Hurts So Good
Our top books of 2014 provided pleasures despite the pain
Reviewed by Robert Faires, Fri., Jan. 2, 2015
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.