This morning the New York Times Book Review released their 100 Notable Books of 2014 list. We are happy to announce that 14 Penguin books made the list! How many have you read?

BoySnowGirlIn Fiction & Poetry:

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity. Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.

ABriefHistoryofSevenKillings
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

From the acclaimed author of The Book of Night Women comes one of the year’s most anticipated novels, a lyrical, masterfully written epic that explores the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s. 

EverythingINeverToldYouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another. Start Reading

LenaFinkleLena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich

Anya Ulinich turns her sharp eye toward the strange, often unmooring world of “grown-up” dating in this darkly comic graphic novel. After her fifteen-year marriage ends, Lena Finkle gets an eye-opening education in love, sex, and loss when she embarks on a string of online dates, all while raising her two teenage daughters.

TheMagician's Land
The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

An intricate thriller, a fantastical epic, and an epic of love and redemption that brings the Magicians trilogy to a magnificent conclusion, confirming it as one of the great achievements in modern fantasy. It’s the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole. Start Reading

MotherlandFatherlandMotherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood

Colloquial and incantatory, the poems in Patricia Lockwood’s second collection address the most urgent questions of our time, like: what if a deer did porn? Is America going down on Canada? What happens when Niagara Falls gets drunk at a wedding? The steep tilt of Lockwood’s lines sends the reader snowballing downhill, accumulating pieces of the scenery with every turn. This book is serious and funny at the same time, like a big grave with a clown lying in it.

PanicInASuitcasePanic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya

A dazzling debut novel about a Russian immigrant family living in Brooklyn and their struggle to learn the new rules of the American Dream. In striking, arresting prose loaded with fresh and inventive turns of phrase, Yelena Akhtiorskaya has written the first great novel of Brighton Beach: a searing portrait of hope and ambition, and a profound exploration of the power and limits of language itself, its ability to make connections across cultures and generations. Start Reading

ThePayingGuestThe Paying GuestS by Sarah Waters

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers. A love story, a tension-filled crime story, and a beautifully atmospheric portrait of a fascinating time and place, The Paying Guests is Sarah Waters’s finest achievement yet. Start Reading

Redeployment
Redeployment by Phil Klay

Phil Klay takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. Start Reading

 

In Non-Fiction:

EmbattledEmbattled Rebel by James M. McPherson

History has not been kind to Jefferson Davis. His cause went down in disastrous defeat and left the South impoverished for generations. If that cause had succeeded, it would have torn the United States in two and preserved the institution of slavery. Many Americans in Davis’s own time and in later generations considered him an incompetent leader, if not a traitor. Not so, argues James M. McPherson. From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, a powerful new reckoning with Jefferson Davis as military commander of the Confederacy.

 

ForcingForcing the Spring by Jo Becker

A tour de force of groundbreaking reportage by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jo Becker, Forcing the Springis the definitive account of five remarkable years in American civil rights history: when the United States experienced a tectonic shift on the issue of marriage equality. Beginning with the historical legal challenge of California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Becker expands the scope to encompass all aspects of this momentous struggle, offering a gripping behind-the-scenes narrative told with the lightning pace of the greatest legal thrillers. Start Reading

Invisible
Invisible History of the Human Race by Christine Kenneally

We are doomed to repeat history if we fail to learn from it, but how are we affected by the forces that are invisible to us? In The Invisible History of the Human Race Christine Kenneally draws on cutting-edge research to reveal how both historical artifacts and DNA tell us where we come from and where we may be going. Start Reading

 

NapoleanNapoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts
An award-winning historian, Roberts traveled to fifty-three of Napoleon’s sixty battle sites, discovered crucial new documents in archives, and even made the long trip by boat to St. Helena. He is as acute in his understanding of politics as he is of military history. Here at last is a biography worthy of its subject: magisterial, insightful, beautifully written, by one of our foremost historians.

 

WorldOrder

World Order by Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger offers a deep meditation on the roots of international harmony and global disorder. Drawing on his experience as one of the foremost statesmen of the modern era—advising presidents, traveling the world, observing and shaping the central foreign policy events of recent decades—Kissinger now reveals his analysis of the ultimate challenge for the twenty-first century: how to build a shared international order in a world of divergent historical perspectives, violent conflict, proliferating technology, and ideological extremism. Start Reading

 


AllisonPrince

Allison Prince is the advertising and promotion coordinator for Gotham and Avery where she has the pleasure of designing ads, promo materials, and seasonal catalogs. She loves nature, books, folk music, and Brussels sprouts.

