What is the best book, new or old, you read in 2014?

by Sonali Deraniyagala

This question was posted on Twitter and 14 different authors responded. I had not read any of their books, so I pulled out my two journals from this year and looked at the list of books I read. I keep track because I have a memory like a sieve and sometimes I can remember the contents but not the author or title. It is my cheat sheet.

I read many memoirs. I read my favorite of the year in January. Sonali Deraniyagala's account of the tsunami that took her family earned these comments: "WOW! Such courage." The book is Wave and it is a relatively quick read. Today is the 10 anniversary of the Asian tsunami, so go to your local independent bookstore and buy it and read. It will also clarify what is important in your life before 2015.

Best fiction novel was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This was a book I traded for on my Tour de France adventure. I loved it and passed it on to Grace Julie. When the ebola crisis hit I felt a connection to the people suffering in Africa that I might not have felt except for reading this novel. This may sound silly unless you are an avid novel reader. A good novel creates sympathies where none existed before--for me an interest and care for the people of Nigeria.

Americanah

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque was the best older book I have read this year and part of my reading list for the World War I anniversary. Every time there is a news story on the anniversary I think about this book. It is so profound and so beautifully written. What is friendship? Why war? What does it mean to be an adult?

What is the best book, new or old, you read in 2014?