Faye Satterly:  Dear Life, Alice Munro

Dave Martinez:  I don’t know if this is only for prose, but The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson is wonderful. I’ve been reading a collection of short stories by Holiday Reinhorn I’ve been loving called Big Cats. Also,  Cartesian Sonata by William Gass. Thing Music by Anthony McCann

Lizi Gilad: Silver Red Juice, Hoa Nguyen (Wave Books) and You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends, Dorothy Iannone (Siglio Press)

Marion Ruybalid:  Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz,  Meyebela by Taslima Nasrin (older book), The Empathy Exams  by Leslie Jamison

Melissa Henderson: Tod Goldberg’s Gangsterland was pretty baller. Also Gina Frangello’s A Life In Men. And I haven’t finished yet, but Lily King’s Euphoria’s got me the throat so far.  Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings; Megan Stielstra’s Once I Was Cool; Rob Roberge’s The Cost of Living. Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins; Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore; Elizabeth E. Wein’s Code Name Verity. Kate Christensen’s The Great Man/The Epicure’s Lament

Guy Nicolucci: Just read the Alexandria Quartet. Yeah, it came out before I was born, but it was still new and amazing to me. (And for new stuff, I loved Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists)

JoAnn Chaney: BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty, DEPT OF SPECULATION by Jenny Offill, YOU REMIND ME OF ME by Dan Chaon, THE SISTERS BROTHERS by Patrick DeWitt, THE STEPFORD WIVES by Ira Levin

Liska Jacobs: Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Things I Don’t Want to Know (in writing) by Deborah Levy

Gabriel by Edward Hirsch

Sunstroke and other stories Tessa Hadley

Sudden Rain Maritta Wolff

Smile Please Jean Rhys

Swimming Home Deborah Levy

Ross Helford: The Android’s Dream – John Scalzi

At Fear’s Altar – Richard Gavin

Gangsterland – Tod Goldberg

Raw – Mark Haskell Smith

Zombie Sharks with Metal Teeth – Stephen Graham Jones

 Stephen Graham Jones:


Jeff Strand’s WOLF HUNT

Errick Nunnally’s BLOOD FOR THE SUN

Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT

Steven Pinker’s THE SENSE OF STYLE

REDSHIRTS, John Scalzi


DARE ME, Megan Abbot

DON’T KISS ME, Lindsay Hunter

SHARP OBJECTS, Gillian Flynn

WOOL, Hugh Howey

Antonio Farias:

Lucky Us, Amy Bloom

The Peripheral, William Gibson

Fire and Forget, Roy Scranton

The Martian, Andy Weir

Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg

Natashia Deon:

Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg, Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith

Lisa Morford: 1) Horns by Joe Hill

2) The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

3) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

4) RAW a love story by Mark Haskell Smith

5) Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Jim Jennewein: The Uncommon Reader: A novella by Alan Bennett

Stop-Time: A Memoir by Frank Conroy

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada



By | 2017-05-18T16:48:15-07:00 January 2nd, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Best Things We Read in 2014

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