Our Year in Books: Annalia

Article by annalia

Here’s the thing: I’m bad at picking favorites. If given too many choices, I often make none. So instead of the traditional Top 10 of 2014 list, I made a “playlist” of the books that got stuck in my head this year. A mix of long and short form, fiction and non-, big names and local writers, these are the books published in 2014 that I would rescue if the store were on fire. 


Staff Pick Logo
How to Build a Girl: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062335975
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Harper - September 23rd, 2014

This book inspired the title for this section. What else can I say? Caitlin Moran tells her story with her middle fingers up. In HOW TO BUILD A GIRL, fourteen-year-old Johanna is sick of her situation: failed-rockstar father, too many siblings, stuck on government assistance, no notches in her bedpost. Instead of looking for a hero, she transforms herself into Dolly Wilde, a sexy, scathing music journalist and certified badass. Brilliant, disarmingly charming, and raw to the quick, Caitlin Moran deserves your full attention.

The Palace of Illusions Cover Image
ISBN: 9781593765422
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Soft Skull Press - September 1st, 2014

Kim Addonizio’s reputation as a poet should be enough to convince you. If it isn’t, PALACE OF ILLUSIONS is the love letter every outsider’s been lacking. Here’s a handful of her protagonists: two friends who seduce men only to steal their money while they’re sleeping, a man who toured with the circus when he was twenty-one, and a young half-vampire pursuing a theatre degree. Gritty and strange, these stories surprise not only through their twists and turns, but also through their blunt portrayal of humanity.

SKU: R9780989275934

Most secrets are easy--easy to tell, easy to forgive--but there are a few that you only tell your friends, and even fewer for just your inner circle. Then there are the rare, ugly ones that don’t get told--not to your journal, not your best friends, not anyone. MISADVENTURE is about those secrets. Grider crafts each story with enough sincerity, poise, and bewilderment that reaching the end demands going outside and breathing in deep.


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The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062255662
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - June 3rd, 2014

Even after six months of meditating on it, it’s still hard for me to say exactly what THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is about. It’s about Amanda Palmer. It’s about Lettie Hempstock and her ocean. It’s about Neil Gaiman as a child. Mostly, it’s about feeling invincible, even though all evidence proves the contrary. I read this book in mere hours. Forget that you might not read or like fantasy. Forget that you’re not a kid anymore. This book is important for everyone of all ages.

We Were Liars Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385741262
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - May 13th, 2014

Before WE WERE LIARS came out, all the promotional materials made advance readers promise to lie about the ending if anybody asked. In solidarity! In the name of books and booksellers! I’m going to continue keeping that promise, but these are things I can say: WE WERE LIARS will make even the most avid John Green hater believe in young adult fiction, and the only time I’ve ever cried more reading a book is during Khaled Hosseini’s A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS. If e. lockhart ever comes to Houston, I will hug her for days.

God Is an Astronaut Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620403563
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - July 1st, 2014

Fact: all of us at one time or another have said something we wanted to take back. For Jess, it’s when she tells her friend Arthur about the accident: her husband’s space tourism company launched a shuttle that exploded seconds after liftoff. Liam, her husband, swears Jess to secrecy, but when news crews start showing up on the lawn and gawking at her children, she needs to tell at least someone. Away on sabbatical, Arthur is the perfect candidate--until her occasional notes become daily missives that start to disrupt her life. GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT is the archive of Jess’s emails--neurotic, honest, and quippy as any I have ever written or received.


Hustle Cover Image
ISBN: 9781936747771
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Sarabande Books - May 13th, 2014

If you hate poetry because it’s boring and weird, buy this book. Before giving up chasing skirts for writing poems, David Tomas Martinez grew up in San Diego, running with a gang and enlisting in the Navy. Honest, present, and open, HUSTLE is a collection of poems full of stories you go to bars to hear. From “The Only Mexican” to “Midterm Answers for English B,” Martinez reminds me that those weird, dirty teen years are always worth revisiting.

The Answer to the Riddle Is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780547519272
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Houghton Mifflin - January 14th, 2014

Once upon a time, David Stuart MacLean found himself in India without his memory. He never got it back. Impossible as it may seem, that’s the story in MacLean’s memoir THE ANSWER TO THE RIDDLE IS ME. After a rare reaction to a common antimalarial drug, MacLean attempts to follow photographs, family members, and old papers back to his former life as a jokester, scholar, and lover, only to discover more and more blanks. Terrifying and compelling, MacLean examines the degree to which memory is linked to identity and what happens when they become severed.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage Cover Image
By Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)
ISBN: 9780385352109
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - August 12th, 2014

For months, COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI was inseparable from my fond memories of #MURAKAMANIA, but the experience of reading it and watching Tsukuru wander was much different from the hype that preceded it. When Tsukuru’s closest high school friends abandon him for no apparent reason, years of silence and strange dreams take their place. This daze continues until he meets Sara, who wants to know the full story and inspires Tsuruku to find out for himself what really happened. Stylized and jam-packed with feeling, Murakami is my trusty literary sidekick when I’m having Wes Anderson withdrawal.


The Other Side Cover Image
ISBN: 9781935639831
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - July 15th, 2014

It took me at least a month to write a shelf-talker for this book, and when I did, this is what it said: “the most important book you will read this year. pinkie promise.” That’s still how I feel, but it’s hard to explain why. Most every synopsis available about THE OTHER SIDE will mention rape, kidnapping, and/or intention to kill. I cannot stress this enough: like the tip of the iceberg, that is only a fraction of Lacy Johnson’s story and what it means for her to tell it. This memoir is for anyone who has ever loved.

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