2014 Book Recommendations Based on 2013 Favorites

What can last year’s favorite books tell you about what you should read this year? Let’s gather some suggestions based on the titles that kept you turning pages in 2013.


2013: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

2014: No Country by Kaylan Ray

While No Country doesn’t have the strong female protagonist you might have loved in The Signature of All Things, it does follow a family over several decades in countries around the world with absolutely beautiful prose.


2013: Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson

2014: Dataclysm by Christian Rudder

If Smarter Than You Think eased your fears over the evils of technology, you should be able to appreciate the fascinating way Dataclysm peeks at our internet lives from a big data perspective.


2013: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

2014: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The jumping timelines in Life After Life threw some readers off, but if you liked its different structure you might want to give All the Light We Cannot See a shot. Though it’s set around World War II, Doerr’s novel alternates between two perspectives and plays with storytelling in a unique way.pair4

2013: Fever by Mary Beth Keane

2014: What Is Visible by Kimberly Elkins

Mary Beth Keane focused on the true story of Typhoid Mary in 2013’s Fever, which is echoed in What Is Visible‘s fictional account of the life of Laura Bridgman. Both stories imagine fascinating lives for fiercely misunderstood women.


2013: This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

2014: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

If you love a great, dark story like Wiley Cash’s This Dark Road to Mercy, you need to get your hands on Smith Henderson’s Fourth of July Creek. Both novels look at the role of child protective services and social workers, but take vastly different paths.


2013: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

2014: All That is Solid Melts Into Air by Darragh McKeon

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and All That is Solid Melts Into Air share more than just similar settings (and long titles). Marra and McKeon both write in prose that brings their characters vividly to life while intricately weaving their stories together.


What 2014 books you would recommend based on a 2013 favorite?

  • What a creative post idea! If you’re interested in Big Data, you might want to try David Shafer’s debut Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I really liked it…great snarky writing and character development…about a Big Data conspiracy. I haven’t posted my review yet, but it will be going up soon.

  • Lost in LIterature 108

    Just met Wiley Cash at a book signing last night. It was great!!

  • Great post! What a great idea!

  • Great post and great idea. I’m definitely planning on reading Life after Life, All the Light We Cannot See and All That is Solid Melts Into Air. Those are actually on my reading list, if I’m not mistaken :) Thanks for the recommendations!

  • Such a wonderful idea Shannon! I have Life After Life but still haven’t read it, and All the Light We Cannot See has been on my wishlist for a while now. And I love to read books spanning decades with the same family so I’ll be checking out No Country. Thanks for sharing these recommendations!

    • I really loved No Country and really wish it had a little more backing behind it when it came out earlier this year because it’s such a great novel.

  • Silver’s Reviews

    Fantastic recommendations.

    The only one I have read, though, is the Wiley Cash book. I better get moving. :)

    I love the cover on What Is Visible.

    Enjoy your day.

  • Ti Reed

    I SO want to read that Typhoid Mary book!

  • Great recommendations. I have Fourth of July Creek sitting on my bookshelf, but somehow haven’t gotten to it yet . . . To tackle it properly, I feel like I need a free week where I can do nothing but read it. I have a feeling it takes a toll emotionally.

    • You’re definitely right, it’s not an easy read by any means but it’s one of my favorites from this year.

  • Emily@As the Crowe Flies

    I’ve been recommending the Darragh McKeon to my customers on the *exact same basis*. It’s almost like you’re in my mind. :-)

    • The whole time I was reading it I kept thinking of how much the writing reminded me of Anthony Marra’s book…they’re both so great.

  • Great suggestions! I’m really yearning to read Dataclysm and All the Light We Cannot See even though dual perspectives. lol

    • I’m starting to get reallllly worn out by the dual perspective thing, too, but I tore through that book so fast. It was perfect for it.

  • Very interesting. Some of the books i would never have paired together, while with others i could see the connections immediately. Great post.

  • Oh goodness, goodness. I want to read ALL of these now :D Love this!

  • Love this post, not the first time I’ve seen All That is Solid Melts Into Air being compared to A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, so I really need to get onto that one.

  • This is such an awesome post. I don’t get to read as much adult fiction as I’d like to, and your reviews and readers’ advisory posts are so helpful to me.

  • Words for Worms

    Fabulous pairings! I’m particularly excited because I just finished the audio book for Life After Life and have a glorious audio book version of All The Light We Cannot See waiting in the wings!

  • Lindsey Stefan

    This is a wonderful idea, Shannon! I agree completely with the Life After Life/All the Light We Cannot See comparison. I’m going to have to look up All that Is Solid Melts Into Air because A Constellation of Vital Phenomena was such a beautiful book.

    • The writing in All That is Solid just came together so beautifully the way Constellation did…I really loved it.

  • Love this post! I’ve been leery of No Country, just because I’m not wild about books set (even just partially!) in Ireland, but the comparison with Elizabeth Gilbert, plus reading some more reviews of it, are starting to win me over.

  • AnnabelSmith

    Great idea for a post. I hardly ever read books in the year they are published, unless they are new releases by my favourite authors so I can’t join in, but there are quite a few on your list 9from both years) that I plan to read.

  • Jennine G.

    Oh some good ones! I just received Fever in the mail! Glad to see it’s good enough to make this cut!

  • I want to read BOTH Smarter Than You Think and Datacylsm. :)

  • Excellent idea — I hope this will become a series. I will definitely check out No Country and All the Light We Cannot See. Fever and What Is Visible also look fascinating (I haven’t read either).

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