We get it – with over 500,000 different materials in 10 locations, your options for books, music and movies at HPL are.. well.. extensive. So it’s totally understandable that, over the course of the year, you might have overlooked a few gems.
These are the sleepers, the books you may have passed on our shelves and thought “I’ve got to come back for that one!”… and then forgot. Never fear! We’re here to break down our picks fo the Top 10 Most Overlooked Books of 2014. So start your reading engines – we’re giving your 2015 book list a jump start.
10. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
9. The Book of Heaven: A Novel, Patricia Storace
From the author of the classic travel memoir Dinner with Persephone, an accomplished poet, and frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, here is an eagerly anticipated, stunningly original novel of heartrending lyricism about four women, a fierce mythopoeia that invites us to enter into a new and powerful imagination of the sublime: What if “a woman’s point of view” were God’s?
8. The Crane Wife, Patrick Ness
A magical novel, based on a Japanese folk tale, that imagines how the life of a broken-hearted man is transformed when he rescues an injured white crane that has landed in his backyard. Witty, magical, and romantic, The Crane Wife is a story of passion and sacrifice, that resonates on the level of dream and myth. It is a novel that celebrates the creative imagination, and the disruptive power of love.
7. Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves, Dave Lowry
Driving home after being kicked out of college, Tucker meets and picks up the mysterious Corinne Chang at a rest stop. Infatuated, and with nothing better to do, he ends up with her in St. Louis, where he gets a job as a chef in a Chinese restaurant. Even though he’s a gwai lo—a foreign devil—his cooking skills impress the Chinese patrons of the restaurant, and his wooing skills impress Corinne when she joins him there as a waitress. But when Chinese gangsters show up demanding diamonds they believe Tucker’s kind-of, sort-of, don’t-call-her-a-girlfriend stole, he and his friends—which luckily include a couple of FBI agents—have to figure out just who is gunning for Corinne and how to stop them.
6. Karate Chop: Stories, Dorthe Nors and Martin Aiken
These fifteen compact stories are meticulously observed glimpses of everyday life that expose the ominous lurking under the ordinary. While his wife sleeps, a husband prowls the Internet, obsessed with female serial killers; a bureaucrat tries to reinvent himself, exposing goodness as artifice when he converts to Buddhism in search of power; a woman sits on the edge of the bed where her lover lies, attempting to locate a motive for his violence within her own self-doubt. Shifting between moments of violence (real and imagined) and mundane contemporary life, these stories encompass the complexity of human emotions, our capacity for cruelty as well as compassion. Not so much minimalist as stealthy, Karate Chop delivers its blows with an understatement that shows a master at work.
5. The Man Who Walked Away, Maud Casey
In a trance-like state, Albert walks—from Bordeaux to Poitiers, from Chaumont to Macon, and farther afield to Turkey, Austria, Russia—all over Europe. When he walks, he is called a vagrant, a mad man. He is chased out of towns and villages, ridiculed and imprisoned. When the reverie of his walking ends, he’s left wondering where he is, with no memory of how he got there. His past exists only in fleeting images. Loosely based on the case history of Albert Dadas, a psychiatric patient in the hospital of St. André in Bordeaux in the nineteenth century, The Man Who Walked Away imagines Albert’s wanderings and the anguish that caused him to seek treatment with a doctor who would create a diagnosis for him, a narrative for his pain.
4. Marching to Zion, Mary Glickman
Marching to Zion is the tragic story of Minerva Fishbein and Magnus Bailey, a charismatic black man and the longtime business partner of Minerva’s father. From the brutal riots of East St. Louis to Memphis, Tennessee, during the 1920s and the Depression, Marching to Zion is a tale of passion, betrayal, and redemption during an era in America when interracial love could not go unpunished. Readers of Mary Glickman’s One More River will celebrate the return of Aurora Mae Stanton, who joins a cast of vibrant new characters in this tense and compelling Southern-Jewish novel that examines the price of love and the interventions of fate.
3. Off Course: A Novel, Michelle Huneven
The year is 1981, Reagan is in the White House, and the country is stalled in a recession. Cressida Hartley, a gifted Ph.D. student in economics, moves into her parents’ shabby A-frame cabin in the Sierras to write her dissertation. In her most intimate and emotionally compelling novel to date, Michelle Huneven–author of Blame, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award–returns with her signature mix of fine-grained storytelling, unforgettable characters, and moral complexity.
2. Revolutionary, Alex Myers
In 1782, during the final clashes of the Revolutionary War, one of our young nation’s most valiant and beloved soldiers was, secretly, a woman. When Deborah Samson disguised herself as a man and joined the Continental Army, she wasn’t just fighting for America’s independence—she was fighting for her own. Revolutionary, Alex Myers’s richly imagined and meticulously researched debut novel, brings the true story of Deborah’s struggle against a rigid colonial society back to life—and with it the courage, hope, fear, and heartbreak that shaped her journey through a country’s violent birth.
1. Wind is Not a River, Brian Payton
The Wind Is Not a River is Brian Payton’s gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife—separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil—fight to reunite in Alaska’s starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands.