Our Favorites from 2014

Last modified: 
Tuesday, August 18, 2015

As the year comes to a close, our librarians wanted to share their favorite books, movies, television series, and music that either came out in the past year, or that we just discovered in 2014.

Every one of these items is available in the Kansas City Public Library collection.

Take a look; maybe you'll find a new favorite that's outside of your comfort zone!





 BOOKS

Smoke gets in your Eyes
by Caitlin Doughty

Multiple staff members recommended Doughty’s memoir, about her time working in a crematorium and subsequent life’s work to take the fear and stigma out of end of life discussions. It’s a really fascinating, and not at all morbid, read.


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
by Cary Elwes

If you loved the movie The Princess Bride, (And who didn’t) you’ll love this whimsical memoir of the making of this film. A book filled with true love, dangerous sword fights, giants and rodents of unusual size (not to mention Billy Crystal) this book will make you want to watch the film again and view it in a whole new light.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
by Ann Patchett

The author uses essays and articles from the early stages of her writing career to understand her current stage. If you can, check out the audiobook. Patchett’s own narration of her words adds sincerity and warmth to the works.


The Weight of Blood
by Laura McHugh

An Ozark noir story of a young woman searching for answers to her friend’s death and turning up clues to her own mother’s disappearance.



Dear Committee Members
by Julia Schumacher

A curmudgeonly professor laments the hilariously sorry state of academia in letters of recommendation to colleagues, administration, students, potential bosses, and his ex-wife.


The Serpent of Venice
by Christopher Moore

A bawdy Shakespearean parody delivered with all the panache of a Monty Python skit.




The $11 Billion Year
by Anne Thompson

The curtain rises on Hollywood’s misguided, greedy, and surprising notions of how to run show business.



The Cure for Dreaming
by Cat Winters

In Winters second Young Adult novel, she mixes historical fiction with just a touch of supernatural suspense, set in 1900s Oregon.



The Monogram Murders: the New Hercule Poirot Mystery
by Sophie Hannah

Revisit Agatha Christie's iconic Belgian detective, with this first-ever approved continuation of the Hercule Poirot series.



Pegasus
by Danielle Steel

If you are a Danielle Steel fan, her new book, Pegasus is a must read. It's a multigenerational tale of an aristocratic German family of secret Jewish descent, finding refuge in America during and after World War II.


The Skin Game
by Jim Butcher (Book 15 of The Dresden Files)

Harry Dresden is the only professional wizard in the Chicagoland phone book. In this book we join him after he has been ‘promoted’ to the Winter Knight champion for Mab, the Fairy Queen of Air and Darkness. Once more, Dresden heads into the breach, this time trying to balance the safety of his friends and his new “won” responsibilities to faerie. The book is a fantastic, superlative continuation of one man's determination to save all of the paranormal. Seriously good fun.



 FOR YOUNGER READERS

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

A beautifully story written in verse by National Book Award Winner Jacqueline Woodson, about her childhood in South Carolina and New York. Eloquent and moving, this book will touch readers of all ages.


Blizzard
by John Rocco

The wonderfully-illustrated tale of a boy named John, who embarks on a mini-adventure to help his family and neighbors during a blizzard.





 MOVIES

Inside Lleweyn Davis
Rated R. 104 minutes.

The Coen brothers chronicle an irascible folk singer trying to make it in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s. Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, and John Goodman.



Ida
Rated PG-13. 82 minutes.

In this Polish film, a young novice nun in the 1960s discovers a deep & dark family secret dating back to the Nazi occupation. Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski and starring Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, and Dawid Ogrodnik.


Snowpiercer
Rated R. 126 minutes.

A train in perpetual motion in a frozen post-apocalyptic world is the setting for a story about class warfare and survival. Directed by Joon-ho Bong. Starring Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, and Tilda Swinton.


The Way, Way Back
Rated PG-13. 103 minutes.

Steve Carell and Toni Collette star in this brilliant, heartfelt coming of age story about a teenage boy and his mom, spending the summer with her abrasive boyfriend at his beach house. The boy matures as he finds friendship and a makeshift family (of sorts) while working at a local water park. Funny and heartbreaking with a surprisingly strong performance from Carell.



 TELEVISION

The First World War
Unrated. 10 episodes.

This BBC series is based on Hew Strachan’s enlightening and accessible history of The War to End All Wars. While not from 2014 (the series originally aired in 2003), it was especially meaningful as this year marked the centennial of the start of World War I.


Fargo
TV-MA. 10 episodes.

The FX series starring Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolmon, and Colin Hanks managed to recreate much of the atmosphere and tone of the original Coen brothers film, while building a story uniquely its own. A cold-blooded killer comes to a frozen, snow-covered town to wreak havoc amongst its citizens while two earnest police officers try to solve a murder that may have been committed by the least likely suspect in town. Easily the best, most nail-biting TV viewing experience of the year. Billy Bob Thornton’s Devilish Hit man, Lorne Malvo, may be one of the greatest small-screen characters ever created for television.



 MUSIC

St. Vincent
St. Vincent

Best Rock Album Grammy Nominee St. Vincent has created an unapologetically hard-rocking album from an unapologetically hard-rocking lady about living in the digital age.

The Voyager
Jenny Lewis

The third album by American singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis, The Voyager presents a nostalgic, wry, and nuanced take on indie rock.




A huge thank you to our library staff who helped contribute to this list, including Kaite in Readers' Services, Cindy at Trails West, Michael in our Missouri Valley Special Collections, Melissa in Library Systems, David in Interlibrary Loan, Denise at Plaza, Kate in Customer Service, and Kristan at Trails West.