Best books of 2014: Slate Book Review editor picks.

The Top 10 Books of the Year

The Top 10 Books of the Year

Reading between the lines.
Dec. 4 2014 2:21 PM

The Top 10 Books of the Year

As picked by the editors of the Slate Book Review.

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Slate’s Best Books of 2014 coverage:

Monday: Slate staff picks.
Tuesday:
 The best lines of 2014.
Wednesday:
 Overlooked books of 2014.
Thursday:
 The Slate Book Review Top 10.
Friday:
 Dan Kois’ favorite books of the year.

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This year, Slate reviewed, excerpted, wrote about, and podcasted about hundreds of books. These are our 10 favorites, as chosen by the editors of the Slate Book Review. Nonfiction spanning the breadth of family life, from childhood to the hard choices at the end. Short stories and novels about friendship, love, sex, murder, and God. And essays and poems that explore with grace and good humor the difficulty of living in, and talking about, our world.

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior. Ecco. An exhausting and compassionate investigation into raising children in the 21st century.
Read Aileen Gallagher’s review in the Slate Book Review.
Read Jessica Grose’s interview with Senior in DoubleX.
Listen to Senior on Mom and Dad Are Fighting.

Bark by Lorrie Moore. Knopf. A new collection of stories, at times maddening but often heart-piercing, from a master of the form who refuses to stand still.
Read Dan Kois’ review in the Slate Book Review.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. Bloomsbury USA. A cartoon memoir about the last years of Chast’s unforgettable parents, and a kind of humane handbook for adults facing their own parents’ decline.
Listen to the Audio Book Club discussion of the book.

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CitizenAn American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. Graywolf Press. A collection of poems exploring, with thorny genius, the damage that the language of race in America does to the body.
Read Jonathan Farmer’s review in the Slate Book Review.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. Knopf. A slim, brilliant novel about a woman battling to make art while facing the daily crises of domesticity.
Listen to the Audio Book Club discussion of the book.

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. Graywolf Press. A beautiful and punishing collection of essays about the difficulties of understanding others in the world we live in.
Read Mark O’Connell’s review in the Slate Book Review.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Robinson’s third novel set in the hamlet of Gilead, telling the quiet, moving story of a preacher’s wife and the verses from Ezekiel she copies.
Read Marian Ryan’s review in the Slate Book Review.

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The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. Riverhead Books. A rich, engrossing, and thrillingly erotic novel about a landlady finding and losing herself in 1920s England.
Read Amanda Katz’s review in the Slate Book Review.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein. Europa Editions. The third in Italian novelist Ferrante’s riveting series of novels about the complications of female friendship.
Read Pasha Malla’s review in the Slate Book Review.

The Unspeakable and Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. A collection of brave and funny personal essays about the author’s attempts to lose herself, and her slow, painful returns.
Read Katy Waldman’s review in the Slate Book Review.
Listen to Daum’s interview on The Gist.

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David Haglund is the literary editor of NewYorker.com. 

Dan Kois is Slate’s culture editor, co-host of Mom and Dad Are Fighting, and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

Katy Waldman is Slate’s words correspondent.