You didn't think I'd wrap up my year in reading, 2014, by only talking about fiction titles? I didn't think so.
So, today: Favorite Nonfiction of 2014! (Order reflects reading order, not order of preference; I'm just moving from top to bottom, a.k.a. January to December, in my handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet.) Links are to my reviews of the books, if I did them.
1. Amanda Ripley, The Smartest Kids in the World. A 2013 title, not a 2014 one, but I'm listing it here because I found the writing good and the subject thought-provoking.
2.Jennifer Senior, All Joy and No Fun. This book yielded the research gem that "researchers found that a father in a room by himself was the 'person-space configuration observed most frequently'" in family homes during a specific study. The whole book was interesting, about the modern experience of parenting, but that particular gem was my real takeaway.
3. Michael Lewis, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. Another fast and interesting read from Lewis. My favorite bit was how one guy mined people's work experiences on LinkedIn to find things they weren't really supposed to be talking about.
4. Sandeep Jauhar, Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician. I don't know how representative of all doctors and their practices this one is (Jauhar is a doctor in Manhattan, and faces living expenses problems that doctors in other areas may not be as squeezed by) but I found this one totally forthright and fascinating. I believe he was telling the truth because, frankly, he sounded a bit like a dick, which is what I am used to my doctors sounding like. A disheartening look at medicine as not only business first, but business only.
5. Gina Sheridan, I Work at a Public Library. Nothing real earth shattering here, just a quick and enjoyable memoir about working at a public library, rich with "interesting" patron stories and many other stories about the job that rang true.
And huh, that's it. You know? I didn't have a great year for nonfiction, although I still did read quite a bit of it. I did read Roz Chast's graphic nonfiction novel Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant, which showed up on a lot of other "best of" lists, but although I found it interesting, I couldn't really put it on my "best" list. Perhaps because the brutal honesties of caring for elderly parents are still in my future and I'm worried I won't be up to the challenge.
And, to close: a few honorable mentions, for very good nonfiction I read in 2014, that was not published in 2014. Those titles were:
Earle Labor's Jack London: An American Life; Jesmyn Ward's Men We Reaped: A Memoir; Rose George's Ninety Percent of Everything; Sandra Newman's The Western Lit Survival Kit; Helaine Olen's Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry.