We’ve already published our official lists of the best novels, poetry books, and nonfiction books of 2014. Not everything that stuck with Flavorwire’s writers made it onto those lists, though — which is why we’ve collected our personal favorite reads of the year for your perusal. From Hollywood histories to graphic memoirs, here’s what the Flavorwire staff couldn’t put down in the last 12 months.
Adam, by Ariel Schrag
Tomboy, by Liz Prince
Liz Prince has always been one of my favorite artists, so when I heard she was releasing a graphic memoir, I immediately snatched it up and read it obsessively — twice in a row without stopping. It’s honest, it’s funny, and it’s so eerily relatable that most of it is like looking in an angsty, punk, tomboy mirror. — Pilot Viruet, TV Editor
Citizen, by Claudia Rankine
A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall, by Will Chancellor
Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood, by William J. Mann
Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, by Courtney Maum
An adultery novel set in Paris featuring a British man, his French wife, and his American mistress. It begins right after the mistress has thrown our protagonist over, and he’s pining. Throw in an antiwar art installation that is his attempt to win his wife back, a family house in Brittany, and a trip home to the English suburbs, and you have a delicious read that also has a lot to say about contemporary marriage. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large
The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison
Things to Do With Your Mouth, by Divya Victor
Victor did a great interview that explained some of the ideas behind the work:
During the late Middle Ages, German-Jewish women who were accused of witchcraft and of eating children were hunted and executed by vigilantes who were afraid that their flesh would be devoured by women with excessive powers of speech and discourse. Before executing these women, the murdering fearful (“faithful”) would allow the accused woman to atone for her chatty, witchy, baby-eating ways if she told them a way to stop her dead comrades from eating flesh from their graves. The fear was that these women continued to have the use of their mouths even after they died. So, one accused woman suggested that they fill the corpse’s mouth with gravel as it laid in its grave. Another woman suggested that they drive a stake through the coffin, right through the corpse’s open maw, until it pierced the skull and went through, pinning the woman to the earth.
The fear of speaking women obviously has a very long history, but the resourcefulness that we’ve shown in silencing these women has not always been as metaphorical as it is now. Fleshy solutions were it. So, for poetry today to approach its feminist purpose, it must address the vocalizing and silenced mouth — it must reorganize the work of this opening. I therefore wanted to make a book that did this to the most minimal degree. The work of this book of poetry is to repeat, recant, and endlessly say again what has already been said. Because it can. Because it doesn’t mind being a corpse with a mouth full of gravel.
— Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor
Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, by Patricia Lockwood
Prelude to Bruise, by Saeed Jones
In his collection of poetry tied together by the narrative of Boy, Saeed Jones examines the connotations of the word “Boy” as it relates to both race and sexuality. While elucidating a world of bigotry, violence, exploitation, and desire around the simple, monosyllabic word, he traces the character’s journey through the thicket of people’s projections, bringing him from boyhood to adulthood as Boy slowly begins to slash away at the identities other people want him to assume. This is the type of book that merits clichéd hyperbole: because it will actually “leave you floored,” “feeling naked” (together, that’s almost a Natalie Imbruglia lyric!), and “gasping for breath.” — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor