The writers who made us see the world with fresh eyes this year
Armand Marie Leroi photographed by Jonathan Ring.
The best nonfiction informs, surprises, inspires. Our Best Nonfiction Books of 2014 list includes meditations on poverty and injustice, philosophy and science, histories and mysteries, personal and private lives. Here are a few of our favorite things spoken by authors who helped us see what is in a fresh way. —Megan Labrise
"The people that love de Man and continue to support him fundamentally say that there is no necessary connection between what a person does or says in ...
Rebecca Mead photographed by Elisabeth C. Prochnik.
Thanks to one prominent fan, an 800-page, 140-year-old British novel may soon experience a sales spike. New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead first read Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life as an intellectually ambitious 17-year-old. While studying at Oxford, building a successful journalistic career and starting a family, Middlemarch offered pleasures and profundities that spoke to each stage of life. My Life in Middlemarch, Mead’s heartfelt testimony to the evolution of her appreciation, will undoubtedly inspire new readers to pick up ...
Edward Carey photographed by Tom Langdon.
At the beginning of Heap House, the first book in Edward Carey’s inspired Iremonger trilogy, Aunt Rosamud’s brass door handle has gone missing. Her family, a sort of refuse-based baronage inhabiting a slipshod mansion on the undulating trash heaps of greater Victorian London, is properly scandalized, as the handle is of particular value.
“When each new Iremonger was born it was a family custom for them to be given something, a special object picked out by Grandmother. The Iremongers always ...
John Safran photographed by Germain McMicking.
Elizabeth McCracken photographed by Edward Carey.
Elizabeth McCracken doesn’t consider herself to be a particularly dark and twisty person.
“I love my husband, I love my kids, I don’t find life difficult and fraught,” says McCracken, author of National Book Award finalist The Giant’s House. And yet in her latest, Thunderstruck & Other Stories, children disappear. Mothers go missing. Library patrons murder and are murdered, and the children’s room rabbit dies and lies in state awaiting deposition by a Department of Public Works shovel.
Laura Kipnis photographed by Pieter M. van Hattem.
“Can I borrow that when you’re done?” a woman asked on a recent flight, affectionately patting my copy of Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation.
It wasn’t the first time Laura Kipnis’s work got mistaken for self help.
“I don’t [give advice], and I never wanted to,” Kipnis says, “but when you write a book called ‘Against Love,’ people do try to read it for advice. So it’s true I get email from people—and maybe ...
Molly Gloss photographed by Gretchen Corbett.
Some characters stay with us long after the last page turns. Those left pondering spirited Martha Lessen, who broke horses and gender barriers circa 1917 in Molly Gloss’ The Hearts of Horses, will meet her as a supporting player, two decades hence, in Falling From Horses, Gloss’ new novel.
In 1938, Martha’s married to sensitive cowboy Henry Frazer, and they’re still ranching, shoulder to shoulder. They’ve had two children, a boy and a girl—and a fair share of misfortune ...
Jake Halpern photographed by Kasia Lipska.
Buffalo, New York, the unofficial capital of the U.S. debt collection industry, happens to be investigative journalist Jake Halpern’s hometown. As an NPR commentator and producer, and the author of Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales (2003), Halpern is used to traveling widely in pursuit of a story—but his latest endeavor proves that the destination need not be far-flung to feel like a world apart.
“The thing that I love ...