ST Book Critic Nancy Pearl Offers Some of Her Favorites of 2014

Dec 9, 2014

Nancy Pearl, author of the "Book Lust" series of recommended books and our longtime book reviewer here on StudioTulsa, joins us to discuss her favorite reads of 2014. Here's a complete list of the books she discussed with us on today's program:

"2 a.m. at the Cat's Pajamas" (Crown) by Marie-Helene Bertino -- This novel depicts 24 hours in the lives of nine-year-old aspiring jazz singer Madeleine Altimiri and her circle of acquaintances.

"Spooner" (Grand Central) by Pete Dexter -- A reprint of the 2009 novel by the National Book Award-winning author Warren Spooner, a misfit who suffers one darkly comic setback after another, but who retains the affection of his patient stepfather.

"The Distance" (Doubleday) by Helen Giltrow -- A contemporary breakneck thriller about a London society lady who is trying to put a criminal past behind her, and the man who makes her an offer she cannot refuse.

"The Blazing World" (Simon & Schuster) by Siri Hustvedt -- Set in the world of contemporary art, this book tells the story of woman artist's desire to expose the prejudice, sexism, and falsity of the art world. In doing so, she passes off three of her pieces as the work of male artists.

"The Diamond Lane" (Hawthorne) by Karen Karbo -- A reprint of a hilarious 1991 send-up of Hollywood glitz and fakery. This novel finds a documentary filmmaker returning home after 16 years in Africa to reconnect with family and loved ones in the jungle of modern-day Los Angeles.

"Station Eleven" (Knopf) by Emily St. John Mandel -- A post-apocalyptic novel that's appearing on many "Best Books" listings for 2014 , this work explores the personalities and motives of a group of people who are desperately trying to preserve the world's thought and culture.

"The Soul of Viktor Tronko" (Amazon Encores) by David Quammen -- One of Nancy's recent "Book Lust" Rediscoveries, this 1987 counter-espionage thriller can be seen as an American version of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" -- the British Cold War classic by John le Carré.

"Dear Committee Members" (Doubleday) by Julie Schumacher -- An epistolary novel set amid the zany wilds of academia, and a laugh-out-loud skewering of that strange but necessary form of professional writing known as "the recommendation letter."

"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" (Mulholland) by David Shafer -- In this acclaimed, cutting-edge novel, three thirty-somethings grapple with issues of boredom, frustration, authenticity, and, well, an omnipotent online oligarchy. A funny yet disturbing work.

"F" (Pantheon) by Daniel Kehlmann; translated by Carol Janeway -- The letter "F" stands for many things in this German tragicomedy, in which a skeptical man and his three sons visit a hypnotist. After the father gets called up onstage during the performance, wildly divergent outcomes befall each of the book's four characters.

And here are a few "extras" from Nancy that we didn't have time to discuss on today's show:

"Bad Debts" (Text Publishing) by Peter Temple -- The first mystery in the Jack Irish series about a crime-solving criminal lawyer, debt collector, football lover, and barfly.

"Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War" (Scribner's) by Helen Thorpe -- The stories of three women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan; these nonfictional accounts address the sexism, trials, obstacles, and other challenges they've faced -- and overcome -- in the war zones and on the home front. 

"Murder at the Brightwell" (Minotaur) by Ashley Weaver -- A fast-paced yet light-hearted novel about a group of wealthy eccentrics on holiday at a seaside resort in England in 1932. Murder enters the picture, and the story of a marriage unfolds as well.