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    Powell's Staff 13 Favorite Books Of 2014

    Every year Powell's staff submit a list of their top five favorite books of the year. Through a top-secret scientific algorithmic process, we've determined the top 13 of those picks. Want more? Check out all the Powell's Staff Top Fives here.

    13. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami


    "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki may be a simple story, but it carries an emotional heft that feels like a throwback to one of Murakami's classic early novels, like Norwegian Wood. His ephemeral and effortless prose flows like a perfectly choreographed dream and will leave you as satisfied as a long afternoon nap." -Shawn D.

    12. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters


    "At first, The Paying Guests seems like a lovely, detailed historical novel about the lives of two women who are forced to take on lodgers after WWII. The main character, Frances, is a bit of a mystery, and the suspense and tension grows as the lodgers and Frances develop a psychologically intense relationship that eventually turns sexual. Waters builds the suspense and tension to the point where I had myself doubting the motives of every character. It is not often that I'm surprised by the end of a novel, but The Paying Guests did not disappoint." -Bry

    11. The Martian by Andy Weir


    "Astronaut Mark Watney is on an expedition to Mars, but it doesn't go so well: a malfunction leads to an emergency evacuation, during which he is presumed dead. But Watney isn't dead; he's very much alive and determined to stay that way... though he's condemned to a life of deep-space Macgyver-like struggles and insufferable levels of disco music from his station's library. In the process, Watney shows readers the power and meaning of a single human life, even when that human life is stuck on a rock in space and swears worse than my mother." -Jordan G.

    10. Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A. S. King


    "Having lost her mother to suicide when she was young, Glory O'Brien is not sure what life has in store for her post–high school. After drinking the dust of a dead bat, she starts to see people's past and future just by looking at them. These visions give her new insight on matters of family, feminism, and taking action. Glory is a strong character that you can't help but root for. This is young adult at its best." -Jen H.

    9. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson


    "Easily my favorite recent debut, Fourth of July Creek tells the story of a social worker who becomes personally invested in the case of a survivalist and his young son in rural Montana. I fell in love with all of Henderson's characters — even the ones it might have been easy to hate had someone else written them. Though set in the 1980s, Fourth of July Creek is at least as relevant today, and Henderson deals with anti-government thinking and its implications without preaching or oversimplifying. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking book I'll read again and again." -Emily F.

    8. Yes Please by Amy Poehler


    "I love hearing comedians talk about comedy, and Yes Please delivers. Amy Poehler's long-awaited autobiography covers everything from her doofy childhood with big '80s bangs to her days cofounding improv mainstay Upright Citizens Brigade, up through her tenure at Saturday Night Live and most recent success with Parks and Recreation. She is, of course, hilarious and snappy, but her sweet words about her boys and hilarious guest chapters from her parents make this a great biography all around." -Shauna

    7. Loitering: New and Collected Essays by Charles D'Ambrosio


    "I've been an evangelist for Charles D'Ambrosio since I first read an essay he wrote in 2002. When a collection of his essays, Orphans, was issued in 2004, I made sure the bookstore I worked at in Minneapolis had plenty of copies on hand. D'Ambrosio's descriptions of life in the Northwest convinced me that I needed a new start, and in 2005, I moved to Portland and started working at Powell's. Orphans quickly fell out of print, and recommending these essays became harder. But with the publication of Loitering, I can again recommend these essays to everyone I meet!" -Adam P.

    6. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith


    "Absolutely incredible! This book is nonstop campy action and a hilariously honest view into the mind of a sex-crazed, queer teen boy. Truly the best YA book of the year and the finest work from one of today's best YA authors." -Brandon W.

    5. The Bone Clocks David Mitchell


    "Even if The Bone Clocks isn't number one on my personal canon of David Mitchell books, it still sent me reeling through space and time as I devoured each chapter. No other book this year kept me quite as totally rapt, and after finishing the last page, I wanted to dive into Mitchell's back catalog again and rediscover the characters therein." -Dot

    4. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews


    "This novel about a suicidal musician and the frazzled sister trying to keep her alive is the perfect combination of funny and sad. If you haven't discovered the wonderful work of Miriam Toews, you can start here and then read everything else. All My Puny Sorrows is another example of her brilliance." -Kevin S.

    3. The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

    "What does it mean to be sentimental? What does it mean to feel pain? Jamison's writing completely changed my perspective on these impossible questions. Her essays are beautiful, heartbreaking, and intelligent. Each one pulls you in to a universe that portrays new meanings of empathy and human understanding. She never fails to be as raw as possible, and I love her for that." -Kelsey

    2. The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld


    "The Enchanted is darkly exquisite. Denfeld's prose is transcendent, mythical, and timeless. This is a story about death-row inmates and some of the people who work with them. It is also a story that will change how you think about those people. What struck me most was the mythic tenderness Denfeld awards to her characters, and to all of us who venture into The Enchanted." -Mary Jo

    1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


    "I can't possibly say enough positive things about this book. It is beautifully written with real emotion behind every word. Every chapter pulls you in and is extremely difficult to stop reading. Mr. Doerr writes about two separate children living through the same war and how it affects the rest of their lives." -Boone H.

    Check out all the Powell's Staff Top Fives here.