The best, best books list of 2014

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Here at Red Brick Reads we like to remind our readers that we know better than the big review sites that will purport to tell you what the best books of the year were. Sure, they have access to authors, writing staffs large enough to review all of the significant publications in a given year, the respect of most readers, and money. But we make up for all of that with jokes about Kanye West and the investigative ability to crack one of the biggest book conspiracies of the year.

May this list help guide your holiday shopping, even if you’re just buying books to read during your winter hibernation. If nothing else, maybe it will help you sound well-read at your spouse’s awful company Christmas party.

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Christmas book shopping with Obama

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In your bookish links for the day, we’re talking about Christmas shopping for the book nerds in your family. Obama celebrated Shop Local Saturday this past weekend by patronising his local book store, Politics and Prose, and crossing seventeen items off of his Christmas list.

And it’s a great list! I’m going to assume he bought Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal for himself, and not as a gift. Barack – that’s on my reading list too! You guys know Gawande, right? He writes for the New Yorker, usually about medicine. He is one of those writers who is so good and interesting that you always go back and check to see the name of the author when you finish one of his pieces. As your gateway drug I’d recommend Big Med, a piece he wrote likening The Cheesecake Factory to big healthcare chains. But you should really, really also read Personal Best, a piece about coaching for surgeons. Oh my goodness and Hot Spotters, about the use of Big Data in designing health care systems. I’m going to close the tab on my computer that lists all of his articles before I assign you a 100,000 word reading list. Gawande is great, is what I’m saying.

Also on Barack’s list is All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Good pick. Do you think it’s for him, or for Michelle? Or maybe Malia? I like that idea. He also purchased a bunch of Brian Jacques books from the Redwall series. It’s a children’s fantasy series where most of the characters are rodents. That put a smile on my face – I’ll bet those books are delightful.

I managed to hit up Toronto’s Type Books for Shop Local Saturday and while I’d already spent my personal book budget for the month (more on that later) I did pick the Canadian classic The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier for my 3 year old nephew. Only twenty-four days until I get to sit in a big chair and read it to him.