Our favorite books read in 2014

December 19, 2014

We took a page from the New York Times, which recently published their list of “What’s the Best Book, New or Old, You Read This Year,” and created our own list of the best books, new or old, that our staff and friends read this year!

We’d like to hear about your favorite reads in 2014 as well! Please leave a comment sharing your favorite — and the first five commenters win an upcycled handmade (by Reserve staff) bicycle chain holiday ornament!



Name Book Why it was your favorite read
Joel Levin The Lady in the Lake by Raymond ChandlerThe Lady in the Lake (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Cover I have not read Chandler before, but man is he a great writer. His descriptions of people and situations are so rich. Much of it seems so familiar because he created the whole “noir” detective genre and influenced so many writers after him. Also, everything takes place in very identifiable locations in Los Angeles. Philip Marlowe’s office was just a block from where I work!
Jennifer Weiss Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna AardemaWhy Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears Cover
Sarah Wescott We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley JacksonWe Have Always Lived in the Castle Cover We Have Always Lived in the Castle was recommended to me by a few people who were surprised that I had never picked up a Shirley Jackson novel before. I thought this book offered a really interesting look into what is presented in the story as sort of a socially disintegrating upperclass family, in addition to what it is probably best known for – its innocent but sinister young narrator, Merricat, and her strange psychological state. The story is riddled with dark humor, and seemed to be a bit ahead of its time. The Haunting of Hill House, which Stephen King has cited as a major influence on the Shining (another favorite of mine), is next on my list.
Gary Gero The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth KolbertThe Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History Cover An environmental science book that reads like a murder mystery but of course we all know whodunnit!
Gloria Gonzalez (Ecosystem Marketplace) The Closer by Mariano RiveraThe Closer Cover Most of the books I’ve read over the year were in some way related to journalism or environmental issues. But the one that I read purely for fun was the biography of Mariano Rivera, a now-retired New York Yankees pitcher who has been my favorite Yankees player for more than a decade. The book is called the Closer and I think it would be great read even if you’re not a baseball fan. He has lived an incredible life, rising up from abuse and extreme poverty in a small fishing village in Panama to become the greatest closer in baseball history. He is generally considered one of the good guys in a sport that has way too many bad guys who have tainted the game for many fans. A great book that even a Boston Red Sox fan could enjoy!
Katie Ordal (The Climate Registry) Lean In by Sheryl SandbergLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead CoverBright Shiny Morning by James FreyBright Shiny Morning (P.S.) Cover Nonfiction – Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I know there has been some criticism lodged at the book for various reasons but for me personally, her message (about women in the workplace) rang true and her perspective was one that I identified with immediately. I don’t think I have ever recommended a book to more people (both women and men) than this one.Fiction – Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey. Yes, THE James Frey that everybody loves to hate. Really, I think he is a flawed human being that has become the scapegoat for all of the things that are wrong with the publishing industry. All that aside, I’ve read quite a few books about Los Angeles and this one is my favorite. The man knows how to tell a good story.
Laura Zahn (The Climate Registry) The Power of One by Bryce CourtenayThe Power of One Cover The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay beautifully presents the tragedy and power of the human condition. I picked it up on a whim and couldn’t put it down until I turned the very last page. I wanted the book to go on forever.
Syd Partridge (California Air Resources Board) The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian This is a sci-fi novel about one of the first astronauts to visit Mars, and his story of survival after he is accidentally left behind on Mars.
Michael Seitz (US-China Clean Tech Center (UCCTC)) How to Win Friends and Influence People
by Dale CarnegieHow to win friends
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a classic, but the tenets that it teaches to more observant readers do not simply constitute a study on social manipulation. The book teaches us to go about our business with a more positive outlook and helps us to appreciate the struggles of others in relation to ourselves. Ultimately, through being a more thoughtful and cooperative person, you can better negotiate with others to identify solutions that help both of you succeed. By applying the principles I learned through reading the book, I have become a more level-headed person and have been able to connect with others on a level I had hardly considered before.
Scott Hernandez (Carbon Trade Exchange) Gone Girl
by Gillian FlynnGone Girl
My favorite book this year is hands-down, Gone Girl. Haha. I’m serious. It’s really good. My second favorite is Flash Boys, which might be more appropriate for this audience, as it has lessons for the carbon market in keeping out fraudulent activities.
Stephanie Schwartz Blood Will Out
by Walter KirnBlood Will Out
A self-absorbed but surprisingly riveting account of Kirn’s friendship with con-man and convicted murderer Clark Rockefeller (Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter). Too wacky to be true, and yet every word is.
  • musial s.

    i very much enjoyed “the berlin stories” by christopher isherwood. such great writing!