Parul Sehgal and John Williams of the New York Times look at picks for best fiction books of 2014 in "The Book Reader."
The following is part two of our look at the 10 Best Books of 2014.
To compile the list, editors considered the hundreds of books written about in the Book Review’s pages since last year’s list was announced. They eventually narrowed the candidates down to 10 books: five fiction and five nonfiction. Here is a look at this year's best fiction.
First up, "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr, an ingeniously constructed book about two characters whose paths intersect during World War II: an engineering prodigy recruited into the Nazi ranks, and a blind French girl who joins the Resistance.
Next is Jenny Offill’s second novel, "Dept. of Speculation." It is a slender, fragmentary book about a troubled marriage. It touches on everything from music and literature to science and philosophy, but at its core is motherhood, infidelity and the rigors of domestic life.
"Euphoria" by Lily King is a sensual, intelligent retelling of the anthropologist Margaret Mead's field trip to New Guinea with her second husband, where she collaborated with the man who would become her third.
Akhil Sharma’s "Family Life" is a spare but moving novel based on the author's own experience. It tells the story of a family that emigrates from India to Queens, and of a swimming pool accident that leaves the eldest son severely injured. It is a deeply unnerving and beautifully constructed chronicle of love and grief.
And rounding out the list, "Redeployment" by Phil Klay, a debut story collection about the Iraq War by a former marine. It is a hilarious, biting, whipsawing and sad book that has been called the best thing written so far on what the war did to people’s souls.
Parul Sehgal's favorite fiction that did not make this list is Ben Lerner's "10:04," a stunning, cerebral New York novel about a young poet-novelist who decides to help his best friend have a child.
John Williams' honorable mention for fiction goes to his favorite novel of the year, Smith Henderson's "Fourth of July Creek." Set in rural Montana, it's the story of a social worker invested in helping an 11-year-old boy who lives off the grid with his anarchist father. It offers many traditional storytelling pleasures, and builds to a devastating conclusion. First novels do not come much more confidently written or fully imagined than this.
For the list of five top nonfiction books, click here.
For more on the year's most noteworthy books, visit nytimes.com/books.