 

 

 

 

marblesMarbles, by Ellen Forney

Graphic novels have the unique power to get people who don’t consider themselves “readers” to pick up a book. With this comes great responsibility. Ellen Forney’s graphic memoir bravely shows her struggles with bipolar disorder, and delivers a larger imperative message: Mental illness—like any other illness—is a disease, not a case of choosing to feel sad, or something to just “get over.” In the wake of Robin Williams’s passing, we need more brave people like Forney to come forward and share their stories of living and thriving by seeking help on those darkest days.

 

 

 

stitchesStitches, by Anne Lamott

One of my favorite lines of Stiches is “Beauty is a miracle of things going together imperfectly.” Anne Lamott’s incredible meditation on loss and transforming sad situations in life into hope and healing uses the metaphor of sewing and stitches throughout, showing that each “tear” in our fabric helps to make us who we are. It’s hard to adequately describe this book in a few lines, so I recommend reading it and finding solace in it yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

lostdogsThe Lost Dogs, by Jim Gorant

As a huge dog lover, I was horrified when I heard about Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring. Despite the atrocities they faced, almost every dog saved was able to recover from the trauma and receive a loving home. Here’s another reminder that no dog (no pit bull!) is fundamentally rotten; it was probably a human who made it that way. It is heartwarming to know these dogs will receive all the snuggles and love they deserve for the rest of their lives.

 

 

 

 

Run, Don’t Walk, by Adele Levine rundon'twalk

Adele Levine’s memoir about working as a physical therapist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious. Adele herself is a hero for helping our heroes. Despite the horrors these veterans faced, and continue to face which each surgery and painful rehabilitation, they still find chances to laugh. Laughter can be excellent medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

notfadeNot Fade Away, by Rebecca Alexander

Since first hearing about the proposal, I was in love with Not Fade Away, a memoir from a psychotherapist, athlete, and volunteer, who also has the rare and incurable Usher syndrome type III, which is making her gradually lose her hearing and sight. But Rebecca’s story isn’t about what she’s losing; it’s about how she lives each day to the fullest. She counts every day as a gift, and reading her story reminds me to do the same.

 

 

 

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here.

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 



erikarobuckSteinbeck is the voice of a time and place that previously had no voice. From animal-like migrant working conditions, to family stories of drama, evolution, and generational redemption, Steinbeck presents an unflinching look at the sins of society against the underprivileged, but always offers a glimmer of hope. His writing is bold and forces the reader to confront harsh truths, but the antidote is never far, and often comes in unexpected ways.

The ending of The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most powerful ever rendered—when a young woman who has lost her baby feeds a starving man from her breast. It is the very image of self-sacrifice, human growth, and the capacity for nurturing we hold; a fitting ending to a novel of raw humanity.

May Steinbeck’s work and his voice always endure.

Erika Robuck is the critically acclaimed author of Hemingway’s GirlCall Me Zelda and Fallen Beauty.  Born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, Erika was inspired by the cobblestones, old churches, and the mingling of past and present of the Eastern Shore.  Erika writes about and reviews historical fiction.  For more information please visit www.erikarobuck.com, and Twitter @ErikaRobuck.


JoGrapeshn Steinbeck was born and raised in Salinas, a small city in the central coast of California known as the Salad Bowl of the World.  In the midst of the incredible natural beauty of the Salinas Valley, there were incredible stories of struggle and resilience that were to inspire his best work.  Nearly one hundred years later, it was through Steinbeck’s characters that I first glimpsed into the lives of the field workers that I saw everyday working in the fields from sun up to sun down in my hometown of Salinas.  It was through Ma Joad that I learned to recognize stoicism in the eyes of a mother who stood in line at the grocery store, with children clinging to her skirt while she counted her money, hoping it was enough to buy the small number of items in her basket.  Through Tom I understood the quiet rage of the young men who challenged one another with hand gestures on the downtown streets.  Because of The Grapes of Wrath I developed empathy for the people I lived among but hardly knew.  And so many years later, John Steinbeck’s work inspires me still.  My life’s work is now to advance John Steinbeck’s legacy, and to champion the causes he championed in his time.  Today, the National Steinbeck Center celebrates our common humanity by giving voice to the stories of Steinbeck’s people through the work of contemporary artists, writers and, social change agents.

Colleen Bailey
Executive Director
The National Steinbeck Center