Hurts So Good

Our top books of 2014 provided pleasures despite the pain

Hurts So Good

It isn't that publishers failed to release any life-affirming or cheerful books in 2014 – one of my literary treats this year was the cheeky satire Famous Writers I Have Known (W.W. Norton & Co.) by Austin's James Magnuson, which had me grinning from first page to last. It's just that the Chronicle bookworms found their most rewarding reads in tales of darkness, abuse, even brutality, where the violence and suffering is redeemed in large part by the beauty of the language and skill of the writer. But before I leave you to their powerful recommendations, I'll add one more of mine: Thirteen Days in September (Knopf), in which Austinite Lawrence Wright renders the history of the Camp David accords as a claustrophobic page-turner, churning with tension, outsized characters, and monumental daring. It's more than a compelling read; it's a lesson in vision and statesmanship that we desperately needed.

  • Smiling Through the Pain

    Amy Gentry's top reads of 2014 thematized suffering in language so beautiful, she winced with every word

    Crimes That Paid

    In Jesse Sublett's top reads of 2014, wherever the protagonists go, trouble follows
  • Turkish Delights

    Jay Trachtenberg's top reads of 2014 gave him more insight into the culture of Turkey than a dozen guidebooks

    Liberating Lit

    Jessi Cape’s top reads of 2014 show welcome signs of improvement in the way women are celebrated in literature

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Fiction, Nonfiction, Top 10s 2014, Famous Writers I Have Known, James Magnuson, Thirteen Days in September, Lawrence Wright

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