CWC’s Favorite Reads of 2014

It’s time for our end-of-the-year round up! Looking back on a year of reading, we at the Chicago Writers Conference picked the books that stuck with us. These are the books that made us laugh over our morning coffee and cry on the bus coming home from work. We hope this year brought you memorable reads as well!

 The Circle by Dave Eggers
Last year for Christmas I received The Circle  by Dave Eggers, and I dug into it in Spring, 2014. I probably shouldn’t confess this, but I blew off an entire day of work to read it. It’s a fascinating read about a young woman who is so eager to work for a very now, very high-tech company (some reviews called it Google-like). Once she lands her “dream” job, it completely overtakes her life, but also any sense of self she might have. It’s a disturbing look into the future…and also where we are at right now, with technology. I couldn’t put it down. It made me think about how much crap I share online…and how I no longer want to share any of it. I think every high schooler in the nation should be required to read this book. It’s a modern day 1984.
-Mare Swallow, Executive Director

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
A friend of mine suggested I read The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan after discussing how envious of prodigies we were. Keegan, who tragically died in a car accident just days after her graduation from Yale University, shows craft beyond her years in this collection of short stories and essays, which capture her bright innocence. In particular, the shockingly devastating imagery in her short story “Challenger Deep” has stayed with me. The utterly terrifying picture she gives of sensory deprivation chilled me to the bones. How I wish we had been able to see her precise and intelligent talent mature. She would have been quite the force to reckon with.
–Amanda Claire Buckley, Social Media Assistant

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
My number 1 book of the year is The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. The book is both a sprawling narrative about a battle between two warring factions and a multi-perspective meditation on the nature of humanity. It’s both a dazzling formal feat, and a gripping read.
–Noah Cruickshank, Board President

Once I was Cool by Megan Stielstra 
once i was cool
Once I Was Cool by Megan Stielstra. For the past four years, I’ve been judging books for the Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year Contest.  Each year, there’s always that one book I can’t get out of my head.  This year, it was Megan Stielstra’s Once I Was Cool, a collection of personal essays about daily life and how it is anything but ordinary.  In a voice that is all her own, Stielstra seamlessly weaves together a tapestry of stories, lifted from her own life, that speak to the strength of the human spirit.  As you cry and laugh along with her, you will come away from it all feeling a bit dizzy but in a good way.
–Randy Richardson, Advisory Board Member

We hope this year brought you memorable reads as well! Feel free to share them with us on Facebook or Twitter. Happy Holidays! We can’t wait to see what the next year in literature brings us!