Just Giblets

2014, the Year in Books: A Few Honorable Mentions

6th January 2015
by Michael

2014, the Year in Books: A Few Honorable Mentions

posted in 2014, Books, Year-end lists |

There’s nothing arbitrary about the number of books I chose to spotlight for my year-end review. I stop there I feel there is a natural cut-off. This year that break does come in at #15, but even there, of the 38 books I read this year, there were a few more that I felt deserved a mention on the blog. Maybe they didn’t rise to the very top, they were still notable for one reason or another and great reads all the same. Here they are, in alphabetical order by author: the-books-that-didn’t-make-the-top-but-were-still-notable!


The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore – As a big comic big fan, a bigger fan of superheroines, and a long-time fan of WonderWoman, you know I wasn’t about to pass up a book that explores that character’s secret history. Add to that an author with a pedigree in feminism and history, and I was bound to find this a fascinating read. Then, I found myself sitting next to Ms. Lepore at a Random House breakfast at BookExpo America where she introduced this book to a bunch of librarians, and we bonded over my Wonder Woman cellphone cover. All that and I haven’t even mentioned what a great book this was. Lepore talks about how the Wonder Woman comic book came to be, and how it led the feminist charge through most of the previous century, but she also explores Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Martson and the two women in his life, Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne, who served as inspiration and even co-creators of the Amazon Princess.  Marston and his unconventional family make for fascinating subjects, and they were, but call me superheroine-centric, I just wanted a little more Wonder Woman.


We Were Liars by E. Lockwood – This smash, young adult novel follows the lives of four teens as they spend summers on a private island off Martha’s Vineyard a la another famous, political family from real life. Seventeen-year-old Cady is our narrator as she looks back on the previous few summers on the island after a bizarre head injury robbed her of a season’s worth of memories. No one wants to tell her what happened, not her closest friends and cousins, not the little ones, not her mother, or aunts, and not even the boy who she thought was her boyfriend. All she knows is after the accident that robbed her of her memories, she stopped hearing from her fellow ‘liars,’ no matter how many e-mails she sent. We Were Liars is a engrossing read, with a nifty twist toward the end, but there’s only so much privilege I can read about before starting to roll my eyes. Fortunately, Lockwood is aware of this and rolls her authorial eyes in that direction as well.


The Arsonist by Sue Miller – I’d never read Sue Miller, but she was going to be a guest at an author panel I put together, and I always try to read the book of an author I will be hosting. Plus, the premise of The Arsonist appealed to me: a series of fires plague a resort town in New Hampshire, but the houses going up in flames only seem to belong to the summer residents; the year-round residents abodes seem safe. This is the backdrop of a family story where a woman returns from years working in Africa to find her aging parents having some difficulties. What starts as a family drama, a story about aging, and a backdrop of crime, evolves a little too much into a love story for me during the second half, but Miller’s a strong writer and I’m glad I gave this one a shot.



Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff – We lost one of our true talents in 2012, but he left us with a gift; his first novel. One that retained his sharp tongue, his sardonic wit, his discerning eye and his sympathetic heart. And the kicker? It’s entirely in verse! This is truly anoriginal and refreshing series of interconnected stories chronicling life, love and relationships throughout the 20th century. In addition to David’s poignant, acerbic, and witty storytelling skills, he has written the entire novel in verse, and included some beautiful illustrations by Seth. It’s a gorgeous design for a sweetly powerful novel by a talented writer who left us far too early.

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